This story is one of a series of profiles of 2012 graduates. See all senior profiles for this year here.
Sarah Dion calls herself “someone who’s really drawn to tradition and family.” With the people she’s mentored or helped at Columbia, that family is pretty large.
Dion was a coordinator of the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program, organizing five days of programming for hundreds of first-years, and a volunteer for Columbia University Emergency Medical Services, providing medical assistance around Morningside.
The Columbia College senior served as a leader for BOP, the biking program, before becoming coordinator in her junior year. She described being a leader and taking new students on the four-day trip in August as “the best thing ever.”
Dion said she identifies with COÖP because it’s one of the places she made most of her friends. “I can point to the person in COÖP who was like, ‘This is the thing I was involved in, this is really cool, you should check it out.’”
She was also involved for the last two years with CU-EMS, formerly known as CAVA, and served as a crew chief for the past year.
“COÖP and CAVA have been a huge part of my Columbia experience. They were my most formative experiences at Columbia,” she said.
Dion is staying on campus for some of the summer to work for CU-EMS. “It’s a group of people I definitely care a lot about,” she said. “It’s been a really interesting way to be part of the campus community” as well as the city, as non-Columbia affiliates who live in Morningside Heights frequently make use of the service, too.
Dion said she has learned that it can often be hard for students to find their place on campus. “It’s baptism by fire here in a lot of ways, especially if you’re trying to be a part of an organization,” she said.
If students communicate with each other, she said, it can make that process easier. “When you see someone who you know, say hello, smile at them, wave whatever,” she said. “If I’m in a grumpy mood I totally want to talk to someone else.”
She said she would advise students to “do your academics. There’s so much that people get out of here that I didn’t do.”
“I wasn’t really loving the classes I was taking,” Dion, a biology major, said. “I was always more interested in the classes my friends were talking about, and I think I should have actually done something about that.”
She has developed strong friendships through COÖP and CAVA, one of the reasons she said she loved her time at Columbia. “I just like being on Low Steps and watching everyone go by and saying hi to people. That’s the thing I’ll miss the most,” she said.
“As much as academics are important, make time to just hang out with people, if someone comes up to you and says, ‘Hey, do you want to get lunch?’ ... do it. It’s always time well spent,” she said.
Having lived in the Living and Learning Center her first year, she said she thinks taking that time to have lunch with students in different class years is invaluable. “Being a freshman and being a little naïve is pretty great,” she said.
But now that she’s a senior, she said, “you have so many opportunities to think about what the last year has been. There’s so much opportunity for feeling really happy and nostalgic.”
Dion said the thing she will miss most from Columbia is the daily interaction with her classmates. “It won’t happen anymore when we go into the real world,” she said, “but it’ll be good, it’ll be different.”