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#NYUSteinhardt24 Student Spotlight: 2023-2024 Graduation Speakers


2024 graduation student speakers Sophia Lyu, Lizzie Docel, and Salwa Hoque share their favorite NYU Steinhardt memories, their plans for the future, and their advice for others in their fields.

Sophia Lyu headshot in purple graduation gown, surrounded by cherry tree blossoms

Sophia Lyu

BS in Media, Culture, and Communication

Tell us about yourself! What did you study at NYU Steinhardt? What kind of extracurriculars were you involved in?

Hey y’all! This is Shuyi Lyu, or you can call me by my English name “Sophia,” which I got from nonstop crying all day long the second I entered the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Turkey when I was four months old. I am from Hangzhou, a beautifully rainy and romantic city in Southeastern China. 

I am graduating from Steinhardt with a BS in Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC), alongside a BA in Economics with minors in history and business studies. I have a wide range of academic interests and I just decided to take them all! 

Beyond the demanding academic schedule, extracurricular involvement has been integral to my NYU experience. After serving as the Vice President of the Liberal Studies Student Council for the first two years, I then seized the opportunity to contribute further by joining the International Student Club and International Student Council as treasurer and advisor, respectively, after I transferred to Steinhardt. These clubs are dedicated not only to providing resources to international students, but also to fostering an inclusive campus environment, free from any form of discrimination. Our initiatives spanned from visa information sessions to trips to Six Flags. Being an international student myself, I understand the challenges of life in a foreign country and feel a deep sense of responsibility in making NYU feel like home for every other international student.

What is your favorite memory from your experience here?

My favorite memory is the liberal arts approach in most Steinhardt courses, coupled with the close relationship between professors and students due to the small class size. Many courses are led by professors in discussion-based seminars, fostering a multitude of perspectives.

Beyond academics, several professors have provided me with invaluable advice on life, becoming my mentors. I deeply appreciate the intimacy among professors, classmates, and individual students that Steinhardt facilitates through its small size and excellent communication.

Additionally, my friends often tease that Steinhardt is the most stylish school within NYU. It's amusing to note that when you walk into class each day, your classmates are dressed as if it were Fashion Week. It's a charming reminder of the importance of self-expression and enjoying the little things in life.

What are your plans after graduation? Where do you see yourself in three years?

I am going to work first to test out whether my interest in marketing is strong enough to make it my career. I am also super excited about starting my own business on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design with my team. After probably three years of work, I am planning to potentially return to school, either for an MBA if I delve into the business field, a master's in art history at a European school, or some other interest.

However, I appreciate the spontaneity of life, which always changes faster than plans. Be open to all the unexpected changes happening in your life. It will be fun.

What advice do you have for students in your field or program?

I really enjoyed the variety of classes and interests MCC courses expose me to and the process of exploring what fits my interests the most. I suggest to all students who believe they are more career-oriented to apply the theories and techniques they learn in their MCC classes to part-time jobs or internships before graduating to test whether they like the field as a career. If it is your thing, delve more into the field, as it will prepare you for work life. If it is not, take more classes and try more jobs. Everyone finds their way through trial and error. Steinhardt has your back. 

Lizzie Docel headshot

Lizzie Docel

MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Tell us about yourself! What did you study at NYU Steinhardt? What kind of extracurriculars were you involved in? 

I am from Chicago and have been a remote/part-time grad student in Steinhardt’s Online Master’s Program in Speech-Language Pathology since the fall of 2020. While I wasn’t directly involved in extracurriculars at NYU, I worked full time at Google in a learning and development role and started my own public speaking coaching company called Unscripted Speech on the side. In fact, I traveled out to New York City in fall of 2022 to lead a storytelling workshop for NYU’s entrepreneurship lab.

What is your favorite memory from your experience here? 

In my undergraduate years, I attended NYU Tisch for a semester and, while I ended up finishing with my degree in marketing at Steinhardt, my time in Tisch (particularly my voice training class) is what sparked my interest in speech therapy!

What are your plans after graduation? 

I plan to continue using this deepened understanding of communication to empower clear and confident communication in others through one-on-one coaching and group workshops. 

What advice do you have for students in your field or program? 

It’s easy to feel like there is one path you’re supposed to follow in a particular field – challenge that. Find what you are passionate about and what you believe in, and then use your expertise from this degree to help you get there.

Salwa Hoque headshot

Salwa Hoque

PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication

Tell us about yourself! What did you study at NYU Steinhardt? What kind of extracurriculars were you involved in?

I am Salwa Hoque from Bangladesh, and I was in the PhD program in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt. I studied digital media studies and legal anthropology during my PhD and bridged these two fields in my dissertation, which examined how algorithmic technologies can disproportionately discriminate against marginalized communities (namely Muslim women) in Bangladesh and the Global South more broadly. My interdisciplinary academic background influences how I understand the world. MCC is an interdisciplinary department that values drawing from theoretical frameworks and methodologies from across disciplines. Thus, the program was the perfect fit for me. 

Alongside my doctoral studies, I have been teaching courses at NYU as an adjunct. I designed syllabi related to digital media and technology and was the lead instructor of “Global Media and International Law,” “Theory of the Digital,” “Rise of Internet Media,” and “Media Audience.” Teaching helped me sharpen my understanding of the class material, and I am grateful to my amazing students and guest speakers throughout the years who made this experience so remarkable for me. 

My extracurriculars during graduate school were related to my interest in advocating for social equity and justice. I have been part of the Diversity Committee at MCC since 2021 and pushed for doctoral students’ rights in several ways, such as advocating for additional student funding during the pandemic and highlighting the employment barriers and tax issues for international students. I created an internal grant and fellowship database for doctoral students in my department to make it easier to navigate the application process that can be confusing and daunting at times.

Outside of academia, I enjoy playing video games and solving puzzles. 

What is your favorite memory from your experience here?

In fall 2022, Meg Wiessner, Padmapriya Vidhya-Govindarajan, and I organized the Hinterlands of Media and Technology conference at MCC. I learned so much from them as well as our mentors, Laine Nooney and Dove Pedlosky, on how to run events centering on inclusion and compassion. I hope to carry these lessons with me onto future projects. 

On a much more personal note, the first time my doctoral cohort met together outside the classroom was at my apartment. That night marked the beginning of a friendship that tied us together, and since then we have stood in solidarity with one another. 

What are your plans after graduation? Where do you see yourself in three years?

Outside of NYU, I have been affiliated with the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School as a Fellow since 2022. This research center focuses on the intersection of law, technology, and society, and I was happy to broaden my perspective here. I am the director of the Yale–Majority World Initiative (MWI) and work towards developing research on social media governance that centers on scholarship from the Majority World (or Global South). 

After graduation, I will continue being a Fellow at Yale-ISP where I will convert my dissertation into a book manuscript. My long-term goal is to continue doing research and teach in academic institutions. I also want to keep engaging with scholars and lawyers in Bangladesh to bridge conversations of rights and justice in a way that is inclusive of people in the Majority World/Global South.

What advice do you have for students in your field or program?

I am always apprehensive about giving advice to others as we all operate in different ways. I do not believe there is a standardized way of approaching a field or program that works well for everyone. I can only speak about what worked well for me, which might resonate with some.

The PhD journey is a difficult one; hence, working on a topic that I am passionate about made the journey worthwhile. No matter what I did in life, I knew I wanted to work towards promoting social equity and justice for marginalized communities in Bangladesh and the Global South. During the difficult days, I was comforted knowing that I was working for a cause that I would have been pursuing even if I was not doing a PhD.

It was important for me to take breaks and do things that made me happy outside of academia. I found these breaks to be extremely helpful for my mental health and “productivity” (for lack of a better word). Almost everyone feels imposter syndrome at some point during this journey. You are not alone. Making friends and good memories along the way can help cope with this and the other pressures of academia.

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