Updated: Sep 4, 2021
“The funny story I always tell people is that in eight grade, I went online, and I looked up history and sociology and how I could study both in college and the first thing that popped up was anthropology… and ever since then I knew that I was going to major in anthropology,” Elise Fuller, CC ’19, says. We met in Lerner Piano Lounge, and Fuller arrived with coffee in one hand and her Ferris dinner in the other. Fuller, a sociocultural anthropology major, is the Vice President of Policy for CCSC, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and a member of the Black Student Organization.
Fuller came to Columbia not only because of the strength of her major program, but also because of a “community aspect” she identified in Columbia pre-enrollment and that has only enriched her understanding of throughout her four years. Fuller chose sociocultural anthropology “because all I do is study people, all I do is talk about people… I think that’s a good skill to have in life,” and Columbia because she “wanted to be some place where [she] was going to grow and be completely different than [she] was back home.”
“Not that me back home was bad, but I wanted to be some place that was different and I feel like you have to grow up when you come to New York,” Fuller elaborates. “You’re going to be in a lot of different places, people are speaking a lot of different languages, you just need to have a certain wherewithal about you, and I felt that Columbia would give me the academic aspects and also that worldliness that New York has to offer.”
“My favorite moments that have happened off campus have always been serendipitous,” Fuller says. The things that take Fuller by surprise are often those that she values most. Entry into CU’s ‘Urban New York’ lottery gave Fuller the opportunity to see Serena Williams play and to go to the Apollo Theatre. Running into a friend on the 42nd Street subway ended with Fuller exploring a fencing studio filled with accomplished fencers from all around the world.
Fuller even joined CCSC in a moment of chance. “I was involved in some things but not too many on campus, I saw the application. My mom sent me a text message, she said, ‘You need to apply’.’”
“I’ve created my own little niche there, whichI’ve really enjoyed,” Fuller reflects. CCSC has only underscored for Fuller the importance of “creating organic relationships” and pushed Fuller to become an advocate for experiencing school holistically. For her, school and social life are not separable. She sees“college [as] not only a mental thing but also a physical thing.”
Fuller enjoys “think[ing] about Columbia when most people would just want to be done with it” and “being a liaison between” the many realms of campus life. She hopes to leave something for longevity.
Columbia has taught Fuller to prioritize herself; to be unafraid “to say ‘this isn’t going to work for me, but I am also still so passionate.’” With aColumbia experience defined by tackling head-on ways to make the experience itself better, Fuller reminds herself, and us, that the four years she has spent on this campus are indeed her own.