Natalie Benson-Greer

Creative Writing (BA)

What would you say has been the most surprising thing you learned at Columbia?  

The most surprising thing I’ve learned at Columbia was all thanks to my advisor. When I went to see him about adding a minor, he suggested a minor in management. At first, I didn’t like the idea thinking it was going to be a bunch of dry business courses, the exact thing I was trying to avoid at art school. But after looking into the courses and considering my future career, I decided to give it a try. I soon learned that management, like writing, is instrumental across fields. More importantly, I learned I have a mind for leadership. This surprised me as I’ve spent most of my life being quiet and at times entirely nonassertive. As I’ve gone through my courses in the management minor, I’ve come to see myself as someone who takes initiative, problem solves and is a leader.  

What experiences or courses at Columbia do you feel have been most beneficial? 

The mentorship I’ve received from my advisors and professors has been incredibly beneficial. One of the main reasons I chose Columbia, is the faculty who are primarily working professionals. Being taught by those active in their field completely shaped my learning experience. Professors give real, tangible working advice that transfers into my career. The faculty here is also willing to open their doors and give guidance through my work as a student, writer, and human. Some of my most important breakthroughs as a writer and student have come from conferences with my professors. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had with the faculty, specifically in the Creative Writing Department, but across campus as well. 

What are your plans for after graduation? 

While my immediate plans to travel after graduation have been derailed due to COVID-19, my longer-term plans are still standing. First, and most dearly, I will finish the novel I’ve started in my undergraduate education. Eventually, I plan to find a job that fits with my experience in leadership and as a writer. Then in a few years, I plan to attend graduate school with a fellowship in Creative Writing to further my education. But for now, I plan to write, celebrate my achievements and continue to navigate these strange times.  

Do you have any advice for current students? 

Take advantage of the incredible opportunities and support you have here at Columbia. There are so many great ways to get involved with the community and build your experience. School organizations, events, and on or off campus internships are all a central part to building your community and sharing your art. There is programming here designed to support students and I advise everyone to tap into these resources. So, sign up for readings, go to the events, talk to your advisor, apply for the internship, and take advantage of the opportunities here.