After a semester in New York, CITYterm alums span the globe to discover new passions and engage with unique communities. Each month, we’ll highlight one of those alumni here and share the story of a student’s experience after CITYterm. Do you know an alumnus who would be great for such a spotlight? Please email Lily Schorr to let us know.
CITYterm, Fall 2001
Miss Porter's School, 2003
Columbia College, 2007
Charlotte Cowles, a senior editor at New York Magazine, talks about how CITYterm has continued to influence her 12 years later.
I always knew I wanted to work as a writer,
but during CITYterm that was pretty far from my mind. Probably the most
defining thing about my semester was 9/11, even though we didn’t go into the
city that day. We were supposed to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but
instead we were given the afternoon off to process what had happened and take
turns calling our parents on the landline, since none of our cell phones
worked. I remember taking a long nap, and feeling very clear-headed when I woke
I haven’t really left New York since then. I
somehow convinced my parents, who live about two hours away in Connecticut, to
let my wide-eyed 17-year-old self do an internship at a magazine here during
the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, and then I went to
Columbia for college. Sometimes I look back on my desperation to return to New
York after CITYterm and wonder why I felt so strongly about it. I was just so
excited to live in a place that felt so boundless.
I wasn’t really organized enough during
college to plan how I would make a career out of writing, but I did a few
internships at various magazines and wound up getting a job at a small
newspaper called the New York Sun after I graduated. It was a great first job,
even though I probably wasn’t very good at it. Then the paper folded when the
recession hit in 2008, and I got hired as an editor for a startup website. I
hated the work, which was mostly just copywriting, but it allowed me plenty of
time to freelance. A lot of my former co-workers from the Sun had connections
at New York Magazine, so I started getting very lowly assignments from them and
eventually worked my way up to a staff position. That was two and a half years
ago, and now I’m a senior editor here.
Editorial jobs vary hugely. My position
entails tons of writing every day for New York Magazine’s website, which I
really love. The web is an exciting and terrifying platform for writers --
everything happens so fast, and there’s so much feedback all the time. It’s been
a tremendous learning experience, and requires imagination, humility, and a
sense of humor, which are all things I learned a lot about at CITYterm. You
have to be willing to walk up to strangers and smile and ask questions, and
then not feel defeated if they don’t respond. You also have to be endlessly
consider my time at CITYterm as the foundation for my life here today. It gave
me a great template for learning how to explore this extraordinary place. Also,
because I was here during 9/11, I feel a certain loyalty to the city -- that
was a time of tremendous kindness between New Yorkers, and I’ve never forgotten
how welcome I felt here. I’ve put down many more roots here since then, but
it’s only the tip of the iceberg, and I love living and working in a setting
that’s constantly bursting with new things to explore.
CITYterm, Spring 1997
Belmont Hill School, 1998
Emory University, 2001
UW-Madison, MBA, 2006
Andy Freedman reflects on how CITYterm impacted his career, from Dunkin Donuts to Visa to the tech start up, LevelUp.
Since leaving CITYterm in the Spring of '97, my experiences have led me all
over the country-- all of them impacted by the
time I spent learning the lessons of New York with CITYterm. I have
always been interested in story telling, an interest that developed during my
semester in the city. I remember vividly working on my neighborhood
study project (Union Square), hearing Danny Meyer talk about the NYC restaurant
business, and the organizers of the Union Square Green Market and their
challenge of supporting local farmers in the city - stories I retell to this
After graduating from Emory University, I began my career in brand marketing
with Dunkin Donuts. It felt like the natural fit to channel my interest
in understanding consumer behavior and business (and my love of baked goods was
an added bonus!). The decision to go into marketing has truly paid off
and led me all over the country to work with a broad range of well known
brands. Had you told me as a high-school senior that I would meet my wife while
living in Minneapolis, MN working at General Mills developing new
products for Fruit Roll-Ups and Fiber One, I would have laughed. Or if I
had known that one day my job requirements would include going to the Super
Bowl while working at Visa, I wouldn't have believed it. And best of
all, had I known that 15 years after graduating from CITYterm I would be working
for a 23-year old college dropout pioneering the world of mobile payments at
LevelUp -- well, that would have blown my mind.
Through my career, a thirst for knowledge and a passion for finding new stories to tell that first developed at CITYterm has
opened me up to so many new opportunities. While I don't know exactly
what the future holds, I know that I will never again be able to walk across
the Brooklyn Bridge without wanting to let out a barbaric yawp -- another story
I'm grateful to tell.
*Member of the CITYterm Alumni Council
CITYterm, Spring 2002
Concord Academy, 2003
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, BA '07
Rhode Island School of Design, MFA '14 (expected)
Frances Denny (second from the left) discusses starting Scrapped, a magazine showcasing new and emerging art.
After CITYterm, I graduated from Concord Academy (in ’03) and left Massachusetts for New York City to begin college at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU. I credit CITYterm for making that transition a smooth one—I felt like I knew New York already and was absolutely thrilled to be returning. At Gallatin, I tailored my academic concentration to focus on “Representations of Women in Art History and Literature” and took as many photography classes as I could. Though I wasn’t a photo major, the classes I took in philosophy, comparative literature, and art history at NYU still very much inform my current photographic work.
I remained in NYC after graduating from NYU. I decided to pursue work as a freelance photographer (a dream that first began perhaps when I made a photo collage for my Brooklyn Bridge Project at CITYterm!). I worked in art galleries, as an assistant to other photographers, and made my own photo work for several years before enrolling in school for a year at the International Center for Photography. At ICP, I made some important connections as well as some wonderful friends—other photographers keenly interested in our place in the art world. Two summers ago, four of those friends and I were sitting around a barbeque in Brooklyn and came up with an idea to launch a magazine. We envisioned a magazine that would exist both in print and online, and would creatively showcase work made by established and emerging artists working in all media, all over the world. So became Scrapped.
In August 2012, after a year of research, design, and curation, my partners and I launched Scrapped. What I love most about the magazine is its creative, irreverent approach to showcasing art work—we don’t publish a lot of opaque “art speak,” but rather focus on bringing interesting new work to the table. Scrapped is semi-annually published, according to a theme: our first theme was “Hit It,” a unrestricted look at desire and ambition, and our second issue’s theme (for which we are wrapping up the layout now) is “Future Dinosaur,” an exploration of nostalgia and obsolescence. I am grateful to collaborate on such a fulfilling project with my partners, whose opinions I implicitly trust even when we disagree on something. In January, Scrapped concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish Issue II and to re-design our website: we actually raised $14,500—well past our goal of $9,500. My partners and I are excited about our prospects for the future and are hard at work on Issue II: Future Dinosaur, due out this spring.
I began graduate school at The Rhode Island School of Design this past fall, where I am pursuing my MFA in Photography while I also work on Scrapped. RISD is proving to be an incubator where I can focus intensively on my own work as an artist. I plan to move back to New York City when I finish my degree next year, and will continue to balance my life as a creator and a curator there.
Please stay tuned for Issue II: Future Dinosaur. For all updates, calls for submission, and details about our NYC issue launch parties, please visit www.scrappedmag.com, Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/scrappedmag), and follow us on Twitter (@ScrappedMag). To view my personal work, please visit my website: www.francesfdenny.com
CITYterm, Spring 1997
Boston Latin School, 1998
Barnard College, Columbia
University BA Summa cum Laude Urban Studies, 2002
Adrienne Campbell-Holt explores her journey from growing up on a rural dairy farm to becoming a director and producer of critically-acclaimed shows and starting her own theater company.
I grew up in
rural Vermont and inner-city Boston as the offspring of community
organizers/educators who didn’t believe in television, conventional dolls or
too much furniture. Rather than
experiencing these conditions as limitations, my sister and I hung a shower curtain
in the living room and regularly put on multi-part plays and dance
performances. Moving from a dairy farm
community in Vermont, to a predominantly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and
Vietnamese neighborhood in Dorchester encouraged my curiosity about distinct
voices and modes of storytelling. My current work as a theater director feels
like a natural extension and continuing exploration of my childhood curiosity.
The past decade
has been extremely varied--I spent stints living in Paris as well as Los
Angeles—and has seen me pursuing a seemingly disparate set of professional
pursuits. (Fortunately, in a profession where your entire ‘expertise’ is
founded in life experience and observation, this background of adventures has
been a resource.)
After doing my Urban
Studies thesis on DUMBO I started an organization called Nest that took over
temporarily idle warehouse spaces for artistic programming. I ran a weekly
arts-oriented flea market called the DUMBO Bazaar that had food and live music…
and a 70,000 SF warehouse space with ten of my favorite dance and theater
companies in residence (rent-free), plus a cinema, gallery and bar. I was
working in the city as an actress, interning with Liz LeCompte at the Wooster
Group, and making my own experimental performance work in my studio.When I started to feel a little stuck, like I
was spending too much time focused on work that wasn’t helping me grow as a
person, I decided it was time to shift my energies.
I moved to LA
and continued performing but also began to focus my attentions more
significantly on writing and directing. I wrote and directed several plays as
well as a short film and several video projects. After three years I knew I needed to push
myself again. I returned to the east coast and spent several summers at the
Williamstown Theater Festival and assisting my directing heroes on shows including
Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and
Chekhov’s The Three Sisters.
Finally, I felt
ready to form my own theater company, and in the past three years Colt Coeur
has produced three critically-acclaimed world-premieres, with three more
currently in-development. One of the
lines from our overripe mission statement: “We make
theater that is imbued with the urgency and intensity of the present—theater
that responds to and engages with the world in which we live with compassion,
humor, ferocity, and an abiding, unapologetic sense of wonder,” could be a
description of the feeling I found as a 16 year-old at CITYterm. Colt
Coeur is comprised of actors, designers, writers and myself and thanks to my
old real-estate developer connection we have a studio in DUMBO where we have
the rare luxury of spending as much time as our schedules allow building plays
from scratch.We also offer a free
week-long playmaking workshop for Brooklyn teenagers where the students build
plays using the same developmental techniques we use as a company.
As a freelance
director I’ve had the privilege of getting to work all over the country and
every time I’m working on a new show, in a new city, I feel like a CITYterm
student all over again.I endeavor to
understand the ‘logic’ of the city-- I always try to take the public
transportation to unknown destinations and spend my down-time walking around,
sitting in coffee shops, and eavesdropping on strangers’ conversation a la the
“18-inches” assignment.More than
anything making theater is about empathy and communication—and nowhere did I
have the opportunity to hone these skills more than CITYterm.
CITYterm, Spring 1999
St. Mark's School of Texas, 2000
Pitzer College, 2004
Brandon Castillo uses lessons from CITYterm to run an outdoor market that promotes local businesses and artists, as well as helping Dallas become a "World Class City".
I was born in Brooklyn but raised in North Texas. Even
though I don't remember much about living in New York City as a baby, I knew I
had to get out of the suburbs as soon as possible and get back to my
birthplace. CITYterm ignited my passion for cities, exposing me to a life
independent of cars, surrounded by people, and adventure waiting around every
corner. I took this energy to Spain after graduating college in order to learn
city life in a foreign place. After teaching English in Madrid for a few years,
I came back to Dallas inspired to bring everything I'd learned living abroad
back to my hometown.
It puzzled me that Dallas didn't have the frequent outdoor
events like New York or Madrid, despite having great weather! So two years ago,
I started the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market in one of Dallas' most historic, yet
neglected, neighborhoods. My two goals for the Market are to promote local
businesses & artists and promote a pedestrian friendly environment. The
first Deep Ellum Market was located under a covered parking lot behind a
restaurant, and now we shut down a block of Main St. to make room for all the
vendors. If you're in Dallas and want to try the latest food trucks, hear good
local music, and shop for unique stuff, come to the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market
on the third Saturday of the month!
In 2013, the Market will be expanding to different areas of
the city, including the Design District, Downtown, and Lower Greenville. We are
also planning a launch of a "bodega" style store in Deep Ellum, an
atypical business model here in DFW, but one that certainly works in other
Dallas is a city that considers itself
cosmopolitan, yet stubbornly calls itself Texan at the same time. While the
Lone Star shines brightly here in the Metroplex, certain things have to change
if Dallas indeed aspires to be a "World Class City". I am lucky to
have had the opportunity of studying and living in some of the world's greatest
cities. I only hope to provide my hometown with elements of these great places.
CITYterm, Fall 2005
Haddonfield Memorial High School, 2007
New York University, 2011
Molly Nussbaum, film maker extraordinaire, takes New York City by storm.
leaving CITYterm, I haven't really left the city. I came back to New
York to go to film school at NYU, and stayed on after graduating to work, first
for an independent film distributor, and currently as the script coordinator
for the TV show "The Americans," which premieres on FX in January.
Engrossing myself in the city's incredibly dynamic (and rapidly changing) film
and television industry has afforded me some exceptional experiences: from live
story slams with The Moth, to producing a commercial for Porsche, to hanging
out with Grover and Elmo on Sesame Street, I've been been having a great
I got to combine my love of the city with my
love of filmmaking while working for distributor Zeitgeist Films as they
acquired "Koch," a new documentary by Neil Barsky about storied mayor
Ed Koch, which opens in February. I've also been attempting to possess an
entrepreneurial spirit by co-founding a small commercial production company
this year as well. I hope to have the chance to explore Montreal with a new
film in the spring, but til then I'll be making TV here in New York. No matter
what project it is, I try to maintain the CITYterm spirit of always trying to
find out what I didn't even know I didn't even know. That, and yawping
barbarically at every turn.
CITYterm, Fall 2007
Blake School, 2009
Skidmore College, 2013
Sara Low, a senior at Skidmore College, spent her summer on an archaeological dig in New Mexico.
Through the collaboration
of Mercyhurst’s Archaeological Institute and Southern Methodist University, the
Taos Collaborative Archaeology Program offers an in-depth and extensive
introduction to archaeological field methods and research in northern New Mexico.
For six weeks we excavated an apparent Valdez Phase (ca. A.D. 900-1190) Pueblan
pithouse, working in a professional environment and under demanding conditions
common to archaeology. We lived in two person tents, excavated from 7am to 5pm,
Monday through Saturday, and had opportunities to visit other archaeological
sites such as Bandelier National Monument, and participate in community project
like the re-plastering of San Francisco de Asis Church. By the end of my time
in Taos I felt I had gained an incredibly valuable education in archaeology
which I would not have been able to find anywhere else. After finishing my
senior year as an anthropology major at Skidmore College I will most definitely
continue my work in the field. (top photo by Emily Dietrich at Bandelier National Monument)
CITYterm, Spring 2005
Hathaway Brown, 2006
Fordham University, 2010
Masters in Urban Studies from Fordham University, 2012
Kathleen Adams, co-founder of Momma's Hip Hop Kitchen, combined her passions to form an organization that empowers women of color to express themselves through art.
My name is Kathleen Adams and I was part of S’05 at CITYerm.
I am also the co-founder of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen (MHHK). Momma’s Hip Hop
Kitchen (MHHK) is a multifaceted hip hop event designed to showcase women
artists, especially women of color. MHHK serves as a social justice
community-organizing platform that educates and empowers women of color on
issues that impact their lives, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice.
Our mission is to create a dynamic interactive exchange and safe space for all women
of color to express themselves through their art.
I co-founded MHHK while I was
a sophomore in college at Fordham University. At this time I became very
frustrated with the way that women of color were being portrayed in mainstream
media. I was always very active as an AIDS activist and in the Reproductive
Justice field and also had a love for hip hop. My business partner, Lah Tere
was also very passionate and we thought we would join forces and create a one
time community event to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS in communities of color
in New York City, and use hip hop as a vehicle to spread our message since hip
hop was started in the South Bronx, (Fordham is in the Bronx!), and reclaim
space for women in the field of hip hop and the arts.
Our first event in February 2008, we had over 500 people
attend (we thought only 75 people were going to attend originally!). From 2009
until today we’ve been at the Hostos Center for Arts & Culture in the Bronx
where we have been able to achieve attendance levels of over 1000 people every
year. We are going into our 6th year, and we have conducted many
college tours and workshops, and were even featured in an episode of MTV’s MADE
CITYterm, Fall 2007
Hotchkiss School, 2009
Pratt Institute, 2013
Juliet Knuth's first solo art show, Yummy, is open until October 3rd in Bed Stuy. Check out what she's been up to since CITYterm!
Following my semester at Cityterm in Fall of 2007 and
graduating from the Hotchkiss School in 2009, I decided to return to the city,
for which my love has never faded. I enrolled as a painting major at Pratt
Institute of Brooklyn where I will be graduating from this spring. Since
living in the city I have sung in open mics, traveled to several new states,
become a martial arts student in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muy Thai
Kickboxing, picked up the hobby of hula hooping, and befriended more
fascinating artists than I could ever have dreamt of meeting back home. But
while attending art school and meeting the people here has certainly been a
huge inspiration, nothing about living in New York has influenced my artwork
more than my unglamorous job title as a waitress in the city’s restaurant
industry. In order to afford school, I currently spend more hours a week
taking people’s orders, running their food and drinks and watching them eat
than I spend in class or in my studio. It is no surprise then, that the subject
of food and people’s relationship to it has sparked my most recent series of
oil paintings: all portraits of women involving food.
Food and eating are of particular fascination to me in that
the impressions eating can give a viewer are incredibly varied. The act of
consuming something can be all at once primitive and sophisticated, sexual and
repulsive, appetizing and nauseating. Throw a beautiful woman into the mix
(most of whom, in this case, are fellow women who work in the industry with me)
and immediately the works become wrack with bizarre and sexual associations.
The paintings in my current series depict friends eating and drinking anything
from pop tarts, to chicken wings, to avocados, pizza and tea.
This current series is now in my first solo show
“Yummy”, hanging quite appropriately at Bed Stuy’s Project Parlor, one of my
favorite bars in the neighborhood. It is located at 742 Myrtle Avenue, blocks
away from my own apartment, and is frequented by many of the very same people I
have depicted in these paintings, including bartender and graduated MFA Pratt
Printmaker Leah Matthews, who’s 8 foot portrait holding a tray of cupcakes
stands right next to the entrance of the establishment. The shows opening
reception on September 6th was a night of music, drinks, friends and
fun, and garnered a great response from local viewers. For anyone who wants to
enjoy a drink and discuss the eyes of hungry women with other fascinating local
artists, “Yummy” will remain on the walls of the bar until October 3rd.
CITYterm, Fall 2003
National Cathedral School, 2005
Barnard College, 2009
Read about how Tess has transferred her experience as an elementary school teacher into the startup of the educational connections site, SmarterCookie.
I taught elementary school in Brownsville, Brooklyn for three years after college. Most days I would come home from work and rehash all the issues I had with my school to my roommate, Mike, who was a strategy consultant at the time. He said, “I think we can fix some of these problems.” I said, “Really?” And that was how it all began.
Teaching is really hard. In my first year especially, but even in my next two years, I struggled to manage behavior, differentiate learning for my students, and juggle all the things a teacher is expected to do on a daily basis. But I desperately wanted to become a better teacher for my own sanity and especially for my 28 students who were relying on me. I needed support, but the options at hand weren’t that great: traditional professional development was one-size fits all, and administrator observations could be scary and didn’t happen often enough. What helped me the most was advice I got from other teachers at my school. But how could I leverage their support when we all squeezed out every second of the school day for teaching or preparing for the next lesson (or talking to parents or checking homework or…)?
Mike and I are solving my problem, which happens to be the problem of lots of teachers everywhere. We’ve started a company called SmarterCookie. It’s a website that makes it easy for teachers to share best practices using video. Teachers record video of a lesson, upload it directly to the site, and invite other teachers to view the videos and provide meaningful feedback. It allows teachers to get more help more often from people they trust.
However, Mike and I have never started a company before, so we applied to (and were accepted to) a program called Imagine K12, which is an incubator that invests in education technology companies and helps them get off the ground. We moved from Brooklyn out to Silicon Valley in California to get the advice and guidance we needed. We are currently in the second month of the incubator and it is a whirlwind of ups and downs. I feel like a little kid again learning so many new things everyday. Actually, to quote David Dunbar, I don’t even know what I don’t know yet. I have no idea where I’ll be or what our product will be in a year. Although this is a little scary and sometimes makes me uncomfortable, above all it is overwhelmingly exciting.
Update (12/17/12): Tess has been named by Forbes as a Top 30 Under 30 in Education!