Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin Celebrate First Dual BA Graduating Class
Among the graduates welcomed by the ninth Dean of the School of General Studies, Lisa Rosen-Metsch '90GS, were 21 Dual BA students graduating with degrees from both Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University. These students represent the first graduating class from the Dual BA Program between Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University.
The program between Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University has seen tremendous growth over the past four years. Seventy students will start at Trinity College Dublin this fall and nearly 220 students will be enrolled in the program across all four years during the 2022-23 academic year.
Four years ago these students—and GS itself—embarked on a new journey together. I’m happy to see how the program has developed since its inception and I’m so proud of how these students have grown during that time, managing the initial transition of going to college, then transitioning once more through a global pandemic.
“It is so wonderful to see the first four-year cohort of students in the Dual BA Program between Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University graduate today.” Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch remarked. “Four years ago these students—and GS itself—embarked on a new journey together. I’m happy to see how the program has developed since its inception and I’m so proud of how these students have grown during that time, managing the initial transition of going to college, then transitioning once more through a global pandemic. They are remarkable students who have accomplished much during their time at Trinity College Dublin and here at Columbia and I look forward to seeing the paths they take as they embark on the next phase of their respective journeys.”
Professor Emma Stokes, Vice President for Global Engagement at Trinity, also commented on the achievements of the graduating class. “It was absolutely fabulous to be at Columbia University to see the graduating class, the first graduating class of the Trinity - Columbia Dual BA programme. It was brilliant to be there in person and there was so much excitement and fun. We’re so very proud of them, and we are so excited to see where they go after this wonderful experience that they’ve had at Trinity and Columbia,” she said.
The majors that students can choose has also grown from four majors to 12 majors:
- European Studies
- Middle Eastern and European Languages and Cultures
- Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
- History of Art and Architecture
- Geography and Geosciences
- Neuroscience: Biology and Biomedical Sciences
Ashley Cullina, this year’s valedictorian, was also part of the first graduating class. Ashley worked as an digital editor of 4x4 Magazine, a student-run literary magazine at Columbia University, and as lead editor at the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism. Last year, Ashley was selected for the Summer 2021 Kyoto University Program, a highly-selective short-term virtual study abroad program provided by the University’s Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences and Asian Studies units that aims to develop an understanding of issues facing Japan through Japanese language classes, academic lectures, cultural activities, and discussion. She is a member of the GS Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa, and received departmental honors for her senior thesis on the short fiction of Anna Kavan.
Ashley is not the only student in this class who has achieved notable accolades during their time in the Dual BA Program between Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University. This class consists of students who have won academic awards for their senior theses, students who were honored for their service and leadership within the School of General Studies and Columbia communities overall, and students who served on the General Studies Student Council (GSSC). These students not only showed a high level of commitment to the program but also to being active members of the GS community and connecting Trinity College Dublin with the rest of GS.
We’re so very proud of them, and we are so excited to see where they go after this wonderful experience that they’ve had at Trinity and Columbia.
An Overview of the First Graduating Class
Trinity-Columbia Dual BA Great Grads
Originally from County Wicklow, Ireland, Jane Loughman studied English at both Trinity and Columbia and will pursue a master's degree in modern and contemporary literature at Oxford University this coming year.
"One of my proudest moments at Columbia was receiving the Professor John Angus Burrell Memorial Prize for distinction in English and Comparative Literature. A few weeks before, I completed my Senior Essay, a 10,000-word dissertation on Joyce Carol Oates’s retellings of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. After all the hard work, it was rewarding to see it come to fruition, and I was very grateful to be recognized for my academic work along with my ambitious peers at last week’s GS Student Leadership and Academic Prize Ceremony," she said.
"At both Trinity and Columbia, I’ve been involved in theater and in journalism: I produced and acted in plays with DU Players at Trinity and then with CU Players at Columbia, and I was a staff writer with Trinity News and then with the Columbia Daily Spectator. I have enjoyed documenting my unique college experience on my YouTube channel, Queen of Quirk, and I know I’ll cherish looking back on my time at Trinity and Columbia; it really has been the most exciting, intellectually stimulating, and inspiring four years."
Christian Rodriguez applied to the Dual BA after spending a year studying in the pre-college division at the Cooper Union School of Art and interning in asset management, where he was immersed in the New York scene. This experience, along with the opportunities he had to travel across the United States and abroad to debate international security and humanitarian issues with his high school, drove his interest in applying to the Program to study his favorite subjects in Europe and New York.
He majored in Hispanic studies and European studies, earning an Honors Prize for his senior thesis on the origins of magical realism in Hispanic-Caribbean literature. He also wrote on the diplomatic history of governments in exile during World War II as part of his Trinity degree. After graduation, he will be joining Goldman Sachs as an analyst working on mergers and acquisitions, shareholder advisory, and activism defense.
When looking back on his time at Columbia, Christian recalls the impact that Professor George Chauncey had on his experience. "I took his class “U.S. Lesbian and Gay History” as an elective, but it has easily been one of the most serendipitous aspects of my Columbia experience. It challenged me to think about the ways identity and hostility are both socially produced and reproduced through culture as well as politics. It reshaped the way I look at civil rights, the law, and American history as well as my place in it. After that class, I had the opportunity to work with Professor Chauncey as a research assistant," he said.
His advice to any incoming students: "Live off-campus if you can! So many students move to NYC from far-away places, but get swept up in the Columbia bubble and never leave Morningside Heights. If you ever have the opportunity to live in another neighborhood for a semester or a year, take it! It will make your experience so much richer."
Jess Hobbs Pifer studied religion at Columbia and Middle Eastern and European language and cultures at Trinity. Her experience studying abroad in Scotland in eighth grade as well as studying Arabic in Morocco through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) inspired her to learn more about other places, people, and cultures. In addition to Arabic, Jess also studied Russian and Hebrew during her time in the Program.
"I moved to New York City in August 2020, which was still a pretty scary time because of COVID. I'm definitely most proud of the life I managed to build for myself here despite the pandemic. I worked at the Hungarian Pastry Shop during the summer of 2021 where I built relationships with many different people in the broader Morningside community and began to really feel connected to the community here. Before that, I developed really fabulous friendships with people across GS and Barnard. I'm really proud of how I managed to safely integrate myself in the community while balancing major transitions in COVID policies, school on and off of Zoom, and moving to a new city and school halfway through my undergraduate education," she said.
"Professor Courtney Bender, who in addition to being the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the religion department is a fabulous person and professor, has been instrumental to me during my time at GS," she added.
"I had no idea what I wanted to study at Columbia and was feeling nervous about my impending move to NYC. Professor Bender has been a huge help in figuring out how classes transfer from Trinity, and I've loved every class I've taken with her. Most recently, she was incredibly supportive throughout the thesis process—even when a computer crash erased my whole thesis file on my final draft!"