Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist in Suzanne Collins wildly popular series The Hunger Games, conquers life and death through a mix of preparation, smarts and of course…her bow. For one of the University’s resident archers, life on campus for the past four years has been far less dramatic, but Columbia College graduate Marilyn He is just as prepared to face the wider world.
Born in Wisconsin but raised in Philadelphia, she was recruited for the archery team as a senior at Conestega High School. He says that Columbia’s program, one of the few national varsity teams at the time, seemed like an ideal fit.
“Archery is equally frustrating and exhilarating,” said He, who is a double major in economics and psychology. “It’s impossible to be perfect, but sometimes you can almost come close.”
“It's just as important to experience failure as it is success”
Under He’s leadership as captain, the archery team has won two national championships, and is competing for a third title at the U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships shortly before Commencement on May 18.
In addition to athletics, He has juggled a slew of other extracurricular activities. During her sophomore year, she launched a baking company called ‘Sweets for Your Suite.’ Her homemade cookies, muffins, cream puffs and cakes became so popular that even off-campus companies were soon placing orders. The demand proved to be too much for He’s already full schedule so she shut down after a semester. But she remained undeterred, “It’s just as important to experience failure as it is success,” said He.
She soon began work on a project in her native Philadelphia, organizing some 300 volunteers to assist high school students in low-income communities with their college essays.
Following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, He noticed that many Columbia students had an overage of canned goods, bottled water and other unneeded supplies. So she mobilized the community through social media and pooled together two trucks worth of donations, transporting them straight to the relief efforts.
He held various roles at the Columbia Daily Spectator but saw the need for another student-run publication. She co-founded The Lion, a daily blog that curates Columbia content with a ‘slightly snarky’ sensibility.
“I like to stay busy,” she says with a smile. “But it’s really about accepting what you can and cannot do.”
Off-campus, she continued to test-drive her skills, with internships at places such as Ernst & Young, Bon Appétit, Columbia Green Market and Hillstone Restaurant Group. Her work experience covered a breadth of subject areas, ranging from finance to social media, marketing and more.
“Columbia is like a land of opportunity,” Marilyn says. “You’ve really just got to take advantage to make the most of this place.”
Following graduation, He will begin work as a talent branding and communications analyst for Credit Suisse. She also plans to return to campus next year and hopes to stay involved with the Archery Club, which is noncompetitive, but helps budding archers develop their skills.
—by Cindy del Rosario-Tapan