Meet NYU’s Ultra Violets, some of the outstanding graduates from the Class of 2020. These newest members of the NYU alumni community are entering a world that has taken an uncertain turn brought by a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a boiling point in the struggle for racial justice. But these alumni are not going to be deterred by darkness. Instead, they have chosen to light the way forward by increasing representation, breaking barriors, and sharing their successes.

 Mark Fakory (DEN ’20)

Mark Fakory (DEN ’20) knows the value of giving back. As a student at NYU College of Dentistry, he honed his skills by providing dental care to underserved populations in New York City as well as Clinton County, New York. Even more notably, Mark worked with the college’s Global Outreach Team to provide dental care in Pokhara, Nepal. Providing pro bono dental care was one of the most rewarding extracurricular experiences for Mark. As he puts it, “giving back to the community has the added benefit of helping me understand new viewpoints and experiences of a diverse group of people.” Read about his journey in dental school at NYU and his plans for the future.


 Gabriela James Noguera (GSAS ’20)

Gabriela James Noguera (GSAS ’20) is an independent thinker whose interest in diverse viewpoints has taken her studies around the world. A UK native, Gabriela chose to attend New York University for a graduate degree in Irish Studies to get a fresh perspective on the subject and a chance to pursue a variety of aspects of Irish culture, from economics to literature. Her love for connecting seemingly unrelated ideas led her to write her master’s thesis on vampires and Irish culture, which received the Master’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. Read about her experience at NYU as an international student and hear about her advice for taking full advantage of what the University has to offer.

 Valerie van Zuijlen (TSOA ‘20)

Valerie van Zuijlen (TSOA 20) came to New York with a plan to do something nearly unbelievable: complete two masters degrees simultaneously at universities separated by an ocean. Before enrolling in the master’s program for Cinema Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Valerie began a master’s program in film, design, and politics at the Sandberg Institute, part of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, in the Netherlands. Having twice the courses and double the homework of a typical degree didn’t stop Valerie from creating films, designing graphics, and qualifying for the New York City Marathon. And a global pandemic won’t stop her from continuing to create art that spans across continents and academic disciplines.

Deja Bond (GSAS '20)

Photo credit: Ira Bond Jr.

For Deja Bond (GSAS ’20), success is all about the long game. As the first African American alumna of the top-ranked Master’s in Data Science program at NYU, she is used to breaking barriors to achieve her goals. Her advice to others? Stay focused, even when the finish line is not visible. Being an achiever is not about being the smartest person in the room, it’s about persevering long enough to meet your goals. Read about her groundbreaking journey.

Ruby Pittman (TANDON ’20)

Ruby Pittman (TANDON ‘20) has many interests. She came to New York with a love for the arts and desire to work in the nonprofit arts field and learn about business practices of the future. Her studies at Tandon got her to think critically and systematically and led to a new pursuit of a career in sustainability and clean energy. The more you talk to Ruby, the more you see that these two passions, arts and energy, are interrelated. Her studies at Tandon School of Engineering showed how true innovation in either nonprofit arts management or the energy sector requires an understanding of systems and how policy, funding, and representation affect each industry. Read more about her time at NYU.  

Kyleigh Russ (WAG ‘20)

Kyleigh Russ (WAG ’20) is out to make change. Her nonprofit startup, Govern for America, places diverse and talented college graduates in public sector jobs throughout the country so that the people who write policy reflect the lived experiences of their constituents. Her efforts are already making waves. This year, Kyleigh and her organization’s co-founder were recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for their contributions to law and policy. We interviewed Kyleigh about her experience as an MPA student at Wagner, and how her work at NYU will carry over into her plans for Govern for America.