Tag Archives: Profiles

Student Profile: Devin Moss

Some Draperites may live way downtown, but Devin Moss is undoubtedly the program’s southernmost full-time student. He currently works at the University of South Carolina as the campus LGBT Programs Coordinator while taking NYU classes remotely.

Columbia, South Carolina, where Moss lives now, is not geographically very far from Memphis, Tennessee–his childhood home and stomping grounds as an undergrad at the University of Memphis, where he earned a B.A. in English. Moss feels comfortable in Columbia, and notes that it “is very charming and has that ‘authentic Southern’ feel,” though he is “almost too busy to enjoy it.”
Little wonder that Moss’ downtime is rare. Devin supplements his job and studies with artistic pursuits in documentary filmmaking. He currently has two projects in production. His short “Too-Ism: The Discrimination from Within the Queer Male Community” is viewable here.

Devin Moss Answers the Draper Dozen

1. When did you start at Draper?
Fall 2010
2. Are you a full or part-time student?
Full-time
3. Where are you from?
Memphis, Tennessee
4. What are your primary research interests?
General: The intersection of race/ethnicity, sexuality, and gender within educational environments. Specifically: Black male masculinity within educational environments
[Ed] What led you to examine black male masculinity within educational environments? For example, were you involved in any LGBT programs in high-school or as an undergraduate?
As a queer Black person myself, I experienced many things that lead me to focus on this topic in my research. The institution I attended in Mississippi was a Historically Black College/University (HBCU), and it was there that my sexuality became salient for me. I was getting comfortable being myself. I was very active on campus. I also wanted to be a Residential Assistant, but I was told I could not be one because I was gay and that would be a bad image for other students. I later wanted to become become a member of the campus chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc, but I was rejected because I was gay and out. Other members of the fraternity were gay, but the difference was that I was out. Later, I was verbally harassed by another student at the school. I wanted to do something about my experience so that others do not have to experience what I did. The homophobia that I have experienced within my environments is what has guided me to do the work that I do. If a fraternity is supposed to be about brotherhood, then why does my sexuality dictate my worth for the fraternity? That situation, along with others, has made me question and challenge Black brotherhood in terms of what is Black male masculinity. Does it have a sexuality/orientation? Does it have a worth? Does it have to be a competition? Has Black masculinity dwindled down to exist only in a few inches between the legs? Lots of questions drive this research interest.
Why, specifically, have you chosen to examine the issues of race/ethnicity, sexuality and gender within educational environments as opposed to, say, in the work environment or in MLB?
My world revolves around education. I will retire from education someday. It’s just something about the ability to help individuals achieve goals through education that has drawn me to higher education. I would someday love to become the Dean of Students/VP of Student Affairs at an HBCU.
5. Why did you choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree at Draper?
The interdisciplinary approach best fit my needs. There was not a program that allowed me to look at my research interests collectively. Most programs in education do not cover identity in-depth, and most gender/sexuality studies programs do not cover education. This was the best fit for my interests as well as career goals.
6. What do you plan to do after Draper?
I am currently working at the Coordinator of LGBT Programs & Services at the University of South Carolina. I came to NYU seeking an opportunity like this, and I hope to serve the LGBT community throughout my career.
7. Do you have any special activities or projects outside of your academic work?
While at NYU, I gained an interest in documentary production through the Center for Multicultural Education & Programs’ –ISM Project. Once my thesis is over and I am a little more established here [in Columbia, SC], I plan to continue to create self-produced short films about various social issues.
8. How exactly do you proceed with your Draper studies and keep up with class syllabi when, by geographical necessity, you miss lectures, etc.?
This past fall, I had two courses. When the job opportunity for LGBT Programs Coordinator at the University of South Carolina became an option for me, I reached out to my professors to see if, by chance, I could do something to remain in their classes but also take the job in South Carolina. One professor instantly said I could not miss his class, which I respected. My other professor said that she was happy for me and that we could arrange something where I did class via Skype. I Skyped into a few classes and even gave my final presentation via Skype. I also had an extra weekly assignment to supplement my absence in many of the classes. It was a hassle attending class while working full-time, but I survived it!
How does living in South Carolina while maintaining studies with a New York-based program compare with living and studying in one locale?
When I got to NYU, I was instantly overwhelmed by my workload. I have another master’s degree and that one was not as intense. NYU is intense. NYC is intense. South Carolina is charmingly laid back in terms of pace. I am able to step into both of these worlds, which does challenge me sometimes, but I am thankful for being here. I believe if I were in NYC writing my thesis I would have many distractions; the libraries would always be too busy for me to focus, and the noise would never lose me. Though I am very busy now, I am able to get away from people and noise in order to focus a lot more here.
9. Is there any one place (museum, library, shop, park, etc.) in New York that you particularly miss? Why?
I spent a lot of time in Harlem. It was so inspiring to walk around the very same streets as many of my idols. Big names walked these streets. However, even today, the culture in Harlem was very inspiring. I love Harlem in its entirety–special acknowledgement of Isaac Newton Middle School!
Do you have any new favorite places that you frequent in your new home in South Carolina?
I am a fan of the grocery store, Publix! I love that store. I do plan to visit the mountains and beaches sometime in the future. They may become my next favorite!
10. Coffee or tea?
Coffee!
11. Are you a fan and/or user of social media? Why or why not?
I do use Facebook, too much! It just gives me a sense of connectedness with the right amount of distance.
12. What was the last book you read for fun (not for class or research)?
We Real Cool by bell hooks
13. If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?
I would be doing some type of humanitarian work I believe. I love children and want to ensure that they have a great foundation for their futures. I believe I would be doing something in that field.
(Interview and profile by Lauren Roberts)

Draper Student Profile: Samuel Belkin

Samuel Belkin answers the Draper Dozen

1. When did you start at Draper?

Fall 2010

2. Are you a full or part-time student?

Full-time

3. Where are you from?

Born in Durham, NC, raised in Scarsdale, NY, and have lived in Manhattan for the last seven years

4. What are your primary research interests?

I’m all over the place. In Draper I’ve taken two non-fiction writing courses, two philosophy courses, one on Kafka, one on Hitchcock, a fiction-writing course…

For my thesis I focus on three ‘movements’ in popular music of the 20th century: rock n roll, punk, and hip hop—the ones that really transformed mainstream culture worldwide. While historical circumstances give each of these movements its own identity, a close and analytical look shows that they are all expressions of the same human impulse. I argue that this impulse is a manifestation of a metaphysical idea that Nietzsche explored in his first book The Birth of Tragedy: the co-existence of two artistic forces in nature, which he names the Apolline and Dionysiac.

5. Why did you choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree at Draper?

I wanted to be a better writer. I did undergrad at Tisch in the recorded music program, but obviously I have a very broad range of interests. I wanted to take the kinds of classes I didn’t have the chance to take before.

6. What do you plan to do after Draper?

Get a job. I’m keeping an open mind. I would ideally like to turn my thesis paper into a book. But I’ll have to see how feasible that sounds in a couple months.

7. Do you have any special activities or projects outside of your academic work?

I am a songwriter and recording artist. I used to play in a band called Nobody Can Dance, but now I’m on my own and just released my first solo record. It’s called Seven Songs, and it can be heard and downloaded at www.sambelkin.bandcamp.com. It’s all completely free, not even an email address is required, so I encourage people to go and download it.

This particular project, Seven Songs, I would categorize probably as folk or singer/songwriter or something. This project is definitely more of a mellow, acoustic affair, with very short songs about simple things, like new love, old love, jealousy, etc. Kind of like a more lo-budget Leslie Feist. These particular songs were written at different times, the first track is from 2005, the last from 2009. None are new. I have a catalog of songs I’ve written, a shoe box full of notebooks and scraps of paper, and I chose ten of them that fit together on an album, and then I only ended up recording seven of them. So that’s where Seven Songs comes from.

8. How does living and studying in New York impact your educational experience?

Living in New York has shaped who I am, for better or worse. I may have spent my childhood in Westchester, but my post-high school years were truly my formative years, emotionally and intellectually, and they were all spent in NYC. I don’t know if I’ll be able to define its influence on me until I know what it’s like to live somewhere else.

9. Is there any one place (museum, library, shop, park, etc.) in New York that is your favorite? Why?

I love the 48 cents rack at the Strand, a dive bar in the East Village called B Side, and Amy’s Bread below my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.

10. Coffee or tea?

Coffee

11. Are you a fan and/or user of social media? Why or why not?

I’m a fan of Facebook. I think it’s amazing to be able to see how your childhood friends have grown up, who they’ve become—people I otherwise would have forgotten. It’s also currently my only means of publicity as a recording artist.

12. What was the last book you read for fun (not for class or research)?

Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman. Before that, The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy and a novella called The Beach of Falesà by Robert Louis Stevenson.

13. If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be drooling in an office from nine to five, or working for peanuts in that circus they call the music industry. At least that’s where my resume shows the most experience. I do have career aspirations as a songwriter, but music is so abundant these days that it has no financial value anymore. When you start to rely on your music for a paycheck, there are strict rules you have to follow. It ruins all the fun. But working for other artists doesn’t strike me as an ideal alternative.

I very much enjoy writing about music, as well as film and literature, and I would love to pursue a career path that allows me to do that. I’ve always been an analytical thinker, but school is what has helped me become an analytical writer. So were I not in academia, I’d probably have some day job that I didn’t find very fulfilling.

Draper Student Profile: Angela Leroux-Lindsey


Angela Answers the Draper Dozen

1. When did you start at Draper?

Fall 2010.

2. Are you a full or part-time student?

Part-time; I work full-time at NYU to subsidize my MA tuition.

3. Where are you from?

I grew up just outside of Boston.

4. What are your primary research interests?

Science studies and its intersections with lit theory.

5. Why did you choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree at Draper?

My interests are sort of widespread, and I wanted a program that would allow me to explore the connecting threads of what could be considered disparate fields.

6. What do you plan to do after Draper?

I’m not sure yet.

7. Do you have any special activities or projects outside of your academic work?

I’m the editor of a literary magazine, as well as for an independent publishing company; I’m also a freelance writer.

8. How does living and studying in New York impact your educational experience?

The access to so many intellectual and artistic outlets—from the NYPL to the Bowery Poetry Club to the World Science Festival—is intoxicating, and really inspires me to participate in events and projects outside of NYU, which in turn inform my academic work.

9. Is there any one place (museum, library, shop, park, etc.) in New York that is your favorite? Why?

That’s an impossible question, ha! I love Central Park, and the Frick, and the Strand, but would have to say that listening to live music or a poetry reading in the East Village is my favorite “place” in the city. Working full-time and being in school can be a hectic schedule, and occasionally it’s a relief to sit, have a drink, and let my mind do nothing but enjoy what’s happening around me.

10. Coffee or tea?

Tea.

11. Are you a fan and/or user of social media? Why or why not?

Sure, I think social media is an easy, effective, and fun way to connect. I use Facebook, I blog.

12. What was the last book you read for fun (not for class or research)?

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. Also—if I can plug—Instructions for Killing the Jackal by Erica Wright is phenomenal.

13. If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I think being a nature photographer would be pretty awesome.

Student Profile: Jennifer Celestin


Jennifer answers the Draper Dozen.

1. When did you start at Draper?
I started at Draper in the Fall 2010

2. Are you a full or part-time student?
I am a Full-Time student

3. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. My parents are Haitian immigrants so I spent many summers and winter holidays in Haiti.

4. What are your primary research interests?
I am interested in the construction of transnational identities and the mediation or expression of identity through language. I particularly look at the work of Haitian-American writer, Edwidge Danticat and her use of English, Haitian Creole, and French in a single text.

5. Why did you choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree at Draper?
I had originally applied for an MFA in fiction where I would work on material that employed the use of code-switching (the use of more than one language in a single exchange). I was instead referred to Draper and found that this interdisciplinary degree provided me with more academic freedom to flesh out my burgeoning ideas on Haitian-American identities.

6. What do you plan to do after Draper?
I want to be working on a novel and teaching undergraduates as an instructor; acceptance into a fully funded MFA programs would allow me to do both.

7. Do you have any special activities or projects outside of your academic work?
I am a performance poet and have performed at the Brooklyn Museum, Brecht Forum, La Mama Experimental Theatre, the Bowery, and El Museo del Barrio. I was a featured storyteller at the Bridge Culture Summer series in 2010. I have done voice-over work for museums exhibits on Caribbean History and through the help of the Haiti Cultural Exchange I have been able to work as a teaching artist with bilingual children, encouraging them to write poems in their native language.

I am happy to share that I have been accepted into a delegation of artists, mental health specialists, and organizers for the Ayiti Resurrect Project. I will be going to Haiti in January 2012 to help victims of the 2010 earthquake find expression and healing through poetry.

8. How does living and studying in New York impact your educational experience?
I went to Wesleyan University located in Middletown, Ct for my bachelor’s degree. It was far from my family and there were few local distractions. It was an ideal place for serious study. Some of us on campus even called it a bubble. Now, as a graduate student I am living outside that bubble and feeling the pressures that ‘real’ life can impose upon you even when there’s an assignment due. It has helped to give me the perspective and discipline I will need if I plan on being a novelist in the future. I make the hard choices to stay in and work on my material even when tempted to unwind with family and friends.

Being home in New York also allows me to stay close to my Haitian community. New York has one of the largest Haitian immigrant populations in the US and staying close to my community keeps my work and my voice relevant and fresh.

9. Is there any one place (museum, library, shop, park, etc.) in New York that is your favorite? Why?
Peppa’s Jerk Chicken Spot on the corner of Woodruff and Flatbush Ave. It is open all night long! The food is amazing and I can count on it if I’m up late writing or coming in from a night out.

10. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. I love the bold, chocolaty flavor. I have to monitor my intake though because if not I will talk your ear off while attempting to do pushups.

11. Are you a fan and/or user of social media? Why or why not?
I am a user of social media but wouldn’t really call myself a fan. I’m happy we have ways of staying connected but find our dependence on them disconcerting. The entire way that we interact with each other (and ourselves) has changed. I find myself having a thought while walking to the train and thinking, “I’ll have to post that onto facebook.” No, I don’t have to do anything. It has weaved its way into our thought process and everyday life. I will say that I am a longtime fan of Beyonce and my friends might find my unwavering support for her more unsettling than facebook.

12. What was the last book you read for fun (not for class or research)?
I am in the unique position where most of the books I read now bring me pleasure and are related to my research. But I have a feeling that you really want me to tell you about the last book I devoured before entering grad school: Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn.

13. If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?
I would still be performing poems and facilitating creative writing workshops but my day job would be different. Before I entered NYU I was working as an advocate counselor at a transfer high school with a community-based organization. If I did not get into graduate school I would probably look into becoming a guidance counselor and work with the Department of Education.

Introducing Theresa MacPhail, Draper’s New Fellow in Science Studies

We’re delighted to welcome Draper alumna Theresa MacPhail as our new faculty fellow in Science Studies. Professor MacPhail will be teaching Introduction to Science Studies in the fall, and more information on the class will be available shortly. Her bio is below; please join us in welcoming her to the program.

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Dr. MacPhail received her PhD in Medical Anthropology from UC-Berkeley/UC-San Francisco. Her first book, Siren Song: A Pathography of Influenza and Global Public Health, is based on her dissertation research on the science and epidemiology of influenza in Hong Kong, the United States, and Europe, and is currently under development at Cornell University Press as part of their new series on expertise. Dr. MacPhail received her MA at the Draper Program with a focus in STS and Global Histories, and has a BA in Journalism from the University of New Hampshire.

Her work and research interests center on: the historical, cultural and social aspects of infectious disease; the development and utilization of new technologies within epidemiology and medicine; the production and circulation of information and knowledge in bioscience and public health; politics and the emergence of “global” public health policies; the construction of scientific expertise; new media, public communication, and the construction of narratives in the biosciences and epidemiology; and the process of decision-making in relationship to uncertainty and risk. Both her research and methodology integrate ethnography and anthropology with the fields of journalism, science & technology studies, history, and political science.

She is the current recipient of a writing fellowship from the D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science in East Asia and is a former recipient of the multi-year Chancellor’s Fellowship at UC-Berkeley. Her field sites and areas of geographic interest are Hong Kong, China, and the United States. Her next research project will examine the resurgence of bed bugs and the threat of dengue fever in the United States and in Hong Kong, focusing on local and national public health response, information campaigns, and how disease and pestilence play into the recent fears over the United States’ financial turmoil and intellectual and cultural decline as a “world power.”