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Meet Our Alumni

 

Student Name Year  Graduated 
What are they doing now?
David de Leon 2014 PhD student in English at Yale University
Norrell Edwards
2013 PhD student in English at University of Maryland
James Broughel
2011
PhD student in economics at George Mason University 
Victoria Cheah 2011 PhD student in music at Brandeis University
Sam Cooper 2011
PhD student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Minnesota
Henrik Dumanian 2011 J.D. University of Chicago Law School
Josh Margul 2011 MA in Urban Planning from Harvardworks in Japan for an international development agency
Lauren Witter
2011
Veterinary medical student at Cornell University
Julian Joiris
2010 Received a J.D. from Harvard Law and currently works in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office
Katrina Powers
2010
Doctoral candidate in Spanish Literature at the University of Chicago 
Maria Sapar
2010
Doctoral student in Biochemistry Molecular and Cell Biology program at Cornell University



 

David de Leon

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I grew up in New Jersey and lived and worked in a few states for a number of years after graduating high school, before moving to the city and enrolling in college. I first went to Baruch while working full time, and ended up transferring to Hunter to focus on academics.

How did you learn about the THHP?

I didn't know anything about the THHP before I was invited to join it.

What do you remember about the Program?

Initially, I just saw the program as a way to exert some control over my GERs. But I quickly realized that it was anopportunity to expand my horizons as a youngscholar, to reach for connections between disciplines I hadn't thought of yet, and talk about them with my peers and instructors. The ability to take advanced classes with respect professors in other fields was a godsend. For example, I got to take Political Leadership with Professor Polsky, now Dean, right after he published his book on the subject, even though I had no experience in political science at all. Through the THHP I met a number of professors who have helped me and my career with advice, guidance, and recommendation letters.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

As a transfer student, I was not in Macaulay.

What have you done since graduating?

Since graduating I have begun a PhD program in English literature at Yale. Creatively, I have been active in the poetry scene, as well as working on theater projects around the city. In 2014 I co-wrote and directed an off-off-Broadway play developed at Hunter with other BA and MA students.

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Norrell Edwards

Norrell Edwards

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I grew up in New Rochelle, New York which isn't too far from the Bronx border. My family has lived in New Rochelle since my grandmother was born there in 1924 and I'm a proud 4th generation graduate from New Rochelle High School.

How did you learn about THHP?

I think I may have heard about it from someone else/ seen it listed on some pamphlet about different clubs/honor societies/programs to join at Hunter.

What do you remember about the Program?

I remember thinking that the interdisciplinary courses were very appealing. I took a Poverty in America course with Professor Anthony Browne that was really eye opening and fascinating.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

Yes, I was in the Macaulay Honors program. I also was a McNair Fellow and Mellon Mays Fellow.

What have you done since graduating?

After graduating in Spring 2013, I immediately began a PhD program in English literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. I began tutoring my senior year at Hunter's Reading and Writing Center and since then I've been a tutor at both UMD's undergraduate writing center and graduate writing center. I've also worked part-time as grant writer and done some freelance editing.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

I think THHP helped reinforce for me the importance of forging an interdisciplinary mindset. In my life and my research I can better understand the world through a combination of multiple lenses. All of these lenses overlap to make the complex structures that make up our society.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to finish my doctoral program within the next 2-3 three years and then hopefully go on the market to teach as an English professor. I'd like to apply for a Fulbright and learn another language. I am open minded for what the future will hold for me.

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 James Broughel 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in Hartford, Connecticut but grew up outside Boston. I moved to New York City when I was 19 but did not seriously begin college coursework until seven years later, when I was 26.

How did you learn about THHP?

I found out about THHP because of an email I received due to my relatively high grade point average.

What do you remember about the Program?

I mostly remember the interdisciplinary courses. I also remember that the program allowed me to get out of some of the core university degree requirements. This latter aspect of the program was particularly helpful since-given my age-I wanted to move through my coursework as quickly as possible.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

No.

What have you done since graduating?

Shortly after graduating, I moved to Washington, DC and began working at a public policy think tank. I also enrolled part time in the economics PhD program at George Mason University. After completing my coursework and exams last year, I moved to Switzerland to be with my wife and to work on my dissertation. We plan on returning to the Washington area with our newborn daughter in early 2017.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

I was grateful that Hunter offered programs for students that are highly ambitious or intelligent. I do not think I would have been challenged by my studies at Hunter had it not been for THHP and the joint BA/MA degree program in economics that allowed me to start taking graduate courses my junior year. My experiences at Hunter trained me to balance many competing priorities. Those experiences have been crucial as I have worked full time, been enrolled in a PhD program, and started a family all simultaneously.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to finish my PhD in economics and pursue a career in public policy research.

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Victoria Cheah

Victoria Cheah

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born, raised, and educated in New York City. My family moved around a little before I started elementary school and we lived in London and Singapore for a while (1 and 2 years respectively) before settling in NYC. I attended Hunter College High School for grades 7-12. HCHS's connection to Hunter College encouraged my application to the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter, and later the THHP.

What do you remember about the Program?

The classes offered by the THHP were all extremely interesting and intellectually stimulating to me, even classes from fields in which I had no background. I definitely remember reading over the course offerings multiple times and wishing I could take a lot of the classes. My interests and educational experience were very much rooted in the humanities, and the vast majority of humanities-based THHP courses really appealed to me. The modified requirements were also very helpful - I was very intent on exploring all my music major could offer, so freeing up time/credits for upper level elective / graduate courses was fantastic. Almost every professor I took class with through THHP provided an excellent, prepared, in-depth experience, which I appreciate differently now as I develop as a teacher. I also remember the support from advisors in the program as warm and understanding.

What have you done since graduating?

Right after graduating from Hunter, I started the PhD program in music composition at Brandeis University. In 2011, I co-founded a non-profit contemporary music ensemble (Sound Icon) in Boston and served as executive director for five years. This entailed fundraising from foundations and individuals, managing relationships with press, public, and artists, operational duties, and other administrative work in a small (2 of us plus an intern) team in charge of 4-7 large-scale concerts per season. Our performances and collaborations took place in/with major institutions in Boston including the ICA Boston, Boston University, and the Fromm foundation at Harvard University, among many others. I chose to step down from my position last year to focus on finishing my doctorate and develop my creative work as a composer and sound/installation artist. Recently, I became involved with Score Follower, a non-profit organization that provides (legal!) access to contemporary music recordings and scores via YouTube. have also been actively teaching as part of my fellowship at Brandeis (required freshman writing seminars, musicianship skills, TA for orchestration and composition), and outside Brandeis (TA at Harvard University, and instructor at Longy School of Music of Bard College - required research and music history classes for graduate students). In Spring 2017, I will be teaching a class at Brandeis called Anti-establishment Art Music, which will focus on contemporary music as a basis for discussion/exploration about non-musical issues (politics, society, aesthetics, etc). I have continued developing as an artist, participating in international workshops/academies/residencies and working on musical projects and commissions. If it's of interest, my recent music can be found at https://victoriacheah.com/music/

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

The high standards of THHP classes pushed me as a student and provided a model for my teaching. To be clear, I had the privilege of studying with many amazing professors and instructors at Hunter College in and outside of THHP. In the THHP, students were expected to take the subject and discussion at hand seriously, and also to take themselves seriously as thinkers and participants in whatever focus the course had. This is definitely something I think about when I lead class discussions, or prepare courses. Being forced to take a mini-minor in a department outside my discipline was also very good for me. I chose American history, and while I don't think I was particularly successful in my history classes, I was introduced to concepts and information that are increasingly relevant to me now and I'm grateful. The multi-disciplinary nature of the program definitely helped me continue developing. There's so much to learn on a technical level in music and it was really important to me to have that space and opportunity to engage with other ideas and approaches.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to finish my dissertation work this year and graduate in 2017. While applying for jobs in academia, I plan to find ways to continue my artistic projects in the US and abroad, and to encourage open-minded discourse about contemporary music.

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Sam Cooper

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in NYC and transferred to Hunter in 2007. I was a Psychology major and English minor. I became interested in psychology for a few reasons, mainly because of seeing the mental health impact on NYC after 9/11 and also an inherent interest in understanding how complicated systems (such as the fear system) operate. I joined Dr. Mariann Weierich's  Cognition, Affect, and Psychopathology lab while at Hunter, which shaped a lot of my future research interests. I also was a research assistant in Dr. Doug Mennin's Regulation of Emotion in Anxiety and Depression lab, which further refined my interests.

How did you learn about THHP?

I believe I learned about the program via the website, and then asked for more information from a Psych advisor.

What do you remember about the Program?

I remember the honors colloquia quite fondly. I took a systems of knowledge/scientific method course with Dr. Ahmed Bawa as my first colloquium, which was a very formative experience for me. Dr. Bawa introduced me to scientific philosophy and refined my knowledge of the scientific method. At the time I had a "science light" academic career, and that course pushed me more towards a science focused academic career. The South African simulation course that I took was also a highlight of my time at Hunter.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

I was not a Macaulay student. I was inducted into the Psych honors society (Psi Chi) and then into Hunter's Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

What have you done since graduating?

Upon graduation I continued to work in the two aforementioned research labs at Hunter. I unsuccessfully applied to PhD programs in clinical psychology at first, but then refined my interests and really determined that I wanted to be a very science-focused program, and was successful on the second attempt. I am now going into my 4th year in the Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research program at the University of Minnesota, which is a fancy name for the Clinical Psych PhD program here. I am mentored by Dr. Shmuel Lissek and my interests are centered on how people learn threat and safety signals, how they attend and react to threat (both real and perceived), and the processes people use to regulate their reactions to threat. I am also interested in how these factors contribute to the development and maintenance of different forms of psychopathology. Currently, I use psychophysiological, cognitive science (e.g., eye-tracking), and personality measures to investigate psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of fear-generalization and subsequent generalized avoidance responding in health and disorder. Research is my main focus, but I also do clinical work as a therapist at an outpatient community mental health clinic and I conduct neuropsychological assessments at a private practice. I have also taught Intro to Abnormal Psychology for 5 semesters.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

I would say Dr. Bawa's course was instrumental in shaping who I am today. It was my first exposure to systematic thought on scientific principles, and a lot of that course is still with me today. Dr. Bawa himself, with his background and involvement in South African politics and history, was also very inspirational. THHP was also important in securing me a lab position, which was crucial to gain the experience necessary to gain acceptance to my program.

What are your plans for the future?

After completing my PhD I would like to obtain a post-docc position that will 1) provide additional training in neural measures of behavior and cognition (e.g., fMRI, EEG) and 2) make me competitive for a faculty position at a research-focused university. I would eventually like to have my own lab and contribute to the world through my research.

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Henrik Dumanian

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in Metsamor, Armenia, a small town close to the country’s capital. I moved to New York City in 1997, along with my family. Eventually, we moved out east to Long Island, which is where I attended middle school and high school. I don’t recall precisely how I first learned about THHP, but I imagine it was probably a counselor at Hunter. At the time, we became eligible for the program by having a certain GPA—it might have even been a routine email sent to everyone with the necessary GPA scores.

What do you remember about the Program?

I remember quite a bit I think: I had a wonderful mentor and advisor, Professor Robert White from the Classic’s Department. I also remember taking a number of very engaging colloquia classes. One of the best perks of the program was getting to sign up early before everyone else did. This made planning schedules and picking interesting classes very easy.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

I was unfortunately not a student at Macaulay. I actually did not know about the program until after I began attendance at Hunter.

What have you done since graduating?

After graduation, I went on to do some business consulting work in Armenia (briefly). I also went to law school (at the University of Chicago Law School). I graduated last summer. In the past year, I worked as an associate at King & Spalding in their New York office. I left the firm just last week to work on my startup company (wish me luck!).

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

I met a lot of great THHP students, some of whom I have kept in touch with. I also greatly appreciated all that Professor White did for me—and I miss our time together. In brief, I think THHP gave me the confidence I needed—at a critical time—to succeed, but also provided some important resources that were crucial to that success. Had I not been a THHP student, I believe my time at Hunter would have been much more stressful, less engaging, and I would have had a much more difficult time pursuing the variety of intellectual curiosities I had.

What are your plans for the future?

I have been working on my startup idea for quite some time now—and I am almost exclusively focused on its success. This week marks a milestone for us: Our design team finished a user interface layout that we all like. Our development team now has the green light to begin coding/programming at full speed.


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Josh Margul

Josh Margul

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I'm from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I went to Brooklyn Tech High School and then Hunter College.

What do you remember about the Program?

The interdisciplinary courses at THHP were unlike any others I could find at Hunter, even though my department (Urban Studies) was cross-cutting in its own merit. What sets Hunter apart from other CUNYs is its small class sizes. Having two teachers co-teach an already-small class was the type of individual attention that I would not expect from a private school, let alone a public university. The interesting and unique coursework, individual attention from professors and advisors alike, and scholarship opportunities made THHP part of why I am proud of my time at Hunter.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

No.

What have you done since graduating?

After Hunter I went to the Harvard Graduate School of Design and got a Masters in Urban Planning. Now I live and work in Japan for an international development company, and spend about half the year traveling to project sites in East Africa and South/Southeast Asia.

What are your plans for the future?

Either continue finding jobs of increasing difficulty/responsibility, or just totally give up and become a lumberjack!

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Lauren Witter

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Both of my parents went to school at Pratt University and never left the Fort Greene area. I went to New York City public schools my whole life. I picked Hunter College for its reputation in health sciences and strong liberal arts classes. Upon graduation from high school I was interested in either medical school or veterinary school. At Hunter I took a very science heavy curriculum and started doing laboratory research. I enjoyed the sciences but really enjoyed my writing, literature and language classes as well.

How did you learn about the THHP?

I had heard about it from students in the Macaulay Honors College and was intrigued by the interesting classes they offered.

What do you remember about the program?

The THHP classes that I took are some of the most memorable classes I had at Hunter College. I remember History of the Broadway musical. I loved the course I was exposed to a whole side of culture I had never experienced and learned so much history as well. The next class I took was Horror in Film, which was taught by two professors. We delved into the biological mechanisms of fear and the classic cannon or horror films. I enjoyed linking the psychology with the biology and pop culture. The last class I took through the program was Music to My Eyes, which looked at the interaction between major art and musical movements from the beginning of the 20th century to present day. I really enjoyed this last class it let me explore a whole part of art and musical history that I had not known.  All of these classes were academically rigorous and I definitely remember scrambling to get the work done for these classes on top of my science class requirements but every all-nighter was worth it!

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

I was in the Macaulay Honors College and the HHMI Undergraduate Science Education Program

What have you done since graduating?

I graduated in January 2012 and worked at the Animal Medical Center for 6 months before going to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In veterinary school I took a year to work in Dr. Tracy Stokol's laboratory working on canine cancer and thrombosis and received my Masters in Comparative Biomedical Science. I am now in my final year of veterinary school and will graduate in May 2017.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

The THHP helped me become a better writer. It has also fostered a love of art and music that I maintain. I have helped designed the costumes for the Vet Players, the vet school drama club that puts on performances annually.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on finding a general practitioner job to hone my skills after graduation with the long-term goal of returning for a pathology residency or PhD training in comparative medicine. I am interested in disease control and One Health (medicine in animals can impact humans and vice versa) aspects of veterinary medicine.  I am also interested in international veterinary medicine.

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Julian Joiris

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I'm a lifelong New Yorker, born in the West Village. I was homeschooled until college, so Hunter was my first experience with formal education.

How did you learn about THHP?

I don't recall how I first heard to THHP, but I remember it sounded interesting form when I first heard of it.

What do you remember about the Program?

What I remember most is the wonderfully eclectic and interdisciplinary nature of the colloquia.  I studied modernism and postmodernism through the lens of spirals; explored post-apartheid southern Africa for a semester that culminated in a weekend-long roleplaying game of international politics; and explored classics of English and American literature from a legal standpoint, using them to explore various theories of justice.

What have you done since graduating?

I graduated in 2010, took a year off, then went to Harvard Law School.  In law school, I interned with the Chief Judge of the Quincy District Court, and worked as a student attorney for the Family Law Project of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center and for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in West Roxbury, Boston.  I interned in my first summer with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York, in Syracuse, and with the Kings County District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn.  I graduated cum laude in 2014.  That fall, I began working at the Kings County District Attorney's Office.  I spent my first six months in the Early Case Assessment Bureau, writing up criminal complaints and arraigning cases, and another eight months in the Domestic Violence Bureau, where I prosecuted misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.  Since early January 2016, I've been in the Appeals Bureau, where I research and write appellate briefs and post conviction motions, and argue cases before the appellate courts.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

The interdisciplinary nature of the colloquia helped develop my ability to approach issues from new and creative perspectives.  Perhaps no other aspect of my college experience so successfully and consistently combined breadth and depth of inquiry.  My classes through THHP remain some of my fondest and most vivid memories from my time at Hunter.

What are your plans for the future?

I'm not sure.  I'm pretty content where I am now.

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Katrina Powers

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I did not attend college immediately after leaving high school, in suburban Washington State. I worked various jobs until I decided I might like to go to college. I got my high school diploma in 2003 and started taking classes at Queens College in 2006. I transferred to Hunter in 2007 when I realized that their Romance Languages department offered a richer variety of Spanish classes. 

How did you learn about the THHP?

I don't really remember how I first heard about it! I was interested in attending graduate school, so I might have been exploring the Hunter website about honors programs I could get into.

What do you remember about the Program?

I was pleased that I was able to enter the program based on my current grades and my performance in college, not on my record before that. I also liked that there were several older students like me in my THHP classes. My first course was with Paolo Fasoli on the history of food and literature. I really loved it. I remember that he wrote that my midterm paper was "an excellent piece of true scholarly research" or something along those lines, which I have never forgotten. For my final paper for that course, I wrote about early Soviet cinema and its depiction of bounty vs. the realities of the artificial famine in Ukraine. I found it very exciting to strike out on my own doing research into the cinema, which I had never explored before. The other courses I took were Russia through Opera with Richard Burke and Elizabeth Beaujour, and Dante and the Classical World with Robert White and Giuseppe Di Scipio. Both courses were rewarding, giving me the confidence to strike out on my own and investigate interdisciplinary subjects I had little experience with but great interest in. The courses also enabled me to develop closer relationships with professors in different departments, some of whom (especially Professor Beaujour) were really valuable mentors to me as I was navigating the graduate school application process. Through the program, I also formed a close relationship with Professor Diana Conchado. I was fortunate to have three classes with her in the Spanish department, and I usually met with her for THHP advising. She was a very important mentor for me as I was applying to grad school. In addition, the feedback I got from all of these professors on my work really helped me improve as a scholar.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

No.

What have you done since graduating?

Thanks to the guidance I had from my THHP professors, I was accepted into the PhD program in Spanish literature at the University of Chicago during my last year at Hunter (2010). I earned my MA in Romance Languages here in 2011 and expect to receive my PhD in 2017. I am writing a dissertation about the story of Susanna and the elders from the 13th chapter of the Book of Daniel. I examine how it is adapted in Spanish poetry and plays from the 16th and 17th centuries, and how these were influenced by Renaissance and Baroque paintings that treated the same subject.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

It helped prepare me for the interdisciplinary research I have been doing in my graduate studies at the University of Chicago, and helped me understand how to conduct literary scholarship (like the scholarship I am doing now, what I did with THHP was always interdisciplinary, but with literature as one of the chief disciplines). It also helped give me the confidence I needed to continue to pursue my studies and helped me realize that I want a career in academia.

What are your plans for the future?

Once I finish my PhD, I will pursue a career as a university professor.

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Maria Sapar

Maria Sapar

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and moved to NYC in 2001 when I was 13 with my family. I lived in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn most of my time in NYC.

How did you learn about the THHP?

I found out about THHP in my sophomore year, I think. Someone from the program contacted me and I applied, and got in! I remember thinking that the classes were interesting and we were given priority registration, which was a huge plus.

What do you remember about the Program?

I was premed and then turned into a Biology major which meant lots and lots of science classes. The program offered an outlet to expand my knowledge of literature and history in a structured way with incentive (an honors degree and priority registration) but it also offered very unique classes taught by people who truly loved the subject they were teaching. I think that was one of my biggest impressions - very dedicated and knowledgeable teachers and interesting course content.  The classes I took were on fin de siècle French literature (mainly on Huysmans), History of Navigation, and Dante and Virgil. I also was required to take a few English courses for the program so I took a creative writing course and a course on Chaucer. For someone with a science-heavy course load, these classes were the much needed way to let my creativity breathe as well as improve my English writing/comprehension skills.

Were you also a student in Macaulay Honors College or any other honors cohort?

No.

What have you done since graduating?

I was a research technician for a few years at Hunter, then was accepted to the Biochemistry Molecular and Cell Biology PhD program at Cornell University in Ithaca in 2013. I am now starting my 4th year as a PhD candidate.

How has the THHP helped shape who you are today?

To this day, my experiences with THHP push me to make the effort to be a well-rounded person. I try to read as much as I can and expose myself to art whenever possible. I still find literature, especially fiction, a way to relax and hone my creativity.  One big advantage I've gained from the program is my communication skills. It helped me become a better storyteller where I can covey my research and findings in an engaging way, and not just throw incoherent data at my audience. This is especially important because we all study very specific, bordering obscure, topics in biology and it's easy to lose your audience if you're not a good storyteller.

What are your plans for the future?

As of now, once I get my PhD, I would like to work in industry/private sector. I don't have concrete long terms goals but broadly, I'd like to develop biological tools to help improve the environment and/or public health.

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