Yahdon Israel ’12
Yahdon Israel is an essayist. He’s also a social media maven and style icon who has been featured in publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Man Repeller. Israel uses social media to promote his work and that of other up-and-coming writers, but his Instagram hashtag, #LiterarySwag has become so much more. Originally conceived to bridge trends in fashion and literature, it has evolved into the monthly LiterarySwag Book Club and features interviews with acclaimed writers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates. Israel’s writing credibility and talent for social media marketing have cemented his place in the New York literary scene. He has been published in Poets & Writers, espnW, and Guernica, among others. In 2016 he joined Brooklyn Magazine as editor-in-chief, and his commitment to his work reflects the notion that knowledge is a valuable commodity and that one should never be afraid to shine intellectually—the brighter, the better!
Pavan Naidu ’16, ’18
Political Science and Environmental Policy
As a graduate student, Pavan Naidu interned at the district office for New York State Assembly member Didi Barrett. He’s now a full-time staffer focused on district issues and constituent casework related to New York environmental issues. A major project has been #GetTickedOff, a social media campaign to spread information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Opal Vadhan ’12
Opal Vadhan is currently serving as Hillary Clinton’s executive assistant. She accepted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after working as a valued member on Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “I thank Professor Deniro for writing one of my recommendations for the White House internship,” she recalls. Vadhan, who says she tries to do “one good deed a day,” whether through mentoring younger women or volunteering, has since reconnected with her former teacher. She inspired Professor Deniro’s students with stories about her career journey. “We all have a responsibility to give back,” Vadhan says.
Ami Asakawa ’17
Now pursuing her PhD in medical chemistry at Northeastern University, Ami Asakawa’s work at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital’s Department of Pathology: Center for Computational and Systems Pathology has focused on improving breast cancer treatment using artificial intelligence. Her goal as an associate researcher is to introduce machine learning technology to utilize the data for more accurate diagnoses by programming a computer to compare thousands of records instantaneously.
Samantha Elisofon ’14
Samantha Elisofon brings a new face to film as Sarah in Keep the Change, a romantic comedy written for, and starring, actors on the autism spectrum. The film was initially released as a short, but after much praise the director gained funds for a full-length feature. It premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, and Elisofon earned a best actress nomination for her performance.
(Left to right) Dondre Stuetley ‘15, Professor Jane Dickson, and Christian Gomez ‘16
Dondre Stuetley ’15
Dondre Stuetley has always been awed by people who strive to live their own truth, and as a professional photographer, his work (seen below) is helping to break traditional gender molds. With one project, displayed in the Birnbaum Library study lounge on the New York City campus, Stuetley captured what defines a person as masculine or feminine. The striking series explores the beauty, and sometimes fear, of individuals breaking free of societal stigmas.
Christian Gomez ’16
Christian Gomez’s photo series (one photo seen below), Life and Labor, focuses on the seemingly overlooked community of coffee farmers in rural Colombia. Coming from a Colombian family, Gomez wanted to accurately depict the lives of those in the industry, rather than accept the narrative of the “happy-go-lucky” farmer, as written by big-coffee distributors. His work was featured in the Birnbaum Library study lounge on the New York City campus.
Miriam Lacroix ’11, ’14
Political Science and Law
As the daughter of a Haitian immigrant, Miriam Lacroix realized her passion for human rights early on. Lacroix graduated from Pace with a bachelor’s in political science and a juris doctor in law, focusing on civil and international human rights issues. She opened Lacroix Ramos, LLP, with a fellow Pace alumna, providing legal services to immigrants in Westchester and Fairfield counties.