Friday, September 17, 2021

Rina Madhani (GLS '14), Co-founder & Executive Director of the Literary Organization Start Lighthouse

Rina working for Start Lighthouse

Start Lighthouse was founded by NYU alumni Rina Madhani (GLS '14), Tejas Vemparala (STERN '14) and Brittany Kramer (CAS '14) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in response to widespread school and library closures. Start Lighthouse creates access through customized literacy kits, literacy programming with a racial justice lens, and monthly community workshops for family members and caregivers in the South Bronx.

Since launching, they have collected 5,186 brand-new books for our customized literacy kits, formed a partnership with Congresswoman Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez to scale their programming, and held a virtual decolonizing education hackathon that brought together 120 individuals nationally. Rina sat down with us to talk about her experiences at NYU and what motivated her to co-found Start Lighthouse.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Mariella Paulino (CAS ‘12), Founder of Project Hearing

Mariella Paulino
What is your favorite memory of your time at NYU? 

One of my favorite memories was during my very first week at NYU. My family lives in the Bronx, and my mother came with me for orientation week. Since I was a student with a disability, we were informed about the disability office - now called the Moses Center for Student Accessibility - via Ms. Valerie Cabral, the Assistant Director for the NYU Opportunity Programs at the time (now the Director of Alumni Relations at New York University Tandon School of Engineering). 

At the Moses Center, Ms. Cabral introduced me to Maria Schiano, the Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. Following our first meeting, Maria set up services I had never received before and didn't know existed! These services included real-time captioning from people like Lauren Schechter and Wendy Ruiz, two of the best stenographers in the industry. There were other services like notetakers, preferential seating, and hearing equipment upgrades like the newest state-of-the-art personal microphones —which came in handy during the freshman year lecture halls which had over 150+ students! These services were set up almost immediately for all my orientation week activities and summer and fall classes. I started having access to classroom conversations that allowed me to engage with my peers and professors with a new sense of independence and access I never had before. 

I remember looking at my mom during that meeting and knowing that we had made the right decision in choosing NYU. After our first meeting, Maria made a comment along the lines of, "She is going to get everything she needs to be successful here." I finally felt a sense of being seen as a person with a disability who needed accommodations to facilitate equal access and being in a space where I knew I would be supported with tools that met only the highest standards. 

Mariella Paulino: her story continues

Monday, July 12, 2021

An NYU Family: B. Seth Bryant (WSC '92, LAW '95), Goldie Bryant (CAS '95) and Levi Bryant (LS ’24)

B. Seth Bryant, Goldie Bryant and Levi Bryant
Goldie, Levi and B. Seth Bryant


Can you share the story of how you two met?

Seth: We met in the Fall of 1991 when I was a senior in CAS and she was a freshman - also in CAS. I went to a screening of a movie for NYU students, which might have been a Kid N’ Play movie, where I first saw my wife. I was immediately intrigued by this beautiful young woman. In that first encounter, I played it cool and remained reserved despite the instant attraction. 

I remember there was an incredible hip hop concert at the then Loeb Student Center that featured groups like Leaders of the New School with Busta Rhymes, Black Sheep, Cypress Hill and Naughty by Nature. These were the new faces of hip hop back then – now they’re old school. Goldie and I crossed paths at that concert a few weeks after the movie screening. Soon after that, my roommate, who was trying to date her sister – who was also a student at NYU, suggested that we take them out on a double date. I was all for it.

After a fun double date at the Angelika Film Center, Goldie and I started seeing each other regularly and have been together ever since. 

Goldie: We were different years, had different majors and we didn’t take any classes together. But we’d see each other at NYU student gatherings, Bobst Library, Washington Square Park and Coles gym – and that was key to our budding relationship.

The Bryant Family: their story continues

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Jennifer Shahade (CAS '03), Two-Time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion

Jennifer Shahade

Jennifer Shahade (CAS ’03) is a two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, Program Director at US Chess Women, speaker, host, author, podcaster and PokerStars Ambassador. She is the author of “Chess B*tch” and “Play Like a Girl,” books that, along with her work for US Chess Women, aim to bring more females into the game. She sat down with us to talk about chess as an art form, the strategy behind poker and the hit Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.” 

What did you study at NYU?

I started as a Philosophy student, then after taking some Literature classes I felt that it was the right direction for me. I was also studying Spanish. I took an Art History class that I loved, which became really important for me. Both art and literature became a big part of my career.

Jennifer Shahade: her story continues