Friday, September 17, 2021

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

Rina working for Start Lighthouse

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

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Mariella Paulino: her story continues

Monday, July 12, 2021

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

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

Can you share the story of how you two met?

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

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

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

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

The Bryant Family: their story continues

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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

Jennifer Shahade

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

What did you study at NYU?

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

Jennifer Shahade: her story continues

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Alan Wang (CAS ’14) on his Experiences as a Medical Student During the COVID Pandemic

Alan WangWhat was your experience as an NYU student? 

I loved my experience as an NYU student. I was a college student not only in one of the best cities in the world, but also at one of the best universities. I’m originally from NYC, so I was super close to home. I could easily visit after class and on weekends. Plus, being in NYC, I had endless opportunities at my doorstep. 

I remember going to the Skirball Center for my general chemistry lectures with 700+ other students. I had attended a small high school in Chelsea, so I was initially intimidated by the size of the class. But I quickly made pre-med friends and found out that Professor John Halpin, my gen chem instructor, was an amazing lecturer. He was very thorough and made difficult concepts easy to understand. That class quickly became one of my favorites and ultimately made me decide to become a chemistry major. It’s crazy to think now how my medical education started and how far I have come since then.

At one of my residency interviews, the faculty interviewer had also been a student of Professor Halpin, and we were able to reminisce about our experiences as pre-meds at NYU. The long days in organic chemistry and physical chemistry labs were not fun, neither were the sleepless nights writing up those lab reports. My roommates would be out partying on a Friday night, while I would be in my dorm room studying. But I’m sure all the pre-meds out there can relate to this kind of lifestyle. I’m definitely grateful for my NYU experience and education, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alan Wang: his story continues

Friday, March 26, 2021

Bestselling Author Mateo Askaripour (CAS ‘12)

Mateo Askaripour

Mateo Askaripour (CAS ‘12) is a Brooklyn-based writer whose debut novel, “Black Buck” - which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high wire act full of verve and dark, comic energy” 
- is a New York Times bestseller and a TODAY Show Read with Jenna book club pick. He sat down with us to talk about his experiences as an NYU student, his introduction to yerba mate and the importance of the writing community he discovered at the Rhode Island Writers Colony.

What is your favorite memory of your time at NYU?

I have a lot, but maybe Welcome Week during my freshman year. I'm from New York and I was young when I came to NYU – just sixteen.  I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m in the city, I’m living on my own, I’m around the coolest people ever.” I was a little wide-eyed, but I didn't get too caught up in the scene. It was just so much fun. I genuinely had such a good time and met so many people.

Mateo Askaripour: his story continues

Monday, February 8, 2021

Yvonne Latty (TSOA '84, GSAS '90), Journalist, Author and Producer


Yvonne Latty

Yvonne Latty (TSOA '84, GSAS '90) is the Director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation programs at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She has produced documentaries, hosted, produced and edited podcasts and worked as an urban newspaper reporter. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Chicago Sun Times,, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and numerous other media outlets. She has been featured in over 100 media outlets including, Newsweek, CNN, The New York Times, CNN International, Fox News, NPR, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit Free Press.

She is the author of In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive and the critically acclaimed We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq.

What did you study at NYU?

My BFA is in Film/Television and my MA is in Journalism.

You are an alumna of both GSAS and Tisch. Can you speak about how your dual degrees have shaped your career?

I always loved to write and loved old black and white films, was a big Alfred Hitchcock fan and was addicted to TV. I originally wanted to study dramatic writing, but fell in love with directing in a television production class. But at the time, Black and LatinX directors were scarce and I was a first generation college graduate with no connections, so that dream died fast. Every production assistant job I got ended up with me watching the food table and nowhere near production.

Yvonne Latty: her story continues

Monday, January 25, 2021

Jami Tanner (CAS '19) Alumni Mentor and Vanessa Martin (CAS '23) Student Mentee on the CAS Alumni Mentorship Program


Jami Tanner

Jami Tanner (CAS '19)

Can you tell us about your experience acting as an alumni mentor?

I was committed to becoming an alumni mentor because I remember just how overwhelming it was navigating the undergraduate experience as the first person in my family to attend college. In our virtual biweekly meetings, I work with Vanessa on building her professional skills and talking through any confusions or uncertainties. We started off with resume workshopping, mock interviews, networking tips, and building her LinkedIn profile. I try to tailor each session around her current priorities, and there’s always some unstructured time for random questions about school or life. Vanessa is a brilliant student and quick learner, so it’s been really engaging to work together. (It also helps that we have a crazy amount of things in common!)

What advice did you give your student mentee?

I remember feeling nervous in my early years of undergrad because I hadn’t figured out my exact career path yet. I wanted to stress to Vanessa that it’s okay to not have your entire life trajectory finalized at 19 years old. My biggest piece of advice to her was to explore all of her intellectual curiosities during these four years, through different courses and internships, to get clarity on what she does and doesn’t like. I found my career objectives changed over the course of my undergraduate career, as I gained a deeper understanding of the different fields I was considering. There is a lot of trial and error, and that’s a crucial part of the process!

I also encouraged her to join clubs on campus that align with her passions and interests. I met some of my closest, lifelong friends through student organizations. These groups create a strong sense of community and make a large university like NYU feel small and connected. 

Jami Tanner: her story continues