Gill seniors experienced the wisdom of this guiding proverb when four distinguished alumni returned last week to share their perspectives on life after graduation and offer valuable insights on "the road ahead."
Sonia Kumar '10 - Sonia attended the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in engineering. She participated in University Student Government and served as the VP of Operations for the Southern California Indo-American Club. Currently, Sonia is a Business Operations Manager for MightyHive, an advertising technology company, where she works on strategic business development projects. Prior to that, Sonia was a risk consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Outside of work, she is on the USC NYC Alumni Board and loves to travel, having visited eight countries in 2019. Currently, Sonia lives in New York City with fellow GSB alumna, Megan Plevy '10.
"You will have a lot of experiences, and whether they are positive or negative, you always learn from them. Your network is really, really valuable. You should definitely use it. Everyone is looking to help others. Trust the process. Work hard."
Alexis Nedd '09 - Alexis studied anthropology and psychology at Columbia University, with additional courses at University College London. While in college she contributed to the Inside New York series of city guidebooks, interned for Martha Stewart, and led cultural walking tours around the East and West Village for free food. After enrolling and quickly dropping out of Columbia Journalism School, Alexis worked for BuzzFeed as an editorial fellow, then a staff writer, and later as the site's Quiz Editor. She worked for Hearst Digital Media as the Senior Interactive Editor for Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Good Housekeeping magazines. Today, Alexis works for Mashable writing about TV, movies, and video games. Last year she signed a book deal for her debut novel, the first of a two-book young adult romance series about esports players who should not kiss – but do. The book, Player vs. Player, will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s in late 2020, with a film adaptation planned by Assemble Media. She is represented by Steven Salpeter at Curtis Brown Ltd. and lives in Brooklyn.
"It really is WHO you know, so be nice. You don't know what you're good at until you try it; so, try it. Life comes at you fast, especially in media. Writing is fundamentally about helping people know they are not alone, and you never know who you are going to reach. Everything matters; everything that happens to you becomes a part of your story. What comes next might surprise you."
Sean Ages '05 - Sean attended Northwestern University, majoring in economics and international studies, and spending a portion of his junior year abroad in Beijing. Following graduation, he taught English in Hong Kong for a year before enrolling at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China, where he received a Master of Arts in International Studies. Subsequently, he spent time working in both the private and public sectors in Washington, DC. Sean worked on U.S.-China relations at both the Treasury Department and the White House's Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He is currently in the second year of his MBA program at NYU's Stern School of Business. Upon graduation this year, Sean is joining Google's Finance Operations Team in California.
"Self-reflection and reinvention are invaluable. Ask yourself, 'What do I want in a job?' You will learn from every experience, even if it was not what you expected. Sometimes you will need to pivot – change direction. Do not be afraid to explore. Know yourself. It's okay not to know exactly what you want – just keep exploring. You will find it."
Jay T. Jenkins '75 - A trained musician in piano, trumpet and voice, Jay T. is a dancer who created a choreographic movement style which combines classical and stylized jazz, modern, tap and funk/hip hop, called "Jazz Funk." His choreography catalog includes feature films, industrials, music videos, and recording artist's concert tours. Jay T.'s career led him to choreograph concert pieces for Ohio State University, Princeton University, Montclair State University, DeSales University, Bolles Dance Theater (Florida), and many others. He toured with world-renowned recording artists including Prince, D'Angelo, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, and Mick Jagger. Jay T.'s signature style has taken him around the world to teach in Egypt, Malaysia, Moscow, Cyprus, Paris, Italy, Zurich, Osaka, and Tokyo. His in-depth knowledge of classic jazz, hip hop, and musical theater paved the way for a wide-ranging career that has taken him from the classroom to the concert stage, from the studio to the soundstage.
"I am the embodiment of 'The World is Our Classroom.' As a jock and a nerd, I played sports and love theater and music. I left here not sure what I wanted to do. I learned it's okay to make mistakes; it is okay to fail. You're going to fall. That's okay. You get up. No one was ever successful who didn't take a chance. I worked with some of the most talented performers and learned that it is not about being famous – it's about their commitment to the craft is what makes them who they are. It is not about the final result, the magic that happens is behind the scenes. You will travel many roads. Find your passion and go for it full throttle."
A special note of appreciate goes to Chanelle Walker, Director of Alumni Relations, for coordinating the panel's visit and to each of our panelists, Sonia, Alexis, Sean, and Jay T., for sharing their candid insights.