Student Voices

Everyone's Columbia story is unique, which is why we are excited to share them!

Keep an eye on this page for student blogs, vlogs, photo essays and more.


Stories about students, by students.

Trina Nurse '22SW speaking at the 2022 Columbia Commencement
Making It Happen for Yourself

Trina Nurse SW'22 reflects on the importance of showcasing her Dominican heritage for Immigrant Heritage Month.

William Yuen Yee CC '22
Bridging Two Worlds: One Student's Story of Finding His Passion for Diplomacy

William Yuen Yee, CC '22, found an unexpected passion for foreign policy. At commencement he reflects back on his experiences at Columbia. 

TK Saccoh
How a Racial Justice Mini Grant Recipient Started Critical Conversations About Colorism

Tigidankay (TK) Saccoh (she/her) is a 22-year-old anti-colorism advocate at Columbia College who created the Darkest Hue. She regularly curates original, thought-provoking content and testimonials from young Black women and girls about their unique experiences with colorism.

Chinmayi Balusu
One 2022 Graduate's Story of Her Time at Columbia and Beyond

Chinmayi Balusu (she/her) is graduating this Spring from Columbia College. Her time at Columbia has deepened her passion for neuroscience's intersections with other academic disciplines like public health, and her desire to focus on patient-centered clinical research. Along the way, she's launched a non-profit focused on supporting early neuroscience education, outreach and awareness.

Sara Rashidi and her mom
Between Two Worlds

In honor of Women's History Month, Sara Rashidi '23MPH shares her story of her family's move to California from Iran and how the women in her family motivated her to follow her dreams.

Krisna Panchal and her grandmother
How Curiosity and a Strong Grandmother Brought an Engineer to Columbia

Krisna grew up with her father, an engineer, teaching her how to fix things around the house when they needed repair. But it was Krisna’s grandmother, Premila, who she says overcame many challenges throughout her life that would provide Krisna the opportunity to attend Columbia and become an engineer. 

A photo of Dennis Mitchell's hockey team in Toronto circa the 1970s.
Joining the Family Business

An interview with University Life Executive Vice President Dennis Mitchell on his journey from a junior hockey champion in Toronto to championing inclusion and belonging at Columbia.

Photo grid of first-gen students at Columbia
The Columbia Experience Through the Eyes of First-Gen Students

Hear from first-generation students at Columbia who shared a bit about their stories, motivation, and what led them to the University.

Ebonnie Goodfield and her son
My Journey to Columbia as a Woman and a Veteran

Ebonnie Goodfield (GS) explores her journey to Columbia and her passion for creating resources for women veterans.

Davey Liu's time in the Navy
A Veterans Day Reflection: A Transition of Identity and View of Sacrifice

Davey Liu (GS) reflects on his transition from the Navy to being a student at Columbia.

The apartment where Jane's dad lived with the cafe he worked in below.
Proud to Be Pell

Jane Walsh '23CC explores what it means to be a Pell Grant recipient at Columbia.


Vlogs coming soon!


Your stories on Instagram.

Jessica Balistreri
Jessica Balistreri (GSAS)

“I come from an immigrant family and I’m the first person in my family to go to college...I went into academia not only to do it for my family but to empower other women. So I can set an example for others after me...”

Krisna Panchal (SEAS)
Krisna Panchal (SEAS)

“My mom has been working for minimum wage for 28 years and seeing her leave for work at 4PM on one day and coming back at 6AM the next day just so our family can stay afloat in America, drove me to make the most of the education I had the privilege of getting here. Her hard work and grit continues to motivate me today as I try to harness all the opportunities here at Columbia.”

Maya Katerina Kashapov (Climate School)
Maya Katerina Kashapov (Climate School)

"I feel like I’ve had a lot of firsts in my life. My high school opened the year that I started there so I was in the first class of my high school. Now the same thing is happening at the Climate School. I’m in the first class there. I’m also the first one in my family to get any sort of college degree. So the fact that I'm doing a masters is huge for me and my family both."

Keshia Pershad (SPS)
Keshia Pershad (SPS)

“I want to make sure I’m showing people that look like me, and come from what I’ve been through, that you can do it and you can do it anywhere. Don’t sell yourself short. I didn’t think I was going to get into a Columbia grad program ever. I think future generations seeing people that look like them go through it and be a resource for them and give them some tips along the way is helpful."

Olivia Cordingley (CSSW)
Olivia Cordingley (CSSW)

"Be open and honest about the fact that you're a first generation student because if anything, I think it’s a very big strength to go a path that hasn't come before you. It shows a lot of hard work, and self-reliance, and resilience, and to just be proud about the fact that they are first-gen.”

Nia Augustine (MPH)
Nia Augustine (MPH)

“I feel that for me to share my first-gen identity is to say: 'hey, I’m being vulnerable with you and I’m letting you know that I’m coming from a place that I do not know'. I am the first. I am a trailblazer. I feel that it highlights my strength, my resilience and willingness to go beyond the standard that was placed in front of me.”

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