NYU Alumni and Friends Connect

March 15, 2019

On Friday, April 5, the New York University Alumni Association (NYUAA) will recognize six outstanding alumni from across the University for their exceptional personal and professional achievements and contributions to society. This year’s honorees include US Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ’97), Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg (ARTS '55), professor and chemist Neil Garg (CAS ’00), musical duo A Great Big World members Ian Axel (STEINHARDT '07) and Chad King (STEINHARDT ’07), and activist and social entrepreneur Erin Schrode (CAS ’13), whose successes and commitments within their communities and around the world exemplify the NYU spirit.

Learn more about this year’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award honorees below. Registration for the 2019 Awards luncheon, which will be held on Friday, April 5 from 12:00–2:00 PM at Gotham Hall in New York City, is now open. The event will be hosted by NYU President Andrew Hamilton and NYUAA President Brian Levine (GSAS ’03, MED ’08).

Ian Axel (STEINHARDT ’07) and Chad King (STEINHARDT ’07)

Distinguished Young Alumni Award


Ian Axel (STEINHARDT ’07) and Chad King (STEINHARDT ’07)

Since meeting as NYU Music Business students in the early 2000s, Chad King and Ian Axel (both STEINHARDT '07) of "A Great Big World" have been fusing epic, bigger-than-a-stadium pop sounds with intimate, heartfelt lyrics. The singer-songwriters had their first hit in 2011, with "This Is the New Year" featured on MTV, CBS, ABC, ESPN, The CW, and later performed on Fox's Glee.

When Christina Aguilera heard their 2013 single "Say Something" and asked to lend vocals to the track, the band began a meteoric rise that continued with the release of their chart-topping debut "Is There Anybody Out There?" (Epic), and a Grammy award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. King and Axel's voices grew even more confident on their 2015 sophomore album, When the Morning Comes, which matched their classic, joyful sound with themes of King’s coming out and Axel's relationship with his now-wife.

The band released two new singles in 2018—"Younger" and "You"—as well as penning lead single "Fall On Me" for the legendary Andrea Bocelli, which was also featured in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. A Great Big World is gearing up for a very busy 2019, with more new music to come, and a newfound sense of musical self-discovery.

Erin Schrode (CAS ’13)

Distinguished Young Alumna Award

Erin Schrode (CAS ’13)

Erin Schrode (CAS ’13) is an activist and social entrepreneur. A leading voice on sustainability, social impact, and millennials, and a vocal advocate for environmental action, public health, and equal justice, she recently ran an unprecedented campaign for US Congress in California to redefine civic engagement and reinvigorate a culture of public service.

Since co-founding Turning Green in 2005, Schrode has developed eco-education and action platforms to inspire, educate, and mobilize millions of students and global masses. Erin speaks internationally; consults with corporations, organizations, and governments; and contributes to ABC, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Refinery29, among others. She is frequently tapped as an expert for and featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CNN, NBC, FOX, Seventeen, Forbes, and additional media.

A community organizer, Schrode champions civic leadership, conscious living, and environmental stewardship worldwide, launching a youth education project in Haiti; writing curriculum for an eco-center for Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian students; developing recycling infrastructure in Ghana; and telling the stories of Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees in the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as Native Americans at Standing Rock in solidarity on the ground.

Since Hurricane Maria, Schrode has led #ChefsForPuertoRico as COO of the largest feeding program in Puerto Rico, for which founder Chef José Andrés was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The program served over 3.7 million meals to those in need post-disaster, and she now invests in local, sustainable agriculture and food systems island-wide. From her hometown in Marin County, California to NYU to 80 nations, Schrode is on a lifelong journey to inspire and mobilize others to discover and activate passion for social impact and policy change that ensures a just, safe, thriving world for future generations.