Featured Alumni Profiles

Natalie Holder-Winfield

BS '97, Communication Studies

As a staff attorney at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Natalie Holder-Winfield defends complainants whose civil rights have been violated. "I am absolutely enjoying my work at the Commission," she effuses. "There are so many different aspects of civil rights law, and I'm charting completely new territory every day." In her spare time, Holder- Winfield participates in career panels with NYU's Career Services and the Office of African, Latino and Asian American Student Services (OASIS). "It's important for me to participate in the NYU community," she says, "but in a different context from when I was a student." Holder- Winfield received a BS in Communication Studies in 1997.

At what point did you put aside your interest in communication studies for a career as a lawyer?

I haven't really. When I enrolled in the communication studies program, I planned on becoming a television news reporter. But in my junior year I did a summer internship at a law firm. During the internship I started to re-evaluate what my interests were, and it really seemed that I wanted to do public advocacy work. I knew I'd need a law degree for that, so I went to
TulaneLawSchool and received my JD in 2000. But it's not as though I see communications as a field where you can't do public advocacy. Eventually I plan to marry my career in law with my studies in communications to promote the public interest.

How would you do that?

There are so many media outlets now that are open to lawyers. Often times television programs need lawyers who are experts in specific areas. It would be interesting for me to be an employment discrimination specialist for, say, Court TV. As a correspondent, I could answer any questions that viewers would have about a specific case or - in the case of a new ruling by the Supreme Court - I could be called in as the expert to help the public analyze the situation. The many media courses I took in the communication studies department give me the background to consider the eventual melding of my two interests.

So the skills you acquired in the Communication Studies program will eventually be quite useful.

Definitely. But I'm also using those skills in my work today. Many of the courses I took in the department were very analytical, helping me to analyze information and then develop theories based on that information. This skill really comes in handy in my work at the Commission. In order to investigate and process violations of the human rights code, you have to understand the facts and how to apply the law to those facts. Also, the speech courses I took in the department gave me oratory skills that have proved very helpful in my work as a lawyer.

What was the best part of your experience at NYU?

My time at NYU was informed by a real sense of community. I became a stronger individual as a result. More than anything, I consider my experience at the school great training for being open about life and opportunity.