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Grad School

I’m going back to school!

I have been accepted into the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). I will be starting the two-year Masters of Professional Studies (MPS) program in September 2008. According to their website, ITP is:

A graduate department dedicated to creativity and critical thinking applied to new technologies…More than just a graduate school, ITP is a creative ecosystem – a living and interdependent flow of people, projects, ideas and applications all dedicated to exploring and expanding the ability of real people to use media to connect to one another and influence the world around them.

I learned about the program from my former Avaaz colleagues Ji Mi Choi, who worked at ITP, and Paul and Milena Berry of Talacon Social Software who are ITP alumni.

While I concentrated in Government (Harvard-speak for majoring in political science) in undergrad, I have always wanted to go to art school as well. ITP deals with the intersection between technology, art and society, so I think it is the perfect fit for me. I hope to build up some technical chops and make some good connections so I can further develop the multimedia production, technological consulting services and music production wings of my company, Hepnova Multimedia.

Since ITP is an open-ended, experimental program, I am also open to whatever new interests come my way once I am there. I heard ITP alum James Clar give a talk last Friday about his career path. He studied film production at NYU for undergrad and then went to ITP and ended up doing interactive lighting design. I am excited about the versatile toolkit that ITP students acquire and the open-ended career paths that open up afterwards.

For those of you that are interested in applying for the program, I am putting my ITP application personal statement online here. I hope it will be of use for potential applicants.

Also check out current ITP student Caleb Clark’s Graduate School Application Help guide and ITP 101: Lessons learned from year one of the ITP.

I also applied to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Program in Social Entrepreneurship for a fellowship to cover my tuition at ITP. Unfortunately, I did not get the fellowship, but NYU did give me a comparable scholarship.

In case anybody is interested, here are my Reynolds Program application essay and biographical sketch.

So I guess I am finally taking the plunge and going to grad school, five years after I graduated from undergrad. After an intense undergrad experience, grad school was not even on my radar. For some time, I thought I would never go back to school because there wasn’t any thing I was interested enough to spend the time, effort and money to specialize in.

I taught English on the JET Programme in Japan from 2003-2006. I was applied and was admitted into the Masters Programme in Asian Studies at Lund University in Sweden in 2006, but I pulled a “runaway bride” and I ultimately declined the offer at the last minute and did not enroll.

Once again, if anybody is interested, here is my personal statement from my Lund application.

Why study Asian Studies in Sweden? Kinda random, I know. I had a wonderful experience studying abroad at Lund during the summer of 2002, where I did a masters-level course in human rights law as part of the Øresund Summer University, so Lund stayed on my radar. Plus, tuition is FREE at Swedish universities (but you still have to pay for your room and board and other expenses), and I had been fascinated by Sweden since a family vacation through Scandinavia when I was in high school. I even took two years of Swedish language in college, although I barely had the chance to practice since the summer program I was one was entirely in English.

Looking back, I didn’t really have an endgame for what I wanted to do after the program (except maybe stay out of George W. Bush’s US of America for a little bit longer, which I guess is a good enough reason), so I did not enroll. Lund is great as a college town, but after 3 years living in Nakatsu, a small provincial Japanese city (more of a town really), I wanted a taste of big city life, so I moved to New York City. Originally, I came to NYC under the pretense of visiting friends and checking things out, but I got my last gig at Avaaz and just ended up staying and settling here and getting my current job at Human Rights Watch.

Tsar Nicholas and I also decided to make the Hepnova Multimedia project a legit business, so we set up an LLC and started doing freelance gigs for clients ranging from Progressive Source Communications to a women’s lingerie business. We have done websites, logo designs, translations, video editing and a variety of other gigs.

I really feel ready for ITP now. I think the masters program will give me the skills and experience to do something creative with technology as a full-time gig. I will be sure to keep all my blog readers posted on what I am up to in grad school. I also hope this post was useful for people considering ITP or people considering grad school in general.

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