A Magical Space
As a young person, attending Columbia was my dream. Foolishly (or perhaps not), it was the only school I applied to; that’s how much I esteemed it above all other options. For a daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants living 3,000 miles away, New York City seemed to me a magical space where I could create an adult life and Columbia seemed to hold the keys to its pearly gates. I still remember my first few days on the campus, feeling the privilege of being in rooms once shared by some of the greatest minds of the past two centuries. And I remember saying goodbye to my mother, who had raised me alone, who had the courage enough to entrust her youngest to this institution and the promise of its opportunity.
Twenty years later, I give back to Columbia because of those early days. Because of the excitement I felt to be taking that first step in pursuing my dreams. Because there are other young people today whose parents struggle to pay the bills, but successfully embolden their children to reach beyond their circumstances. Because the College gave me a chance to show what I could do even though my first language was Spanish and I hadn’t ever heard of Homer. Because being on that campus those four years shaped me and my life in ways I probably don’t fully appreciate.
Being the President of the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University (LAACU) gives me the opportunity to give back not only to the institution, but also to students who come from families like mine. It is my hope that by giving back, I can help shape future generations of Columbia alumni and in turn, the future of the world we live in.
Watch an interview with Adriana below.