Alumni Profile Archives
Find your favorite spotlights from months past below! If you can't find what you're looking for, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for previous profiles.
Julia Rappaport, F'01
CITYterm - Fall 2001
Concord Academy - 2002
Brown University - 2006
Julia shares the ways that she carries her CITYterm experiences with her - both large and small.
There are many reasons why my semester at CITYterm will be forever ingrained into who I am as a person: I will always remember the cloudless late-summer day when, brand-new to the program and the city, my 29 classmates and I made our way to the top of the World Trade Center and, for a few hours, quietly and innocently looked out at the urban sprawl below us and sketched what we saw. The intent of the exercise was a bookend – that in three month’s time, we’d return here and draw the city with new and fuller understanding. But, just four days later, on a similarly cloudless September morning, I walked out of French class in Dobbs Ferry, the last of the morning before our group was to take the train into the city, to see that the news was on the normally dark TV. Still standing there, I watched, just moments later, as the second plane hit that sturdy tower and it came crumbling down. That day, and the days and weeks afterward, are defining ones, both in my life and in my education. In the uncertain time that followed, my class and our teachers did what CITYterm encourages: We got up close to people and to history, heading into the city to participate in vigils and bear witness to pain and suffering. But we also continued on, reading and studying the literature and events of New York (as well as French and math…), maintaining a semblance of the everyday in the face of adversity. We started laughing, the few of us that were seniors mailed in our college applications, we dressed up for Halloween.
The events of 9/11, and the particular circumstances in which I experienced them, shaped me in a big way. But there are a slew of other, smaller, but incredibly important ways in which CITYterm left its mark on who I have gone on to become, both personally and professionally: reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and fully realizing for the first time how thorny and complicated the truth is, and what a tremendous responsibility writers have in trying to communicate it; researching and speaking with the people of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, then a neighborhood in the beginning stages of gentrification, for the neighborhood project; listening (after I stopped swooning) to a young Junot Diaz read his collection of short stories about identity, love, and the complicated nature of people. I loved to read and write before I came to CITYterm, and it wasn’t until college that I had a professor suggest to me that I should try to do both as more than just a passing interest, but I like to think that the semester in Dobbs Ferry piqued and honed some of those skills that have become indispensible in my career, first as a newspaper journalist and today as a magazine editor writing about food and cooking: curiosity, looking at the new or the different and finding places of similarity and connection from which to ask questions, researching beyond the internet (people and books are amazing resources…), active listening, observation, and allowing myself time and space to think and process.
Julia Rappaport is the managing editor for several food and cooking magazines for John Brown Media, including the award-winning fresh. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Boston Herald, the Providence Journal, Edible Boston, and Modern Farmer, among other publications. In addition to her journalism career, she spent four years as the managing editor of communications and social media at the international educational non-profit Facing History and Ourselves.
Natalia Torres, F'05
CITYterm - Fall 2005
Hotchkiss School - 2007
Yale University - 2011
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.M - 2016
When I reflect on my return to Hotchkiss after CITYterm, there is one memory that always stands out. My school had recently revived sit down lunches with assigned seating and I was sitting at one of the round, wooden tables in our dining room waiting for the other students to get their food. I don't quite know what my face must have looked like, but, after my English teacher took her seat, she looked across the table at me and asked, "How far from CITYterm do you feel right now?" and all I could say was, "Far."
In the days and weeks after I returned from CITYterm, as I walked around a campus, which, besides the snow, hadn't changed much since I'd last seen it, it was clear that something else had: me. CITYterm changed me, and I don't say that lightly. I returned to Hotchkiss a different student and a different girl. I carried myself differently. I was more confident and more curious. I was more...me.
Last year I pursued my master’s in education, and, besides CITYterm, it was the most transformational experience I’ve had to date. My classroom experiences were often exceptional, but it was my work outside the classroom that energized me most. Outside of the classroom, two of my classmates and I organized our peers in an effort to push the administration to advance their work around racial justice and educational equity, as well as their commitment to educating and graduating anti-racist educators. In doing this work, it became clear to me that wherever my next steps led me, it would need to be somewhere committed to anti-racism and social justice.
In August, I began working at the DreamYard Project, a nonprofit in the Bronx that provides arts education to Bronx public schools and to the local community using social justice pedagogy. Though I haven't worked there long, I have been consistently impressed by DreamYard's commitment to growing as an anti-racist organization and by the strength of its culture and sense of community. I am regularly humbled by the passion, energy, thoughtfulness, and love that everyone brings to the work and shares with each other on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky to work for an organization where I have room to grow and room to fail, where my curiosity and growth are valued and encouraged, and where teamwork and reflection are par for the course. If you asked me how far I feel from CITYterm now, I’d say not far at all.
Nora Daly, Spring '13
CITYterm - Spring 2013
Waynflete School - 2014
Sarah Lawrence College - 2018
Nora spends a semester at the National Theater Institute -
"CITYterm for theater-makers"!
I am truly not exaggerating when I say CITYterm is the catalyst for all the best things that have happened in my life. After CITYterm, my biggest concern was how I could create that kind of learning experience for myself. I was really inspired by the shows we had seen, like Fuerza Bruta, Here Lies Love, and Sleep No More. They completely broke down any notions I had about what kind of theater could move audiences.
CITYterm led me to Sarah Lawrence College, which led me to where I am now. I'm spending my fall semester at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, one of this year's recipients of the National Medal for Arts. It's an ensemble based, interdisciplinary theatre conservatory program - basically CITYterm for theater-makers. They're alike in so many ways, especially in the way they encourage trying new things and taking risks. NTI's motto is "Risk. Fail. Risk Again," a good companion to "Live the Questions". Both places have a creative energy that's difficult to describe, not to mention crazy schedules. Here at the O'Neill I have to be at warm ups at 7:30 every morning and I have class until 10:00 at night, seven days a week. Every week I have to write the first five pages of a play and direct or perform in a scene that we have 15 hours to put up. I get to live and work in a place where some of the greatest minds in theater have come to create. I'm so happy and so lucky to be here.
I'm not sure exactly what I'll do after college, but I do have a clear vision of myself sweating in a broken down subway car in the middle of August. CITYterm began my relationship with New York City and although we certainly have our moments, we're not breaking up anytime soon. I think I want to be an actor, but then I also want to be a writer. And a comedian. And maybe a movement director? Who's to say? Thanks to CITYterm, I feel ready to face the future head on and embrace that old ambiguity (here's looking at you, David Dunbar).
Carrie Cohen, Spring '07
CITYterm - Spring 2007
The Urban School of San Francisco - 2008
Wesleyan University - 2012
Carrie embraces the DKDK zone with her business, The Pudding Truck!
CITYterm was illuminating, humbling, and energizing. Spending a semester among a group of wildly interesting (and fairly notorious) teenagers also really expanded my worldview. When I returned to San Francisco, I felt a simultaneous sense of security and inhibition. While I loved my senior year at home, I couldn’t wait to get to the next environment where I could go out and discover things for myself. Above all else, I think my time at CITYterm opened my eyes to my own agency. If I could be responsible for how I move through the world and what I learn from it, the possibilities for where I go and what I do could be endless.
After graduating from college with a Film Studies degree in hand (a trajectory I’d set myself on well before CITYterm), I moved to Los Angeles with the intention of putting that formal education to use. I got a job in the entertainment industry right away, and almost as quickly realized that it wasn’t the industry for me. As much as I adored (and still love) movies, I just felt like the lack of control that comes hand-in-hand with trying to create that type of art wasn’t a good fit for my desire to “author” my own experience. From there, I decided to explore some facet of my other major passion: food. To make a long story short, things snowballed from there and I decided to create The Pudding Truck, which is the first food truck in Los Angeles to specialize in gourmet pudding and toppings. I chose pudding because I love how it’s simultaneously familiar and comforting, but also currently pretty inaccessible in its old-school hand-crafted form. I wanted to change that and champion what I think is the most delicious underdog of the dessert world.
When I first launched The Pudding Truck, I absolutely knew that I was in over my head. As we CITYtermers would say, I had undoubtedly entered the DKDK zone. I had no more culinary training than a short restaurant apprenticeship and zero business experience. And now that I’m reflecting on it, I think that my willingness to take such a huge leap was thanks to CITYterm. I dove head first into a situation where I’d inevitably be confronted with a whole host of things I didn’t know I didn’t know, and that was totally okay. I can’t say that I came out of that semester in 2007 an entirely changed person, but I think that seeds were planted that have started to grow into little plants that shape me into the person I am today. There’s the “learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom” seed. There’s the “experience can be more valuable than any instruction manual” seed. And there’s definitely the “find other people who know how to do the things you don’t know how to do and collaborate with them” seed. Now, almost three years into running The Pudding Truck, I find myself at a crossroads unsure of the right direction in which to take the business as it grows. I’m once again on the precipice of another DKDK zone… and because of CITY term, I know that that’s totally okay.
Check it out at www.thepuddingtruck.com!
Mason Eve Sills, Spring '04
CITYterm - Spring 2004
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School - 2005
Smith College - 2009
Mason reflects on the transformation that continues to shape her life long after CITYterm.
"We slide into this recipe for anything can-happen with cool nonchalance," I read these words again and again when I returned from CITYterm. Mira Jacob's Girl was my bible - she articulated her coming-of-age adventures in a way that I had never heard before - in a way that begged me to reflect on my own growing up at CITYterm. CITYterm was hard. I had barely written what you would call a research paper pre-CITYterm and I was shocked that we could write in our books - in fact we were encouraged to take notes in our books. When I returned to Cambridge Rindge and Latin the teachers were still threatening everyone with detention if the lightest pencil mark was found in our texts. As a high school senior I thought about education a lot - private, public, urban, suburban - and the vast opportunity gaps that exist due to the quality of schooling in these various classrooms. It wasn't so much the experience of CITYterm that changed me - but more so the realization that classrooms like those at CITYterm existed - that private schools existed and that high school is a very very different experience depending on who you are, where you're from, and where you go.
After CITYterm I knew I wanted to pursue teaching and tackle injustices in education. I also knew I wanted to paint. And write. And...who knows? I went from majoring in Studio Art, to pursuing an independent major in Social Justice and U.S Race Relations, to finally settling on American Studies with a concentration on the 1960s. I literally switched my major every year of college. I was, and continue to be, as confused as the narrator in Girl who walks a fine line between risk and safety every day.
I always knew New York City was the place for me - both pre- and post-CITYterm. I was in love with the city, fantasizing about it through the eyes of Baldwin - and marveling at its grittiness via Larry Clark’s "Kids”. I had to move here. I’ve been living in Brooklyn since 2011, and last September I took a leap and quit my full-time job in education to pursue my art. I never thought I'd be creating murals around New York City - yet here I am painting on walls in Bushwick, doing commissions on the Upper East Side, and occasionally tagging the New York City streets.
At CITYterm I was obsessed with graffiti and this idea of the train as traveling canvas - I remember crafting a Statue of Liberty that had a spray can in her hand and an 80's train behind her for one of my final CITYterm projects. I wish I could find that piece now! Walking around the city and seeing art without having to go to a museum inspired me. Street art didn't exclude people - because here it was in your face whether or not you wanted to see it. It encouraged everyone to ask questions, just like CITYterm did - where I was constantly challenged to step into the unknown with an open mind. This fall I’m continuing to work as a freelance artist and I’ll be starting my third project with Groundswell, a public art organization that works with youth all over the city. I'm thrilled to get back into the classroom and guide students in making art that leads to social change - pushing students to study their own neighborhoods and create art that represents them. Over a decade has passed since my time at CITYterm, but I still manage to have coming-of-age adventures well into my 20's. With spray paint in one hand and a beat-up paper copy of Girl in the other, I continue to slip into the DKDK zone each day eager to see what is going to happen - and excited knowing that in New York City anything can.
Check out Mason's art on Instagram! - @masoneve
Stephanie Rountree, Fall '14
CITYterm - Fall 2014
Dulaney High School - 2016
New York University - 2020
Stephanie uses her summer post-CITYterm to
jump start her role in political activism.
On the drive down to Maryland after Closing Ceremonies, with Dobbs Ferry already behind us, I looked across the Hudson to bid Manhattan farewell. I had left the friends and teachers who had made that semester memorable, but in the moment, having to say goodbye to the city was the hardest. It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t willing to part with the Chrysler Building, but rather the powerful environment with which the city had provided me over the past four months.
Before stepping onto the Masters School’s campus, I had always been quick to put myself down, saying that I was too stupid or inexperienced to affect change. At CITYterm, this was not an option, and I quickly learned that I was capable of more than what was imaginable. New York, its streets abuzz with learning opportunities awaiting discovery, had provided the perfect backdrop for someone with a newfound sense of self eager to influence the world around her. Of course, this made it more difficult to leave behind, and I was itching to find an outlet for my energy.
That summer, I finally found my opportunity to make a difference. Bernie Sanders’ campaign began asking for dedicated volunteers to take on leadership roles at the national level. Sanders’ message had such a profound effect on me that I wanted to do everything within my power to help him get elected. With the confidence I had fostered at CITYterm, I rose to the challenge. Just a few months later, I was featured in TIME Magazine's cover story on Sanders, and had the pleasure of helping host an official campaign brainstorm in Baltimore this January.
Since leaving the campaign, I've accepted a position with Brand New Congress, a nonpartisan grassroots organization run by former Bernie staffers that aims to elect more accountable congressional candidates into office in 2018. If we want progress, we're going to need more than just a handful of representatives to make it happen. Change of this magnitude calls for an overhaul. I'm incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to help keep the revolution going!
In the fall, I’ll be embarking on the next chapter of my love story with the city as I start school at New York University. Inspired by my work with Bernie and BNC, I'll be studying how information communication technologies can strengthen the efforts of human rights, social justice and political movements at the Gallatin School for Individualized Study. By now, I know better than to discount my own abilities, and I’m determined to make my mark in the metropolis in which I thrive.
Sonya Hammons, Fall '99
CITYterm - Fall 1999
Tamalpais High School - 2000
UC Berkeley - 2004
London School of Economics, MSc - 2010
Sonya uses metaphor to understand her work and what comes next.
Through CITYterm, metaphors helped me interpret everything from literature to media messages to subway rides. My favorite was the idea of “urban fabric,” and my fascination with it persisted after I left CITYterm. Every experience became a new fabric to understand, with components and connections to identify and also to appreciate as a whole.
So it was no surprise that I went on to study geography while working at a textile arts studio. Geography captured my attention as a way of thinking about the world - the physical, cultural and economic threads that create patterns and idiosyncrasies to make a place what it is and connect it to other places. Creating textiles let me play with the "urban fabric" metaphors in a contemplative way, complementing the technical analysis and mapping of university courses with a reflective, personal process. I made maps dyed with materials from the places the maps represented, wove found objects into maps made of zoning documents, and generally reveled in the idea of myriad lives experiencing a place in different ways.
For now I’m moving on to a new metaphor: the pendulum swing. After bouncing around the world while giving environmental policy advice for the United Nations, it's time to come home and deepen my relationship to a single place. As I write this I’m packing my bags to swing back to the US after working in over thirty countries. As for the physical side of this metaphor, I am learning flying trapeze. Through trapeze I'm finding balance, learning that letting go is as important as hanging on, and developing trading grit for elation as a source of strength. It's also helping me undo the effects of way too much time hunched over a computer or squeezed into an airplane seat!
Emma Iocono, Fall '05
CITYterm - Fall 2005
Blake High School, St. Paul, MN - 2007
Connecticut College - 2011
Mills College, M.A. in Educational Leadership - 2014
Emma talks CITYterm and leaning into big transitions.
Immediately after CITYterm, I headed back to my high school in Minnesota. The friends and experiences I had in New York were irreplaceable, but what stands out most about my transition back to my school was that I started with a new sense of self and confidence. I realized the girls who I had been friends with weren’t real friends and I found people who had similar interests and are now lifelong friends. The value of learning to surround myself with people who respected and valued me for who I was is something I’ve carried with me since.
CITYterm was one big adventure. I like to think I’ve continued that into my adult life - sometimes I’m not so sure - but I think back to that courageous 16 year old who left home for the first time and remember that I can still be that person. Recently that has been tested. In the last year, my husband and I have made the decision to move to his home of Costa Rica. His parents recently decided to retire, leaving us to run their family business. This brought up hard questions and difficult conversations, but in the end we decided that it was right for us, our families, and the business.
Where we live in Costa Rica is the opposite in many ways from New York City or from the St. Paul/Minneapolis area that I grew up in. We live in a small rural beach town, where tourism is the center of the economy. We run a hotel and restaurant business that relies on this tourism. We’re both adjusting to the new lifestyle and learning as we go. I’ve had to learn a new language, new business, and new way of life. I feel well equipped for most adventures that come my way. CITYterm taught me to always look for the excitement in new discoveries. I’ve been taking each new opportunity here as a learning experience and credit CITYterm for the courage to continue this adventure!
If anyone would like to pay us a visit, you can find us here www.ylangylangbeachresort.com.
Renan Snowden, Spring '01
CITYterm - Spring 2001
National Cathedral School - 2001
UNC Chapel Hill - 2005
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - M.A. Urban and Regional Planning - 2013
Renan brings a CITYterm mindset to improv comedy and urban planning!
"Live the Questions" - Rilke - Frequently quoted by CITYterm
CITYterm taught me to live the questions and to have the confidence to ask them. Before CITYterm, I was a curious student but not great at memorizing information. As a result, my grades often didn't reflect my potential, as many adults were fond of telling me at the time. At CITYterm, the goal of learning shifted from knowing the answers to asking the questions, and I began to thrive. Was Sol LeWitt an artist or a project manager? What is so magnificent about the Brooklyn Bridge that makes us want to release a "barbaric yawp"? Did the neighborhoods around Yankee stadium benefit from it? I read James Baldwin for the first time and found my hero. I bought rush tickets to see RENT on Broadway. I stood confidently on the subway platform and knew how to get where I was going. I became transformed not just by CITYterm and New York City, but by learning that there was value in asking questions and finding out the answers along the way.
Today, I am constantly asking questions and finding the answers as an improviser. Last year, I started performing improv regularly with my troupe Prettier Than You in Washington, DC (We’ll be performing at the Chicago Improv Festival in May! https://www.facebook.com/PTYimprov/) Like CITYterm, improv focuses on creating new situations and asking questions about what's happening in a scene in order to understand where to go next. "Who are these characters? How do they know each other? What's at stake for each of them in this scene? Why should the audience care what happens?" Every step in building a funny scene is built upon asking questions while you're in the scene to figure out where to take your characters next. Every time I step on stage, I'm filled with the same sense of wonder and discovery that I experienced at CITYterm.
I like to tell people that I get to do neighborhood study for a living. As a planning manager for a business improvement district, I present the neighborhood as a great place to live, work, and play. I present real estate market data on residential and commercial leasing, I advocate for better bus service for our growing neighborhood, and I promote concerts and movie nights that build community. I pursued a Master's degree in urban and regional planning because I care deeply about cities and the people who live in them. One of my great interests is how creativity and the arts can spur economic and community development. While I haven’t found all the answers yet, I am determined to keep asking - and living - the questions.
Helson Taveras, Fall '12
CITYterm – Fall 2012
Milton Academy - 2014
Columbia College - 2018
Helson collaborates to design an innovative solution to hunger at Columbia!
Our CITYterm group had to speak to a particular store owner before getting on the 12:20 train or else we wouldn’t have been prepared for our outing that day. Yet we weren’t sure if she would respond to an email in time. That presented a serious problem for our team, and for a moment we were stumped about our next move. And then Lily stepped in and suggested, “Why don’t you guys just give them a call?”
Of course. We’re children of the Internet age after all. Someone found her number online and immediately called her. I thought it was hilariously ironic that not only did we fail to think of calling the owner, once we did call she was very receptive and helpful! Now, whenever I’m faced with a seemingly difficult problem, I think back to that moment and ask, “Is there a blindingly simple solution to this that I fail to see?” The next thing I ask is, “Is there someone out there who wants to help me solve this problem?” Often people are willing to help more than we would expect.
I knew I wanted to be in New York City after leaving CITYterm, so I resolved to applying to Columbia University, and fortunately I was accepted. In the summer of 2015, a friend approached me with an idea: a mealsharing app for college students. That idea quickly evolved into sketches, mockups, a prototype, and in September a finished app called Swipes. Working on the app has been a team effort, an area that CITYterm keenly focuses on. Developing team culture, creating effective processes, and making sure that everyone is contributing has been a priority for us as we continue to generate ideas. It helps that Israel Moorer (Fall ‘14) has played an integral role in the team since the beginning and he reminds me to think to my CITYterm days for inspiration.
We’ve turned to our peers to solve the problem of food insecurity at Columbia. We allow students to both give and request meal “swipes” to other students who can’t afford to purchase them—essentially we’re crowdsourcing food. Swipes’ has just entered its second semester and we’re exploring different ways to involve more students. Although our journey has been relatively short, we’ve been very fortunate to receive support both from other students across the country and also unexpected media attention. We’re very excited to continue building our team and generating ideas using CITYterm techniques. And as always, make sure to pick up the phone when we need help.
Venus Tsang, Spring '06
CITYterm – Spring 2006
Loomis Chaffee School - 2007
New York University - 2011
Venus brings her CITYterm approach to creating city guides abroad!
To this day, I remain so proud of 16-year-old me for enrolling at CITYterm and recognizing the rare, special opportunity it was. My experience there, that crazed couple of months, has shaped not only who I am, but also many of the decisions I continue to make in adulthood. People come in and out of your life, but I'll never forget that cast of characters from Spring 2006. 10 years later, I still remember hurtling down the hill to catch the train; trudging slowly back up it after a long day on my feet. From that first, intimate 'Things I Carried' evening, to waiting in an endless line for Grimaldi's, to chatting with Adrian Nicole Leblanc and Lee Stringer (as a writer, these especially stayed with me). As I get older I increasingly champion the interdisciplinary approach, bridging theory and practice, as the best way to learn.
After CITYterm I knew I wanted to stay in New York, so I enrolled at NYU where I pursued dual degrees in journalism and French. I studied abroad in Paris and Beijing, wrote for the school paper and interned at Conde Nast. I lived in the East Village and walked to Washington Square Park every day, and by the time I graduated I felt like I could really call myself a New Yorker. I moved back to Hong Kong, where my family is from, to work for LUXE City Guides, a Hong Kong- and Melbourne-based boutique travel publisher. Though my role has evolved over the years, the one thing that remains constant is travel – despite coming from an international background, CITYterm taught me thoughtful ways to discover a place and learn its history, and I've applied this to my professional life as well. Last year I went to Brazil to research and write brand new city guides to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and really sought to see it from a local's, rather than tourist's, perspective. I found myself at the top of a pacified favela with a Brazilian photographer, where I saw some of the most incredible panoramas over Ipanema Beach – and it was blissfully crowd-free!
As for the future, I know I'll make it back to New York soon. And in the more distant future, I hope to be able to teach at a program like CITYterm. Experiential learning has proven to be some of the most impactful memories in my life to date, and I hope to pass that on to more smart 16-year-olds.
Anna Harris, Fall '03
CITYterm – Fall 2003
Hamden Hall Country Day School – 2005
University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School – 2009
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management - 2015
Anna leaves NYC to revive her CITYterm exploration in Stockholm, Sweden.
CITYterm was one of the best experiences of my adolescent life. It took me out of the monotony and stress of my prep school life and threw me into real-world learning. Whether going to a voodoo seance, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge or learning about the history of the NYPL, CITYterm was a constant adventure. When the semester ended and I was thrown back into AP courses, SAT prep and college applications, the stress and monotony returned as well. It wasn't until years later, when I moved abroad, that I realized the impact that CITYterm had on who I'd become. I was an explorer, constantly learning and seeking out information from the world around me, senses on high alert.
After graduating from UPenn, I followed the pack and moved to NYC. I got a stable job, decent apartment and quickly developed a standard routine. But the city that I had been exposed to as a teenager was gone, replaced with high bills, long lines, and short deadlines. What looked glamorous from the outside was anything but. "Where would I go?" was a question often on my mind, and was finally answered when my Swedish boyfriend (now, soon-to-be husband) suggested moving back to his hometown of Stockholm. What did I have to lose? Now the answer seems clear - nothing.
My life now feels like an extended CITYterm semester. It's a constant adventure. In the last year, I've traveled to over 10 countries, started and finished a Master's program, started working at Spotify and built a home for myself and fiance in a foreign land. From the UAE to Portugal, travel has exposed me to many new cultures. But living abroad has taught me about myself. I've put myself out there and gotten a whole lot back. CITYterm taught me to keep an open mind towards new people and experiences, to constantly observe and question the world around me, and to never stop moving. I have no doubt that what lies ahead will involve loads of travel and new experiences and I cannot wait!
If anyone is ever in Stockholm, look me up - we can explore together!
Chelsea Fine, Spring '11
CITYterm – Spring 2011
National Cathedral School – 2012
University of Chicago – 2016
Chelsea's confidence leads to post-CITYterm adventure.
I spent the summer immediately following CITYterm as a student at the School of Public Service in Washington, DC, which was a lot like CITYterm with a political twist. We had the opportunity to visit sites of political significance throughout the District, conduct "authorship seminars" with leading local and national figures, and engage in discussion-based seminars surrounding relevant topics. Because of CITYterm, I felt familiar with this hands-on type of learning, and participating in this program launched me on a path to become a public policy major in college.
Now, a few years later, I absolutely love my university and have grown
immensely in college. Like CITYterm, UChicago strives to teach students how to think, and I have greatly benefitted from engaging with excellent
professors and interesting peers. In my spare time, I am very involved with the Institute of Politics as Co Editor-in-Chief of the undergraduate political review and also tutor immigrants for their citizenship exams. CITYterm instilled in me a love of cities, so every Saturday, my friends and I pick a restaurant somewhere in Chicago, and we eat and explore. Additionally, because I spent a semester away in high school to study at CITYterm, I felt very comfortable taking time off from school to intern at the White House and will again be taking a leave of absence to participate in Google's Fall Business Internship Program in September.
I spent my summer working in New York and met David Dunbar at a small pub. He asked me what CITYterm meant to me and how it has influenced me so far, just a few years out. My answer was very simple. For me, CITYterm was all about confidence. I used to be incredibly timid in new situations and enjoyed the company of others in large and unfamiliar places such as New York City. Though these feelings did not magically disappear in May 2011 when I had my CITYterm diploma in hand, my new mindset about openness and adventure slowly began to become second nature to me. It was because of CITYterm that I've taken time off school to pursue other opportunities, that I felt comfortable studying abroad in Paris, and that I was excited to return to New York this summer. As of right now, graduation still feels like a long ways off, and I have no idea where I will wind up. But I am very excited about the opportunities ahead and always look forward to the next adventure, wherever it is.
Ben Naimark-Rowse, S'98
CITYterm, Spring 1998
Boston Latin School, Class of 1999
University of Chicago, BA, 2003
Princeton University, MPA, 2012
The Fletcher School, Tufts University, PhD, Expected 2018
Ben makes experience and immersion key parts of his work on nonviolent resistance.
I remember learning about CITYterm from my friend Eben Ellertson. He’d just gotten back from CITYterm and had nothing but amazing things to say. Having visited NYC often while growing up in Boston the question for me wasn’t how could I spend a semester away from my high school. It was how could I not spend a semester living away from home to dive headfirst into everything NYC?!
I fell in love with New York City during CITYterm – its diversity, its intensity, its incessantly beating heart. But ironically I had this bizarre idea that I’d be better off going to college in Chicago….where I’d be able to study and not be distracted by all things New York. Immediately after graduating I moved to Brooklyn and lived there for the next seven years.
New York City can be lonely place if you don’t have friends there and if you don’t know how to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. But CITYterm gave me both. For three years while living in NYC I co-directed Darfurian Voices, the first public opinion survey of refugees from Darfur on issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation. That entailed getting to know the refugee communities in Ditmas Park and Flatbush, Brooklyn and Jersey City, NJ as well as conducting 2,152 interviews with refugees living along the Chad/Sudan border.
During CITYterm I also came to understand the value of experiential learning. Whether it was running around the Lower East Side on Shabbat for our Neighborhood Study project – and missing our train back to Dobbs – getting a walking tour of Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, or reading Drown and then discussing it with its author, Junot Diaz, the maxim I learned at CITYterm remains with me – experience is not what happens to you, its what you do with what happens to you.
I’ve brought that commitment to experiential and immersive learning to my doctoral research and teaching on nonviolent resistance. During the fall of 2014 I co-taught a Tufts University undergraduate course titled, From Gandhi to the Arab Spring: The Theory and Practice of Nonviolent Resistance. One of the homework assignments was to participate in or interview someone who had participated in a nonviolent political action.
This summer of 2015 I’m embarking on my first field research missions in the U.K. and South Africa as part of a project titled Dear Friend: Correspondence Across Enemy Lines. Dear Friend seeks to document and analyze private correspondence between the leaders of nonviolent resistance movements and leaders of their target regimes. I hope that this project will shed light on the importance of strategic communication in mitigating violence and in advancing nonviolent resistance. I also hope that this project will help promote understanding of the value of nonviolent resistance around the world. To that end, here’s a recent blog post that I wrote titled, The Founding Myth of the United States of America. It highlights how nonviolent resistance is critical to the story of our independence, or at least it should be.
Alice Kamens, S'08
CITYterm, Spring 2008
Hopkins School, 2009
Barnard College, 2013
Alice's love for all things urban originated at CITYterm!
As I sat down to write this, I went digging in my email to see how I wrote about CITYterm while I was there. A great excerpt from 16-year-old me: “Yesterday we walked the Brooklyn Bridge, back and forth, in the heavy snow. It was exhilarating being above all the traffic in this snowy calm. When we came back to our dorms, the entire campus was covered in snow, so a bunch of us went sledding up and down the hills for an hour. I had forgotten that sledding can be the absolute best thing.” I think this nicely summarizes what CITYterm meant to me in the moment: learning about New York in the context of supremely fun adventures.
Following CITYterm, almost everything I’ve done has had the word ‘city,’ ‘cities,’ or ‘urban’ in it. I majored in Urban Studies at Barnard College; following college, I spent a year as a New York City Urban Fellow working at the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Currently, I work at Cities of Service – a nonprofit that supports more than 200 mayors and city chief executives to activate impact volunteering initiatives – city-led, citizen-powered programs that target specific needs and seek measurable outcomes.
In my role at Cities of Service, I’m currently helping to support the development of the Resilience AmeriCorps pilot program. In cities across the country to be announced later this summer, Cities of Service will support AmeriCorps members to develop more resilient cities through local programs that are designed to improve environmental and social resiliency in low-income communities. I’m particularly excited about this project because I believe in the innovation power available in city halls, especially when bright, motivated, young people are part of the equation.
Without a doubt, CITYterm is the source of my great love for cities. I continue to be inspired by the following Jane Jacobs quote, which I first read at CITYterm: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” With CITYterm as my foundation, I’ll keep questioning, exploring, and learning my way through cities.
Mike Cannistraro, F'96
CITYterm - Fall 1996
Belmont Hill School - 1998
Tufts University, BS Mechanical Engineering - 2002
Tufts University, MS Mechanical Engineering - 2004
Boston University, MB Business Administration - 2010
Mike embraces challenges in the construction industry and beyond.
CITYterm had an immediate and profound impact on me by exposing me to experiential learning and to the vast diversity of New York. I had the incredible experience of being a part of the first CITYterm semester in the Fall of 1996. When I first heard about CITYterm, I quickly became intrigued by the idea of spending a semester in New York exploring, experiencing, and learning about many new things one does not see by growing up in Boston. The idea of being a part of the initial class also appealed to me, as the semester was an open-ended blank canvas—something far outside of my normal routine. CITYterm showed me the value of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and this still influences me to this day, as I am always looking for the next challenge.
Recently, that search for a challenge brought me to compete in the 2015 Boston Marathon. I had never run more than 4 miles before the Spring of 2014 and my drive for adventure took me on a wild ride of a year’s worth of training. I continue to run several days a week, and have my eyes set on someday being fast enough to qualify for the race on my own without the aid of a charity bib number.
When I’m not running, I am working as a principal and the chief engineer in my family’s construction company. It is very exciting to be literally building the future of Boston! It is no surprise to me that I became an engineer, as I was always very strong in math and science, favoring the right side of my brain. CITYterm left its mark on me by developing my under-utilized left brain. This benefits me today, as I do a fair amount of public speaking on the topics of technology and collaboration in the construction industry. Whether it is in business or life, I cherish having a balance between the two halves of my brain—setting me up for whatever the next challenge becomes.