With the academic year winding down and summer around the corner, many NYU SPS students deservedly have R&R on their minds. For others, however, their summer plans include more stimulating activities that are both meaningful and enriching.
April Cardena, who is earning her BA in Social Sciences from the NYU SPS Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies, is spending her summer advancing the cause of democracy by working for the Board of Elections (BOENYC). As the Board’s lead trainer for the Bronx, she will prepare poll workers for the primary on June 22 and for Election Day in the fall. The training includes readying the polling place for voting, signing-in voters, and demonstrating voting procedures. In addition, she will supervise each poll site within the voting district to ensure the process runs smoothly.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Cardena is passionate about democracy. “It’s definitely a privilege to be part of our election process,” she stated. “Everyone who volunteers does so because we love it and we want to make sure that the process is transparent, effective, and accessible to all.”
Active on campus, Cardena serves on the executive board of the NYU SPS Undergraduate Student Council, on the NYU SPS IDBEA Standing Committee, and as the president of the Commuter Student Council. After graduation in May 2022, she plans to go to law school and work for an organization such as the ACLU.
For Maya Kwok, the summer will be occupied with a cool, career-related internship in wedding planning. A student in the BS in Hotel and Tourism Management at the NYU SPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, she will intern with luxury wedding and special event planner, Lauren Grech, founder and CEO of LLG Events and an adjunct instructor at NYU SPS.
During her freshman year, Kwok attended a talk by Grech on wedding planning. “It opened my eyes to an avenue I didn’t know existed that ‘marries’ entrepreneurship with creativity,” she explained. As a result of the meeting, she interned at Grech’s company that summer, and will do so again in the coming months.
Kwok, who will graduate next May and serves as the president of the NYU SPS Undergraduate Student Council, is thrilled to be learning from an industry expert like Grech. “What is cool is that I work directly with Lauren and her clients who are getting married, and I get to go to weekly meetings with florists, photographers, caterers, and attend site visits at venues around the city,” Kwok said, adding, “I will even be working at a pro bono wedding in California. I get to fly out there with the LLG team for a week!”
Genevieve Onorato will spend her summer at a nonprofit agency, bringing vaccination access to underserved communities in Philadelphia. A part-time student in the MS in Event Management at the NYU SPS Tisch Center of Hospitality, Onorato was furloughed last year from her sales manager position at Live Nation, the live events company, when the pandemic hit. “The pandemic exposed the flaws in the hospitality industry with workers in our business especially hard hit,” she noted.
She looked into agencies providing hunger relief and volunteered her time at the nonprofit organization, Manna, which prepares and delivers nourishing meals to at-risk individuals, and Seamaac, which provides education and community development programs to immigrant and refugee communities.
“Volunteering gives you a sense that your problems are insignificant compared to others. It has helped me get through the pandemic,” said Onorato. This summer, she will work full time on helping clients who are hesitant or don’t have technology with vaccination access.
Onorato, who hopes to work with hospitality unions on legalization issues regarding hospitality workers, will serve as the NYU SPS Graduate Student Council secretary this coming fall.