Friday, December 14, 2012

Kate McAleer's (CAS '09) Chocolate Bar Creations

ykg-Ag4wHLtFR__-qrlIEB_myxJOLY-ayxyEg3ldNSU.jpg 'Tis the season for parties with friends and family and gifts of delectable sweets. We first tried Bixby Bars at the Chile Pepper Fiesta in Brooklyn and found out that NYU alumna Kate McAleer was behind these delicious bars. We recently had a chance to interview Kate and learn about her company, Bixby & Co.

NYU Arts and Science Alumni Relations: As kids, many of us often dreamt of starting our own chocolate company. What inspired you to do it? Was this something you had always wanted to do? Tell us about Bixby & Co. and how it began.

Kate McAleer: Actually the idea came to me when I was on the inaugural women’s golf team for NYU. When competing I looked for a healthy snack to keep the energy up for the back nine holes. The highly sugared and compounded snack bars that were the only available options on the course were not appetizing or satisfying. I thought wouldn’t it be nice to have a scrumptious, sophisticated, healthy and satisfying alternative for the health conscious and active adult. The light bulb went on that perhaps I could create that snack. During graduate school I decided to change course and go to culinary school to learn more about the commercial side of not only crafting food but also how to take a product to market and manage a business. This initiative was followed by attending a fabulous coaching program offered by the State University of New York (SUNY) program called Fasttrack for Start-up Businesses. Fasttrack also provided the practical tools to develop a business plan. After a year of business planning, I partnered with my mother, an executive who recently had retired, and we launched Bixby & Co., LLC in December 2011. The name of the company came from the surname of my great-great grandparents, Lillian and W. K. Bixby who lived the American dream during the turn of the 20th Century. I have been always been inspired by their fortitude and perseverance, and their commitment to giving back to society by improving the communities in which they lived.

How do you come up with your flavor combinations and are you currently working on any new bars? The flavors evolve from all of my years of travel to other lands and living in and experiencing their cultures. Extensive research--tools I learned while at NYU--is also much of the process. My Chinese host mother from my year abroad in high school introduced me to goji berries (used in To the Nines). She would encourage me to eat them as they encourage eye health in Chinese medicine.

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Do you have a favorite bar or one that you have been thinking of making? Each bar is its own unique flavor combination and I really love them all. KnockOut is one of my favorites--the delayed fireworks is special...as its saying goes: This bar packs a punch. More than likely, the next Bixby Bar creation will be an interesting spicy dark chocolate combination........

What are some of the challenges you face being in the chocolate marketplace? The average chocolate consumer typically has been slower to appreciate a gourmet artisan product such as the Bixby Bar. Education is a large part of introducing Bixby Bar to the chocolate consumer. Consumers have been raised on mass-produced inexpensive chocolate. Bixby creates an artisan, carefully hand-crafted and hand wrapped chocolate bar that offers a different experience that should be savored.
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The packaging and design of the labels are clever and eye-catching. Can you talk about the design process? As a student of Art History, the packaging process was a lot of fun and I was very involved, researching all of the images used on each package. The name Bixby was a grounding point for the design of our company and brand. Named after my great-great grandmother Lillian Bixby, on whose birthday I was born, Bixby & Co. was rooted in turn of the twentieth century--the time period in which Lillian Bixby lived. Harkening back to this moment in time, when food was unadulterated and purer, corresponded with my philosophy for real food inclusions and no preservatives or additives. The golf themed packaging was an homage to my inspiration to create these chocolate snack bars while playing golf for NYU.

What skills and/or experiences did you learn at NYU that have helped you start and grow the company? My academic experience taught me how to think, reason, communicate and research. I also honed my writing and oral skills. Living in New York City was a stimulating environment that offered so much in terms of excitement, learning and culture. Studying abroad at NYU in Paris was a fantastic experience. Playing on the first women's varsity golf team was a blast and I learned much about balancing school work, classes and tournaments that I can relate to with wearing so many hats with my business.

Are there any plans to eventually make other products? Yes!

What advice would you give to alumni who are thinking of starting their own company? Take the time as I did with my mother and partner to conduct your research, plan, attend programs and tradeshows and seek out people with experience to learn about the business you would like to start. Developing a solid business plan that is realistic is a must. Do not be afraid to cold call or mystery shop extensively. Always ask the important questions that cover the pros and the cons; the ups and the downs; the good and the bad.

If you'd like to purchase Bixby Bars, here's where you can find them: www.bixbyco.com, Whole Foods Market, Bedford Cheese Shop, Manhattan and Brooklyn, Greene Grape Provisions, Gastronomie 491, Sahadi's Importing Co., Gourmet Guild Brooklyn.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blogging and More with Jill Hamilton from Macy's

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Jill Hamilton (GSAS '05) manages social media for Macy's and started the Macy's blog, MBlog. We had the chance to sit and chat with Jill about her experience in the journalism program, her job, and what it was like to manage social media during Hurricane Sandy. Jill also gives tips on starting your own company blog!

NYU Arts & Science Alumni Relations: Are there any specific lessons you learned at NYU that have really stuck with you throughout your career? Jill Hamilton:

I remember, we had an assignment—it’s actually a funny story. There was a bar on the NYU campus that was closing called “The Bottom Line.” It was a very, very famous bar where Bruce Springsteen and other famous people performed. The assignment was to go and interview people—owners, waitresses, anybody you could, to get information on why it was closing. It was one of our first assignments, and I was so shy. I was so nervous that I didn’t talk to anybody. I remember I took my boyfriend at the time and he was like, “you’re supposed to interview people, you’re supposed to interview people!” but I was just too shy. And I actually learned pretty quickly that I was too shy to be a journalist, and maybe that wasn’t the right thing for me. So it’s funny how it all worked out.  

Could you talk a little about what you do for Macy’s now?

I manage basically all of the editorial content, which is marketing and messaging, across all the digital channels. So that’s MBlog, which is my baby. Also Tumblr, Instagram, it’s a really busy time of year right now for Instagram and Tumblr, and those things really resonate with our target audience. And also Facebook and Twitter. It’s interesting because we’re always doing workshops and learning about what’s the most effective strategy and tone of voice and stuff like that.  

So did you start the MBlog? 

I did. I was brought on board to launch MBlog last October [2011], so it’s just over a year old, and it’s a lot of content. It’s interesting because I went to NYU for magazine journalism, but now everything is kind of all about blogging, blogging, blogging. And we have so many categories and writers to manage—it’s just such a huge amount of content, but it’s a lot of fun .  

That’s really cool. Could you talk about how you first got subscribers and how you got your content out when MBlog started—how was it promoted?

Well one of the biggest things was that we had a blogger in place already whose work was up on Macys.com, and it was very popular. She is very good at what she does, so she got brought into MBlog. And one of the great things we did was giveaways and discounts, since we’re retail. Contests and giveaways are always really effective tools for us to increase readership. And of course Facebook and Twitter.

How do you measure readers? Is it based on subscribers or comments or likes?

That’s a really good question. We have back-end analysis that comes to us every week. We’ll get a huge rundown on unique page views and sessions, how many people have viewed each blog or gone from one blog to another blog. Of course the landing page is always the most popular.  

Does Macy’s have a special social media strategy during the holidays?

Just to stay alive! It’s so much content, and going to work literally inside Macy’s during the holidays is pretty crazy, just to get into the office. I think the big challenge in terms of strategy during the holidays is getting all of the sale messaging across, but remaining true to what the company is about—which is, it sounds hokey, but it’s really about the spirit of Christmas and all the holidays. The people who run the company really care about the customers. It’s very homey and family-oriented.  

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Did you do anything special for Hurricane Sandy?

Yes, we teamed up with the American Red Cross to do a donation. It’s a really interesting question, because I think we were all expecting Sandy to come, but I don’t think we all thought, as a city, that it was going to make the impact that it did. We had to really quickly get messaging approved by our media relations team before we could put it up on Facebook, Twitter, the blog, and everywhere, and make sure that the copy was consistent across channels. We were very anxious to get the blog up, or the Tweet up as soon as possible, but you also have to work with everyone and be patient. Then you get your message out once it’s approved by everybody.  



What was the message? 

Just about giving donations to the Red Cross, mostly.  

Is it difficult to manage all of the different writers you have for MBlog?

 I don’t do it alone. I have some great help that I’m very thankful for. But I still do all of the outreach to our writers and I concept all of their assignments. Sometimes I’ll have to say, “oh, you’re a little late on turning in your piece.” But for the most part, they’re all great to work with. It’s definitely challenging, but it’s fun. Sometimes they pitch story ideas too, so we try to work that into our schedule. But other things are also done on a need basis. So if there is a particular line of pots and pans that we’re trying to sell, we’ll promote that. I try not to be too “direct-selly” though. I like to keep it editorial.

 Do you know how the blog has benefited Macy’s? Is it mostly PR or have you seen any increase in sales?

Yes, it has certainly helped sales. But I think the number one thing that it does for Macy’s is, it increases a sense of community. We really have a lot of people who follow the blog and come back every Wednesday, which is our "Home" day. If they’re foodies then they’ll come back every Wednesday because we post something about the home. Fashion on Mondays is definitely a very popular category too. And so it builds a sense of community. It goes back to what I was saying before about how it's a company that cares that there is a sense of family. It’s cute.  

What works best to engage your customers on social media, if that is one of your goals?

Yes, it’s definitely a big thing. We are always trying to facilitate interaction. Asking questions is big. We’ll put things on Instagram with our fashion buyers where we’ll have maybe two pairs of jeans for the winter, and we’ll ask our followers which one should our buyer order. And we’ll literally let the people on instagram decide. We’ll tally up the votes. And it’s cool because people feel like they’re involved, and they are to a pretty big extent. Any kind of contest also really, really promotes engagement.  

Pickles.pngDo you have a personal blog?

Lets see, I have a Tumblr blog for my puppy named Pickles. It’s basically just a lot of little pictures of Pickles. Personally, though, I do not blog.

Do you find it difficult to separate your personal social media from work?

Yes, that’s actually a really good question. I’ve spoken about this with other people in marketing at Macy’s. Sometimes you get so involved in a project you’re working on—for instance this Fall we have a Nicole Richie collection exclusively at Macy’s that we launched. We had some great videos on Youtube that were housed on MBlog, and I had been working so closely on these videos and on this project that when they came out, I was Tweeting them and putting them on Facebook, on my personal pages. At the end of the campaign I remember looking at my Facebook page and saying that it looks like a Macy’s ad. I had to remind myself to tone it down a bit. I know I’m excited about the messaging we have, but my friends from high school are not so excited about it.  

Do you have any pointers for other alumni who might be interested in starting a blog for their company or employer?

My first advice would be to do it. It’s definitely a great idea. A lot of blogs are skyrocketing right now, its sort of like the new model, at least in fashion they are. Some of them just have amazing followings. So if it’s something you’re really thinking about, I would say do it. I would say it’s also important to define your voice before you start blogging away. From blog number one to blog number five-hundred, that tone of voice has to be consistent, and you need to know what kind of messaging you’re trying to relay across the board. You don’t want to be a party girl one day and then be a serious executive the next. You need to have the same tone of voice consistently.  

Do you have anything else you’d like to ad about what you do for Macy’s or about your time at NYU?

I really loved NYU. One thing about NYU that I remember was, I was finishing my Master’s part-time while I was also a fashion editor, and I remember thinking, “oh I’ll never be able to finish this,” but the school was very accommodating to the fact that I had a full-time job. I wasn’t able to leave the office until six or seven, and then had to go make it to an evening class, and I just remember NYU being so wonderful about that. If anyone is interested in getting another degree at NYU while still working, I would definitely encourage it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recent Alumna Opens an Online Jewelry Retailer

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Moran Amir (CAS '05) is a recent alumna who started an online jewelry retailer called Adornia with her business school classmate, Becca Aronson. "Bex and Mo" are trailblazing online retail of fine jewelry with their impressive blog, The United States of Adornia, and their unique style profile/ curated collections approach. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mo about the company, her time at NYU and what it's like to enter the start-up world as a recent grad.   

NYU Arts & Science Alumni Relations: Coming to school from South Florida, what was the biggest thing you had to get used to about life in the Apple?  


Moran (Mo) Amir: In 2001, my NYU dorm was right smack in the financial district. I could not return to my dorm for months after the 9/11 attacks. The school put us up in midtown hotels for that period. Once we returned to the dorm, I don’t think I went north of 34th Street for a full year! Otherwise, setting foot at NYU, I really grew up instantly. New York catalyzed and forced me to think about things such as career and relationships much earlier than I expected. I had to get used to an adult life more than a geographical switch. But New York teams with energy and activity like no other, keeping its inhabitants youthful. I could not have self-actualized better in any other environment! From rummaging at designer sample sales to visiting world-class art exhibits, New York was the perfect supplement to a college education during these formative adult years.  

Alumni Relations: As a history major, how did you become interested in jewelry and business?  

adornia4.jpgMo: My history major gave me a strong framework to deconstruct the world around me. I gained a vocabulary to understand topics ranging from fashion to feminism. I pondered a career in academia shortly after graduating, but knew I wanted to work more hands on in a field. My parents were small business owners and instilled in me a business instinct from a very young age. I felt a calling to fashion and jewelry from a very young age. Having emigrated from Israel to America at age four, fashion provided me with visual and aesthetic cues to communicate around the initial language barrier. By the time I was nine, my preferred reading was Vogue and Bazaar. Graduating NYU double summa cum laude, I had always thought fashion was simply going to remain a hobby, not a job opportunity. I could not have been more wrong! Corny as it sounds, fashion is my passion, and I love waking up every morning to Adornia. I do believe that my high school class had it right when they voted me both most likely to succeed and style all her own…I found a career path that united both seamlessly.  

Alumni Relations: How was the concept for Adornia born?

 Mo: The jewelry market was ripe for innovation. My business partner Bex and I surveyed the retail landscape and saw a real opportunity and unsatisfied demand for a modern feminine jeweler concept that bridged the design innovation in costume with the materials and quality of fine jewelry. We wanted to position fine jewelry in a fashion context through strong editorial photography and themed collections. This is a stark departure from the predominantly bridal-focused fine jewelry market.  

Alumni Relations: What is the biggest challenge of starting a business as a recent graduate?  

Mo: Getting over the initial mental barrier of fear is the first step. I watched my savings account dwindle while my peers at Wharton were in the process of securing safe career paths. But the risk-reward tradeoff and the level of impact achievable with entrepreneurship is much more significant! Once you commit to pursuing the business idea seriously, possessing the industry experience and the right startup team are crucial to getting started. My business partner Bex Aronson and I met during our first year in the MBA program at Wharton and became close friends almost instantly. Prior to business school, Bex was an Accessories Editor at Lucky Magazine and Fashion Editor at Redbook. This was the perfect complement to my operations and buying experience in the retail industry. Our friendship and skills built Adornia.  

Alumni Relations: What attracted you to building an online business rather than a shop?

Mo: Online you can truly put together a compelling aesthetic vision, bringing the jewelry to life outside of the jewelry case in a traditional bricks-and-mortar store format. And from a business angle, a pure-play e-tailer is more equipped to both absorb costs and hold a wider geographical reach.  

Alumni Relations: Where do you find jewelry designs?  

Mo: We find inspiration in our every day lives and travels. Our product offering is balanced between personal pieces and collection pieces. Personal pieces are the jewelry staples—thin stacking bangles, delicate rings, studs, etc.—forming the base layer of every woman’s jewelry wardrobe. The Adornia collections house our evolving creative vision through themed assortments of bolder jewelry pieces. We use strong editorial content and photography to bring the collections to life every season.  
Alumni Relations: What is the “United States of Adornia?”  

Mo: The United States of Adornia is our blog and style guide for all things jewelry. We grapple with the hard fashion issues surrounding jewelry. Blog entries range from how to complement your rings with the ideal nail color to style profiles on the most stylish ladies who wear their jewels particularly well. It is the place where we have fun connecting with our audience and imparting our jewelry expertise. adornia2.jpg

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Recent CAS Alumnae, Founders of the LCC Foundation, Inc.

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There are some things that no college-bound young adult should have to endure, especially during such a highly anticipated period of transition. Upon admission into NYU, Susie Levitt (CAS '09) and Niki Carlotti (CAS '09) were both faced with similar tragedies. Years later, their shared experiences served to inspire the founding of the Levitt Comninos Carlotti (LCC) Foundation, Inc.

The LCC mission is to encourage tenacity, perseverance and continued education in young adults who have a terminally ill or deceased parent. After reading our interview, be sure to check out the LCC blog that launched yesterday (10/22), on the 8-year anniversary of Nikki's Mother's passing.




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NYU Arts and Science Alumni Relations: How did the two of you first meet, and how did your friendship evolve over the course of your time at NYU?  

Niki Carlotti: Susie and I met at an NYU meet-and-greet for Connecticut residents. My father and Susie's mother started chatting, and when the topic of their spouses arose, they immediately introduced me to Susie. Since we are both friendly and bubbly, we took an immediate liking to one another. Susie and I kept in touch the first year and a half of college, through the passing of Susie’s father. We were then accepted into the same sorority midway through sophomore year, where we both held philanthropic positions. We further bonded while studying Economics in summer classes at NYU. During this time, we realized we'd both held internships at Citigroup Smith Barney. After graduation, we both began careers in the world of fashion, and met a few months later to reconnect and exchange ideas. It was then that we finally realized how much we'd always had in common, including our passion to honor our deceased parents. I confessed I'd always wanted to hold a walk in my mother's honor, which I'd thought sounded far-fetched as I spoke the words aloud. Instead, not only did Susie love the idea, but she proposed we take it to the next level. This prompted our decision to start a nonprofit organization to help young adults in similar situations such as ourselves.  

Alumni Relations: I can think of nothing more difficult than enduring the loss of a parent while transitioning from high school to college. What was it like to know someone else going through a similar situation?  

Niki: When I met Susie, I had already lost my mother. It was difficult for me because while the death of Susie's father seemed inevitable, I didn't want to bring it up. All I could do was offer my support, which I did sporadically over the next few months until Susie's father passed. During college, we exchanged stories about our experiences coping with our respective losses, but it wasn't until recently when we really discussed the effects the deaths have had on us. Susie's father played a huge role in her life and was the parent who always pushed her to succeed, as my mother was for me. It's comforting to acknowledge the loss of our biggest role-models together. Susie knows me very well, not only because of how much our friendship has evolved over the years, but because of our shared experiences. The realization of this fact is one of the main reasons we started the LCC Foundation. We hope to provide at least a portion of this support to our scholarship recipients to let them know they aren't alone.  

Alumni Relations: What motivated you to create the LCC foundation?  

Niki: Along with the countless traits Susie and I have in common, the ones I'm most proud of are our ambition to succeed and our passion to help others. When Susie and I first spoke about honoring our parents, all we knew was that we wanted to do something in return for all of the love, guidance and support they'd provided us with in their lives. It was a combination of love for them, desire to help others in our situation, and determination which created the LCC Foundation. Failure never crossed our minds.  

Alumni Relations: How do you locate prospective scholarship recipients?  

Susie Levitt: We primarily promote the LCC scholarship to high school seniors through online scholarship postings and by contacting high school guidance counselors. Many of our applications in prior years have arrived through word of mouth from our NYU peers and our board of directors, but we have also seen a great response from press articles such as the Norwalk Citizen. This year, we have established a team of volunteers who focus exclusively on scholarship awareness and outreach. The LCC scholarship will be released on more than a dozen college scholarship websites at the end of November and we also have plans to work with family bereavement centers to target potential scholarship recipients.  

Alumni Relations: What was the biggest challenge along the way?  

Susie: The first significant challenge Niki and I faced when establishing the LCC Foundation was achieving tax-exempt status. Since neither of us had prior experience in applying for tax exemption, we were lucky enough to have been selected as a client by Columbia Law School's Community Enterprise Clinic. Through the clinic, we attended several seminars and workshops to best educate ourselves on the appropriate type of incorporation for our charity and also wrote a business plan, established our incorporation's bylaws and built a talented board of directors. By taking these steps and participating in the clinic, we were able to obtain nonprofit status in half the time it takes for a typical application to be approved.  

Alumni Relations: Do you have any success stories to share?  

Susie: The most gratifying and successful aspect of managing the LCC foundation is reading stories from scholarship applicants from around the country. It is a joy to know we are encouraging brave young people dealing with immeasurable emotional pain and helping them to continue their educations. After reading personal stories from these high school seniors, it brings Niki and I back to the days where we faced similar adversity. To know that we are helping kids who have been through similar circumstances as us, we couldn't ask for a bigger success!  

Alumni Relations: How can alumni find out more about LCC Foundation and get involved?  

Susie: There are tons of ways NYU alum can help and get involved with the LCC Foundation. We are always actively looking for volunteers to work on scholarship outreach as well as helping spearhead fundraising initiatives. We are local in NYC and many of our meetings take place close to Washington Square Park. For more information, feel free to contact us at info@lccfoundationinc.org!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Alumni Day is only 3 Weeks Away!

Alumni Day 2012 is quickly approaching. If you haven't already, be sure to register online for the CAS or GSAS luncheon and Professor Kirshenbaum's chemistry and cuisine demonstration. Click here to register. LuncheonBlogImage2012.jpg

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

2012 Grad Now Works as a Financial News Reporter


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Graduates like Ivy Yang (LS '10, Steinhardt '12) help make NYU the global university it is today. Ivy was born in Wuhan, China and moved to Los Angeles when she was 10 years old. She began her freshman year at NYU in Florence through the Liberal Studies Program, and upon graduating in 2012, Ivy became a Financial News Reporter for Wall Street Multimedia, providing U.S. and Chinese financial news.


NYU Arts and Science Alumni Relations: What led you to starting your academic career at NYU’s Florence location?

Ivy Yang: I thought about taking a gap year before starting NYU, and Liberal Studies offered the option to study in Europe, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to start my college career and do some traveling at the same time. Also, I took an art history class during my high school senior year and loved it, so I chose the birthplace of renaissance to embark on my journey—and I’m so glad I went.

Alumni Relations: How did the Liberal Studies program influence your academic and/or professional direction?

Ivy: The professors I had in Florence are wonderful and the classes are small and intimate. My professors took their disciplines really seriously and went the extra miles in order for us to experience something—whether it is to go to the Uffizi and look at a Botticelli close up, or organize a private viewing of the Medici library, or take us all the way to Fiesole to act out Aristophanes in the ancient theater—and these unforgettable experiences shaped my perception of the world and continue to influence me now. And most importantly, the mentorship-mentee relationship I was able to build with some of my professor and the guidance and support they have provided me during my time in New York have been tremendous.

Alumni Relations: Can you talk a little bit about what you’re currently doing with Wall Street Multimedia and the show you're on?

Ivy: Wall Street Multimedia is an independent content production company that specializes in financial news. The subsidiary, Counterpoint Media, is a recent development and aims to provide a bilateral platform for the U.S and China to communicate about sociopolitical and economic issues, and to bring to light the untapped potentials between the two countries through cooperation. The show that Counterpoint Media is producing, Channel C, is divided into three segments, and I am hosting the segment “FastTrack” that focuses on the broad social exchanges between U.S. and China. My goal is to present interesting view points and developments that are currently undergoing in China.

Alumni Relations: How did the opportunity to become a Financial News Reporter come about?

Ivy: I applied to the job on Careernet with the initial hope to practice my Chinese more, although I’m fluent in conversational Mandarin, but to write and articulate my thoughts in a professional manner was something I needed to work on. It was really difficult in the beginning, because it takes me a long time to translate content from English to Mandarin, especially when I had to learn the financial lingo and concepts first. But it’s very rewarding at the end of the workday, I walk out of the Stock Exchange and feel accomplished because I learned something new.

Alumni Relations: Is this your first time in front of the camera? What’s it like?

Ivy: My first time was doing an interview on the trading floor, and the trader I was interviewing had a stern look on his face. I fumbled my cheat sheet of questions to ask, and listened through my headphone to the control room’s cue to go, and I thought to myself oh man I’m going to make a fool of myself.

But it was alright—yes, my voice trembled a little bit when I said my opening line, and I was barely listening to what the trader had to say because I was so nervous about remembering my next question…but no the world didn’t end, and that was the beginning of many more.

Alumni Relations: Have you ever experienced culture shock or an epiphany about a certain aspect of a foreign culture?

Ivy: My advice is that the first phrase you should learn is how to order gelato in Italian, and say it really well so vendors won’t charge you 8 Euros for one! In the more touristy areas in Florence, the restaurants and cafes don’t have price boards, so if you just order without asking the prices first, you are likely to be bamboozled.

But living in a foreign country, everything either teaches you lesson, or inspires or sparks a new idea. It’s all about having an open heart to embrace whatever experience you come across.

Alumni Relations: So what’s next for Ivy? What direction do you see your career taking you in the future?

Ivy: Eventually I want to go back to China so I can be closer to my family. But other than that, I’m open minded about where the future leads me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Class is in Session

Today marks the last day of the first week of classes. The Fall 2012 semester has commenced, and it's dominating the realm of social media with posts, pictures, tweets, and instagrams about being back on campus.

Since many of you are no longer on campus, we thought we'd share some of this week's happenings. Below are some of what current students and professors have been saying about their first week back--via Instagram and Twitter. As nostalgia sets in, feel free to post a comment with your favorite back-to-school memories.



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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Talking with Nicole Tung (CAS '09): Photojournalist in the Middle East

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Nicole Tung graduated from NYU in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and History. Since then, she has been traveling throughout the Arab world following developments that hold significant international importance.

Much of Nicole's time has been spent in Egypt, Libya, and (currently) Syria. Her work has been widely recognized and awarded by organizations including the International Photography Awards, The Maybach Foundation, Women in Photojournalism, the Hearst Foundation and the NYPPA.

As a young, twenty-six-year-old photographer, Nicole captures intimate moments of historical significance that a vast majority of the Western world would otherwise never see. Despite the inherent dangers, she says it is her duty to tell these stories.

NYU Arts and Science Alumni Relations: As a young photographer, to what do you attribute your early successes?

Nicole Tung: Being in a place like New York. I attended photo shows and met some close friends there, I was able to connect to some of the biggest newspapers and magazines to meet editors. It took me a long time to build up a portfolio but I kept pushing for meetings, I shared ideas and grew into a network of young photographers. I also looked up to a lot of experienced photographers like Chris Hondros of Getty Images, and although he was a close friend, he was also an important mentor to me. I was able to sign a freelance contract with The New York Times after graduating in 2009 and from there I began taking assignments in New York.

Alumni Relations: How do you decide where your next shoot will take place?

Nicole: Often my next assignment or shoot is dependent on the news and current events, so it's always hard to set a schedule or place to follow. Right now, I'm following Syria closely, but last year, I spent most of my time in Libya. I think my generation of photographers has had an amazing opportunity to witness the changes in the Arab world over the past year and a half. I think it's our responsibility to continue documenting it.

Alumni Relations: And in documenting such internationally significant events, the images you capture are often quite emotional or graphic. Can you recall any certain situation that was particularly moving for you as a witness from behind the camera?

Nicole: When I'm in the physical and mental act of taking a photograph, I'm not thinking about the international importance of it. I'm thinking about the human aspect of what I'm witnessing. In Libya, it was young men from various backgrounds making the transition from civilian to fighter. In Syria, it has been the senseless loss of so many innocent people.

One particularly moving moment was when I was in Maarat al Noman in June 2012. I photographed the women of a family grieving over a 22-year old French Literature student. He was studying for final exams when shelling in the city started. He wanted to help the wounded outside and was killed by another incoming round. It was so powerful and moving because none of it made any sense. The women gathered around his body and read passages from the Koran, but they found it so difficult to read on as they were overcome by grief.

Alumni Relations: Have you ever been in a life-threatening situation?

Nicole: Yes. I think I've been in many life-threatening situations and sometimes I don't even realize it when I come out of it and reflect on it. Libya was a deadly war, and Syria even more so. The regime's of Gaddafi and Assad stop at nothing, and civilians, journalists, fighters are all targeted.

Just yesterday I left the seemingly calm city of Aleppo to the outskirts, no more than 10 kilometers away, and as I got out of the car, a short but heavy burst of shelling began and the impacts were probably no more than 100 meters away from me. A colleague of mine saw two women rush past with bloodied faces. Two were killed in that shelling.

Sometimes it's easy to think you won't be affected, that you can be invincible after surviving so many scenarios, but there is always a fear that you will be next. I learned many sobering lessons from the deaths of Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, and Marie Colvin, all of whom were friends. It doesn't make me want to stop in this profession but it certainly makes me think a lot more about my mortality.

Alumni Relations: How do you choose between black and white or color photography?

Nicole: Choosing between black and white and color photography really depends on the subject. I decided to show my Libya work [See: "The Libyan Uprising" and "Uprising in Libya: Exodus"] in black and white because I want to continue with it, there was a certain kind of mood I wanted to convey which I felt color wouldn't do justice to. It really depends on the situation and subject.

Alumni Relations: You have been all over the world. Do you have any crazy travel stories?

Nicole: There are always hitches when you're traveling. But the best, and most tiring trip was taking a bus from Kashgar in Western China all the way down to Islamabad, Pakistan, on the Karakoram Highway.

It's the highest international highway in the world and it stretches across some of the most incredible landscape I have ever seen, weaving through villages of Central Asian ethnicities and stunning mountain ranges near K2. The way of life in some of these areas was as though they'd never been touched by the outside world. I loved that purity, and meeting the local villagers who were very hospitable.

It took about two days to reach northern Pakistan, and another crazy 32-hour bus ride from Gilgit to Islamabad on a bus full of crying babies, mothers, and young men with wild looks in their eyes. All the while, Pakistani music was blaring from the speakers. We stopped in the dead of the night to buy food, take toilet breaks, and smoke cigarettes. A bus full of complete strangers making a journey together.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Receptionist: Janet Groth (GSAS '68, '82) Discusses Her Education at NYU and the New Yorker

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In her recent memoir, "The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker," Janet Groth transports us back in time to the New Yorker offices from 1957 to 1978 where she worked as a receptionist on the 18th floor.

Groth's tales are filled with colorful personalities from E.B White (who hired her) to poet John Berryman (who proposed marriage), essayist Joseph Mitchell (who took her to lunch every Friday), and playwright Muriel Spark (who invited her to Christmas dinner in Tuscany), as well as E. J. Kahn, Calvin Trillin, Renata Adler, Peter Devries, Charles Addams, and many others.

Just as the movies once painted a picture of New York City for the young woman from Iowa, now Groth paints us a picture of what it was like as a woman working at The New Yorker during the span of 21 years.

Listen to our interview with Janet Groth with the player below or Download this episode (right click and save)

Click here to purchase a copy of "The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker." Click here for more information on Janet Groth.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Top-Notch Creative Writing Program

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Our Creative Writing Program (CWP) is among the most prestigious writing programs in the country. The program is distinguished by its progressive coursework and renowned for its highly acclaimed faculty, which includes esteemed writers such as Zadie Smith, Charles Simic, Jonathan Safran Foer, Deborah Landau, and Darin Strauss (among many more).

Of course, a one-of-a-kind program like this produces extraordinary alumni. We'd like to take this post to highlight some of the recent accomplishments of those who have completed the CWP.



Jacob Appel's short story collection "Scouting for the Reaper," has won the 2012 Hudson Prize.

Solmaz Sharif is a winner of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Standford University. She was also a winner of the 2010 "Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Contest and a 2011-12 Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship.

Paula Bohince's second poetry collection, "The Children," was published by Sarabande Books in May 2012. She was also named the 2012 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at the Frost Place.

Aracelis Girmay was nominated for a 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for her poetry collection Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions Ltd.)

Holly Thompson's novel "Orchards" received the APALA 2012 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and is a YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. Her anthology "Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories" launched in March 2012 and benefits teens affected by the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Angelo Nikolopoulos is the winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award for his manuscript "Obscenely Yours," which will be published by Alice James Books in 2013.

Rashad Harrison (NYU CWP '07), who was a Javits Fellow, recently published his debut novel, "Our Man in the Dark" (Atria/Simon & Schuster).

Matthew Shaer published a nonfiction book, "Among Righteous Men: A Tale of Vigilantes and Vindication in Hasidic Crown Heights," in October 2011 (Wiley).

Beth Bosworth has won the Drue Heinz fiction award for 2012, comprised of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Alison Roh Park's "What We Push Against" was selected by Joy Harjo for a 2011 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship.

For a list of other alumni with recently published work, check out the Spring 2012 NYU Alumni Magazine Class Notes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tune in to Culture Shock this Sunday at 10PM


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Rawan Jabaji (GSAS '06) is a graduate of the Journalism Institute who has been working as producer and correspondent on Culture Shock, a television special airing this Sunday, July 22 at 10PM on OWN. Jabaji is one of three correspondents on the show who travel to different parts of the world to explore the nature of relationships and love across cultures.

"By delving deep into the private lives of people around the world, Culture Shock will expand our concept of what defines a relationship and what connects us across the globe." --OWN

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to speak with Rawan about how she grew from a classmate-biting kindergartner into a cross-cultural television producer.

NYU Arts and Science Alumni Relations: Tell us more about how the concept for Culture Shock was born. What initially spurred your interest in the ideas of love and marriage across cultures?

Rawan Jabaji: We set out to try and make a film of portraits of people around the world --intimate, detailed, seen through the eyes of us, the filmmakers. I worked together with a great Brooklyn-based production company, part2 pictures, to develop a show that took us on an atypical travel adventure -- one that tried to really get to know how people live in different parts of the world. Love and marriage are as universal as it gets, so it seemed like a good theme to start with.

Alumni Relations: Culture Shock will explore cultures from Moscow, India and China. How were these three locations chosen?

Rawan: The team at part2 pictures spent quite a bit of time trying to find the perfect stories and locations to take our audience. In addition to Russia, India, and China, the team looked into Morocco, Brazil, and Jordan, among many others. But there are only so many stories that can be told in an hour! The three stories we chose worked thematically. Three stories in three different countries that examine three different stages of love and marriage. I went to Hyderabad, India and followed a matchmaker, Farooqui, who was arranging the marriage of a couple.

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Alumni Relations: Did any experiences from your time at NYU influence how you approached this project?

Rawan: While I was getting my master’s at NYU’s Journalism school, I was enrolled in the Portfolio program, which encouraged longform, literary non-fiction reportage. I remember spending hours and days with my characters trying to learn what makes them tick, observing their habits and trying to grasp their stories so I could rush home and re-create what I observed in words. Those experiences taught me to be a better storyteller.

Alumni Relations: Is there any particular lesson that you, personally, learned through the production of Culture Shock?

Rawan: We’re far more similar than we are different. Farooqui, the matchmaker, may dress, eat and talk differently than we do but he’s really just trying to earn a living by finding members of his community the perfect match. He wants to provide for his family and he has dreams and aspirations just like we do.

Alumni Relations: Tell us about the first time you experienced culture shock.

Rawan: I was born in the US but I grew up in the Middle East speaking only Arabic. I moved here to start Kindergarten. I remember having no idea what was going on the first day of class. I spoke no English! But it’s not nearly as traumatic as it sounds. I was so excited to be in school that I figured out my own way to communicate with the kids. And if they didn’t understand me, I bit them!

Alumni Relations: You bit them!? What did your teacher say?

Rawan: Yes! I got in trouble but I think my teacher understood it was more out of frustration. Geez, I just wanted to play with the other kids! Soon I got an ESL teacher and learned English. And I've been fluent ever since!

Alumni Relations: When did you become interested in producing?

Rawan: During my time at NYU I interned at ABC Nightline in the evenings. I remember sitting in the newsroom researching a story for a senior producer on the Haditha Killings in Iraq. I was incredibly moved by the topic and storytelling. I decided that one day I wanted to be a producer and tell those stories.

Alumni Relations: Do you have any projects lined up after Culture Shock?

Rawan: I’m very excited about Culture Shock! I can barely contain myself! That’s my main focus now. I’m allowing myself time to absorb and enjoy what’s happening. And then once I’ve experienced this to the fullest, I’ll take some time to figure out my next steps. Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Blast from the WSC Past

5th Avenue has a changed a bit since 1931, no?

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You may recall last October when we announced that the Heights Yearbooks had been digitized. It is our pleasure to also announce that Washington Square College yearbooks (from 1924 to 2005) are now available as well - to be viewed in the Welcome Center.

The high-quality PDF's are fully searchable. So simply come in, type the name of a person or organization you'd like to see, and voilĂ !

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.

Also from the 1931 yearbook:

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scientists May Have Found the Key to the Universe



Scientists around the world are clinking champagne glasses after last week's promising discovery. The finding of a new particle, the Higgs boson, could possibly challenge "The Standard Model" of physics, which has ruled our view of the very nature of reality for the past half-century.

In an article published by the New York Times, NYU Physics Professor Neal Weiner states, "If the boson really is not acting standard, then that will imply that there is more to the story — more particles, maybe more forces around the corner... What that would be is anyone’s guess at the moment."

Check out the article for more details.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We're Now on Instagram

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That's right, we've started an Instagram account. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Instagram is a popular photo-sharing mobile application that was recently bought by Facebook for $1 Billion.

For us, it's a great way to snap shots around campus and share them with you. And although Instagram is only a mobile app (it can only be viewed from a smart phone), the photos are automatically shared onto our Facebook and Twitter pages.

For anyone who is unsure of how to get started using Instagram to share photos with family and friends, here is a fantastic, easy to follow 14-step guide, complete with photos and video. To follow us on Instagram, search our account name: @NYUArtsandScience. And when posting photos, be sure to tag us and use the hashtag, #nyualumni.

Finally, if you're not already convinced to follow us, enjoy this slideshow from our first month of Instagram photos. Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Being Social with Forbes' Tweeter, Brittany Binowski (GSAS '11)

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We always love the chance to see what our recent alumni are up to.

Last week, we came across a candidly-written Forbes article (which you might have seen posted to our FB and Twitter pages) written by Brittany Binowski (GSAS '11), who just graduated last December. She talks about a Twitter experiment she conducted to determine "what the watch you wear to work says about you."

After reading the article and checking out Brittany's graduate thesis webpage on Twitter best practices, we invited Brittany out for a cup of coffee to talk more about her thesis research and her work at Forbes. We had some interesting conversations about the future of social media in organizations and balancing personal content with professional content on social media accounts. Click here to read our Q&A.

Brittany is currently an Audience Development Associate at Forbes and manages the ForbesLife Twitter account. As an alumna of the Journalism Institute's Studio 20 Program, Brittany also has fantastic things to say about her experience at NYU. Be sure to check out the interview via the link above.

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