Students discuss hopes for inaugural Stanford in NYC program

April 27, 2015, 8:12 p.m.

Stanford in New York, which launches in the fall of 2015, will give 20 juniors and seniors the opportunity to take classes and complete internships in urban studies, architecture, design and the arts in New York City. The Stanford Daily talked with four students: Marcus Alvarez, Dylan Nguyen, Nicole Jackson and Alexander Ronneburg, who have all been selected to participate in the program’s inaugural quarter, about their upcoming plans for an education on the East Coast.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): What drew you to apply to the Stanford in New York program?

Ronneburg ’17: I’ve never been to New York. Since I’m majoring in music and plan on working in the arts as a career, I think that’s a shame, and I’m glad to have this chance to go to one of the biggest centers of art-making in the world. Musical theater and classical music are two of my biggest interests, but how do I expect to work in musical theater without ever having been to Broadway?

Nguyen ‘17: I feel like [Stanford in New York] offers me an alternate version of Stanford that’s more catered to my interests, partially by location and partially by the program’s decision to focus on the arts. I want to get a vision of what the future relevance of art is like, of art of all kinds: fashion, music and photography. [Right now], Instagram allows lots of kids to put their work out to be seen, which wouldn’t have happened 10 or 15 years ago. Everyone can be a photographer. What will the importance and relevance of art be in 2015, 2020 and 2025?

TSD: You’re currently in the process of securing an internship for the fall. What kind of internship do you hope to get, and how is it related to your future goals and plans?

Alvarez ‘16: I’m looking at Brillstein Entertainment Partners, which is a talent management company, and Manhattan Theatre Club, for a casting internship. I’m interested in pursuing a career as a talent agent or manager … I want to help create more representation of minorities, in all meanings of the word, on screen and behind the camera. If it’s a good story, it doesn’t matter who you are or what category you fall into. A good story is going to sell, in my opinion, if you do it right.

Nguyen: I’m hoping [eyewear retailer] Warby Parker will consider me. I think it’s the most brilliant company to come out of the 21st century, and that might be an overstatement, but I’m really, really obsessed with them. It’s cool how streetwear and high fashion are sort of merging … there’s this democratization of art, and fashion’s just one way to look at it. I’m thinking of double majoring or minoring in art, and I want to find a balance between my techie and art interests.

Jackson ‘17: Ideally I would love to be in the mayor’s office, with Bill de Blasio being a new mayor of New York … I’m really looking forward to getting an in-depth look at how the local government of a diverse urban environment is able to deal out medical services and healthcare to its population. I’m interested in learning about healthcare policy and how to improve medical services in underrepresented minorities and ethnic groups. The U.S. is a world leader in many dimensions, but how our per capita spending on healthcare [translates into] the health outcomes of the people we’re spending on is not very good.

Ronneburg: I’d love to be a rehearsal assistant for musical theater or classical theater or jazz, or work in a recording studio at a record label. I’d love to be involved in new works. I’m not 100 percent sure what capacity of music I want to work in [in the future], but I have a great love for the rehearsal and workshop processes of music, and I’m also interested in composition for musical theater or film or television.

TSD: How, if at all, has your hometown influenced your decision to study in New York?

Alvarez: I’m from Irving, Texas, which is primarily Hispanic and black, and I went to a public school where half of my class dropped out by senior year. That experience was normal for me until I came to [Stanford] and realized that everybody comes from such different backgrounds. New York is another place that has all walks of life. Texas, in my experience, has been very conservative and close-minded, and I wanted to explore more and get out.

Ronneburg: I grew up in a suburb of Seattle and didn’t necessarily integrate myself as much I would have liked into the Seattle arts scene. The music coming out of there is pretty cool, but grunge and indie rock are not as much my style as musical theater is, and musical theater is associated with New York. 

TSD: What do you think of the arts scene at Stanford? What kind of effect do you think the arts-centered Stanford in New York program might have on Stanford in general?

Ronneburg: I feel like I’m majoring in extracurriculars a lot of the time because I spend so much time working in student groups, and I really do love it. There’s something special about the student arts scene at Stanford in that we do it all by ourselves. It’s not really structured, it doesn’t have a lot of faculty oversight, and all of the jobs — designing, costuming, building sets, rehearsing, directing — are done by students. That’s liberating and scary … I don’t know how [Stanford in New York will affect the school as a whole], but the people who are interested in the arts will get experiences in New York that they can bring back to campus and share with the community.

TSD: Many of you will be seeing the city for the first time. In addition to taking New York-themed classes and working, what do you look forward to doing in New York?

Jackson: I’m obsessed with “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and I love “SNL,” so I would love to see any of [those tapings]. I also love food, and New York is just packed with insanely amazing, ethnic, hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

Nguyen: There’s this big trend of younger street photographers in New York [on Instagram] who are really talented. It’d be cool to do some street photography and see if I could meet up with a few of them and take some pictures.

Alvarez: I want to do everything. I want to go by myself to the subway, just be there and pretend I’m a native. I think one of things about New York City is that you can be alone without ever being alone. It’s a good place for someone like me, because I need to be on the go and I can’t sit down for a long time.


These interviews have been condensed and edited.

Contact Grace Chao at gracewc ‘at’

Grace Chao is a co-term in English and a staff writer for academics and research at Stanford. A native of Cupertino, California, she has contributed to The Daily since her junior year and enjoys writing creative nonfiction on the side. Find her tackling NYT crossword puzzles, eating bread or trying to win fish and chips at the latest trivia night in town. To contact Grace, email her at gracewc 'at'

Login or create an account