NYU Latinx Network Alumni Club: Christiamilda “Christie” Correa (TSOA ’07) & Jimmy Suarez (STEINHARDT ’12)
May 21, 2021
“I wanted to uplift and celebrate our rich cultures con mucho, mucho amor,” says Christiamilda “Christie” Correa (she/her/ella) (TSOA ’07), co-leader of the NYU Latinx Alumni Network. Along with co-leader Jimmy Suarez (he/him/el) (STEINHARDT ’12), the two have found their involvement in NYU alumni clubs furthers their connection to NYU, fellow alumni, and the Latinx community. Christiamilda was called to the arts during her undergraduate career and Jimmy pursued his masters in higher education and student affairs; both were drawn to the club through a shared love for community.
As the Class of 2021 transitions from students to alumni, we asked these club leaders to share their experience becoming involved in the alumni community. From their fondest memories and events to the friendships and meaning they’ve found with the NYU Latinx Alumni Network, read why Christiamilda and Jimmy stay connected to NYU.
How was your experience shifting from student life to alumni life? How did you find community?
Christiamilda: I was a first generation college student who felt very shy about asserting my talents at the time and didn't understand how to navigate college. Studying acting at the Experimental Theatre Wing, Stonestreet Studios, and the Atlantic Theatre Company meant lots of long hours in rehearsals after class so there was limited time to join as many clubs as I had intended. However, as an alum, I always knew I wanted to be more involved. Now, I have a seat at the table and can be an advocate for individuals who may be introverts, work multiple jobs, or have aspirations to do more with their life yet do not know who to ask for support. That is why NYU Latinx Alumni Network is around—to have fun, educate, and give back.
Jimmy: As a graduate student obtaining his M.A. in higher education and student affairs, the transition from student to alumni life was a pretty seamless one. It helped that my first full-time job was also at NYU, which allowed me to keep much of the network I had already built as a student. My favorite events while I was a student involved graduate students of color, from various academic professions, getting together to socialize, network, and gain professional development.
What was the first alumni event you took part in?
Christiamilda: A memorable event was the NYU Latinx Alumni Network and the Latino Film Market festival which featured numerous Latinx filmmakers, artists and industry professionals.
Jimmy: It was very likely an event with the NYU LGBTQ+ Alumni Network. I wanted the opportunity to meet other alums in the area and build an alumni community with folks who shared similar identities.
What inspired you to get involved with the NYU Latinx Alumni Network?
Christiamilda: Growing up in Jersey City, NJ, the most diverse city in the U.S., and having volunteered since I attended P.S. #27 and McNair Academic High School has introduced me to incredible people of all backgrounds. After going to the NYU Family Day event at Six Flags, I received an e-newsletter about a new affinity club, the Latinx Alumni Network, forming. With my broad experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors and having produced intimate and large scale celebrity and community events, I wanted to uplift and celebrate our rich cultures con mucho, mucho amor.
Jimmy: My identity as a Latino has always been salient while I was in school. When I heard a new alumni group was being formed specifically for Latinx alumni, I heard the call inside me. Given my experience in higher education and passion for my people, it simply felt right. I wanted to work with other like-minded alumni to build a community many felt was necessary to strengthen our connection to NYU after graduation.
How has being an alumni club member shaped your life after graduation?
Christiamilda: It is a privilege to serve as the co-president of the NYU Latinx Alumni Network. Being a volunteer leader opens up doors professionally. It is a great opportunity to be of service and align with others who share similar values. In particular, this affinity group is a meaningful way to stay connected and reconnect with our roots - a reminder that we are here and all of us belong.
Jimmy: Serving as an alumni club leader has allowed me to expand my NYU experience. It’s given me the opportunity to meet fellow alumni who took vastly different academic journeys than myself, which helps me understand NYU and how it has grown over the years. This has been extremely impactful in my work in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at NYU. Being able to speak to prospective students and have tangible examples of how many people navigated their time as a student has been extremely rewarding.
How has being an alumni club member kept you connected to NYU?
Christiamilda: There is always something happening on campus and being a club member keeps me connected with passionate professionals who have a desire to support each other and current students. Currently, the club is partnering with the Tisch Latinx Artist Collective, a student campus group, and we already collaborated on a Three King's Day toy drive during the pandemic hosted by Teatro SEA and The Clemente. The event was covered on Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Dia, a national Latinx morning show.
Jimmy: Membership in the Latinx Alumni Network has helped me gain a better understanding of what alumni need to feel connected to NYU. This information helped us create a series of opportunities to welcome our alumni to re-engage with former classmates while also allowing them the opportunity to meet new folks. Many of the events give us the opportunity to learn about major updates at NYU, and in many cases, the opportunity to meet some key faculty and staff members.
What is your favorite memory with your alumni club?
Christiamilda: The time when we partnered with Broadway producer and NYU alumnus Jeremy Handelman of Off the Leash Productions to watch Latin History for Morons. After the show, John Leguizamo (TSOA) surprised us with a Q&A and took a picture with the group. That was a special night with over 65 current students and alumni.
Jimmy: My favorite memory was receiving the news that our alumni club was being recognized with the Innovation of the Year Award. Our leadership team is always thinking about our alumni community and how to best serve them. Receiving this recognition, especially during our second year as an organization, reinforced that all the work we’d been doing was making an impact.
What has been your favorite alumni club event?
Christiamilda: NYU Latinx Alumni Network wanted to host a panel to celebrate Latina alumnae in Media for Women's History Month. I floated the idea that HBO may be a cool place to host the conversation. Thanks to our network, Alianza HBO, the Latinx Employee Resource Group, agreed to partner with us. During the cocktail reception we had a tasting station with an alumni chef to interact with guests and created unforgettable memories for our attendees.
Jimmy: My favorite club event was our Salsa Night Dance Workshop, and I don't even dance salsa! This was a great opportunity for alumni interested in learning how to dance salsa and for those who wanted to hone their skills to come together in a night of dancing and laughter. This event created a sense of nostalgia and reminded us of growing up, regardless of our national origin, bringing us closer together as a community.
What are you looking forward to with your club this year?
Christiamilda: We are partnering on the second International Puppet Fringe Festival! There will be over 40 events celebrating global artists who thrive and bring joy in our changing world, including a puppet parade in the Lower East Side and exhibit at the City Museum of New York. The event is made possible with support from the Jim Henson Foundation. NYU alumnus, Dr. Manuel Moran, CEO & Artistic Director at Teatro SEA (Society of Educational Arts, Inc.), and Libertad O. Guerra, Executive Director at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, are producing the festival taking place live and virtually from August 11–31, 2021. Get involved and learn more.
Jimmy: Continuing to provide the Latinx alumni community with a wide range of opportunities to reconnect with NYU (virtually and in-person) while also encouraging members to consider becoming group leaders and provide these opportunities to their peers.
What advice would you give to new graduates?
Christiamilda: You are the CEO of your life. Who are the collaborators that will help you achieve your wildest dreams? Just like J. Lo and Ricky Martin have a dream team, you can assemble yours no matter your profession. These folks can consist of trusted allies, mentors, and co-workers. How? Join the Latinx Alumni Network or another alumni affinity group that speaks to you. Let people know what projects you are up to, ways they can get involved, and keep one another in mind. Be authentic, passionate about whatever interests you for hours on end, then either create or find work to support your vision. Be consistent and over time you will make it happen.
Jimmy: Don’t underestimate the reach of NYU’s alumni network, we are everywhere! Participating in NYU alumni events can be extremely impactful to several aspects of your life, so I recommend getting involved however you are comfortable. Whether you come with a friend or on your own, I guarantee you will leave with more connections than when you arrived.
Make the most of networking, career events, and the NYU connection by signing up for an NYU Alumni Club. Visit the preference center to get involved today!