Learn more about your fellow spectator alumni.
Every month we feature one or two alumni in our newsletter and on our website, and we want to hear from you. If you would like to be featured or would like to recommend a friend to be featured, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DANIELA QUINTANILLA (CC '14)
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE STRATEGY (MB 136)
CURRENTLY: Analyst at BlackRock
- What have you been up to since graduating from Columbia? What's your current profession?
"I became interested in investment portfolios, and I am now working in asset management in the financial sector."
- Is what you're doing now related to the work you did at Spec? If so, how?
"Yes, I think Spec gave me a lot of experiences that I didn’t anticipate when I signed up. Being in the Business Section actually really shaped my career. Having the flexibility to really run a business, working with our board of directors and thinking about how to fund our projects, looking at advertising and sales is unique to Spec. All those things, each requires different skillets that now are useful to me. I just don't feel that any other organization at Columbia gave me the same tools and flexibility that Spectator did.”
- Can you describe for us your role and journey in this organization?
“I started in a non-content section, and I was also in the associate board for content. Then, I entered into the Finance Section, and I was on the managing board as director of Finance Strategy. After that, I became and associate for Spectrum and Opinion. Many people stick to one section, but I had a very non-linear and diverse journey at Spec."
- What's your favorite Spec memory?
"I was in the room when they announced that the Columbia Daily Spectator was going completely online. It was a historical moment not only for us, but for campus media in general and especially within the Ivy League."
- You won the Robert Shellow Gerdy Prize in 2014. Can you tell us a little bit about how that felt?
"I can't describe how surprised and grateful I was for receiving the prize. It was such an honor for me to win a prize that for decades has been the recognition for somebody who has meant a lot not only for the paper, but also for the school. And I think my mark on campus was not only for Spectator, but also for being involved in Columbia in general and being vocal on campus. You don't do something just because you want to be recognized for it, but because you love it."
ABBY ABRAMS (BC '15)
138th Editor in chief, 137th Deputy news editor, 136th associate news editor
Currently: Reporter at Time Magazine
- When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"I don’t really think that I had a specific career goal, but from early on, I figured out that what I liked to do was write. So whether that was journalism or trying to be an author or something like that, writing was definitely something that I enjoyed. Journalism was certainly an option out there, but writing was the goal from the beginning."
- What is your favorite memory from Spec?
"It’s so hard pick one when you’re spending most of your time there. One of the things that I loved most about Spec was getting to spend all those late night hours with people that you got to know so well. If there was news happening late at night, it seemed like so much fun to be at the Spec office at 1 or 2 am working on an article. I feel like those late night hours when you get delirious from working on stories that feel so important were some of my best memories of college."
- How have the skills you learned from Spec helped you in the real world?
"I think that I learned so much at Spec and a lot of it was fundamentals of journalism, like how to interview people and how to think about telling a story. But also the area of coverage that I did at Spec is relevant because I did a lot of stories about students’ personal lives and a lot about mental health on Columbia’s campus. Now that I’m at TIME, I’m starting to write stories about health, wellness and medicine, and that’s an area of journalism that I would like to continue to pursue. Getting to think about how big issues like health policy can affect people’s personal lives is something that I learned about really quickly at Columbia and at Spec and that I’ve taken out into the professional world."
- What advice would you give to a large group of strangers?
"This is cheesy, but I think it’s very important to make sure to be kind to people. We’re all very invested in being funny and ironic, especially when you’re in college, but it’s important to remember to be kind to other people and to yourself."
- What is your biggest regret?
"I guess, like most people, I have lots of small regrets. I think the most obvious one that comes to mind, is I feel like I should regret not going to class more. But, I very much enjoyed my time at school and enjoyed my time at Spec and so I don’t really regret spending all that time at Spec. I guess I do regret not doing more of the readings and not taking advantage of everything at Barnard and Columbia."