A Brooklyn native, Shalena was looking for a graduate program that had an interdisciplinary approach to exploring big ideas. At Gallatin, she studies New York City history and the way individual experiences shape and are shaped by residential and commercial infrastructures. “I grapple with what it means to be from this city," she says. "It has changed so drastically from the memories I have from my childhood."
Shalena points to Professor David Moore’s proseminar on Community Studies as a particularly inspiring class that allowed her to explore the concept of community. Professor Jack Tchen, her adviser, approaches teaching by meeting people where they are and by delving deeply into his students’ passions and motivations.
A fellow in NYU's Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Program in Social Entrepreneurship, Shalena also received the Dalai Lama Fellowship to launch a Compassion-in-Action project at NYU. Her project, MI-NYU (Mindful Innovation), will bring together students and community members to implement solutions for issues faced by marginalized populations in New York City. “The goal,” she says, “is to create a bridge between what is learned in the classroom and lived experience.”
Shalena says she came to Gallatin unsure that she would bond with her classmates or professors. Instead, she's found amazing friends and colleagues--supportive people who believe in what she describes as her "sometimes wild ideas" who have helped her figure out how to bring them to fruition.