Upon arriving at Columbia this past summer, I was nervous about many things: a new environment, being back in school, managing being a student, and so on. But one thing that I was not concerned about was meeting new people and getting involved in the community.
While I hadn’t visited Columbia for two years (I deferred my admissions from 2012), it’s a testament to its environment that the most vivid memory I had from my Mondays at Columbia visit in 2012 was how welcoming everyone was, and how genuinely excited they were to be a part of the law school community. That sealed the deal, and I committed to the school though I knew I wouldn’t be coming for a few years. Since starting my 1L year, the vibrant and strong community environment has been repeatedly confirmed for me.
I began by signing up for the organizations that interested me—and were there plenty. I was delighted to see how many opportunities were offered at the law school already, not to mention the ability to create new student groups. Through these groups, I’ve received invaluable mentorship advice from 2Ls with similar interests and experiences, who have counseled me through finals and the job application period. As a matter of fact, my summer job is an opportunity passed onto me by one of my mentors, who, knowing my interests and experiences, found one that would suit me perfectly.
There’s also a chance to be involved in the greater Columbia community as a whole. One of the stereotypes of 1Ls is that they are holed up in the library 24-7 and wholly enmeshed in their limited law student world. I didn’t want that to be me, and so I constantly looked for ways to meet and get to know people in other schools as well.
The perfect opportunity arose when I received an email forwarded to me by the Domestic Violence Project, of which I am a 1L board rep, from a group at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), to be a part of the first inter-graduate school production of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer—a more modern, inclusive, and diverse companion to Eve Ensler’s famous Vagina Monologues. Having been a part of both in undergrad, I knew immediately that I was interested.
I love that I have a diverse range of law school friends and mentors in all three years, and that if I ever want to talk about non-law school happenings (which you will too, eventually), I also have a wide contingency of friends in other graduate and undergraduate schools as well. It’s this combination of opportunities and people that make Columbia so unique—and so helpful and supportive for a transition as dramatic as your 1L year. I can say certainly that I don’t think my 1L year would have been as rewarding and interesting if I had attended any other law school, and I owe it to my classmates here at Columbia.
Cynthia Luo is a 1L from Madison, CT.
Cynthia Luo, 1L