Like No Other
Alumni recall their favorite Stern moments at the alumni holiday celebration at Christie’s
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 16:12
As I step into Christie's in Rockefeller Plaza, there's an Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor to my right and Dean Henry to my left, greeting alumni as they enter this year's venue for the Alumni Holiday Celebration. Taylor's jewels, couture and fine art create a magnificent backdrop to the evening's festivities and the first gallery I come upon is already bustling with alums from many different years, catching up and peeking into display cases filled with lavish jewelry and film memorabilia. Hundreds of alumni will attend tonight and you're about to find out what many of them remember most fondly about their years at Stern. Come along, let's take a stroll.
After a sip of champagne, my notebook and pen out and ready, I strike up a conversation with Eric Grover, MBA '89 and we start discussing how professors can have a formative impact on students' lives. "Sitting in class and listening to Irving Kristol's lectures about how values shape culture and the importance of culture in economics was an extraordinary experience," Grover says. "He truly is a hero of mine."
Other alums also rave about professors tonight, including Sean Windsor, MBA '97, who was "impressed by every single one" and Christopher O'Connell, MBA '00 and Chairman of the Alumni Council, who I find standing in another part of the room with his wife, Monique. O'Connell tells me about a standout class he took with Professor George Smith, although his favorite Stern moment was the birth of both of his daughters during his studies. Circling the room, I meet Christine Schneider, MBA '94, who says her favorite moment was getting to know Dean Cooley and Emily Kramer, MBA '09, who loved Professor Galloway's Brand Strategy competition (which her team won).
In another gallery filled with more of Taylor's sparkling jewels, I spot Susan Jurevics, MBA '96 chatting to the current SWIB Co-Presidents, Holly Bolgar and Becky Tehrani. Not too soon, Jurevics shares with us her own favorite Stern moment. "I met my husband at Beer Blast," she says. "I was the part-time student president and he was the full-time one. An old roommate of mine said we just had to meet and introduced us. The rest is history." I mention that I'm an EMT major and she stops me in my tracks. "I've been in the EMT space for nearly 25 years now and what Stern has done with its EMT discipline is truly amazing," Jurevics says. "The school has made a commitment to EMT and that is a real differentiator."
I couldn't agree more, as I leave these ladies and meet not one, not two, but five more couples, who found each other while studying at Stern. Like Jurevics, Eduardo Aguayo, MBA '97 met his future spouse, Julia Hoagland, MBA '95 at Beer Blast. "She was a full-time student and knew everyone in the room," Aguayo says. "We talked for a mere five minutes, but I was floored by her charm. We didn't see each other again until 1.5 years later, but then started dating right away." Hoagland is smiling ear to ear and cozily wraps her arm into her husband's. (If you haven't been going to Beer Blast for whatever reason and are still single, don't miss a single one next semester.)
On the mezzanine level, Taylor's wardrobe is on display. I've made my way upstairs now and, standing near a replica of Taylor's closet, it's hard not to waste valuable interviewing time by admiring Taylor's enviable collection of shoes and handbags. I catch myself just in time and turn to talk to Jennifer Neff, MBA '06 and Sonali Palkhiwala, MBA '06. Continuing the growing Stern sweethearts theme of the evening, Neff tells me how she met her husband, Vanya Kasanof, MBA '06 while at school. "We were both GFA officers and then went on to work in the same industry groups at competing investment banks," Neff says. "We actually didn't start dating until after graduation and then had a wonderful, New York City wedding last June. And Dean Gary Fraser, MBA ‘92 was at our wedding!"
Next up are David Cohn, MBA '07 and Lisa Bornstein, MBA '08 and I soon find out Cohn's favorite moment. "I met her here," he says, putting his arm around Bornstein. "She was deciding where to go to business school and a mutual friend of ours told me I absolutely had to convince her to come to Stern. So I did. And then I convinced her to start dating me." Passing a row of mannequins draped in silky summer dresses, I run into another NYU couple, Nelson Yip, MBA '09 and Laina Vlasnik, MA '08, who met while volunteering at St. Joe's soup kitchen through school. The last Stern couple of the evening is Ann Beemish, MBA '08 and Patrick Hainault MBA '09. "My favorite moment at Stern was when Ann was called up during graduation to be honored for her accomplishments," Hainault says, while Beemish adds, "the India Trek wasn't bad either!"