2022 Grad Profile: James Rice

April 27, 2022

James Rice




Tell us about your path to GS!

My path to GS began all the way back in 2001. Two months after 9/11, I left high school and joined the military after my 17th birthday. I served four years and was deployed once to Afghanistan. While on deployment, I spent a large amount of my time working with the people of Afghanistan: crane operators, truck drivers, school teachers, and children. Working with these people really highlighted the humanitarian aspect of war and started to lead me on a different path where I could enhance my own life and begin to help people. 

After my deployment, I began working with the Secret Service. I served under President Bush and President Obama. While working there, I got to see first hand what it means to be a leader and take responsibility for your own actions. The combined experience of my government service created a set of ideals that helped me succeed at GS.

What has been your proudest Columbia moment?

My proudest moment at Columbia is the overall acceptance by the community. As one of the older students, I have always felt welcome in all my classes. Belonging to the Columbia community is my proudest and most unexpected achievement.

Who are some people who have contributed the most to your Columbia experience?

There are two professors that impacted my time at GS. First, was Professor Margaret Scarborough who taught Elementary Italian 1. She made learning a new language engaging and fun. The foreign language requirement was one that I dreaded and she made it comfortable and enjoyable. She also led me to the other professor who was impactful, Professor Nelson Moe. I took Italian Cultural Studies 1 and 2 as well as Mafia Movies from Professor Moe, and he helped me learn what it means to have Columbia-level discussions.

What advice would you give to a Columbia student starting their GS journey?

The advice I would give to an incoming student would be to make the journey your own experience. It is not easy to get here, and you should enjoy the journey while it lasts.