Profiles of one exceptional graduate from each of our schools and colleges.
For those of us who work at the University, Commencement season is a festive time of year, but a bittersweet one, too: We're sad to say goodbye to our graduates, but proud of what they've accomplished and excited to see how they will continue to make their mark in the world. As we look ahead to honoring all 17,000 graduates at NYU's 187th Commencement at Yankee Stadium on May 22, here's another chance to celebrate the Class of 2019, through profiles of one exceptional graduate from each of our schools and colleges—plus this year's student speaker. We can't wait to see what they'll do next.
Alfonso E. Morgan-Terrero was in high school when he first viewed a Chinese language film. The film depicted the search for self-identity on the margins of society. This kind of filmmaking spoke to him in terms of his own diverse parentage within a working-class upbringing and confirmed for him the power film had to elicit empathy. It also sparked a deep and abiding interest in the universality of unrepresented experiences across the globe.
At NYU, Alfonso majored in Film and Television while also pursuing proficiency in Mandarin throughout his four years. His passion for cinematic storytelling and the study of Mandarin have led to his selection as a Henry Luce Scholar—one of only 18 fellows selected nationally—to study and film in Taiwan next year.
Alfonso attributes his success to the academic and creative support he received at NYU. “NYU supported my dream of becoming a filmmaker by providing me with the tools to make it happen. More importantly, the incredible access that we as students have to courses outside of our own discipline allowed me to gain a holistic education. This has resulted in my understanding that I am a student of the world, its past, present, and future—something I learned while studying at the world’s first global university.”
A Social and Cultural Analysis major from Richmond, Virginia, Matthew’s mission is to take on the carceral state. As an undergraduate, he founded the Richmond Community Bail Fund and became an organizer for the Incarceration to Education Coalition, advocating to end NYU’s involvement with the prison-industrial complex. As a college captain and a leader with the Governance Council of Minority & Marginalized Students, Matthew has been integral in making NYU
a stronger community.
NYU’s relationship with New York City—a place defined by action and bustle—meant I could apply what I study to the world outside. Very few universities make the merger of learning and doing as fundamental as NYU does.
How did you choose your major?
I thought I wanted to major in Politics, but I knew at CAS—because it offers such a range of scholarly focuses—I could follow my interests as they changed and evolved. I soon realized that I was stimulated more by qualitative approaches to political questions than I was by quantitative ones. This impulse, combined with some sage advice I got from Professor Michael Ralph, led me to Social and Cultural Analysis—and I’ve loved it!
What have been some highlights of your academic experience?
Professor A.B. Huber’s course Perversion and Subversion: Queer Critique has been one of the most intellectually transformative experiences of my life, and I have so much to thank them for. And thanks to my professors in the East Asian studies department—Professor Xiaohong Hou, Professor Jiayi Xu, and Professor Shiqi Liao—I spent the entirety of my sophomore year in China studying Mandarin at Beijing International Studies University.
Though she’d been accepted to medical school, Nina put that dream on hold to pursue another: to provide children in underserved areas with high-quality education. After four successful years as an instructor with Teach For America in Atlanta, she revisited her passion for healthcare and decided to continue helping underserved populations through dentistry. Nina enrolled in NYU’s Special Patient Care (SPC) Honors Program, where she focused on providing comprehensive dental care to people with disabilities. She volunteered as a peer tutor and is a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the national dental honor society.
Why did you choose to study dentistry at NYU?
I came to NYU because I saw so many opportunities here—from community and global outreach to clinical experience—that are unsurpassed. I saw how busy the clinic was and how many people they help, and it lined up perfectly with my desire to serve those who need it most.
Who has had the biggest impact on you during your time here?
There are so many people here who’ve had an impact on me that
I could never pick just one. One of my biggest role models is my group practice director, Dr. Angela DeBartolo. She’s so knowledgeable, patient, and understanding, yet she also held me accountable. Traveling with everyone in the global outreach program to Maine and remote areas of Cambodia motivated me to earn a Certificate in Global Public Health. And Dr. James Keenan, Dr. Robert Frare, and Dr. Marc Henschel, whom I worked with in SPC, are the absolute cream of the crop.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment has been overcoming my biggest challenge: balancing class, clinic, volunteer work, extracurriculars, and life. I’m proud that I was able to stay focused, work hard, and graduate in the top 10 of my class.
A native New Yorker, Dior, who earns her Master of Public Health (MPH), never thought she’d want to go to school in her hometown. But as a Latina feminist mental health advocate, she realized that home is exactly where she wanted to apply her skills. Dior is the creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, a response to the invisibility of people of color in media representations of mental illness. A longtime activist in the effort to destigmatize mental illness, she is a White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations and a Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame inductee.
Why did you choose the College of Global Public Health?
I grew up seeing the NYU flag around the city and hearing about NYU in the media. What better place to not only gain a better understanding of my own home through a public health lens but also learn about the global landscape of public health?
Where have your studies taken you during your time at NYU?
There are so many connections one can make with the NYU name. Being an MPH student gave me the opportunity to participate in the Health Research Training Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where I had wanted to work for years. That internship led to a full-time job!
What will you miss most about NYU?
I will really miss this unique environment, but I’m excited for my next steps: I will be promoting my book, The Color of My Mind, and hope to become more involved in mental health policies that can benefit people of color as I continue to engage with communities and connect with stakeholders through my speaking engagements around the country.
On his journey to overcome challenges in his own life, Tae found healing and inspiration in the exploratory narratives of documentary films. Graduating summa cum laude, Tae combined personal passions for nonfiction filmmaking and psychology research to create his individualized concentration: filmmaking and mental health trauma, healing, and happiness. After interning with and creating short films for the Global Trauma Project in South Sudan and NYU’s Prison Education Program, Tae, a native of Daegu, South Korea, concentrated on directing his first feature-length documentary: an examination of the stigma associated with mental illness in his home country.
Why did you decide to attend NYU?
I wanted to go to a university where I’d be able to discover what I’m truly passionate about. With so many different academic opportunities and New York City as my campus, I knew NYU would be the perfect place to grow, explore, and find my passion.
What has been your proudest accomplishment at NYU?
My proudest accomplishment at NYU is a combination of Gallatin selecting me to receive the Léo Bronstein Homage Award for the Class of 2019 and giving me the opportunity to represent the school in this magazine. I am very grateful to my parents, sisters, friends, and wonderful professors for their support and encouragement throughout my career at NYU.
What is the ultimate goal you’ve set for yourself?
I want to produce documentaries that tell compelling stories about issues I feel must be addressed. Through my films, I aspire to bring positive change to the world, spread hopeful messages, and inspire those who see them.
Born and raised on Long Island in a large and supportive Italian-American family, Brian began studying Italian in the seventh grade and continued throughout his college career. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth, and he was part of the MA program at NYU Florence. Brian has worked as an adjunct instructor at NYU, teaching elementary Italian while earning his PhD in Italian Studies.
What was the inspiration for choosing your major?
My Italian-American heritage, and my close relationship with my grandmother, had a lot to do with my decision to start studying Italian. For much of my adult life, Italy has provided the context in which I’ve explored the questions that interest me most, influencing how I interact with and understand the world.
What was the topic of your doctoral thesis?
My dissertation studied HIV/AIDS in the Italian media during the late 1980s and early 1990s. For this project, I studied several mediums: television and radio, magazines and newspapers, documentary and feature film, literature and literary criticism, and philosophy and cultural theory.
What was the most memorable part of your time at NYU Florence?
I got to take two courses at the University of Florence—one on the history of democracy, and the other on extra-parliamentary politics and violence in 1970s Italy—both of which were extremely formative for me. I also really enjoyed my work as a peer adviser with the Office of Student Life.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I love the energy I get from my students. Their curiosity and willingness to learn has provided me with a great deal of inspiration throughout my doctoral studies, and I’m really grateful to them.
Haley Ghesani, who receives a BS in Business with concentrations in finance and management and organizations and a minor in Politics, is Stern’s senior class president and has been part of the Stern Student Council since her first year. She was an orientation leader at NYU her junior and senior years, and she is a founding member of NYU’s chapter of Delta Gamma, of which she was a vice president this past year.
What were your favorite courses?
My two favorite classes were Negotiation and Consensus Building with Professor Elizabeth Seeley Howard and Professional Responsibility and Leadership with Professor Michael Pollack. Negotiations taught me some of the most applicable skills I learned in college, and I know I’ll be able to carry them with me in my career. Professional Responsibility and Leadership gave me an opportunity to reflect on my personal and professional goals and think about how I can make the most of these next few years after graduation.
Describe some of your highlights of studying at Stern.
The global opportunities I’ve had at Stern, both studying abroad at NYU Prague and attending the International Studies Program in Hong Kong, are two highlights. And the community at this school has been incredible. I have found so many individuals—professors, faculty, mentors, and peers—who have helped me navigate these past four years and who genuinely care about my success.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’ll be working at Accenture as a consulting analyst. Eventually I want to transition into international development work, and I am excited to explore Accenture’s opportunities in that space.
At age 13, Isha, who is passionate about fighting for social justice for children and immigrant populations, was the youngest-ever volunteer for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity: Home for the Orphaned and Abandoned in Kolkata, India. A Dean’s List Honors student, she double-majored in Global Liberal Studies (GLS) with a concentration in politics, rights, and development and Spanish and Latin American Languages and Literatures and completed two minors: Public Policy and Management and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. Isha served as the president and treasurer of NYU’s chapter of Amnesty International and as a peer impact programmer in NYU’s Center for Multicultural Education and Programs. She hopes to pursue a career in civil rights law.
Describe a project you’ve worked on that really hit home.
When I studied at NYU Madrid junior year for my Global Liberal Studies major, I took a class called Madrid Stories, for which we were tasked with making a documentary. A couple of friends and I made a documentary about an Ecuadorian woman, who works as a domestic laborer, and her son as they navigate living in Madrid. It focuses on the sacrifices immigrant parents and their children make, a topic that’s very important to me because I am the child of immigrants, too.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My plan is to enjoy, for the first time in my life, that I have no plan!
In one year, I plan to apply to law school—I decided to wait a year to
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
I decided, in true GLS fashion (we love fieldwork, research, etc.),
to ask people for the best piece of advice they’ve gotten, and these are the three most recurring themes I found: love yourself and cherish your community; take risks; and don’t worry if the risks don’t turn out the way you planned—you’re resilient and will bounce back.
Lama is a first-generation college student from Dearborn, Michigan. The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she’s committed to helping other first-generation students find their way—particularly STEM-minded young women. She is the president of Women Empowered in STEM, the Diversity Committee chair on NYU Abu Dhabi’s Student Government, and creator of an annual STEM conference for high school girls in Abu Dhabi. During her junior year abroad in New York City, she ran design-thinking workshops and taught creative coding at NYU STEMFest. Lama was also selected as a 2019–2020 Luce Scholar, the first NYU Abu Dhabi student to be so recognized.
Why did you decide to attend NYU Abu Dhabi?
Visiting campus for Candidate Weekend sparked something in me. I realized I would be experiencing an entirely new place with people from all over the world whose personal perspectives would enrich every aspect of my life for four years.
What inﬂuenced you to major in Social Research and Public Policy?
I thought Computer Science was the major for me, but during sophomore year I took a class called Politics of Code and learned that there’s a huge gap between policy and technology. I quickly realized a passion for understanding how technology impacts people, and Social Research and Public Policy allowed me to get right in the middle of that.
What are your plans for after graduation?
As a Luce Scholar, I’ll spend the next year at the United Nations Global Pulse Lab in Jakarta, Indonesia, working at the intersection of data science and development. After that, I plan to focus on bridging the gap between political entities and technology companies. I can’t think of a more fulfilling way to apply my skills and experience.
When she enrolled at NYU Shanghai, Shirley (Xuehan) Zhao, who is from Chengdu, China, was the only Chinese student in the class of 2019 to major in Global China Studies. As a junior, she traveled to Tokyo, Japan, to study at Waseda University through NYU’s International Exchange Program. As this year’s only Chinese Knight-Hennessy Scholar, Shirley will pursue a master’s degree in East Asian Studies at Stanford University.
Of your four years at NYU Shanghai, what was the highlight?
I have learned that differences can be recognized, negotiated, and understood, and that diversity can be embraced. NYU Shanghai is still young, but what marked my life there was the historic opportunity to grow with it.
How did NYU Shanghai prepare you for your future?
NYU Shanghai trained me to become a critical as well as creative thinker. Studying in an open environment with people different from myself, I have become sympathetic to the ideas of others, and I found the courage to offer my own original thoughts for critical examination.
What was your proudest accomplishment?
While in Japan I interned with a consultant to UN Women (UNW), a United Nations entity, where I worked to create public-private partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. I screened 41 UN member states in the Asia-Pacific region and identified five countries where UNW could best find private companies to work with. I established a methodology to identify these companies and comprised a list of candidates for local UNW offices.
What message would you like to give your fellow graduates?
We have proven that barriers can be removed, gaps can be bridged, and bonds can be created. As we move forward, let us remember to help people connect and communicate more.
While earning a master’s degree in Public Administration, Crystal worked as a senior project manager at NEO Philanthropy. She served as finance chair for the student group Wagner Policy Alliance, a role in which she facilitated conversations between policy practitioners, and as a teaching colleague helping fellow students in statistics courses. Crystal plans to create spaces where marginalized communities thrive, whether by empowering them through organizing or by being a strategic grant-maker who takes risks to support grassroots organizations.
How will your degree help you in your career?
Philanthropy is a field where partnerships and collaboration are critical in supporting the larger ecosystem of nonprofits. The robust Wagner network I’ve fostered will be an invaluable resource that I’ll be able to draw upon for knowledge and to facilitate connections in the wider philanthropic field.
Describe a course that impacted you.
Marginalized communities continue to grapple with the effects of institutional racism in areas like housing, education, and beyond. The course Segregation and Public Policy served as a critical reminder that systemic and institutional inequalities run deep in this country’s collective history and that any meaningful policy needs to be deliberate, comprehensive, and bold. I walked away with a renewed sense of conviction and moral clarity that I want to devote my life working toward uprooting and dismantling systems of inequality.
What will you miss most?
I’ll miss the Wagner community, which has provided me with both intellectual and emotional sustenance. Wagner is unique in that my peers and I are connected by a common commitment to public service. While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the enormous and complex problems we face, during my last three years, I’ve had countless nourishing conversations that have sustained me through the toughest days, and to my fellow “Wagnerds,” I am forever grateful.
Future registered nurse Joyce came to NYU with a clear path, and along the way she discovered a passion for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS), which became her minor. Though she didn’t think of herself as a leader, during her first year at NYU, she served as secretary of the CAMS Executive Board and went on to become president of the Undergraduate Nursing Student Organization as a senior, working with her fellow students, faculty, and staff to strengthen the Meyers community.
What has been the most unique part of being at NYU?
Being in New York City. I had the opportunity to do my clinical rotations at some of the world’s greatest hospitals, which allowed me to experience a variety of fields and learn about many kinds of patients and scenarios I would not have seen in other facilities.
How have your studies shaped you?
Every course that I took at NYU has shown me that the path of a nurse is versatile and full of endless possibilities that I can shape into a meaningful career. My CAMS courses and clinical rotations helped spark and deepen my interest in pediatrics and mental health. My favorite course, Community Nursing, didn’t seem to directly relate to my interests at first, but I learned how to take a systemic approach to health to have a larger impact.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
Move-in day! The excitement was indescribable. I was an 18-year-old moving from California to New York City to start my life here. I remember wondering what the next four years were going to be like, and I don’t regret a single second of my time spent at NYU.
Aaron Haier was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, and graduated from NYU with a BA in Economics and English in 2013 and an MA in Economics in 2014. At the School of Law, Aaron was awarded a Moelis Urban Law and Public Affairs Fellowship, and he interned as a summer associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he will return after graduation as an associate in the firm’s litigation department
What inspired your desire to study law?
While I was completing my master’s in 2013, I began working full time for the City of Newark’s health department, where I oversaw the development of the Newark Healthy Homes Program. I was responsible for strategic planning and implementation. It was a tremendous opportunity, but ultimately, I felt that I was not able to do enough for the communities I was serving due to bureaucratic obstacles. I decided to pursue a legal education so I would be better equipped to advocate for my community.
What is your proudest law school accomplishment?
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a member of the inaugural team of Community Advisors, a group that serves as a resource for students living in the law school residence halls by connecting them with resident faculty, alerting them to available resources, and providing programming to encourage community building. It’s been an extremely rewarding experience.
What was the highlight of your Moelis Fellowship?
The Moelis Fellowship gave me the chance to focus a substantial portion of my law school experience on urban issues. Through the Fellowship, I had the opportunity to intern with the New York City Housing Development Corporation, to serve as a research assistant at NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and to connect and interface with leading scholars and practitioners at the forefront of community development in New York City.
Cordelia was born in Connecticut but went to school in Paris, France, and Abu Dhabi, UAE, before becoming an undergraduate at Princeton. She is president of the NYU School of Medicine’s Class of 2019, a 2019 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society inductee, and president of the Neurology and Neurosurgery student interest group. Cordelia also serves on the Violet Society Program advisory committee and volunteers as a Violet Society peer mentor. She starts her residency in neurosurgery at NYU in July.
When did you first decide to become a physician?
I have been interested in becoming a physician ever since I can remember. I have always had a love for math and science, and I also enjoy working on teams and helping people.
What area of medicine most interests you?
While I had always been interested in medicine, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I learned about neurosurgery through my own experience as a patient. While on vacation in Panama, I dove into shallow water and fractured a vertebra in my neck, requiring emergency surgery. My neurosurgeon was so compassionate and became an idol of mine. From there, I started taking neuroscience classes in college and got involved with neurosurgery research in medical school.
What inspired you to become active in student government and what have you achieved as class president?
I’ve always been involved in some capacity with student government. I really enjoy working on teams with students and administrators to improve the student experience. During my tenure as president of my class at the School of Medicine, we were able to move forward projects related to student health insurance, student body diversity, wellness, and the alumni network.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I’ll be going on a family trip to the Grand Canyon before starting my neurosurgery residency at NYU School of Medicine.
After working for two years as an account executive at an advertising firm in her native India, Deeksha felt like she’d hit a ceiling in her professional growth. She began exploring opportunities in different media fields and, having always dreamed of attending NYU, enrolled in the Public Relations and Corporate Communications master’s program at SPS. During her time at NYU, Deeksha was appointed the events chair of the SPS Graduate Student Council, represented her major as a student panelist at the CASE Summit, and served as both an orientation leader and events coordinator in the Office of Global Services (OGS).
Who was your biggest source of support at NYU?
My professors were guardian angels who were always there to help me at the drop of a hat. If I needed guidance, they were there. If I loved their work experience and wanted to shadow them for a day, they’d let me come to their office. Their support definitely helped me realize my potential.
What drew you to the Public Relations and Corporate Communications master’s program?
As a dancer, I love any chance to be creative, and public relations lets me think creatively about new ideas every day. All the classes I took were extremely practical yet gave me the chance to personalize what I learned, give it a special touch, and apply it in my own unique way.
What will you miss most about your time here?
I’m going to miss having so many different things to do every day. When I get back to my apartment, I’m exhausted from running from class to OGS to volunteering to events planning, but it’s such a satisfying feeling. I feel like I’m fulfilling something deep inside that I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill anywhere else.
While earning his master’s in Social Work, father, army veteran, and entrepreneur Michael was the vice president of the NYU Military Alliance, a Silver Student Leadership Council Fellow, a member of the Students of Color Collective, and a Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellow as well as one of two students on the Social Justice Praxis Committee. Michael plans to use his expertise in and passion for the social sector to become a leader within the criminal justice system.
How will you continue to apply the essential values of social work to your life and career beyond NYU?
By pursuing the knowledge necessary to advance human rights and socioeconomic justice, I plan to live a life of advocacy on behalf of the oppressed, voiceless, and others who are unable to advocate for themselves. Each person, regardless of their position in society, has basic human rights, such as safety, privacy, healthcare, and education, and I plan to shed light on the global interconnections of oppression by modeling and teaching the critical theories and strategies of justice to promote human and civil rights.
What was your most thought-provoking NYU experience?
The most thought-provoking thing I experienced at NYU was the course Diversity, Racism, Oppression, and Privilege. Sometimes the most random everyday encounters force us to stop and rethink the truths and perceptions ingrained in our minds. These encounters are priceless learning opportunities. They spawn moments of deep thought and self-reflection that challenge the status quo and help us evolve as sensible individuals.
What would you like to tell your fellow Silver and NYU graduates?
As you march through your respective careers with your fists in the air for organizational change and revolution, remember that open hands birth humility. It’s not what we achieve, but who we become in the process.
Raphia Ngoutane was born in Cameroon but moved to the South Bronx when she was 11. She came to NYU as part of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, and is a Global Public Health and Nutrition and Dietetics major. During her time at NYU, she studied nutrition abroad at NYU Accra and was a member of the Association of African Development, the Black Muslim Initiative, and the Undergraduate Steinhardt Student Government.
What was the highlight of your time at NYU?
When I studied abroad in Ghana. It was my first time being on my own, and my experience allowed me to mature and grow into a strong independent woman. Plus, my interest in global health grew deeper while I was there: I took a class called Global Issues in Nutrition: African Perspective with Matilda Steiner-Asiedu. We explored the nutritional challenges women and children face, through lectures and fieldwork trips.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
I plan to go to graduate school to further my education in global health at the PhD level. Thanks to my experience at NYU Accra, I’m hoping to use research and community work to address maternal and child nutritional issues in sub-Saharan Africa and hopefully develop sustainable intervention methods that will help alleviate those issues. I was recently awarded a grant that will allow me and Professor Steiner-Asiedu to implement a nutrition education and counseling program for children with sickle cell anemia at Danfa Health Centre in Accra.
What message would you like to give to fellow graduates?
Your biggest competition is yourself, not your friends, colleagues, family members, or whoever—it is all you. So, be nice to yourself and appreciate your effort, no matter how small or slow you think the progress is!
Beamlak, who earns his BS in Computer Engineering, served as the director of advocacy for Othmer Hall on the NYU Inter-Residence Hall Council during his first year, as Tandon’s student senator on the NYU Undergraduate Student Council his second year, and as treasurer and then programs chair for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at NYU his third and fourth years.
What will you miss most about Tandon?
I’ve been working at the NYU Tandon MakerSpace since it opened, and it has been such a huge part of my life at NYU: I’ve broadened my technical abilities, grown my customer service skills, and even found my first love there! I’m going to miss working with all the machines, like the 3-D printers, and utilizing the different tools for projects. Most importantly, I am going to miss my manager, Victoria Bill, and everyone else whom I’ve worked with over the past three years.
Tell us about one of your favorite classes.
My favorite class would have to be Science of Happiness. Taking it in my last semester has caused me to do a lot of introspective thinking about how I’ve grown as a student and a person. As I come to the end of a major chapter of my life, it has helped me understand myself and the things that make me happy on a deeper level.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’ll be working as a software engineer at Dell EMC in Irvine, California. I’ve found that I feel more fulfilled when I give back. Thanks to God and my family, I’ve been given so much in life, and I hope that my career will allow me to create solutions that will positively impact other people. One day I hope to start my own company with this mission in mind.
During her time at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at Tisch, artist Muriel Wandey (Murielle) has drawn on pop, rhythm and blues, and her background—she was born in Belgium to Congolese parents and raised in the United States—to develop a unique sound that she hopes is a spiritual and physical experience for listeners. As an undergraduate, she was a Dean’s Scholar, created her own LLC to house her music and art, and performed at South by Southwest.
What has been an NYU high note?
My Clive Topics Course on Motown was definitely a highlight. To academically analyze how a black-owned-and-operated label rose to the top during such trying times in America was incredible. We studied the politics, the music, the branding, and every other ingredient that was needed to make Hitsville U.S.A.
Where have your studies taken you during your time at NYU?
I studied abroad at NYU Berlin. It was beautiful, exciting, and admittedly scary at times. I feel so lucky to have biked those streets, to have run to catch the U-Bahn, to have really lost and found myself through the music on those dance floors, to have made new friends and deepened relationships with old ones, and to have traveled! Berlin will always hold a corner of my heart.
How has your music developed at NYU?
I’ve learned to unapologetically explore the ways in which my background sonically contributes to my music. I’m no longer afraid of merging electronic and acoustic elements. I’m no longer afraid of an imperfect vocal take. I’ve learned how to say “no” when something doesn’t speak to me but still push myself outside of my comfort zone, which has given me so much.