Among the 22,000 graduates in the Class of 2023, we highlight exceptional students from each of our schools and colleges.
Meet Our Student Speaker
College of Arts and Science and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
One of the first things Donovan Dior Dixon did when he started his journey at NYU was consider his long-term goals and the skills he’d need to cultivate to achieve them. This led him to the BA in Public Policy program, jointly offered by the College of Arts and Science and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Even though he considered studying economics, public policy was too close to Donovan’s heart. “The Public Policy major deeply resonated with my personal mission of eradicating poverty and inequality,” says Donovan. “As someone who has experienced the impact of these issues, I aspire to use policy and public service as a force for positive change. This major offered me the necessary tools to become a change-maker in society.”
During his undergraduate career, Donovan received several awards that enriched his overarching NYU experience. His biggest honor was being named a recipient of the AnBryce Initiative, a four-year, full-tuition scholarship awarded to select first-generation undergraduate college students. “The AnBryce Initiative is a big reason why I’m even here at NYU,” says Donovan. “Coming from a low-income family, I had these deep-seated fears that I wouldn’t get into a university or be able to afford it if I did. The AnBryce Initiative lessened the financial burden, allowing me to pursue the coursework and extracurriculars I needed to become an effective public servant.”
Beyond the classroom, Donovan supplemented his coursework with extracurriculars that focused on community service, social change, and civic engagement. During his first two years at NYU, he served as director of service for Goddard Hall, where he hosted fundraisers and organized service events, and co-vice president of service on the Inter-Residence Hall Council, where he coled social justice training at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 he volunteered as a co-peer mentor for NYU Project OutReach, working with a group of first-year students on civic engagement projects.
As someone who has experienced the impact of these issues, I aspire to use policy and public service as a force for positive change.
In addition to his extracurricular activities, Donovan participated in several internships that left indelible marks on his professional journey. He served as a policy and communications intern for New York City council member Robert Cornegy, a community aide for New York City council member Carlina Rivera, and an intern for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the US Department of State. Each of these roles prepared him for his most recent internship at the White House with the Office of the First Lady, an experience that solidified his dedication to public service.
“Working for the Office of the First Lady showed me that kindness can be the centerpiece of politics and policy, that empathy can be actualized on an institutional level, and that hope can be used as a powerful force for positive change,” Donovan says. “I was fortunate to work in an office led by a first lady who embodies these same values.” After graduation, Donovan will return to the White House and the Office of the First Lady to begin his career in public service by promoting Dr. Jill Biden’s policy platforms and serving the people of this country.
When asked about all he’s achieved thus far, Donovan credits his mom and dad and the values they instilled in him. “My parents are my strongest source of inspiration,” he says. “They taught me the principles of empathy, kindness, and care. After witnessing the financial troubles they went through despite their massive efforts to better the community, I resolved to work toward a future where poverty no longer limits families and neighborhoods. This nation has all the tools necessary to support people in times of crisis. One day, I hope I can be the kind of advocate my parents needed all those years ago.”
Featured Class of 2023 Graduates
Graduates’ names are listed below in alphabetical order by school.
- Charlene Manipon, College of Arts and Science
- Wilson Li, College of Dentistry
- Raadiya Shardow, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
- Harish Karthikeyan, Graduate School of Arts and Science
- Maya Graves, Grossman School of Medicine
- Rachel Liu, Leonard N. Stern School of Business
- Asher Moskowitz, Liberal Studies
- Nabilah Nishat, Long Island School of Medicine
- Gustė Gurčinaitė, NYU Abu Dhabi
- Zakiya Lewis, NYU Law
- Declan Mazur, NYU Shanghai
- Kalliope Vourakis, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
- Irene Lee, Rory Meyers College of Nursing
- Nahjae Nunes, School of Professional Studies
- Nina Abukahok, School of Global Public Health
- Regina Wu 伍嘉嫣, Silver School of Social Work
- Averil Carr, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
- Radhika Goyanka, Tandon School of Engineering
- Max Seavey, Tisch School of the Arts
College of Arts and Science
Raised by Filipino immigrants, Charlene Manipon is a first-generation Biochemistry major and prehealth student. She spent her first two years at the College of Arts and Science as a commuter from the Hudson Valley and found a safe space within a group of fellow commuter prehealth students. When COVID-19 hit, she found purpose by serving her community back home. In her junior year at NYU, Charlene decided to live on campus and served as a Welcome Week leader to help others find their own community. Additionally, she enjoyed extracurriculars that represented her interests in the sciences, such as being a member of Women in Science and Phi Lambda Upsilon and working as a learning assistant at the University Learning Center. She is also a member of the Presidential Honors Scholars Program and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the country’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, as a junior. She has shone as an advocate for others like herself by offering mentorship and guidance.
What drew you to study biochemistry?
I entered NYU knowing I wanted to focus on studies in the sciences, but I was unsure of pursuing a medical, graduate, or industrial path. Biochemistry presented opportunities for exploring these career paths. Specifically, the advisers in the College of Arts and Science chemistry department are like no others and have definitely spoiled me with great advice and support. I chose the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) minor because I initially had an interest in pediatrics and wanted to incorporate my biochemistry knowledge into the field of child health care. In high school I volunteered in community childcare settings, but I was never properly taught to explore current research in child mental health. Personally, I grew up in a culture that views mental health as foreign and taboo. After taking one CAMS class, I wanted to complete the minor to redefine mental health in my personal life and career.
Can you talk about your experience with the NYU Langone Health Summer Undergraduate Research Program?
I met individuals with different passions in clinical science who motivated me in my own interests. Peer discussions lead to great breakthroughs, both in my research and in my personal life. I learned of my own capabilities and the need to advocate for myself, and I gained much confidence in my accomplishments afterward. I had opportunities that helped me grow as a scientist, such as creating research posters and presenting at conferences. My research centered on defining mechanisms of bacterial survival in the microbiome through structural and functional studies, which I presented as a speaker at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium.
What are your plans after graduation?
I intend to pursue medicine after graduation, spending a gap year continuing to shadow doctors whom I connected with through my position at NYU Langone Health and seeking out organizations to volunteer with and contribute to my community through humanitarian action. For personal reasons, I hope to spend an extended amount of time in the Philippines, where I can explore how my passion for science intersects with my love for my community.
College of Dentistry
Wilson Li chose to enroll at the NYU College of Dentistry because of its strong faculty support, rich clinical experiences, and opportunities to serve a diverse patient population. While at NYU, the native New Yorker volunteered for the Special Olympics New York and provided oral health screenings for athletes with special needs. He also served as a peer tutor, an admissions ambassador, and a teaching assistant in oral and maxillofacial surgery. As a participant in two research projects, Wilson studied topics such as tissue regeneration and the reconstruction of large bone defects using 3-D-printed scaffolds. He received the Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) Award for Academic Excellence in 2021 and 2022 and will be inducted into the OKU National Dental Honor Society in May. In July he will start an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency at NYU Langone Health and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.
What was your favorite academic experience at NYU?
At NYU College of Dentistry, I rotated through the Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities, where I had the opportunity to treat patients with various intellectual and developmental disabilities. This experience was incredibly meaningful, as it exposed me to the challenges that this patient population encounters in receiving oral health care and the inequities in access to oral health care. It was a privilege to care for this population, and I will carry this experience with me throughout my career.
What did you learn from your participation in the Dean’s Leadership Reading Group?
I learned that being a great dentist originates in being a great person—someone of high integrity and ethical character who is sympathetic and caring in their relationships and has the capacity to care for others and for causes. These traits form the foundation for providing excellent health care. The books we’ve read—in addition to the perspectives of my peers and Dean Bertolami—provided rich insights and valuable lessons that I will apply not only to my practice but also my personal life. One such takeaway is that the difference between good and great is not much—something as simple as smiling or saying thank you to others can often make a significant impact on one’s personal and professional life.
What will you miss most about your time at NYU?
Fortunately, I won’t have to miss NYU anytime soon since I am continuing as a medical student and oral and maxillofacial surgery resident here shortly after graduation. NYU and I are kind of inseparable—I received my BA in Economics from the College of Arts and Science in 2014, I completed a postbaccalaureate program here in 2016, I will obtain a DDS from the College of Dentistry this year, and I will start pursuing my MD from the Grossman School of Medicine in July. I’m excited for at least six more years of running along the East River, walking through Greenwich Village, picking up a Sunday morning bacon, egg, and cheese at Pick A Bagel, and all else New York City has to offer.
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Raadiya Shardow was born in Washington, DC, to Ghanaian American parents, but after spending the majority of her childhood in Texas, she considers herself a Texan. She attended the Gallatin School of Individualized Study on a full scholarship and focused her studies on how organized dissent interacts with public policy—essentially, the history of social movements. She also minored in Arabic. Raadiya has been active as a student leader and mentor. She was an Academic Achievement Program mentee and went on to become a mentor for students of color. She also served as president and debate director for Review and Debates at NYU. During her time studying away at NYU Prague, she was a Global Equity Fellow and the NYU Prague Student Council president. Outside of academics, she competed with NYU’s Ultimate Frisbee team and was part of the NYU Break Dance Club. Raadiya completed summer internships at ICONIQ Capital and Bain & Company. Following graduation, she plans to study Arabic in Amman, Jordan, as a Critical Language Scholarship finalist then move to Dallas, Texas, to work as an associate consultant at Bain & Company.
Why did you choose to enroll at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study?
I was interested in creating my own interdisciplinary major at all the schools I applied to. Gallatin was the only one that had a full program for those wanting to pursue their own major. It wasn’t a side thought—Gallatin is an intentionally crafted program. And it’s the best school in the country for students wanting to craft their own academic path.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
It’s really hard to choose a moment because I’ve had such an incredible time at NYU. However, my Colloquium is a moment I will never forget. The Colloquium is an oral examination and an intellectual conversation “about a selection of works representing several academic disciplines and historical periods.” I had a lot of fun discussing my concentration and the history of dissent with some of my favorite professors: my faculty adviser, Laura Slatkin (Antigone(s): Ancient Greece/Performance Now); Eric Brettschneider (Policy, Community, and Self); and George Shulman (Emergency Politics).
How did your involvement in the First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) affect your college experience?
I was a coleader for FLIP, a club that advocates for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students. Some of the FLIP initiatives I am most proud of are working with NYU administration to increase study away accessibility for FGLI students, establishing emergency grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, and developing the first-ever First-Generation Graduation at NYU! As a first year and sophomore at FLIP, I was the historian and head of the Manifesto, a living guide for FGLI students. Working with FLIP contributed to my development of a wonderful sense of possibility. I’ve worked toward big, tangible, impactful goals. I get a thrill out of working on a highly ambitious project—it’s like pushing the boundaries of what people say is possible.
Graduate School of Arts and Science
Harish Karthikeyan completed his PhD in Computer Science with a focus on cryptography. Originally from India, he traveled internationally for the first time in 2015 when he moved to the United States to pursue his master’s degree—though he is now an avid traveler. Harish is a recipient of the Henry M. MacCracken Program fellowship, the Graduate School of Arts and Science Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship, and the Jacob T. Schwartz Ph.D. Fellowship awarded by the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences computer science department. He has volunteered with Out In Tech, a nonprofit that aims to provide a platform for those who belong to the LGBTQ+ community and work or wish to work in tech. He also volunteered with and served on the board of NYC Pride. Harish is currently a research scientist at JPMorgan Artificial Intelligence Research, where he previously completed an internship. His research work ranges from privacy in blockchain to proxy re-encryption. He hopes to someday teach a course as an adjunct professor, perhaps at NYU.
What is your area of study?
My research area is cryptography, which can be viewed as the theoretical bedrock of cybersecurity. I have worked in this field for nearly a decade, and it all started with a serendipitous guest lecture my sophomore year of undergraduate study. The lecturer’s masterful presentation of the mathematical concepts and their elegant usage in provably securing information left an indelible impression on my mind. Eventually, I got the opportunity to work with this guest lecturer for my undergraduate thesis.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
As a queer immigrant who traversed more than 8,000 miles to begin my master’s and PhD journeys, completing both degrees stands as a profound personal accomplishment. It has not been without pitfalls as I have had to constantly face my own impostor syndrome induced by the challenges of being an international student. Fortunately, with unwavering support from my parents, partner, and friends, I feel grateful for all the recognition and accolades that have come my way.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
My favorite NYU moment is my successful defense of my thesis. Due to COVID-19, it was over Zoom, which allowed so many of my family and friends to attend it despite geographical restrictions. The relief of completing the defense was only matched and surpassed by the joy of having my community there. The definite highlight was my grandmother staying up past her bedtime to see me defend my thesis, even though she could not understand what I was defending.
Grossman School of Medicine
During the summer of 2017, Maya Graves participated in Project Healthcare, an NYU summer program that allows undergraduate students to volunteer in the NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue emergency department. She enjoyed the program so much that she returned the following summer as a student coordinator. The experience left her with no doubt that she would enroll at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, where she has now earned her Doctor of Medicine. Maya is a recipient of the Robert Landy Scholarship and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. She is a board member of the nonprofit Girls Helping Girls Period and has volunteered for a variety of patient advocacy projects. She also served as a student codirector of the Supporting, Educating, and Enriching Diversity Mentoring Program and set a strong example of compassionate care for her peers. Maya will pursue her residency training in psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and also holds a Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Columbia University.
What made you decide to study psychiatry?
Psychiatry is exciting to me for a multitude of reasons. For one, I think it is one of the most flexible disciplines in medicine—meaning I will have the flexibility to choose not only the type of patient population I’d like to work with but also the settings, both clinical and nonclinical, I’ll work within. Additionally, psychiatry is a historically controversial area in medicine that I believe is still not able to fully meet the needs of many underrepresented persons and communities. So I feel passionate about increasing both access to and awareness of the type of services and treatments available for those populations. Lastly, the choice to pursue psychiatry excited me—after many years, the research, treatment options, and neurobiological research guiding future psychiatric care are absolutely booming! There is so much to learn and so much future opportunity ahead, and I am beyond excited to join this field.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
Match Day! I feel like this day is debatably more exciting than graduation. Graduation is expected, but Match Day has an element of suspense and excitement that is unparalleled since it marks the day you learn where you will complete your residency training after the long application and interview process.
Can you describe an example of your patient advocacy?
A specific instance that comes to mind regarding my ability to go above and beyond for a patient occurred during my psychiatry rotation. I was caring for a woman in her late 60s who was suffering from an acute decompensation episode in her anxiety, which had left her unable to function and care for herself. After spending additional time with her, I realized much of her struggle was due to not only loneliness secondary to COVID-19 but also her inability to adequately communicate with others because of the mask requirement. She is hard of hearing, and I learned that she coped by reading lips. Following this knowledge, I conferred with my team, and we used an iPad and telemedicine within the hospital so she could read lips. Her clinical status began to improve dramatically over just the next few days. While this sounds like such a simple solution, I think it was one of the most impactful things I did during my year of clinical rotations.
Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Rachel Liu describes herself as “from all over”—she’s lived in two countries and five different states, most recently New York. At NYU, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business, with dual concentrations in management and organizations and marketing, plus a minor in Computer Science. Rachel was a finalist in the Stern Baccalaureate Student Speaker competition and a member of the Marketing Society. She also worked as a research assistant and completed an internship at a climate change start-up. Outside of academics, she was captain of NYU’s ballroom dance team. In 2022 she chaired a 1,000-person college ballroom dancing competition. Her goal for the future is to go into a field like consulting, where she can learn useful skills to use in the nonprofit sector later in her career. She has a particular interest in animal welfare.
Why did you choose to enroll in the Stern School of Business?
I chose Stern because I want to work in the nonprofit sector—I’ve known that since I was in the sixth grade. There aren’t many Business majors in this space, so it provides a unique opportunity for business students to do good in the world. Nonprofits, B Corps, and other social good programs need marketers, accountants, and managers as much as for-profit organizations do. The same things that make a business thrive are largely the same ones that make a nonprofit effective. I think Stern can position us to make the world a little bit better in whatever way we can.
What was your favorite NYU class?
I think it was my Professional Responsibility and Leadership class. I was very attached to the professor, April Gu. She really helped me during some rough times at NYU, when a lot of things were piling up quickly. She cared about me much more than her job required her to. But this class also helped me recognize the limitations of my personal experiences. Talking with other students and lecturers my professor invited to class helped me realize that a lot of things I thought were simple are actually very complicated. And many things I thought were inexplicable make a lot of sense when viewed from a different perspective.
What is one of the most interesting things you learned at NYU?
The world is just one big system. And if you want to correct one thing, oftentimes you have to correct something else. For instance, animal welfare is very tied to environmentalism, both locally and globally, which is tied to food deserts and food inequality, which are tied to workers’ rights. I find the interconnectivity of all that really fascinating. If I could find something to work on in that specific niche, I think I’d be very happy.
Asher Moskowitz double-majored in History and Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in politics, rights, and development. The Houston, Texas, native completed multiple stints abroad. While at NYU Florence, he gave tours for the art museum of the Misericordia di Firenze, a volunteer organization that dates back to the Middle Ages. While attending NYU Tel Aviv, he completed a research internship at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and wrote and researched articles for Axios as a contributing correspondent. Back in New York City, he followed those experiences with a news internship for CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, where he researched future guests, transcribed interviews, and pitched ideas. Asher hopes to someday work as a foreign correspondent for a news network.
Why did you choose your two majors?
I chose Global Liberal Studies because of its emphasis on its students living abroad during their junior year to choose a topic they’d like to write their thesis on. Small class sizes allowed me to connect with my professors more, and I would not have been successful without them. History was always my favorite subject in school. It’s not just memorizing dates, people, or events but also analyzing who the figures were personally. Why did they act or think the way they did? What can you learn from them to apply to your life?
What was your favorite NYU class experience?
I need to cheat a bit and cite more than one. Professor Timothy Naftali’s classes on the history of the American presidency and the history of espionage are fantastic. Ancient Israel: History and Archaeology with Professor Yifat Thareani at NYU Tel Aviv is a course I greatly enjoyed. We took several field trips to Jerusalem and her archaeological site near Lebanon. I also enjoyed Social Foundations I and II with the late Professor Gabriela Dragnea Horvath. We studied Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Lucretius, to name a few philosophers. She made me a better writer and speaker, but, most of all, she was a professor who always believed students were capable of doing more than they thought was possible. To have that early on in college was invaluable.
Can you speak about your experience interning for Axios?
I was an avid reader of Barak Ravid’s Axios from Tel Aviv newsletter before I arrived in Tel Aviv, so I wanted to try to work with him while in Israel. Through the power of networking and chutzpah, I started helping him in the spring of my junior year and continued into the beginning of the fall. I am very thankful to Barak for allowing me to do that. I monitored social media posts, Department of State and White House press briefings, and congressional reports and hearings as well as compiled social media reports to track the readership growth of stories on Twitter. I wanted to get involved in as many things as I could.
Long Island School of Medicine
Nabilah Nishat has always been passionate about advocacy, from climate change to immigration rights. As an undergraduate at Fordham University, she knew she enjoyed the sciences and how they apply to the human body, but she didn’t realize she could combine this with her interest in social justice until she met a family medicine doctor who also facilitated English, nutrition, and yoga classes. Inspired by his example, Nabilah began her path toward becoming a doctor at NYU’s Long Island School of Medicine. An accomplished leader on campus and within her communities, Nabilah is excited to promote preventative health care and discuss issues related to health disparities and reproductive access.
What has been the most important advice you received in your program?
In my first year, I found myself struggling to adjust to the rigorous accelerated program and turned to my adviser, who is also a gynecologic surgical oncologist, for advice. She shared her own moments of doubt with me, the moments she questioned her qualifications before going into the operating room to perform a procedure she had successfully completed many times before. That an incredible surgeon who had saved many lives still had moments of doubt helped me realize that this feeling comes with the field. There are a lot of unknowns in medicine. It is the uncomfortable truth for professionals who are perfectionists in this field. The learning never stops. We are allowed to admit we don’t know, and we are allowed to acknowledge when we are having a hard time. That is something I’ll keep in mind not just in medical school but as a future resident and an attending physician.
You served as a diversity representative for the Long Island School of Medicine. What changes do you hope to see in the future?
Diversity in medicine has implications not only for the field but for the communities we serve. If institutions truly care about diversity, they need to recognize it is deeper than the demographics of a medical school class. It starts with understanding there are systemic barriers preventing different groups from representation. Medical schools and the health-care field need to do outreach to high schools and colleges to help first-generation and historically marginalized students build connections with physicians who can guide them along the rocky path to becoming a doctor. I hope schools are also more holistic in how they review applicants, emphasizing individual passions and understanding the difficulties in applying. And finally, to experience diversity within our workforce, it is important to include historically marginalized populations in department chair positions, selection committees, and administrative roles. Studies have shown that diversity is better for patient outcomes, so we need to make it a priority.
What will you miss most about the Long Island School of Medicine?
I will miss the people I met here. They were with me during the tough days, from studying for preclinicals to the long hours of my surgery clerkship. Even before I started medical school, I was already inspired by my peers, such as Jaydee Choompoo, who was a registered nurse and school psychologist before pursuing medicine. His passion for advocacy aligned with my own vision, and I knew I was going to meet not just a close colleague but a lifelong friend. Our class is filled with brilliant people who are going to be incredible, compassionate doctors, and I am proud of each one of them for their accomplishments.
NYU Abu Dhabi
This fall Gustė Gurčinaitė continues the education she began at NYU Abu Dhabi as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Building upon a major in Political Science with minors in Environmental Studies and Legal Studies, she will pursue an MSc in Environmental Change and Management and launch her career as a climate justice advocate. Hailing from Kaunas, Lithuania, Gustė’s many accomplishments include recently conducting research with EIT Climate-KIC, the European Union’s largest climate innovation initiative. There, she led a project proposing a blockchain-based governance model that could help democratize climate financing in Europe and systematically incorporate sustainability goals into climate finance decision-making.
Which professor most shaped your thinking?
At NYU Abu Dhabi, I have had many incredible professors who each opened new lines of critical thinking for me. My thinking on environmental issues has been stimulated by professors who taught me in areas ranging from gender studies to creative writing. Every discipline I grappled with has complicated my thinking on the climate crisis and provided me with new insights and tools to address it.
Dr. Sophia Kalantzakos is one of the most avid interdisciplinary thinkers I have met at NYU Abu Dhabi, and I know I will continue to reflect on her teaching many years from now. I took two environmental courses with Dr. Kalantzakos, and she never failed to push me to delve beyond the limits of the obvious, deconstruct the modes of thinking that led us to the climate crisis, and reimagine how to break them up by drawing upon intellectual rigor and creativity. Dialoguing with professors who are incessantly curious like Dr. Kalantzakos inevitably makes you fired up to learn more.
What is your hope for the future of climate governance? How do you imagine yourself playing a role to help create solutions for our current challenges?
When it comes to meeting the challenge of climate change, I feel we are currently at a critical juncture. On the one hand, we already know so much: the science that informs climate decision-making has never been sharper, most of the technologies needed to supplant major emission sources are available and up to scale, and policymakers know what steps they need to take to remodel our industries. However, we have not yet crystalized what defines a fair transition. Unfortunately, fairness and equity are most often afterthoughts in climate decision-making. This is both a critical gap and an incredible missed opportunity.
To make a clean transition, we need to have buy-in across social groups and countries, and it must be a just transition so all people can support it. Climate policy is an opportunity to break structural cycles of inequality and imagine societies that are much more inclusive, healthy, peaceful, and generally well-off. This is why I have focused my work and research on what the clean transition means for the most vulnerable groups in society. I hope to become an advocate for more inclusive climate decision-making processes that allow affected communities to shape the critical decisions themselves. I am committed to raising questions and proposing solutions that systematically integrate considerations of equity, fairness, and opportunity. Climate change acts as a threat multiplier to already marginalized groups. Because structural issues like gender disparities and income inequality share many of the same origins as climate change, effective policy is also an opportunity to build a more just society.
After receiving her undergraduate degree, Zakiya Lewis worked with Black and brown low-income students for five years as a middle school teacher in Washington, DC. Although she loved her job, Zakiya often felt discouraged by the systemic issues impacting her students from the get-go, before they even entered her classroom. To learn how to dismantle these systems and develop the skills she needed to impact students on a broader level, Zakiya came to the NYU School of Law. As a law student at NYU, Zakiya participated in the Black Allied Law Students Association, NYU OUTLaw (an organization that supports LGBTQ+ students and graduates of NYU Law), and the Law and Political Economy Association. She also served as the staff editor for the N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change and was one of 20 students selected as a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar. After graduation, Zakiya will begin a two-year fellowship with the Skadden Foundation in Washington, DC, where she’ll focus on developing litigation to address topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in K–12 public schools.
What kind of internships did you complete as an NYU Law student?
I spent my first summer in law school interning with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in both their family defense and criminal defense practices. This was my first real experience in the legal field and public defense, and it gave me a window into the criminal punishment system. During my second summer, I interned with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), where I conducted legal research on Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations in public schools. This experience gave me insight into the process and potential of impact litigation. Although these cases can take years to move through the appeals process, their impact can be far-reaching. I was also surprised by the depth of relationships the legal team built with their clients, communities, and support systems. As someone who is also interested in movement lawyering, I was impressed by the work LDF is doing to support local organizing movements and coalitions.
What was your experience like in the NYU Law clinics?
I’m lucky to have participated in two clinics during my time at NYU Law. Clinics are the best way for students to learn and practice tangible skills they can use throughout their legal career. The Racial Justice Clinic was an amazing experience. We worked directly with an incarcerated individual on his parole preparation. In the Juvenile Defender Clinic, I learned so much from Professor Randy Hertz about criminal defense, being a good advocate, and the legal field in general. The simulations we did forced me to practice and develop my trial skills, while our externships with The Legal Aid Society gave me real-world experience defending children accused of crimes in New York City Family Court. It’s been inspiring to watch my classmates grow. I already know they’ll be skilled and zealous advocates for their clients as public defenders.
With six years of studying Mandarin before he graduated high school and a passion for the humanities and social sciences, Declan Mazur found the Global China Studies major at NYU Shanghai to be the natural next step in his educational journey. Adding a Social Science minor to this trajectory, the Massachusetts native focused on how Chinese culture, including language, politics, and technology, has influenced the Korean Peninsula. This interest opened up the chance to take part in an exchange program through Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and he also took advantage of opportunities to study within the University’s global network at NYU London and NYU in New York City. Throughout his time at NYU Shanghai, Declan gained experience serving as the editor in chief of the student newspaper, On Century Avenue, facilitating in the LEAD Program for diversity and inclusion, and acting as the director of external affairs for the Queer and Ally Club. He has volunteered as an English teacher at Stepping Stones in Shanghai as well as written grants during an internship with People for Successful COrean REunification. In recognition of his achievements, Declan was named a finalist for the 2023–24 Fulbright Program.
How did you become editor in chief of On Century Avenue (now, as of last fall, On Magnolia Square)? What was your proudest moment in this role?
On Century Avenue experienced many difficulties when NYU Shanghai transitioned to online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, first and foremost being the lack of enthusiasm for on-campus engagement. As a digital publication, On Century Avenue allowed for a virtual newsroom environment and encouraged me to formally write on topics unfamiliar to most mass media consumers, like why it is important for Western media to cover marginalized areas like Central Asia and Oceania and how Ethiopia’s geopolitical plan could increase diplomatic tensions in the region. As our team transitioned back to the Century Avenue campus in 2021, I embraced a leadership role that privileged me with student and faculty engagement on all our written pieces. My proudest moment, though, was truly outside of that role: seeing how the future classes evolved the publication into On Magnolia Square as NYU Shanghai moved to its new permanent home and continued to develop on-campus student journalism without limits.
Did you have a mentor during college?
Both my mother and father, Nancy and Tim Mazur, served as my primary mentors throughout college, and I truly could not foresee my graduation without them. Life throws an unrelenting number of boulders in your direction when you least expect it, and for boulders and sunflowers alike, my parents gave me the guidance and reassurance I needed to keep moving forward. Additionally, my close friends and networks from my time studying away in Seoul and New York City have been equally impactful regarding my personal and career growth.
Do you have any words of advice for your fellow graduates?
Life will take advantage of your youthful fragility and dependency on upward mobility in your 20s. Don’t forget what’s best for you in moments of conflict, transition, confusion, or otherwise; be your own best friend and pave your own path!
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
For Kalliope Vourakis, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service’s Master in Public Administration program was the perfect opportunity to further deepen her knowledge and leadership skills as a patient-centered health-care professional. Building upon undergraduate studies at Stony Brook University and experience in hospital and outpatient settings at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Northwell Health Center for Advanced Medicine, Kalliope fulfilled a lifelong dream of being an NYU student when she joined NYU Wagner. Outside the classroom she furthered her patient-first approach at Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital, where she earned a Straight from the Heart Award in recognition of providing high-quality care to patients and their families. This summer Kalliope will continue her studies at Columbia University, where she will be an administrative fellow at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
How did NYU Wagner support your academic and career goals?
One of the best things NYU Wagner did was provide me with incredible professors whom I look up to. I cherish their knowledge, personalities, and viewpoints, all which they brought into the classroom to enrich my education. Professor John Donnellan, whom I value dearly, supported my career goals by recommending me for the Administrative Fellowship Program at Columbia University.
What are you most proud of during your time at NYU Wagner?
I am most proud of maturing as a person. I believe the combination of my work experience, robust assignments, knowledgeable professors, and welcoming classmates helped me grow. I can converse with others more easily, consider alternate perspectives, be optimistic, and have confidence in myself that I am up for any task. Reflecting back to when I first started at NYU Wagner—I have come a long way and am proud I’ve made it this far.
What are you most excited about for your fellowship at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons?
I’m someone who always seeks a learning opportunity. Now that I’ve acquired the education, I still need the experience. Being accepted into this fellowship program was the best thing I could have asked for. I hope to learn and work in all the different departments, so I can gather an understanding of each one and see where I really fit in. My dream is to grow into a role where I know I can help and positively influence the lives of more people, including my coworkers, my team, and patients and their families.
Rory Meyers College of Nursing
Hailing from Fullerton, California, Nursing major Irene Lee began her journey at NYU in the Liberal Studies Core program. After observing the unwavering care nurses provided for her grandmother at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Irene was inspired to become a professional who could be there for patients in any circumstances. At the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Irene grew into a core leader within her on-campus communities, serving in roles like copresident of the Asian Pacific Islander Nursing Student Association (APINSA) and vice president of the Undergraduate Nursing Student Organization (UNSO). Irene also studied abroad at NYU London, an experience she credits with deeply enriching her personal and professional understanding of the world.
What course most changed your thinking about the field of nursing?
In my final semester, I took Lifestyle Approaches and Well-Being in Nursing taught by Karla Rodriguez. This course revolves around health promotion and well-being for holistic patient-centered care as well as the nurse’s role as a health coach to empower people to pursue lifestyle behaviors and changes. While Western medicine focuses on treating physical symptoms, holistic nursing considers the overall wellness of the patient, such as nutrition, sleep, stress management, and forming positive social connections, all of which lead to optimal health. Overall, this course emphasizes how nursing is not limited to physical wellness but also involves how to establish self-care practices in our own lives. Nurses can educate patients and promote balance within the emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects of their lives.
How have communities like APINSA and UNSO been important to you? How did being part of these on-campus groups shape your experience at NYU Meyers?
Joining organizations within NYU Meyers made me realize how important community is, especially when balancing an intense, academically rigorous course load. As vice president of UNSO, I felt fulfilled when bridging the communication gaps between students and administrators as well as promoting collaboration among student interest groups. My role as copresident of APINSA taught me the importance of representation and diversity in the workforce. One of the most rewarding aspects of leading this organization was expanding individuals’ worldviews and offering insight into a different culture or way of life. Nursing relies heavily on teamwork and being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. By surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, my college experience was filled with meaningful connections that unlocked my fullest potential.
In your opinion, what is the future of nursing?
While nursing has traditionally been understood as a more subordinate role, in recent years, it has transformed into a more prominent and respected profession. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are advocating for more autonomy and representation in the workforce. This profession involves skill, compassion, and physical labor, and it deserves recognition and power.
School of Professional Studies
When applying to graduate schools, Nahjae Nunes sought a program that would help him achieve his dream of working in a senior management role for the United Nations. He chose to pursue a master’s degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in international relations and global futures at the NYU School of Professional Studies (SPS) Center for Global Affairs (CGA). The program gave him the best opportunity to fulfill his research interests while advancing his skills in a new and challenging environment. As a student at NYU, Nahjae served as the president of the Student Association for Global Affairs (SAGA), the senior editor of the Global Affairs Review (a peer-reviewed NYU journal), a member of the SPS Dean’s Advisory Board, and a graduate life ambassador for the Center for Student Life. Outside of his extracurricular activities, Nahjae received the SPS Dean’s Scholars Program scholarship, the SPS Global Diversity Scholarship, which funded a Global Field Intensives course in Rwanda, and the Harold W. Rosenthal Fellowship in International Affairs, which funded a summer internship with the US Department of Labor.
How has your time at NYU impacted your goals as a youth activist?
My time at NYU has given me greater clarity and focus on the challenges young people encounter across the world. I’ve strengthened my network of diverse connections and developed a more globalized perspective on youth issues. I’ve become tethered to a global network of visionaries, pioneers, industry titans, and like-minded young leaders who can provide guidance on how to scale impact and develop professionally and personally.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned as the president of SAGA?
As the president of SAGA, I learned how much the CGA and SPS communities value student life and support the student population. I also learned the importance of team synergy and how clear communication is the foundation upon which all success is built. Finally, I learned just how hungry students are to change the world.
What are your plans after graduation?
Beyond NYU, I served as a graduate consultant for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, the vice chairperson of policy and advocacy at the Commonwealth Youth Council, and the social, cultural, and humanitarian policy adviser for the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations. Coupled with my scholarships and experiences at NYU, these achievements helped me prepare for the next rung on my “education-for-service ladder.” After graduation, I’ll start my PhD journey in International Relations at the University of Oxford, so I can help effectively pioneer initiatives that will ultimately enhance not only my life but also the lives of people in underserved populations.
School of Global Public Health
Nina Abukahok’s desire to make a difference in the study of substance use disorder (SUD) comes from a deeply personal source, but her approach takes a wide view. A first-generation college student from Hollywood, Florida, Nina chose NYU’s School of Global Public Health for her master’s in Epidemiology. She has been a leader on campus through activities such as managing the Epidemiology Graduate Club, serving as a lead for onboarding student ambassadors, and coordinating the Global Public Health Student Flu Shot Day. Nina’s leadership and service extends beyond campus, too. She counts the founding of the Brianne Ashley Stewart Foundation, named for her best friend who passed away, as one of her biggest accomplishments. This nonprofit aims to empower, inspire, and serve underrepresented communities.
What inspired you to pursue a Master of Science in Epidemiology?
I worked in the Level One Trauma Center emergency department of a hospital for four years following my undergraduate program. It was there, as a first responder, that I saw the drug crisis from an insider’s point of view. I saw patients come in every week begging for any substance they could get their hands on. And I saw those same patients receive naloxone (medication used to reverse an overdose) again and again. I realized I wanted my work to extend beyond clinical intervention and focus on conducting research that could uncover upstream determinants that lead to addiction. I knew I wanted to help a wider variety of people through public health interventions that take evidence-based action to address the disparities and determinants that will help decrease the overall burden of this disease.
How has your internship as a substance abuse prevention specialist at Fordham University impacted your understanding of the field?
Overdose prevention and harm reduction has always been the driving force of my decision to become an epidemiologist. My passion for SUD work stems from a long personal history. My father was an addict throughout my entire childhood and his addiction eventually took his life. I worked with him in various stages of his recovery, and I have seen the good, bad, ugly, and every other side of addiction. Currently, my work at Fordham allows me to interact daily with students who may be struggling with SUD. Being able to work in a hands-on environment has shifted my understanding of epidemiology. Here, I have completed a wide array of tasks relating to SUD, including collecting and analyzing data on the student population, implementing harm reduction programs, evaluating intervention efficacy, and leading both group and individual counseling sessions with students.
What has been the most interesting course in your program?
The most interesting course has been Criminalization in Public Health: A Critical Review taught by Daliah Heller because it applies directly to my future goals as an epidemiologist. My area of research focuses on the psychosocial determinants of SUD, and criminalization is a major part of that. My thesis speaks to intravenous drug use and its relationship to mental health, which this course touches on in incarcerated people. Lastly, my family are owners of a business related to the criminal justice field, so I have background knowledge on the infrastructures of the criminal justice system. I have loved expanding this knowledge into the world of public health and policy, particularly in the ways it relates to mental health and addiction, since addressing this connection is my ultimate career goal.
Silver School of Social Work
When Regina Wu 伍嘉嫣 struggled to find a transgender-affirming therapist on their own mental health journey, they decided to become one themselves at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. Through the Shanghai–New York MSW Program and their first-year field placement at Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital, Regina developed a passion for international and medical social work along with providing culturally responsive services to different communities. After graduation, Regina hopes to explore these passions further by working as an LGBTQ+ affirmative social worker and therapist at an LGBTQ+ organization in New York City. Beyond the classroom, Regina served as the social justice and diversity representative for Silver’s Graduate Student Association, a leader in NYU’s LGBTQ+ Center, and a member of NYU Shanghai’s Student Diversity Framework Task Force. In 2023 they were selected as the graduate student recipient of the Dr. Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award for their commitment to marginalized communities like LGTBQ+ students, students of color, first-generation college students, and international students across campus (both at NYU in New York City and NYU Shanghai).
What did you learn from your field placement at Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital?
I learned about the medical–social work landscape in China and how to work in an interprofessional team of social workers, nurses, and doctors. I also learned how to provide culturally responsive services to transgender and intersex folk going through gender-affirming care as someone who also identifies as transgender and queer. NYU helped prepare me for this experience by providing me with the theoretical frameworks necessary to understand and engage in more systems thinking and approaches when working with clients and communities.
What did you accomplish as a member of the NYU Shanghai Student Diversity Framework Task Force?
In this task force, which is a grassroots student-led team, I codesigned and conducted interviews of NYU Shanghai students, staff, and faculty to collect their experiences, reflections, and suggestions pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. I then coauthored, coedited, and copresented the Task Force report that included all findings and strategic recommendations to senior leadership at NYU Shanghai.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
During my first year at Silver (which I spent at NYU Shanghai), I was able to lead the first-ever transgender event for NYU Shanghai’s Ally Week. This event featured a documentary about a Chinese transgender youth who escaped from a conversion therapy school in China. After the documentary, we hosted a discussion on transgender advocacy in China with the film’s two directors and an organizer from the Beijing LGBT Center who shared LGBTQ+ history and perspectives on how to advocate for the depathologization of transgender people in China.
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
When she received her admissions letter from NYU, Averil Carr knew it was meant to be. She chose the Educational Theatre program at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development because it was the one program that offered coursework in both acting and theatre education—her two biggest passions. With a concentration in applied theatre and a minor in American Sign Language, Averil accomplished many things at NYU. She served as a public health ambassador during the COVID-19 pandemic and completed internships with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and NYU’s Verbatim Performance Lab (VPL). For her senior capstone project, Averil worked with the VPL to produce a documentary theatre production exploring how universities and institutions address survivors of sexual violence. After graduation, she hopes to leverage her skills as a teaching artist to develop dynamic theatre pieces for diverse audiences.
How did the VPL impact your academic and professional career?
Working with the VPL greatly shifted my ambitions and interests as an artist. I gravitated toward the VPL’s arts-based research because I believe it sits perfectly between my dually creative and analytical brain. I struggled to connect to my artistry during COVID-19 because theatre is so rooted in human connection. When I took The Ethnoactor and Verbatim Performance course through VPL in fall 2021, my curiosity as an artist was reignited. It was the first time in years I was excited about acting and performance, and it reinvigorated me to pursue my professional goals.
How did you secure an internship with the NYCDOE and what did you do as an intern?
I was assisting my professor at the High School Theatre Festival for NYC Public Schools, which is presented by the Shubert Foundation and the NYCDOE Arts Office, when I was connected with Peter Avery, the director of theatre for the NYCDOE. Shortly after, I began interning for Peter at the Office of Arts and Special Projects. I also worked with the All-IN(clusive) All-City Theatre Teen Ensemble, a program that builds an ensemble of New York City public school students from diverse races, ethnicities, gender identities, and abilities to create an original musical. After my internship, I was offered a job as a teaching artist for the same program.
What accomplishment are you most proud of at NYU?
With some fellow NYU students, I produced a touring play for young audiences called The Up Above. This play was developed through a series of workshop readings where young actors were included in the developmental process of the play. As the producer, I brought our team to middle schools and high schools throughout the city, locations where many of the students had never seen a play. This was a huge accomplishment for me because the resources we have access to at NYU, especially in regard to the arts, is such a gift. To be able to share this with young people, even just for a day, was an amazing experience.
Tandon School of Engineering
With a background in electronics and communications, Radhika Goyanka chose to build upon her technical skills in the Master of Science in Management of Technology (MOT) program at the Tandon School of Engineering. In the MOT program, she studied topics like project management, product development, marketing, and business analytics from a technological perspective. One day she hopes to work as a consultant and advise companies on how to make strategic business decisions about technology and innovation. During her time at NYU, Radhika served as an orientation captain, a graduate teaching assistant for the Department of Technology Management and Innovation, the marketing director of NYU’s Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and the vice president of NYU’s American Association of Blacks in Energy. In her free time at NYU, she spent hours at the fitness center swimming laps, rock climbing, and learning how to salsa dance.
Did you participate in any internships while you were here at NYU?
During the summer of 2022, I interned as a technology analyst for Avery Dennison in Texas, specifically for their marketing technology stack. I was in a new work environment with new people and there was so much to learn, so I loved every minute of it. This experience helped build my confidence to enter the workforce after graduation. No matter how much you’ve worked in the past, it can be scary to reenter the workforce after taking some time away. Because of my mentors, both at NYU and Avery Dennison, I left my internship with a ton of industry knowledge. It’s also where I discovered consulting as a possible career choice.
What was the most thought-provoking subject you studied at NYU?
I recently took Ethical Leadership and Entrepreneurial Systems at Tandon, a course that teaches students how to recognize and address the root cause of social issues, analyze and comprehend systems change work, and design effective social ventures that integrate different leadership styles and incorporate activism and advocacy. This course taught me the ways in which a business or ecosystem can impact different industries, the economy, society, and the environment. Professor Sameera Chukkapalli Holmes was a great mentor and gave us industry experience within the classroom. It was truly a fascinating experience.
What is the biggest lesson you learned working as a graduate teaching assistant?
A graduate teaching assistant helps make sure a course runs smoothly, from scheduling the course’s timeline to ensuring that every student understands the course content and homework. As a graduate teaching assistant, you learn how to bridge the gap between faculty members and students. It’s a rewarding experience that gives you the opportunity to feel what it’d be like to pursue an academic career in higher education.
Tisch School of the Arts
Max Seavey transferred to NYU to receive a liberal arts education after studying illustration at a fine arts institution. To complement his background in visual art and writing, Max pursued a major in Game Design and a minor in Web Programming and Applications. During his time at NYU, Max was a web design tutor, game design tutor, and teacher’s assistant for Future Game Designers, a 14-week workshop that introduces high school students to game design. In the future Max aims to work in the gaming industry as an art director or narrative designer.
What’s the most thought-provoking game design project you worked on at NYU?
Last year, I worked on my first long-term project: a murder mystery narrative game called The Penne Dreadful Murder. As the project manager, I immensely expanded my design, coordination, and communication skills. Games that rely heavily on storytelling have dependencies that make development challenging, but our team dynamic made it possible. Everyone was eager to attend all our meetings to just have fun and work together, and I learned that a great collaborative environment makes for a great product.
What accomplishment are you most proud of at NYU?
I put hundreds of hours of work into my final projects over the last two years, and I was the project manager for both teams. My proudest accomplishment as a designer was seeing the team’s work finally come together as a playable experience. It was very rewarding to see people from outside of the Game Center and NYU come play our games at Playtest Thursdays and attend the program’s fall and spring showcases.
What was your favorite NYU moment?
My favorite NYU moment, by far, was seeing everyone in person again after quarantine. Thanks to the instructors and faculty, one of the best things about the Game Center is our close-knit community. My class spent less than two semesters on campus before COVID-19, but throughout quarantine we all kept in contact and became lifelong friends.