Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Alumni Relations Office!!

Season's greetings from Arts & Science Alumni Relations! We are wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

We'd, also, like to take a moment to thank everyone who attended this year's CAA Alumni Holiday Happy Hour this year at Phebe's. The turnout was fantastic, and everyone had a fun night socializing and networking. Here are a few highlights from the night:






We hope all of our alumni are enjoying their holiday season, and we look forward to joining you again next year, in 2012!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Student Profile: Dylan Anderson (CAS '12)

Dylan Anderson is a junior studying Political Communication and Culture with minors in Social & Public Policy and Russian & Slavic Studies. Coming from a White/Latino background, he found himself advocating for social equality in high school. Now, as a CAS student, Dylan is realizing his passion in meaningful ways and rapidly developing an advanced understanding of social justice.


Earlier this week, we spoke with Dylan about featuring him on the blog. After an enthusiastic response, we sent him the following questions. His answers reveal deep-rooted passion and a mature understanding of social injustices.

Could you talk briefly about how you became interested in politics and social/public policies?

This stems from where I grew up and my family background. I grew up in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a small city in the central part of the state and also one of the poorest cities in the state. Going to high school in an inner city school, I was surrounded by all the accompanying inner city problems: violence and gangs, drug usage, family issues – an incredible amount of factors that prevented students from being successful in school. However, one element that always bothered me was the school generally did not take these outside factors into account. Rather, students’ failure was seen as something intrinsic in the students, without consideration of these social problems they had to deal with.

A lot of the work I did in high school involved improving the resources for students to help them be more successful academically. On the Student Council, I got the library to extend its hours after school; for many students, this was the only opportunity they had to use a computer and complete school work. My Senior year I founded the AP Test Fund. Students had to pay to take their AP exams. This cost deterred many from trying for fear that they would receive a non-passing grade. However, of the students who did go on to college, most went to state schools where a score of 3 or above is accepted, ultimately saving these students money. The AP Test Fund was designed to subsidize the costs of exams so more students would take them.

In my own personal life, I come from a half Latino, half white background. Race has always been incredibly salient to me. I have fair skin, fair hair, and a fairly Anglo name; my sister (named Maria) has a much darker complexion. We’ve always been very similar – in our appearances, in how we act, in what we’ve achieved – but because of our different physical color, she always received much different treatment in schools than I did. Racial tensions were also extremely present in my high school. The school used a tracking system, and as the classes became more difficult, they also became noticeably whiter – even though minorities made up a majority of the school population. Social circles tended to segregate themselves based on these divisions, causing a lot of conflict between white students and minority students.


I had never really thought about entering politics until I started applying to college. When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to pursue, I realized that I had already been acting as an advocate of sorts. This kind of work and what I had done in Fitchburg was incredibly important to me; entering politics on a larger scale at NYU seemed like a natural progression.

If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?

There are so many answers I could give for this question. But I think the one answer that I can give that would solve many problems would be for the equality of opportunity to actually exist. In the United States in particular, there’s a general sentiment that with a little hard work you can make it anywhere – without a lot of recognition of the institutional barriers that prevent most people from doing just that. I’m not saying that I would make every person equal along all lines. Rather, I would like to see a society in which the amount of work you put into your education, career, community, etc. translates into equivalent outcomes, and that people have the opportunity from the start to choose to pursue those education, career, and family paths they desire.

How have scholarships and awards influenced the direction of your studies at NYU?

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars program has influenced my entire career at NYU. Through the coursework and mentor relationships I’ve developed in the program, the scholarship has given me a lens through which I approached all my studies. I learned about the self-designed honors major through a program associate, and they helped me through the application process. With my experiences with the program, my major, Political Communication and Culture, is not about studying how to win campaigns. It’s about looking at political communication systems (campaigns, news outlets, government entities, etc.) and how they operate as societal actors. I’ve looked at things like how campaign advertisements alienate certain racial groups, how the crime coverage is implicitly biased against racial minorities, and how media depictions of minorities can unconsciously imbed racist views. But without the social justice framework and support network of the scholarship, my studies probably would have turned out differently.

Where do you see yourself in fifteen years?

I honestly don’t know where my work will take me. Whenever I’m asked this, I wish I could provide a definite answer. Right now I’m pre-law, hoping to focus on media law and critical race theory. With this I would continue on my current academic trajectory, looking at how things like 1st Amendment case law and statutes regarding media regulation affect minority communities. However, my biggest priority is continuing to fight for racial justice. Wherever I end up in my career that will be ultimate goal of my work.


I have two big “dreams” if you want to call them that. First, I want to be successful enough and to have had enough impact in my field to testify in front of Congress and retire as an adjunct professor. I have these two goals because I feel as though they indicate that you’ve achieved a high level of credibility in your field, have been able to work towards significant change in that field, and you have the ability to transfer a certain passion onto another generation. Second, my dream career is to start a Political Action Committee (PAC) focused solely on ethical campaigning. The PAC would award money to candidates based on factors like which communities are they targeting (or alienating), how they go negative, how they advertise or talk about contentious issues (like immigration), etc. It would take a lot of time and money, but I think it would be a step towards involving more communities in the political process and creating a more civil political process. For now, I guess I’ll see what happens.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Faculty Profile: Professor Deborah Landau


Professor Deborah Landau is the Director of the Creative Writing Department at NYU Arts and Science. She is the author of Orchidelirium, which won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and The Last Usable Hour, a Lannan Literary Selection published by Copper Canyon Press.

Last week, we had a chance to speak with Professor Landau about what inspires her poetry, her experiences at NYU, and how alumni can get involved with the Creative Writing Department!

Were you always interested in poetry? As a graduating high school senior about to embark on your undergraduate education, what path did you initially see yourself heading down?

I’ve loved poetry since childhood. My mother gave me a book of Anne Sexton’s Love Poems when I turned thirteen and I was hooked.

When I left Ann Arbor (to go to Stanford) at first I thought I’d major in Physics or Philosophy but I couldn’t stop signing up for English classes. I ended up being an English major, writing poetry, and eventually going on to graduate school in English Literature.

Could you provide a brief synopsis of your background, and what factors influenced you to become a writer and teacher of poetry?

After finishing my PhD I thought I’d be an English Professor somewhere, but found I was more interested in writing poetry than in writing about poetry. I was fortunate enough to land a job teaching poetry at The New School, where I spent many years as an Associate Professor and Asst. Chair of the Writing Program before coming to NYU to direct the Creative Writing Program here in 2007.


To quote Robert Frost, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” Where do your poems come from? Is there a specific emotion, process or ritual that helps you get the words down on paper?

I love that quotation from Frost -- if we were content with the world the way it is why would we make anything? Writing poetry is a compulsion, and an extremely satisfying one. In my experience, poems often begin from a place of inner agitation. I work to suspend the inner critic for as long as I can to generate language, and then try to be as ruthless as possible in revision. I do need a routine--which is to try to write at least an hour every morning no matter what--because otherwise the demands of my job would take over entirely. Reading is crucial. Good music and lots of coffee are helpful, too.

In the art world, the question is often speculated, “What is art?” In your opinion, what is a poem? Are there rules one must follow to create a successful poem? Or can anyone simply declare their writing as a work of poetry?

I would say that a poem is any piece of language defined by its author as a poem. What is a good poem? That is a more difficult question to answer, and has a lot to do with personal taste. It’s hard to generalize, but the poems I love most tend to have a particular intensity and compression, and tend to be made of language that is lively, vivid, and strange, and driven by a strong interior music and currents of emotion.

You have a wide academic background that includes studying at Stanford, Columbia and Brown—all prestigious, world-class universities. How does your experience at NYU compare, and has your time teaching in the Creative Writing Department influenced your personal work in any way?

I adore my job at NYU – it’s an inspiring and sustaining pleasure to work with so many extraordinary poets (Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Charles Simic, Matthew Rohrer, among many others). The students, too, are wonderfully energetic and smart and talented. I feel very fortunate to show up for work every day at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House where so many lively conversations about literature and writing occur daily.

What distinguishes NYU’s Creative Writing program?

Our world-class faculty. In addition to the poetry faculty (listed above) our fiction faculty this year include E.L Doctorow, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, Lydia Davis, Aleksandar Hemon, Chuck Wachtel, and Darin Strauss. The marvelous Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on 10th street is a beautiful home for the program – classes are held there, faculty have offices there, on Thursday and Friday evenings we fill the place to the rafters and hold readings ( followed by booksignings and wine receptions. The students use the public areas of the house as lounges throughout the year, bringing books and laptops, ordering in food, meeting in small groups. And we have fantastic house parties whenever there is cause to celebrate.

What options are there for our alumni to become more involved in the Creative Writing program?

We love to see alums at our weekly readings ( and alumni are also welcome to drop by 58 West 10th Street anytime to see the house and say hello.


A Poem by Deborah Landau:

from Welcome to the Future

worry the river over its banks
the train into flames

worry the black rain into the city
the troops into times square

worry the windows cracked acidblack
and the children feverblistered

worry never another summer
never again to live here gentle
with the other inhabitants

then leave too quickly
leave the pills and band-aids
the bathroom scale the Christmas lights the dog

go walking on our legs
dense and bare and useless

worry our throats and lungs
into taking the air

leave books on the shelves
leave keys dustpan

telephones don't work where you were
in the chaos

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Goliards

We are always thrilled when alumni send us their photos such as this one from Bob Shedlarz, ARTS '67, taken at the Heights Hall of Fame by the Associate Engineering Dean, Larry Hollander in the Spring of 1967. The Goliards were a subsidiary singing group formed from NYU Glee Club members, chosen by Associate Director E. Jon DeRevere, who later was professor of music at the Square. The vocalists took their name from a band of medieval students who roamed throughout Europe, composing and singing songs of a secular nature.

NYU's Goliards always had a heavy schedule of appearances for many campus and out-of-town performances, as well as radio and coast-to-coast TV. In 1962, they were invited by the Armed Forces Entertainment Bureau to tour Europe over the summer for seven weeks to entertain at the Armed Forces Bases.


Personnel, back row, from the left: Steve Peiser, Bob Billig, Dick Zahnd, Bob Schneider, Stu Kauffman, Bruce Kanfer, Bill Philpot. Front row, kneeling, from the left: Stu Patchen, Bob Shedlarz.

If you have photos you'd like to send to us please email us at We would also like to remind you that all of the Heights yearbooks are now digitized and can be viewed at the Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center, 50 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Student Profile: Erin Schrode (CAS '13)

Erin Schrode, among (many) other things, is a junior studying in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. Those "other" things include the co-founder and spokeswoman for "Teens Turning Green," the founder of "The Schoolbag" initiative, promoter of environmental education and global sustainability, actress, and model... And that's only on the weekdays.


Erin has written for the Huffington Post, the elephant journal, Eco Age and Green Envy, to name a few. She has also been featured by NBC, ABC, BBC, CNN, MTV, FOX, E!, Discovery, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, The White House, AOL and BBC Radio (again, just to name a few). For her full portfolio and more, visit Erin's website at

Last week, we were lucky enough to catch Ms. Schrode between studying for finals and writing term papers, so we asked her a few questions about her experience at NYU and how it has tied into her life as an "ecoRenaissance" woman. Enjoy!


What made you choose NYU for your undergraduate education? And what influenced you to focus your studies on social and cultural analysis?

I walked through the Washington Square campus when I was three years old – and that was it. I was hooked. From that moment on, I imagined myself at NYU. As a young actress, I originally thought Tisch was where I would end up, but as my interest in international relations and global studies grew, CAS emerged as the perfect fit. So, I applied and got accepted into the DEANS Scholars’ Program! Discovering the quantitative focus of our IR curriculum led me to look into other options, programs of study where I could delve into the cultural and humanistic side of international relations. I’m a people person and love seeing the diversity in experiences, communications, and approaches worldwide. While studying abroad in Ghana, someone suggested I take a look at the SCA track, where I could synthesize different areas of cultural studies… and that is precisely what I have been able to do through this department!

Since enrolling at NYU in Fall 2009, you’ve participated in the One Young World international youth conference in London, traveled to Haiti to help with disaster response, developed “The Schoolbag” initiative, traveled through the Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel, lived in Ghana, West Africa, and even shot with the renowned photographer, David Bailey, for Vanity Fair (just to name a few). How do you find time for your school work!?

How do I find time for school work – good question! Well, I don’t sleep. That’s the first thing. Otherwise, I have been incredibly fortunate to have teachers that support my work both inside and outside of the classroom. I have crafted schedules that allow for extended weekends, so I can travel to conferences or speak or shoot or whatnot. I have used the various abroad sites as international hubs – and my vacations and summers are always spent on the move as well!

How have your studies at NYU influenced your focus in environmental and/or social advocacy?

NYU has given me the gift of a global perspective. I have had the chance to pursue and further my environmental and social efforts on a much larger scale, launching environmental education projects with students in Accra, Ghana and facilitating cross-cultural communication among Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli youth around common issues of environmental resources, degradation, and conservation. Would I EVER have the chance to do this without NYU? Nope! That is rather remarkable; the entire platform of global studies excites and inspires me. I have also had the great privilege to work with the Sustainability Task Force (for the time that I was actually at the campus on Washington Square Park!) around purchasing and food services. NYU has made great strides as a ‘green’ and environmentally-conscious campus, but there is much more to be done – and I look forward to collaborating with students and administration to further this work. We can and should be a model for universities worldwide!

At the ripe age of twenty years-old, you are the Co-founder of “Turning Green” and the Founder/CEO of “The Schoolbag.” Could you speak briefly about these two endeavors—and to what do you attribute such early successes?


Active citizenry is in my blood. I am the daughter of a television producer-turned-grassroots activist! My mother has instilled in me the belief that one person truly can make a difference in the world – and that we cannot stand apathetically in the face of injustice or wrongdoings at any level. If we can live healthier, happier lives, why not do it?! We walk through life with open eyes and ears, get involved, lead by example, and have an absolute ball in the process! Optimism is our guiding principle. We stand for collaboration in all that we do, forging partnerships and uniting people across various sectors or from differing backgrounds. One such group that I am privileged to be a part of is One Young World, an international youth network comprised of the world’s most promising leaders under age 25 from more than 170 nations!

I co-founded Teens Turning Green in 2005. TTG is a student led movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. TTG seeks to promote global sustainability by identifying and eliminating toxic exposures that permeate daily life, often unknowingly, yet threaten public and environmental health. What began in California in 2005 now has a presence at elementary, middle and high schools, universities, and student organizations across the United States, as well as a strong virtual platform and media presence. Chapters nationwide lead grassroots efforts that aim to raise awareness, encourage behavior change, and lobby for policy that will lessen local and global impact. We just hosted our largest and most robust initiative to date, Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco lifestyle challenge that brought together thousands of high school and college students from across the country to transition from conventional to conscious through simple, fun, and high impact daily actions. The digital platform, interaction, and responses were phenomenal – and now we are preparing for the PGC Finals: Green University, a two-day eco summit in the Bay Area, California in December.


After working in disaster response in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, I founded The Schoolbag. The Schoolbag enables children to pursue an education by providing basic school supplies to young people in need, beginning with Haiti. Raising awareness about the lack of access to education around the world, each bag contains adequate materials for one student to learn for one year. The Schoolbag features environmentally sustainable and ethically produced tools and materials to initiate environmental education. Lack of access to, or availability of, satisfactory school supplies and materials prohibits many children from learning. Acquisition of knowledge is the first step on the path to global sustainability, prosperity, and world peace; innovation and progress stem from education, a universal right. The Schoolbag allows students to further their studies, particularly those living in disaster or conflict-stricken areas or chronic poverty. Our team of international and Haitian volunteers just returned from our back-to-school delivery (Sept – Oct 2011), reaching over 14,189 students with school supplies for this year! It was a truly phenomenal experience; to see the impact that a simple pencil and notebook can have on a student, a teacher, a community is beautiful. There is nowhere on earth that I love more than Haiti – and my work there will continue for years to come, I know.

What advice do you have for other young activists/entrepreneurs who might have passionate interests and creative ideas, but struggle to materialize their passion into a meaningful initiative or new venture?

Passion is the most vital ingredient. Once you find that, everything else will fall into line. Gather a group of like-minded friends or colleagues, educate yourself on the issue (you must know your facts and points of reference, particularly as a young person in an adult’s world), seek out partners – be it organizations, leaders, experts, corporations, media outlets – and get to work! Spread the word! Raise awareness about your platform via social and traditional media. Set clear goals, but arrive at them organically. You will be surprised at the unexpected opportunities that present themselves to you – seize those moments! Be innovative. Believe in yourself. Shoot for the impossible. My motto is: dream and do.

What kind of role do you see yourself taking after graduating from NYU? And where do you see yourself in twenty years from now?

What do I want to be when I grow up, eh? Yikes! To tell you the truth, I haven’t a clue. I am waiting for something to present itself to me. My life has not followed any sort of linear or predictable path – and I treasure that. I have such a rich and diverse background, filled with experiences that have prepared me for just about anything… so I am seeking an outlet in which I can fuse all that I love and do good for others and the world. Youth, education, environment – these are my passions. Food and travel too! So, we shall see. In twenty years, I imagine myself with a family – somewhere on this glorious planet. And that is about all I can say. For now, I will keep on go-go-going, learning and loving each step of the way.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Anne Green: PR Queen

Anne Green (GSAS, '01) is an accomplished musician, literary scholar, and President and Chief Executive Officer of CooperKatz, an award-winning public relations firm. She helped build CooperKatz from the ground up, was named to PR Week’s annual list of "40 Under 40" rising stars in communications, and serves as a guest lecturer in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies—all while jamming out with her husband, the drummer, in their basement in Queens!

This morning, we were fortunate enough to visit with Ms. Green at her office in Midtown. Below, you’ll find an abridged version of our conversation. For the full interview, please click here.


In the early 2000's, after approximately a decade of working in the field of public relations, you entered into the American Literature PhD program at NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Science. Now, as a PR professional with over twenty years of experience, can you talk a little about your interest in English and how that education has tied into your profession?

It’s funny. When I was in graduate school, I was at the same time still working in public relations and helping Andy and Ralph build the company [CooperKatz]. This was a start-up, so I’ve been with them, really, fifteen years, but that was contiguous so there were times where I was part-time here at the office. But I was really focusing on graduate school as well. So I had a foot both in the professional world and in academia.

I think that one thing that was interesting from my perspective in graduate school and being in that program was the heavy duty theoretical orientation, the amount of information you’re trying to absorb, and trying to learn new things very quickly (say, a new theorist, a new work, or a new perspective). I always said that that kind of training was so well-suited for the agency and professional services life that I was also living in. Because, here, we are a generalist firm; we work across many industry centers. So I’m working in technology, health care, higher education—and within a day, I have fifteen or sixteen different subject matters. And the ability to ramp up that information and to quickly speak in that language is what you need to do when you’re in graduate school in the humanities. So I always used to tell my friends [at NYU], “hey if anyone wants to be in this field, in communications, you would be well-suited for that.” And I know a few people who have made that transition. The critical thinking, the ability to absorb so much information, and to see the connections between things—there’s so many connections now between industries—that’s what really what brings value to our clients. Someone who has a broad perspective and oversight, who can make connections and can give them higher-level counsel.

As a leader in the field of organizational communications, what personal or professional qualities do you find most valuable in your role?

Definitely intellectual curiosity—and I say that when I interview people all the time. We’ve talked about this for a long time, so everyone here really knows this, but we look for renaissance people. It sounds funny to say, but the types of people who truly do have interests in many different kinds of things: can ramp up different types of information, can get excited about it (that’s the curiosity piece), and can stretch themselves in various ways. Not everybody is perfectly good at everything. And some people that work in this field are better suited working with consumer clients than, say, technology or business-to-business. We want our people to be able to work in many fields.

We have a lot of people, here, who are coming from a liberal arts background, and some of them are coming from a bachelor’s where they studied public relations. But in terms of what we’re looking for intellectually, it’s still that broad, liberal arts orientation.

Have you seen social media change the field of public relations throughout your career?

Yes, massively. It’s seismic. I think the field of PR is exactly the same [as the field of social media] in that we have to connect to the different audiences of our clients in meaningful ways, in authentic ways, that are relevant to them—and hopefully influence thinking. So digital channels are completely an organic extension of that, right? So I think that for PR, since we’ve always been very good at reaching out to different constituencies with the message that’s right for them, it’s really adaptable to social media. You have to understand who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. You have to be able to listen to them.

But it’s challenged the field too. There are a lot of folks in this industry who want to push out the information and want to control it. So it’s been hard for this industry to understand that we’re not controlling the message; we need to work with and understand the fact that we’re getting talked back to—people are talking back to us. annegreen2.jpg

And another challenge is that there are a lot of types of marketing. There’s advertising, there’s interactive agencies, so there’s a sense of “who owns social media?” which is a weird, interesting question.

It’s interesting, and I’ll tell you one thing—keeping up with technology is a full-time job. And, you know, there’s a lot of firms that have a social media specialist. But I really feel strongly that everyone in our whole firm has to stay up-to-date with it and we have to educate each other. So whatever level we’re at, we all really have to stay connected. We all have to be sharing knowledge.

And the hard thing too is that, you know, no one had any cognitive dissonance about using an excel spreadsheet to record data, right? But with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, they’re personal tools too. So it all kind of gets wound up in how you feel, personally, as a human being, about using those tools, and how exposed you want to feel. So people sometimes have a lot more angst about these channels. Everyone has a lot of different feelings about privacy and about access, so when these things are also business tools, it gets a lot more messy. And we used to talk in academia about the personal versus the public, and I really see that now in the business world. So that’s another way that my academic background informs me.

To read more about Anne Green, her perspective of a graduate education, the role of music in her life, and even a brief opinion about the recent Penn State crisis, be sure to read her entire interview.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A World of Chocolate

If you are in New York City this weekend and enjoy sampling chocolate from around the world, be sure to check out the NY Chocolate Show which will run from November 10-13, 2011 at Metropolitan Pavilion NYC, 125 West 18th Street.

On Thursday night, alumna Maricel Presilla (GSAS '89) gave an enthusiastic talk about Ecuadorian chocolate. Martin Christy of led the audience through the proper way of tasting chocolate, slowly bringing it to the mouth so that you see and smell it first then slowly letting it melt on your tongue. We were then treated to numerous samples of Ecuadorian chocolate and learned the history and geography of Ecuador and nacional cacao.

Here's our interview with Maricel, filmed at the chocolate show.

Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain. She holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and has received formal training in cultural anthropology.

Dr. Presilla has done considerable research on Latin American agriculture – with special emphasis on tropical crops, cacao and vanilla agriculture, and chocolate production. She is the president of Gran Cacao Company a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. Her latest book is The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2001). Maricel

She has completed a comprehensive Latin American cookbook for W.W. Norton and has contributed articles for Saveur, Food & Wine, Food Arts, and Gourmet.

She writes a weekly food column for the Miami Herald and is as comfortable sailing down the Orinoco to collect recipes in the field as she is cooking at Zafra and Cucharamama, her pan-Latin restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey. Last year she opened Ultramarinos, a Latin American store and cooking atelier, also in Hoboken, NJ, where she sells Latin ingredients, prepared foods, premium chocolates and Blue Cacao, her own line of truffles with Latin flavors.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Professor Sophia Kalantzakos Speaks on FOX about Greece

Sophia Kalantzakos is a Global Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies for NYU Arts and Science. She was recently featured on FOXNEWS, speaking about the Greek economic crisis.

Sophia Kalantzakos was born in Athens. After graduating from Yale and Columbia, she became a Member of the Hellenic Parliament in 2000, the first woman to be elected from the State of Messinia. As a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, she was responsible for Greek-US relations. She was also a member of the European Affairs Committee, the Committee for Education, and served as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection. During her tenure at the Ministry, the government passed far reaching pension reforms and she was especially concerned to promote the creation of green jobs through EU structural funds and to help environmental NGOs create new job openings. Currently active in designing and implementing innovative green projects throughout Greece, Sophia Kalantzakos writes widely on economic, labor, and environmental issues in the press and has published a series of educational books on historical and environmental issues.

To find out more about Professor Kalantzakos' books, speaking engagements and media appearances, and to read her blog, visit

Monday, October 31, 2011

HeightsYearbooks Digitized at Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center--Available Now


All alumni are welcome to visit the Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center where digital versions of the University Heights yearbooks are now available for viewing on the computers in the lobby. The yearbooks span in time from the first Heights yearbook in the late 1800's to 1973. These digitized yearbooks are completely searchable, allowing one to look up specific class photos and/or information from these years.

The Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center, located at 50 West 4th Street is open 9 to 5 PM, Monday through Friday and from 10 to 4 PM on Saturday. They are closed on major holidays.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alumni Featured in 2011 Entrepreneur’s Festival

The 2011 NYU Entrepreneur’s Festival will take place on November 11th and 12th. We are proud to say that at least ten of the entrepreneurs invited to participate in the festival are Arts and Science Alumni.

They are:

Don Katz (WSC, ’74)—Audible
Ari Goldberg (CAS, ’04)—StyleCaster
Steven Isaacman (GSAS, ’09)—Nanometics
Sachin Kamdar (CAS, ’06)—Parsley
Katie Kapler (CAS, ’07/GSAS, ’08)—CourseHorse
Guari Manglik (CAS, ’10)—SpotOn
Andrew Montalenti (CAS, ’06)—Parsley
Ken Perlin (Courant, ’84, ’86)—Tactonic Technologies
Dan Porter (GSAS, ’95)—OMGPOP
Jonathan Teller (WSC, ’92)—eos Products

If you're available on the weekend of 11/11, be sure to check out the festival! For more information and to register for the event, visit

Monday, October 24, 2011

Part III: Finding Employment as an Expatriate

For the last section of our three-part discussion with recent Arts and Science Alumni, we spoke to Yu-Chen Chen, a 27-year-old GSAS Political Science graduate. Yu-Chen is originally from Taiwan and currently lives in NYC.

Upon graduating from GSAS in 2008, Yu-Chen felt pressured—not only due to the economy, but also because her job search was on a time-limit. As a foreign student without a green card, Yu-Chen only had one year to find a company willing to sponsor her working visa. “I needed to find a company willing to tell the government why they wanted to hire me instead of another American citizen, and explain why I am so special that I deserve a job.”


Pressured by American immigration policies, Yu-Chen buckled down and developed a strategic, purposeful job-search strategy. At first, Yu-Chen remembers that she would spend anywhere from 7-8 hours per day applying for jobs: “so much time…and you think you would get something in return. And you do—frustration! My mind was initially just ‘job, job, job.’ Wake up, go straight to the computer, and apply for jobs. It wasn’t good at all.”

After a few days, Yu-Chen realized this technique wasn’t working. So she decided to change her strategy. “I limited myself to applying for jobs only one hour per day. I did not want to waste time. Instead, I did a lot of reading and I prepared for interviews. I recorded myself, listened to the recording, talked to myself, and anticipated questions. Since English is not my first language, I tried to frame my words to make them more appealing.

…Since I knew the type of job I was applying for [marketing research and analysis], I made a cover letter template and modified it based on whichever position I applied for. I was able to quickly send out 10-15 applications per day, and I created a spread sheet to track the companies I was interested in and had applied to.”

In addition to time management, Yu-Chen also told us that networking was an essential strategy for her job search. Specifically, networking through LinkedIn and NYU networking groups proved to be very helpful. We asked Yu-Chen how LinkedIn could best be utilized in this situation: “Join lots of professional groups,” she said, “and keep updating your profile. Recruiters notice that. Also, post questions. There are many experts and gurus on LinkedIn that will notice your questions, respond to you and become a connection.”

Yu-Chen now works as a Research Manager in Customer Loyalty for GFK Custom Research North America, the fourth-largest market research company in the world.

“Why did they choose you?” we asked.

“They needed someone who was technically savvy. I noticed that a lot of new hires in social and political science were not very technical. Most recent grads knew a lot about theory but not how to apply that theory or incorporate it into technical research tools. I provided a working example proving my technical abilities.”

Yu-Chen’s advice is simple: “Make the best use of your time. Don’t spend the whole day applying for jobs. Use your time to improve yourself and to demonstrate that you are so amazing that people will want to hire you. If you spend eight hours applying for jobs, they don’t care. They only care if you are a strong candidate. They won’t know how many jobs you’ve applied for—they only know what you are capable of.”

A special thank you to Yu-Chen Chen, Nora Strecker and Alexander Pogrebinsky for their time and participation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Advice for Recent Grads, Part II: Beyond the USA

Nora Strecker is a 25 year-old, 2010 Arts and Science graduate. She attended NYU for both her BA and MA in economics. Ms. Strecker currently works as a research assistant at the Swiss Federal Institute, and lives outside of Zurich, Switzerland.

We had an opportunity to talk to Ms. Strecker about her experiences at CAS/GSAS, what ultimately led her to search outside the box (aka the US) for work, and how she went about the international job search. She has some very interesting and encouraging advice (applicable also if you wish to stay in the US), so we encourage all recent grads to continue reading!

Upon graduation, Ms. Strecker was worried. “There was a joke in the Econ MA program that we weren’t getting an MA in economics, but rather in economic crisis.” She had begun graduate coursework in 2008, so at that time, the economy was looking especially bleak.

“I had friends who graduated in 2009,” says Strecker, “who were still looking for work by 2010 graduation. Or who were working jobs they were wildly overqualified for and just needed to get by.”


After witnessing others struggle to find employment since 2008, when she graduated in 2010, Strecker decided to investigate other options. “I decided to look elsewhere. I didn’t want to set out for a different city in the US, as all of the US was facing a similar battle with the deluge of recent graduates (from the years 2008, 2009, 2010 all looking to find something)… I moved in with my brother in Switzerland… to a place where I had never been as a working adult.”

Although Ms. Strecker had lived in Switzerland until the age of fourteen, she had never experienced the country as an independent, with “real-life” responsibilities.

“Switzerland’s economy was strong at the time, and as it is the land of banks and money, I thought, it would be a great place for me and my economics MA from a prestigious university in the US. So I moved to Switzerland in August of 2010. Immediately after arriving, I had a job interview at the university. It was a research assistant job… Well, they would end up taking someone who had two masters’ degrees. That was blow number one, I was very disappointed, I never thought that I could be rejected with my awesome degree.

So my job hunt ensued. I would apply for jobs, wait for responses. Mainly negative. My economics degree wasn’t what they were looking for. They wanted someone with a business degree, and although economics might be on the list of ‘qualified candidates should come from the field of [blank],’ their definition and NYU’s definition of economics was very different. I had already perfected my CV, so after my brother had helped me ‘Swiss-ify’ my cover letter, I sent out multiple applications…

In the three months I was actively looking for a job, I got invited to five job interviews, of the 30 job applications I had sent out.”

Ms. Strecker found that going abroad imposed some similar challenges as many of our recent grads are facing here in the US. Applying for jobs and writing cover letters requires you to devote a lot of time and energy to the process, and it can be frustrating if you’re seeing no return on that investment. It is important to reflect on what you could do differently to promote yourself to potential employers. “I had people look over my resume and cover letter,” says Strecker. “It helped to just have people read it and tell me whether my wording was too complicated or how it made me sound. Confident is good, arrogant is bad. Finding that line is hard, so I needed help. Besides, it’s hard to praise yourself without praising yourself.”

Ms. Strecker stressed the need to “get help when you need it.” Having others look over your materials, especially if they are well-acquainted with your chosen profession, can be paramount to you impressing an employer and landing that job.


Lastly, we asked Strecker what advice she had for fellow NYU alumni who are struggling to find work in this harsh economic climate:

“I had so many days when I just had crying fits, regretting my decision, thinking I had been so stupid to give up on the US, but friends and family continued to encourage me with new ideas and gave me a chance to bawl on their shoulders. So get help… Either through NYU, friends, family, your network, friends of family. I had recommendation letters ready to go from my former bosses and professors just in case a job came up that required it.

Ask questions in the interview. I failed in the first interview once he asked ‘have you got any questions for us,’ and I answered ‘not really.’ Big mistake. Research them, prepare bullet points. Even having that list on the table looks good. Plus you’ll feel prepared and ready.

Confidence is good, keep that, but don’t think that you should get that 80k/90k/100k job just because you spent that much on your education. That piece of paper you got in the mail doesn’t have much heft, [it wont] knock anyone out... but YOU can. You learned a lot. So show them that…

And lastly, consider taking the oddball stuff. You never know what’ll happen. Even if you end up in the land of cheese and chocolate, you might always come back to the US or even go somewhere entirely different. The world’s not that big anymore.

What’s NYU’s motto? Perstare et praestare. To persevere and excel. NYU couldn’t have chosen anything more fitting for these economic times.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Advice for Recent Grads

Life as a recent grad isn’t as easy as it used to be—although NYU offers world-class support to our alumni, we realize that, in this harsh economic climate, finding your first post-graduate position is easier said than done. In fact, according to job placement firm Adecco in CNNMoney, “[this year] about 60% of recent graduates have not been able to find a full-time job in their chosen profession.”

We recognize the difficulty our recent grads may be experiencing in the job market— despite all of their remarkable accomplishments while earning their degree at NYU. So we decided to publish a blog-post addressing the issue. Last week, you might have noticed our Facebook posts and Twitter tweets asking to speak with you about your post-grad experiences searching for a job. Well, we spoke to several individuals, and we would like to take this opportunity to highlight the stories and advice of three exceptional graduates who chose the road less traveled and took different approaches to the job search. Over the next few days, we will be posting a three-part blog entry that will offer advice and encouragement to our recent alums:

Part I: Entrepreneurship
Part II: Beyond the USA
Part III: Finding Employment as an Expatriate

Part I: Entrepreneurship

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Alexander Pogrebinsky is a 28 year-old 2011 graduate of the Russian and Slavic Studies Masters program at the Graduate School of Arts and Science. He is COO at Pogrebinsky Group Inc., whose first venture (a high-end restaurant in Long Island City) will be opening in mid-November.

While studying at NYU, Pogrebinsky was thankful to be part of an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking—an academic environment that he states, “resulted in disciplined and highly competitive graduates.” While it is true that NYU graduates are certainly distinguished among grads of many other American universities, the job market can still prove to be an unforgiving and frustrating place. And with a little guts, some connections and a good attitude, you might want to consider spending your downtime planning a new venture.

At graduation, Mr. Progrebinsky felt proud of his fellow graduates and his University, and he was inspired by President Bill Clinton’s commencement speech. But upon graduating, his mind was already made up—he had chosen to go in his own direction: “Long before my graduation, I was thinking about which way I will go. I considered several options, both in the private sector and in government… I came to the conclusion that at this point, regardless of how risky it is to start your own business, it was more of a risk not to start my business.”

Networking: for anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur, networking is critical. Of course, networking is also imperative throughout any typical job searching process, but the strategy for generating useful contacts can be quite different for an entrepreneur. Maintenance of strong relationships will help you to strengthen your new business and provides more opportunities for collaboration. Progrebinsky reflects on this process: “Creating your own business involves much more research, time and critical and analytical thinking. You are often networking with a broad spectrum of professionals for a variety of very different reasons—which you may not need to do while looking for your first job. [When you network] you look at your business as a child that needs to grow, be protected and be successful.”

Lastly, we asked Mr. Progrebinsky what single piece of advice he would give to a recent NYU graduate who is struggling to find work or start her or his own business in this harsh economic climate. He replied, “Keep an open mind and be open to all business opportunities, not always necessarily in your specific field. There are many unknown and unexpected paths to our professional goals, we cannot expect that each path will be the same for everybody. The main thing I would say is be open, persistent, and do not be afraid to take calculated risks. We don’t always know which path will lead us to our success.”

Progrebinsky Group Inc’s first venture will be “BEAR,” a high-end restaurant and bar in the developing neighborhood of Long Island City. Be sure to check it out when it opens next month, in mid-November 2011. But in the meantime, visit their website:

BEAR | 12-14 31st Avenue | Long Island City, NY 11106 | phone:917-396-4939


Monday, October 17, 2011

NYU astrophysicists find evidence of black holes destroying stars

Arts and Science’s Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, teamed with John Hopkins University and Spain’s Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, has completed a study that clearly illustrates a phenomenon long-sought by astrophysicists.

The research, reported in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal, calculated that a star will occasionally pass by a massive black hole—far enough to escape being captured by the black hole, but close enough that the black hole’s extreme force tears the star apart. Although part of the star is absorbed into the black hole, most of it continues in a chaotic orbit, producing intense radiation that could last months.

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To read about the study in more detail, click this link.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Timely. Innovative. Global.

Our Biology Department recently received a $3.6 Million Grant—and here’s what they're doing with it!

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Rice—it’s a food staple for over half of the world’s population, but how is it being affected by global climate change? The Arts and Science Biology Department was recently given a $3.6 million dollar grant by the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Project to find an answer. With the grant, researchers will use an approach that combines Genomics and Systems Biology to determine how rice reacts to current environmental changes.

Since rice plays such a vital role in the diets of so many across the globe, the plant’s ability to adapt to changes in the environment is critical. Through this four-year study, FAS researchers hope to provide data necessary for developing crops that will thrive in the midst of our world’s changing climate.

Click here to read about the study in more detail.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stop by the Hidary Exhibit at the Wasserman Center...

…and while you’re at it, check out all the programs they have to offer NYU Alumni!

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Murray Hidary (WSC ’93) is a NYC-born, modern-day Renaissance man! He is a photographer/ musician/ entrepreneur/ philanthropist with a photographic exhibition in the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development. Through nostalgic imagery of our typical childhood dreams, the body of work “[encourages] the viewer to ask whether their dream, their passion is becoming a reality or fading away with time.”

In addition to photography, Hidary is an accomplished composer and entrepreneur, with fifteen years of experience starting his own companies in the Information Technology sector. Visit Hidary’s bio, which tells more about his entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures!

While you’re at the Wasserman Center, make sure to ask about the many programs and events they have to benefit NYU Alumni! (E.g. career counseling, workshops, the mentoring program and job-shadowing.) For more information visit their website.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Professor Sargent wins the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics!

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FAS Professor of Economics, Thomas Sargent, has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics, along with Princeton University’s Christopher Sims. Sargent is widely renowned for influencing and revolutionizing the economic strategies of successful capitalist economies over the past two decades. Specifically, he is recognized for coordinating monetary and fiscal policy, stabilizing inflation and fighting unemployment.

According to the Nobel Committee, Sargent has “shown how structural macroeconomics can be used to analyze permanent changes in economic policy. This method can be applied to study macroeconomic relationships when households and firms adjust their expectations concurrently with economic developments. Sargent has examined, for instance, the post-World War II era, when many countries initially tended to implement a high-inflation policy, but eventually introduced systematic changes in economic policy and reverted to a lower inflation rate.”

At NYU, Sargent plays a major role in developing the macroeconomics graduate program, and he teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. We are proud to declare that Sargent is the 24th Nobel Prize winner from the NYU faculty and alumni community!

Follow the link below for more information from NYU’s Press Release announcing the news!

NYU's Sargent Wins 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics

Monday, October 3, 2011

Talking with Ari Goldberg (CAS '04): CEO of StyleCaster

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Ari Goldberg is an entrepreneur known for his accomplishments in marketing, branding, business development and new product development. His portfolio includes high-profile brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Wrigley’s and Microsoft, and he has served as VP of Strategy and Business Development for LeBron James and LRMR Marketing and as Director of Business Development for Steve Stoute at Translation Consultation and Brand Imaging.

Goldberg launched StyleCaster ( in 2007, which was later recognized by AOL as, “one of the Five best start-ups of 2009,” and by Advertising Age as, “the Amazon of fashion sites.” StyleCaster aims to, “bring Style to the people” by providing a centralized platform where styles can be shared, discussed and even purchased.

In the Q and A below, Goldberg discusses his experiences at NYU and how they have influenced his professional success and the founding of StyleCaster!

CAS Alumni: What did you major in at NYU?

Ari Goldberg: I have undergraduate degrees in both economics and political science, my master’s degree in sports business from NYU.

CAS: What are some of your best memories from your college years? Favorite hangout spots around campus?

A: My favorite memories are of lunch, dinner and late-night meals at the Corner Bistro, with my best friend who became my first business partner. What I loved about NYU was that you were more of a New Yorker than a regular college kid. We didn't go to New York University, we went to the University of New York, that's what makes NYU so special. I was able to start my first company that focused on strategic marketing and events, The Insight Agency, at the age of 19. A lot of my favorite memories are nights out at NYC hotspots with friends, celebrities in the types of environments you can only find in New York.

CAS: For those who don’t know, can you talk a bit about StyleCaster, and how the idea came about?

A: StyleCaster originated over dinner and drinks with a good friend prior to an event we were hosting with my first company. Since day one, our mission has been to bring “Style to the People.” During that initial conversation, we started talking about a tool that would answer two basic questions: What’s the weather like, and what do I wear? That initial thinking led us to the concept of Content, Community and Commerce in the style space, 4 years later here we are.

CAS: Have you always been interested in fashion?

A: My earliest memories of my grandmother are sitting in the shoe department at Saks and being brought milk and cookies. Maybe it’s genetic. Though I’ve never been a ‘fashionista,’ I’ve come to have great respect for the industry. The minute you realize that for a fashionista, it’s art, not work, is when you can truly understand this space. Also, as a marketer, the dynamic between the consumer and brand in the style space is unparalleled.

CAS: Do you have a favorite designer?

A: Porter Grey. Also an NYU alum and my inspiration for starting StyleCaster.
As for me personally, I’m a simple guy from Cleveland Ohio. I shop at J. Crew, Uniqlo, Surface to Air, and Topshop.

CAS: Can you explain what a tear sheet is?

A: Didn't I just say I’m not a fashionista? I’m not sure I’m the right one to ask about this, but a tear sheet is an image designers and stylists literally tear out and reference as inspiration. I even use tear sheets in my own closet at home. I have a good friend and business partner who taught me the art of the tear sheet. He’s one of the more logical people I know. He said just find pictures of looks you like, tear them out, and match the look for the day.

CAS: Thoughts about the Nike MAGS? Will you be getting a pair?

A: When I was in Kindergarten I skipped a week of school to watch Back To The Future on VHS. My parents still have it. I think Back To The Future, hands down, is the greatest movie of all time. I have a few calls into Nike to try and get a pair.

CAS: While we’re on the subject, if you could travel back to a certain time period, which period (based on fashion of the times) would you want to visit?

A: I like periods like the Edwardian or Inter-War eras when men dressed in tailored, three-piece suits. Annabelle Tolman once told me that men's fashion is all about details, so a good outfit for a man always has details, intricacies and thought to them. I think these periods were a time when men focused on those details.

CAS: NYC Fashion Week recently ended, what were some of the highlights for you?

A: I love seeing the young designers who I’ve known since their inception showing at such a high-level, its awe-inspiring.
StyleCaster’s parties are also up there. At our Unofficial Official NYFW Party, we were able to bring the worlds of technology and fashion together, packing a room with New York’s top entrepreneurs. When Dennis Crowley (CAS '04) tweets about how packed the party is you know something is working.

CAS: For readers who are thinking to themselves, "I'd like to become fashionable" What would your advice be? Is there something one can do to take the first step to becoming a fashionable person?

A: Don’t become “fashionable.” Work on your style instead. Anyone with enough money can become fashionable by walking into Barney’s and buying everything on the mannequin. Real style is if you go to a vintage store first, pick up a piece or two there, grab a t-shirt from American Apparel and then go to Barney’s and put it all together, that’s style.

To find out more about StyleCaster, visit

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alumni Day 2011- A Great Success!

Alumni Day 2011, which took place this past Saturday was an exciting and busy day of celebrating NYU’s vibrant history and promising future! The morning began at 8:30am with the Perstare Society’s Annual Induction Breakfast, where we congratulated the class of 1961 as they became a part of this society. Shortly thereafter, everyone paraded down 5th Avenue led by the sounds of bagpipes and drums, and were met at the Washington Square Arch by NYU cheerleaders and an excited crowd.

After the procession, everyone broke off on their own to explore the various Morning Programs scheduled between 10:30-11:30. We particularly enjoyed meeting Darin Strauss (GSAS ’97) who read from his recent memoir, Half a Life, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

At noon, alumni gathered at the CAS and GSAS Dean’s Luncheons where Ellen Langer (CAS ’70) and Darin Strauss were presented with the CAS and GSAS Alumni Achievement Awards (respectively). Alumni had an opportunity to catch up with friends and even make some new ones while enjoying a delicious lunch.


From left to right: Gabrielle Starr, Jerry Goldman, Ellen Langer, Tom Kraner

It was wonderful to see so many Arts and Science Alumni come together in celebration of their alma mater. We are always grateful for your support. And a special thank you to Lillian Marks (WSC '28) who continues to participate in Alumni Day every year, including this year’s morning precession through Washington Square.


Lillian Marks (WSC '28) and Gerald Turer (ARTS '48)

Please feel free to visit the CAS Facebook Page to view the full photo album from Saturday’s event.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CourseHorse is Off and Running Thanks to Two NYU Alumni


Katie Kapler (CAS '07) and Nihal Parthasarathi (Stern '08) are two NYU alumni who had a brilliant idea, a site that allows people to find and enroll in classes around New York City. Their idea won them $75,000 in this year's Stern New Venture Competition. We had a chance to ask Katie some questions about NYU and CourseHorse.

CAS Alumni: Can you talk a little about your memories of NYU? Professors who had an impact? Favorite places on campus?

Katie Kapler: I was fortunate enough to have many really stellar professors, but there were primarily two that had a sincere impact on the way I analyze and think. William Easterly turned the world of economic development on its head. It’s easy to digest knowledge and information fed to you by a teacher, boss or some authoritative figure; it’s much more difficult and rewarding to question and investigate the basis of that information. He taught me how to be an analytical student, to really challenge information presented and not simply passively consume media as fact.

The other was Suzanne Cusick. She taught Expressive Cultures: Sound—a class that examines sound and music’s place politically and socially. To be honest, I was only taking it to fulfill the “artsy” requirement of the core curriculum. At first, I was slightly intimidated by the course; if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’d immediately understand why a class on music was a somewhat masochistic choice. I remember in one of the first classes we were tasked with identifying the change in ostinato (a fancy word for tonality). After receiving blank stares from a room of tone-deaf individuals, Suzanne started dancing wildly around the room, changing up her style as the ostinato changed. Anyone walking into the classroom would have thought this gray-haired lady had lost it completely. She was the best educator I had at NYU because she would iteratively adapt her teaching method until we grasped the content. I try to emulate her craft, not only on the dance floor, but also when I present, train and manage. Plus, any class where I can write an entire paper on Nine Inch Nails' "Ruiner" is going to get an A in my book. Overall, I think details, facts, and stats can fade from memory, but these skill-sets – how to teach and how to really listen/learn – have become an invaluable part of my entrepreneurship.

CAS: For those who don't know, can you tell us what CourseHorse is?

K: CourseHorse is a marketplace for local classes, like language, art, social media, cpr, etc. We aggregate course content from local schools so that the user doesn’t have to visit each school’s web site to find information like curriculum, schedule, teacher, location and price. Think of us as the Kayak for local education. People can purchase their spot and enroll directly through our system.

CAS: How did the idea for CourseHorse come about? How did you meet Nihal?

Nihal and I met as opponents in an intramural volley-ball game. I’m pretty sure my team won (and I’m pretty sure Nihal would contest that.) As with the amorphous state of social circles in college, our friend groups merged and we quickly became best friends. We both had a passion for product development – the idea of creating something and learning. It became our ritual to brew an entire pot of coffee and bounce ideas off of one another. We seriously considered another idea in the education space, tried it, tanked it and realized we needed to gain a bit of real world experience before building our own system. After graduation, I headed the product development for a startup launching in the small business services space, Biz2Credit. Nihal went to work for Capgemini as a management consultant within the technology and education sector. He was assigned to revamp a class management system for a major test- prep provider. It was there he saw the potential for an aggregator in the space, called me, picked my brain and here we are!

CAS: What are some of your favorite courses that can be found by searching on your site?

K: I just advanced from beginner to advanced beginner in Argentinian Tango, though I still have an incredible knack for getting under people’s feet. We also recently added Kayaking and Sailing classes and I’m super excited to get out on the river.

CAS: You entered the idea into the New Venture Competition at Stern and won $75,000. What was that experience like?

K: We made the decision to enter the competition as we were submitting our prototype to the development team. We thought “Hey, we’re going to have a business plan prepared anyway, why not give this a whirl?” Of course, we grossly miscalculated the amount of work that would be required of us. At each step in the competition, we’d have additional advisers who would conduct mini stress tests of our business, identify the weak points and send us scrambling back to the drawing board. All the while, we were busy selling to schools and launching our site. It ranks as one of the most intense 2 month periods of my life—in CAS speak, it was like a 2-month long period of Renzi tests (Conversations of the West). That said, we wouldn’t be doing so well right now if it wasn’t for the competition. Money aside, the process of constantly pitching our business to a highly critical, yet talented pool of entrepreneurs and professionals helped us chisel our sales spiels to the point of perfection. We formed great relationships with our mentors and were able to meet some incredible entrepreneurs who might have otherwise been inaccessible.

CAS: Who came up with name and were they a fan of Mr. Ed?

K: Nihal and I were in what seemed like our 100th hour of brainstorming names when one of our friends, who happened to be eavesdropping at the time suggested CourseHorse. We immediately checked on the domain availability and then added it to our list of “maybes” (along with,,,,,, and about 200 others…). We then shortlisted those we thought were memorable and inviting. We wanted the name and the brand to break the stiff, serious vibe that a lot of education-based sites give off. It was also important for it to be something that everyone could remember and for search engine optimization purposes, included the word class or course. When we harassed our family, friends and friends of friends for feedback, CourseHorse outperformed all the others. It was a definite crowd pleaser. When Nihal’s grandmother remembered the name out of the list it pretty much sealed the deal-- that and the fact that our horse looks so great in a tutu.

CAS: What advice would you give to NYU students with dreams of owning an online startup?

K: It’s easy to sell yourself and your experience short when you’re starting a venture, especially if it’s your first startup. It’s also easy to get lost in the massive amount of help content that’s available on the web. It’s much more difficult to trust your gut instinct when you’re a newbie and remember that there are multiple ways to reach a goal. When Nihal and I were first starting out, advisers in the form of VC’s, entrepreneurs, every tech/media blog demanded we have a technical co-founder—so much so that we seriously started to think we should take a break and learn how to code. After we wasted a solid 2 or 3 weeks self-agonizing over the fact that we weren’t churning out php scripts, we ended the pity-party and started building our vision for CourseHorse in a tool that required no technical expertise and created a very true-to-life user experience. We used this prototype for user testing to get the product right and then shipped it to a development team that we contracted. We saved loads of time and equity, and even got a sweet prototype out of the process that I repurposed for sales demos.

Ready to start tap dancing? Want to learn the art of french pastry? Check out some of the great classes available through CourseHorse!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adam Kimmel (CAS '01) Launches New Carhartt Collection with Barneys


NYU alumnus Adam Kimmel is an American fashion designer, who was born and raised in New York and found his way into fashion through his love of architecture and contemporary art. He founded his brand in 2002 and this week has a new collection premiering with American workwear brand Carhartt. The 29-piece collection of denims and plaids is being sold exclusively at Barneys and is featured in Kimmel's newest viral video:

Please click here to learn more about Adam.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Internet Scientist Jamie Wilkinson (CAS '07) Talks About NYU and Star Wars Uncut

Jamie Wilkinson is an Emmy Award-winning software developer & Internet culture researcher. His work focuses around open-source, pop culture and the propagation of information & ideas online. He is co-creator of the Know Your Meme video series & Internet meme database, selected as one of TIME Magazine's Top 50 websites of 2009, and part of the team behind Star Wars Uncut, a crowdsourced recreation of Star Wars that was awarded an Emmy for Interactive Media in 2010. Wilkinson is also a founding member of the Free Art & Technology (FAT) Lab, an open-source research & development group. Previously Wilkinson taught the "Internet Famous" class in Parsons graduate design & technology program, in which students' grades depend on how much Internet traffic they can generate. Wilkinson's work has been featured in the New York Times, NBC, TIME, CNN, NPR, CurrentTV and on the front page of YouTube.

Click here to listen to our interview with Jamie or click on the player below:

For more information on Jamie Wilkinson and his projects please click here.

*Photo Credit: Scott Beale, Laughing Squid

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Musician's Musician: Ron Pope (CAS '05)

Every now and then we will come across alumni who are out there pursuing their passion for music. When we found out about Ron Pope (CAS '05) we contacted him and asked him to tell us about his time at NYU and his career path as a musician.


CAS Alumni: Do you have any specific memories of your time at NYU?

Ron Pope: I transferred into NYU after my sophomore year, and never lived in the dorms, so I made it a mission of sorts to meet people right away when I started my junior year. I joined the Songwriters and Performers Society (SAPS) and the Poetry club so that I could meet people with similar interests to mine. In SAPS, we'd get together each week and workshop everyone's new songs. I met a number of musicians in that group that I still work with to this day.

The moment in college that stands out most in my mind is the day I met my best friend, Zach Berkman. He walked into a SAPS club meeting, sat down, played an incredible song, and when he finished, I said, "We're friends now" and we've been buddies (and musical partners) since then. I kind of drafted him.

I used to spend a lot of time in the practice rooms in the Ed building, playing piano and writing songs. I developed a love/hate relationship of sorts with those gets kind of hot and gross in those rooms when you're in there all day, but having access to a piano whenever I needed one was obviously very useful.

CAS: Can you talk a bit about your career path? At what point did you know that you wanted to be a musician? What were the steps you took to break into the music world?

ronpope3.jpgRP: I've always loved music and enjoyed creating it; it's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I knew that I might have a chance at becoming a professional musician at some point during my junior year of college; my friends, who were songwriters that I really respected, all really encouraged me and led me to believe that I was much better than I'd ever thought I was. For a long time, I was following a pretty conventional path. I played in a band, hung up flyers around the city, had club gigs in New York, then went on tour, doing the same sort of thing all over the country. While this was happening, I was also building a fanbase online, by interacting directly with music fans all over the world through social networking sites. Every person who wrote me a message would get a reply back, and I believe that level of personal contact made the fans more invested in the project. Before I knew it, I found myself in the middle of an honest-to-goodness grassroots movement. One fan became two fans, two became four, and so on, until my music had spread out all over the world.

CAS: How would you explain your style of music to someone who hasn't heard it before? Who are some of your music idols?

RP: I do a lot of different things. Some of my songs are big, anthemic rock tunes, others are sparsely arranged acoustic recordings. I grew up loving all sorts of music...blues, country, rap, rock, r&b...I think that comes through in the music I make now.

As a guitar player, Jimi Hendrix has been a huge influence on me (and every other person who has picked up a guitar since 1966). He's the guy that made me want to plug in my guitar, turn it up loud, and rip it apart. Jimi, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy...all those guys influenced my bluesier playing. I also really love the Edge and Jonny Greenwood, in terms of creating unique sonic landscapes and new universes with a guitar. My taste in music is pretty broad. If I put my iPod on shuffle, you might get Sleigh Bells, Bob Dylan, U2, Kanye, Lady Gaga, Robert Johnson, T.I., Guns N' Roses, Taylor Swift, Band of Horses...I just love music and listen to all different kinds.

CAS: We read that you are going to start releasing a single every week starting July 5th through the end of the year? Can you tell us more about that? Are you working on other upcoming projects?

RP: I'm going to release at least one recording every Tuesday for twenty six straight weeks, from July 5th through December 27th. I've recorded all sorts of different tunes for this project...big rock songs, sparse acoustic numbers, blues, more experimental recordings...all kinds of things. This is an exciting project, because by releasing the songs as singles, I've been able to record whatever I'd like without considering whether or not they'll fit together and feel cohesive as an album. Since each song is a stand alone project, it can feel completely different from all the others, which is a very freeing set-up. As these songs are being released, I'll be working on my next full length album, which should be out some time early next year.

CAS: What advice would you give to graduating students who want to pursue a career in music?

RP: Be prepared to struggle. If you can think of anything else in the world that you wouldn't mind doing, do that instead. With that said, if you're going to go for it anyway, the most important thing is to be willing to think outside of the box. The conventional music business is dying a slow, painful death, and the way people consume media is very, very different than it was a generation ago. Jackson Browne once told me this, and I think it's good advice, so I'll pass it along here, "You've got to do it your own way. All the people you remember were original. Follow your gut."

For more information on Ron Pope and to listen to his music be sure to check out his website:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Alumna Maricel Presilla Nominated for 2011 James Beard Award

maricel_chef.jpgThe 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards took place earlier this week and we were thrilled to learn that Maricel Presilla (GSAS '79) was nominated for Best Chef- Mid-Atlantic. Maricel is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain. She holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from NYU and has received formal training in cultural anthropology. She writes a weekly food column for the Miami Herald and owns Zafra and Cucharamama, two pan-latin restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey. In the fall, she will be opening Ultramarinos, a Latin American food store and cooking atelier, also in Hoboken.

For more information on Maricel and her restaurants please click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nathan Sawaya (CAS '95, LAW '98): Brick Artist

Most of us played with Lego when we were young. Some of us still play with Lego. Nathan Sawaya makes a living creating incredible Lego sculptures. We had a chance to sit down with him to talk about his memories of NYU and his career as a Lego artist. For more information and to see many of Nathan's sculptures please click here to visit his website.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alumni Profile: Cesar Francia (CAS '10)

We're thrilled to be featuring alumnus Cesar Francia this month. We had a chance to ask Cesar some questions about his time at NYU and his current projects.

Cesar%20Francia%20Paul%20%20Daisy%20Soros%20Fellowships%20for%20New%20Americans%2003%2017%2011_Page_01.pngBorn in Caracas, Venezuela, Cesar graduated from New York University in 2010 with a Bachelors in International Politics. In 2007, he participated in the summer program of the Global Institute for Leadership & Civic Development in Prague Czech Republic, and served as Student Coordinator for the program in 2008. He participated in an NYU Alternative Spring Break Program in the Dominican Republic in 2007, and served as the trip’s Site Leader the following year. As a 2008 Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship, he spent a summer interning for Miracle Corners of the World in Rwanda, overseeing the development of small enterprises and the construction of a community center. Cesar has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, and enjoys the exploring the tastes of the world.

CAS Alumni: Tell us about your experience at NYU. What were the highlights? Were there things you accomplished as a student that you are particularly proud of?

Cesar Francia: Being a student at NYU was a dream come true and an incredible platform. My entire four years at NYU were absolutely thrilling and worthwhile. I studied in Florence, Italy my first year through the Liberal Studies Program and traveled all over Europe for the first time in my life. My sophomore year in New York, I interned for Human Rights Watch and obtained the Catherine B. Reynolds Scholarship in Social Entrepreneurship. The Reynolds program was a blessing that allowed me to afford NYU and to explore my interest and passion in the field of social change. Another highlight of my time at NYU was my time as a Resident Assistant (RA) at Palladium, I was able to build a fantastic community with my residents and also led a wonderful Explorations Floor called "Dancing in the Streets of New York." I am particularly proud of having been appointed a Senator-at-Large in the Student Senator's Council my senior year and of having served as Admissions Ambassador for two years.

CAS: What are you working on now? Can you talk about the career path you are taking?

CF: Currently, I am serving as Aide to the Chambers of Justice Sotomayor at the Supreme Court of the United States. In this capacity, I am responsible for overseeing the review of the thousands of petitions for certiorari that are filed with the Supreme Court every term. I assist with the allocation of pool-memo writing assignments to the Justice’s law clerks, keep track of her colleagues’ thoughts on particular cases, provide research that helps her determine the cases from which she must recuse herself, and make sure that the materials she needs for oral argument are properly assembled and placed on the bench before argument. In addition, I assist in setting up her travel and speaking commitments and correspond with the Spanish speaking public that write to her.

I will be attending law school in the Fall and hope to become a attorney operating at the intersection of Social Entrepreneurship and the law. So far, I have been admitted to the University of Chicago Law School and I am waiting to hear back from other schools before making a decision.

CAS: What advice would you give to graduating seniors?

CF: My advice is the following: by virtue of attending one of the most dynamic and nourishing schools in the nation in the capital of the world, you have had experiences that are unparalleled by any other graduating seniors. Harness these experiences, reflect on them and use them as a catalyst to explore your passions and help you translate those into a fruitful career. Take advantage of the NYU Alumni network and all of the resources available to you as alumni. Stay connected with the exciting future of NYU as it grows and gains prominence in the world. But most importantly, remember the motto: " a private university in the public service;" so go do some good in the world in any capacity that best utilizes your talents!

CAS: Congratulations on receiving a 2011 Soros Fellowship! Can you tell us about the importance of scholarship support?

CF: Thanks! As an aspiring lawyer interested in public service work post law school, scholarship support is critical in lessening the financial burden of acquiring massive amount of loans to obtain a JD. I am committed to taking the road less traveled and do not plan on pursuing a career in the traditional law firm path, hence having the support of the Soros Fellowship for New Americans is critical in my exploration of less remunerative internships and job offers without the pressure of having to pay law school debt.

While at NYU, the Reynolds Scholarship was invaluable in allowing me to stay enrolled, I speak about it in this profile.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cynthia Ozick Receives Jewish Book Council Lifetime Achievement Award

Cynthia Ozick (left) and Francine Klagsbrun (right).

Congratulations to WSC Alumna Cynthia Ozick, who received the Jewish Book Council's lifetime achievement award at its 60th annual National Jewish Book Award Ceremony on March 9, 2011 at the Center for Jewish History. She received the award from Council president and GSAS alumna, Francine Klagsbrun.

Known primarily for her short stories and novellas, Cynthia Ozick is one of the most celebrated Jewish- American writers of the century.

For more information on Cynthia Ozick, please click here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

GSAS Alumna Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews Promoted to VP of News at CBS.

We were thrilled to hear the recent announcement that Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews (GSAS '84) has been promoted to Vice President of News at CBS, where she will coordinate all day-to-day news coverage both foreign and domestic.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NYU Alumnus and Congressman Rush Holt (GSAS, '74, '81) vs. the Machine


Congratulations to GSAS alumnus Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.) who triumphed over "Watson" in one round of an exhibition match of Jeopardy! sponsored by IBM; he finished the round with 8,600 points to the computer's 6,200. Rep. Holt, a physicist who was a five-time Jeopardy! champion long before he entered the House, parlayed his victory into a call to support math and science education and invest in new technology. His office said the congressman crushed the computer in categories such as phobias, presidential rhymes and laundry detergent, where he knew a three-letter nickname for the Beatles was "Fab", a nickname which could also be used to now describe Rep. Holt.

According to his website:

"Rush is currently the only physicist serving in the United States Congress. He serves on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he has been named the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. This Subcommittee aims to find long-term solutions to the climate crisis by reducing the United States' dependence on fossil fuels."