Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Sani Lecture: Nicholas Kristof

Last night (March 26, 2012) marked another successful year for the Ashok C. Sani Distinguished Scholar in Residence Lecture, featuring New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. From the point when Kristof took the mic, he captivated the audience with poignant stories from his career as a journalist. By the lecture's end, Kristof had given the audience a new level of respect for and understanding of the hardships that are often experienced in developing countries. And in his own words, he reminded us that we are all winners of the "lottery of life," simply by being there--in the audience, and in this country. We would like to extend a special "Thank You" to Nicholas Kristof, and to the Sani family for giving us the opportunity to host such a wonderful event. NYU%2011-0355%20033.jpg NYU%2011-0355%20022.jpg NYU%2011-0355%20024.jpg NYU%2011-0355%20054.jpg

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Reproductive Rights Heroines are Called Sluts--Panel Discussion

bynoe.pngDon't miss what is sure to be an interesting conversation on Tuesday, April 3. The panel's full title is Why Reproductive Rights Heroines are Called Sluts: A Discussion on the War on Women, and it will be moderated by Jessica Bynoe (CAS '04, WAG '05), Executive Director of Variety of New York and Vice President of the NYU College Alumni Association Board. The discussion will hone in on major issues involving women's access to healthcare that have come into debate over the past few months. According to the panel's description, Funding for Planned Parenthood has been threatened, reproductive rights activists have been degraded in the media, and policies increasing women's access to birth control are under attack. Reproductive rights is one of many issues women still struggle with to gain equality in society and it is symptomatic of larger problems of discrimination and control. The fight for women's healthcare is entangled in issues of power and justice where women consistently find themselves on the losing side of the battle. To fully understand the war that is waging, we must explore women's health equity through the lenses of history, policy and medicine. gordon.jpg alvarado.jpgThe panel consists of two experts, Linda Gordon and Stephanie Alvarado. Linda Gordon is an NYU History professor, award-winning author who has focused her work on social policy debates and gender/family issues. Stephanie Alvarado is the National Field Organizer at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. She works to identify, build, and develop a diverse group of Latina leaders and activists that advocate for Reproductive Justice Issues at a local, state, and national levels. To RSVP for this panel discussion, please click here and follow the registration link. Should you have any questions regarding the event, feel free to contact our office at cas.alumni@nyu.edu or 212-998-6880.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rats Beware--Bobby the Hawk is Back

Bobby the hawk is back and ready to start a new family. With the best view of Washington Square Park, it wasn't difficult for him to find a new mate. And sure enough, less than a year after mourning the loss of Violet, his former lover, a new female raptor has entered the picture. The new hawk is named Rosie, and according to a bounty of online reports on the new couple, she is a resourceful hawk with an incredibly bold personality. hawks2.jpg For those who missed Bobby the hawk's 2011 debut, Bobby was discovered by President John Sexton when he began building a nest on the outside ledge of his office window. Soon after the nest was built, a camera was mounted upon the ledge called the "Hawk Cam," which provided live streaming of the hawks as they began to form a hawk family. The Hawk Cam became so popular that it attracted 1.7 million unique viewers from more than 200 countries and territories, and even experts like Dr. Colin Jerolmack, the NYU Professor who gave the birds their names. So be sure to stay tuned to the progress of Bobby and Rosie. We will keep you updated on the couple's major developments as they unfold via our Facebook Page.
Watch live streaming video from nytnestcam at livestream.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Charles Dharapak (WSC '93) Named Still Photographer of the Year

Congratulations to Charles Dharapak, a photojournalist for the Associated Press (AP), who has been named Still Photographer of the Year in the "Eyes of History" contest. Mr. Dharapak is an NYU Washington Square College graduate of 1993 in Print Journalism. In 1995, he joined the AP as a staff photographer based in Southeast Asia. He covered Cambodia's civil war and pro-democracy movement in Burma and later became the AP’s chief photographer and photo editor in Jakarta, Indonesia. In Jakarta, Mr. Dharapak covered the riots leading to the fall of Suharto, East Timor’s independence, various communal and religious conflicts, and the rise of Muslim extremism. In 2003 he transferred to AP Washington, DC, where he has covered national politics including the Bush administration, the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential campaigns, and currently the Obama White House. pfo_cxdcc08%20copy.jpg Mr. Dharapak's work in Gaza in 2002 was recognized by the Associaed Press Managing Editors and he has received awards for his Washington political coverage from the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism contest and the White House News Photographers Association. Last week, we had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dharapak about his time at NYU and his experience as a photojournalist for the Associated Press. At NYU, you studied Journalism, Economics and Chemistry. Is there a particular class or professor that you remember that has had a lasting impression on you? I was originally pre-med and in the BA-MD program (which was a non-accelerated 8 year program which had accepted you into the medical school) and had decided to major in Print Journalism. My interest in photojournalism came from taking an elective course taught by Carl Glassman, who now is the editor and publisher of the community newspaper The Tribeca Trib. It was during Fall 1992 and part of the course which left an impression on me was the discussion of how photographs of the Clinton – Bush presidential campaign were used in the mass media and how the photographs were able to communicate to the viewer. pfo_cxdcc30.jpg In 1995, two years after graduating from NYU, you became a Staff Photographer for the Associated Press in Bangkok, Thailand. At this point in your life, what made you decide to take on a career in photo journalism? I had already a keen interest in "making it" as a photojournalist and getting the job in Bangkok with AP was purely "right place, right time". I had language and local knowledge (my family is from Thailand and we went back summers while I was growing up in Staten Island) and AP was willing to take a chance on me even though I had very little professional experience. pfo_cxdcc32.jpg According to LinkedIn, you worked in South East Asia (SEA) for the first seven-and-a-half years of your career—first in Bangkok, then in Jakarta, Indonesia. Were you living in SEA all this time? Yes I did. In total I spent 10 years living in Southeast Asia after graduating from NYU. Even though I was based in Bangkok and Jakarta, I was able to travel often in the region and also outside the region. I spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2002, mostly in Gaza. After observing Thailand and Indonesia through a camera lens for over seven years, did you learn anything about their cultures that is not typically apparent to the average American tourist in SEA? When you are a journalist living in a place and covering that country's evolving history, you are getting a much more whole and continuous view of what is going on there, rather than parachuting in for a short time when the news is happening. I feel fortunate to have been in the region during a time of great transformation. Specific examples that come to mind was the Asian financial crisis, which began in Thailand and spread throughout the region. It brought on riots which led to the ouster of dictator Suharto, who had ruled Indonesia for 32 years with an iron fist, and brought about democracy and its growing pains which led to other stories such as East Timor's independence. It was a privilege to be living there during that period and to see the story through. pfo_cxdcc45.jpg What is it like to be a photographer for the AP? Does the fact that the AP provides news for many different news outlets change how you work as a photo journalist? AP's reach is very far and wide. On any given day, more than half the world gets its news from the AP. So I get a great thrill of having the responsibility for telling the story — being the eyes and ears for people who aren't able to be there and witness it for themselves. For almost a decade, you have been photographing American politics. What is it like to be so close to iconic political figures? It has been a great privilege to have this front row seat to history. It has been an interesting period of time in American politics, from the George W. Bush presidency to the historic presidential election of Barack Obama. AE2_pre_cxdcc_09blackberry.jpg This photo of President Obama dropping his Blackberry seems to bring the President down to a more relatable frame of reference—everyone who owns a cell phone is bound drop it sooner or later. Do you typically have a set image in your mind that you’re trying to convey? No. Coming to work on any given day you have to be prepared with the knowledge of what the story of the day is, who the players are, and what the larger issues are that are being dealt with. An unguarded image of a public figure usually comes from knowing your subject and being able to anticipate what is going to happen and how they are going to react. pfo_cxdcc20.jpg Has your view on any political figure ever changed after photographing them? Politicians are people too. But I always admire the amount of drive and energy they have, especially after following the President on a 10 day trip around the world, or a presidential candidate as they relentlessly campaign. So when I feel tired at the end of a long day, I know that there is someone else who is more tired than I am! Be sure to check out some of Mr. Dharapak's other photos. pfo_cxdcc17.jpg pfo_cxdcc42.jpg pfo_cxdcc19.jpg

Alumna Profile: Marcia Cantarella (GSAS '92, '97)

A college education is a massive investment. Yes, we realize this is an NYU alumni blog, so we may be preaching to the choir here. But imagine--what if after such a large investment of time and money you were unable to pull through to the finish line? icanfinishcollege.jpgWell, fellow A&S alumna and former NYU Director of Academic Enhancement from 1991-1999, Marcia Cantarella (GSAS '92, '97), is an expert on the forces that impede upon a student's path to their degree. In fact, Dr. Cantarella is the author of I CAN Finish College: The How to Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide and she was recently featured on National Public Radio's Tell Me More discussing the topic. We had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Cantarella about this topic as well--why are some students not able to finish their college studies, and what can they do to change that? Dr. Cantarella also offers some advice on how make the best out of being an alum.

  Your book, I CAN Finish College, is a guide that offers advice for overcoming obstacles that often delay or prevent college students from receiving their degrees. What are the most common reasons for students to drop out of college? 

I think of them in as the three Fs. Fun, Finances and Fear. Fun is when a student released into the relative freedom of college discovers s/he is a party animal and has a rough time getting to that 8 am class. Students may go overboard in taking advantage of the freedom and lose sight of the point of college—getting an education. I have known girls from strict boarding schools who in the first semester started dating the local drug dealer. Or boys caught up in hazing with sometimes tragic results. Fun carried too far is a cause for failure – with maybe even life changing results. Financial issues are a big reason cited for dropping out. Students may not know how to access all the resources they should to pay for college, ranging from obscure scholarships to federal tax credits. They may take on too much in work to pay for school and then suffer the consequences as Nina the star character of the play “In The Heights” does. They may “drop” a class without deregistering and end up with both a bill they can’t pay and an F. Which takes us to Fear. Students are afraid of going to administrators, advisors or instructors to get guidance in navigating college. This fear can have disastrous consequences in falling afoul of key deadlines, policies or regulations. It can be as simple as not asking for help in writing a paper and then failing the course.

  Are there any lesser-known reasons that college students don’t finish their studies? 

This goes back to the items above. The fear of not asking questions or asking for help is huge but not discussed as much as the issue of finances. Students have a misconception about inquiry and college. Colleges are where inquiry thrives and people who ask questions are valued. Faculty begin their work with a research question. It is not a space where those in authority will look down on students for asking questions in class or asking for help outside class. They will think they are engaging the institution in the right way and support the student who comes forward asking to know or understand more . But too many students sit in a Bio 101 class with no clue of what is going on and praying that someone else will ask the question. So the whole class may suffer because no one asks. They are not then flocking to tutoring centers either or seeking out their advisors. The fear question is playing a part here. It is the fear of looking like you don’t know. But how could you know—you have come to college to learn about what you don’t know. So not knowing is normal. Asking is a good thing.

  In December, you were involved in an interesting discussion on National Public Radio where you spoke a bit about the importance of utilizing all resources that are available on campus. What do you recommend to students who wish to become more engaged outside of the classroom?

 One thing that is on everyone’s mind these days is getting a job after college. That is less about what you majored in than what skills you acquire in the major you chose, how well you do in it and then what else you have done. So having a great GPA in a field a student is passionate about is a key starting place but then there have to be other factors that constitute a whole picture or resume. Internships test drive careers and show what kind of worker a person can be, but community service and clubs and activities provide evidence of leadership skills, heart, organizing skills and interpersonal skills. They also add to the networks that will be useful over a lifetime. Going to the student activities office can be a starting place or offices that have affinity groups like the Multicultural Affairs office can be useful. Following interests, potential vocations or hobbies can be guides, whether it is politics, photography or community service.

  marciacantarella.jpgLooking back at your time at NYU, is there anything you wish you had taken more advantage of?

 I was working full time in the College of Arts and Sciences as Director of Academic Enhancement Programs and was working on my doctorate in American Studies. Fortunately my kids were no longer at home but my late husband and dog were. So I had little free time. What I missed were the lectures and events that are often free for students, and involve remarkable people and public figures. I also did not have the time to hang out with classmates or have coffee after class. My choice, the right one, was to go home and hang out with my husband. But students should know that they will likely never again have a chance to be as up close and personal with major political figures, opinion leaders and celebrities as they might while in school.

  On NPR, you also mentioned the concept, “stereotype threat,” coined by Professor Claude Steele at Stanford University. How might this concept hinder a student’s ability to finish college?

 I keep coming back to the fear factor (good name for a TV show?) Stereotype threat helps to explain why some of that fear plays out. When you are part of a group that may have a negative stereotype attached to it—minorities, the poor, women, gays, immigrants—you hesitate to engage in actions that may affirm that stereotype. So if a minority student feels that there is a perception that students of color are less smart than others then that student will hesitate to ask the questions or seek out the help in a tutoring office that a white student would not think twice about. Since many college students are low-income, minority, first generation and/or immigrant all these are groups that may be affected by stereotype threat that stands in the way of their feeling fully empowered to use the tools and resources others feel entitled to. And so they are more inclined to drift or fall away from the institution rather than deal with the discomfort of these real or perceived negative views.

  What motivated you to become an expert on why students don’t finish college?

 I have to say that it crept up on me. Having been a dean or senior administrator in highly diverse institutions I continued to find myself addressing the same issues or concerns. Students would be in my office trying to figure out how to choose a major, drop a course, speak to a professor, solve a financial problem, think about a career path. Whether at NYU or Princeton or Hunter, the conversations were the same. I began to realize that despite orientations, workshops (not always well attended), websites (not always clear or student friendly) or handbooks (and I designed the first one for CAS) students still had many, many basic questions that were not being addressed or understood. So I decided to put all these conversations in one place. I hope that students find I CAN Finish College to be a place where they can learn the language, the processes, the cast of characters and the rationales for engaging fully and successfully in the life of the college. And many of the lessons are in the stories of the students whom I have encountered along the way.

  Being in Alumni Relations, we are particularly interested in the last section of your book, “Being an Alumnus.” Can you tell us a little bit about this section? Do you have any advice for NYU Arts &Science Alumni?

 I have found that being an alumna, particularly of my undergraduate college, Bryn Mawr, has had lifelong benefits. They mainly take the form of relationships. One of my Bryn Mawr classmates who is an editor at NYU Press volunteered to read/edit all 350 pages of my doctoral dissertation! My networks have led to jobs and to lifelong friendships. You never know where you or your classmates may go someday. I recently had the pleasure of introducing some of my young men from the Hunter College Black Male Initiative to my Bryn Mawr classmate, Drew Faust, President of Harvard. These days (not true back in my era) students can get career advice and connections, a library card, and an email address forever. The big thing though is the relationships and the sense of affinity when you meet someone else who shares your alma mater. You know that you have a shared experience and frame of reference. It is very powerful.

Recent Alumna Gauri Manglik (CAS '10) Recognized for developing a new mobile application

gaurimanglik.jpgIn January, Gauri Manglik was recognized by the NYU Entrepreneur's Network as Entrepreneur of the Month for developing Fondu. Fondu is a unique mobile app that combines and simplifies the purposes of Twitter and Yelp. It provides a platform for users to share short reviews of dining experiences with friends--so rather than sifting through a number of questionable, anonymous Yelp restaurant reviews, users can simply read a short, "tweet-sized" review from a friend or trustable source. Last week, we had the opportunity to send a few questions her way, asking more about her experience at NYU and her entrepreneurial ventures.

  What made you choose the CAS Computer Science Program for your undergraduate education?

 I actually tried a bunch of different programs (International Relations, Pre-med, and Economics!) before I settled on Computer Science. I happened to take one intro class, enjoyed it and then continued on with the program. I wasn't one of those hacker types that's been programming since birth :)

  Can you think of a specific course, professor or even a moment in class that had a profound affect on you? 

Most definitely. My last semester at NYU, I took Lawrence Lenihan's "Ready, Fire!, Aim" entrepreneurship class, which was my first exposure to startups. The great thing about it was that almost every class we had a guest lecturer who was usually some amazing entrepreneur in NYC, which was incredibly inspiring. Fondu is actually an evolution of what I was working on in that class.

  For those of us that are unfamiliar with SpotOn and Fondu, can you talk briefly about what you have been doing since graduating from CAS in 2010?

 SpotOn started out of NYU and was a personalized recommendation for restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. We gave you suggestions for places to go in the same way that Netflix gives recommendations for movies. We launched it as a Battlefield company at TechCrunch Disrupt in May 2011. After that we observed carefully how our users were behaving. We found that they cared more about rating places and seeing what their friends had rated than actually getting personalized recommendations. So we evolved SpotOn to Fondu, which is a fun, quick way to share bite-size restaurant reviews with your friends. We went live with our iPhone application just this past November. logo.png



How did you choose the name, “Fondu?”

 Fondue is social food experience. It's tasty and you usually have it on special occasions with your friends. When you say "Fondue" it usually brings about positive memories. Fondu, the app, is all about sharing food experiences with your friends. It's also short and easy to spell and remember.

  Your Fondu bio states that you “like to eat real food.” As the CEO of a food-review app, how do you judge a meal?

 By "real food" I really mean natural, unprocessed food. My favorite restaurants are those where the meals taste healthy and home made.

  Do you have any favorite places to eat in the Village?

 If I'm by NYU, I like going to KuKu Canteen.

  What do you think of apps like Scoutmob and Foursquare, which share Fondu’s connection with NYC’s restaurant scene?

 They're both great! We actually use Foursquare places database. It was our love for apps like Foursquare that got us to start building a company in this space.