Kira Boesch traded her ballet shoes and leotards for pencils and textbooks when she came to Columbia five years ago. But the GS valedictorian said that the skills and qualities she developed as a professional dancer shaped her success at Columbia.
Boesch, who majored in psychology in the School of General Studies and plans to enroll in a clinical psychology doctorate program at the City University of New York in the fall, danced professionally in Berlin and New York City for two years. She also trained rigorously in England for two years after high school.
These experiences made her “determined” and hard on herself – traits she said dancers need to survive. At Columbia these habits came in handy; for example, though professors would excuse her from class when she was sick, she remembers always going unless she was contagious.
“I’ve had to dance when I’m sick and go on stage,” she says.
Boesch deliberately chose to separate her dancing experiences from her academic pursuits and stopped taking dance lessons after her second year. But her passion for dance indirectly influences her professional interests in psychology. “Artistic creation makes its way into clinical psychology,” she says.
At Columbia, Boesch said she spent a lot of time in the libraries, which inspired her to work harder. “A lot of people before me have studied here and made it,” she constantly told herself.
Avery Library’s ambience is her favorite, though its no-food policy often led her to take refuge in the geology library on the sixth floor of Schermerhorn, which was conveniently located near the psychology department.
Boesch remembers fondly that some semesters she was so busy that she couldn’t pack lunch and relied on Columbia’s vending machines. Her favorite? Uris Café’s, which sells ice-cream. Jokingly, she said that she was so familiar with the Columbia vending machines that she knew where she could snag the best deals. The machines in the Uris stairwell—around the corner from the café—are cheaper than the main business school café.
As valedictorian, Boesch spoke at GS Class Day last Monday – something that may have been unthinkable to her when she first came to campus. Boesch said that she was quiet at first and treated college like a job. But she has embraced the distinction and the opportunity to share her experiences of GS with others.
“Being named valedictorian yanked me to being more social,” she says.