Rainbow Hawaiian lei? Check. Neon purple plastic shades Check. Blue polo freshly laundered (or Febreezed depending on level of desperation)? Check. Coffee? Check check check check check. I pull open the door to room 141 and greet 72 bright, smiling faces.

I am a peer advisor of Cluster B’15, also known as the "Beach Bums."

The Peer Advisor (PA) program was established to help incoming students transition and integrate into the Columbia Business School community. For each cluster within the new class, there is a PA group of seven to nine second-years that leads those students through Orientation Week and serves as a resource throughout their time here at CBS. Even though the peer advisors may have different backgrounds and experiences, all of them share a commonality: each of them believes in the CBS community.

Words cannot begin to describe the amazing first year I had at CBS. Sure, there were ups and downs, but one thing always stayed consistent. It was the CBS community that celebrated with me through the good times, and it was the CBS community that lifted me up through the rough times (thank you recruiting and finals). Because of this, I knew I had to apply to be a PA. I wanted the new class to have the same experience I did and when I was selected as a PA for the Class of 2015, I knew this was my chance to give back to the school and keep the CBS culture going.

Only it was so much more.

On the last day of Orientation, many students described the week as transformative and “the best week of my life, ever.”  What the new class may not have known is that this entire process has been equally life-changing for us PAs as well. I came into Orientation with the mindset of paying it forward and left having my mind blown by the CBS community again. Being a PA allowed me to reach out of my comfort zone and learn so much more about myself as a leader over the course of just one week. In addition, I came to know my team inside and out and even though I only met some of them three months ago, today it feels like I have known these eight people my entire life. As we took down the last of our homeroom decorations on Friday evening, I realized how truly lucky I was to be where I was at that moment. Even though our bodies beckoned for more caffeine and a good night’s rest, I would not have chosen to be anywhere else but there.