One piece of advice I would give to every incoming TC and current TC student is: don’t limit your education or dreams to the classroom. As a passionate mental health advocate and women’s rights activist, I recently published my self-help book for young women, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care, which is now available in Print and in Kindle. By doing so, I simultaneously fulfilled two of my lifelong dreams: to become an author and to help people in need. At TC, I also supplement my education, my research and my writing by attending panels and seminars on topics that fascinate me. This has influenced the writing of my book as well as the interdisciplinary focus of my academic research. These panels and seminars often deal with topics outside of my concentration, such as the Uprooting Mindfulness: The Secularization of Yoga and Meditation event which examined the cultural re-appropriation of yoga and mindfulness in contemporary society and the Mindfulness and Spirituality in Psychotherapy: An Integrative Discussion event which explored the dynamic practices of therapists who use spirituality and mindfulness as tools in the therapeutic process.
While I love learning about sociology and education, I rarely limit my learning to my main concentration, and I think my determination to pursue different fields is what has ultimately helped me accomplish my diverse dreams and goals. My pursuit of education has always been an interdisciplinary one: as an English and Psychology major at NYU, and now as a Sociology and Education major at Teachers College, I have given myself the gift of stronger communication and analytical skills as well as a specific knowledge base in these subjects. I pursue knowledge for its own sake and TC’s numerous programs, seminars and panels thankfully provide rigorous intellectual stimulation on all fronts and in all fields. I am continually captivated by the new events here that enrich my educational experience and inform my writing and research.
So please take advantage of all the events concerning topics that interest you, both at TC and at Columbia’s main campus. Talk and write about everything and anything that you are passionate about. Pursue education outside of the classroom and volunteer to help the greater community. Pursue your side projects as well as your main projects. Remind yourself of your larger purpose and mission; use your classes and those events to supplement this purpose and mission. Do not forget what you are most passionate about, both within your concentration and outside of it. Most of all, never give up on any of your dreams, and have faith that your experiences at TC can help you accomplish them.
Shahida Arabi is a first-year Masters student in the Education Policy & Social Analysis Program. She is pursuing a concentration in Sociology and Education.