August 23, 2021

2021_Incoming_Student_Listicle_gc_news_story_469px_241px eight headshots
Top row, left to right: Patrick Rizzo, Caitlin Cacciatore, Sophia Yip, Rachel Tiven; Second row, left to right: Kathleen Rowe, Shant Sharigian, Atilio Barreda, Benjamin Krusling

This fall, nearly 600 master’s and doctoral students join the Graduate Center. Meet eight whose stories offer a glimpse into the fascinating backgrounds and perspectives this year’s incoming students bring to the GC.



Benjamin Krusling comes to the Graduate Center for a Ph.D. in English having already published an award-winning book of poetry. He explains why he “always wanted to go to the Graduate Center.”



Kathleen Rowe was nominated for a Tony Award during a long and successful career as an actor on stage and screen. Now she is taking on a new role as an M.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience student at the Graduate Center. Selected for the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, she explains her career pivot and the advantages of being an older student


Shant Shahrigian (Photo courtesy of Shahrigian)

Shant Shahrigian covers politics for the Daily News, but he has been obsessed with philosophy since his undergraduate days. This fall, he joins the M.A. Program in Philosophy with the hopes of ultimately pursuing a Ph.D. and possibly teaching. He describes why being a reporter is a perfect prerequisite for his new pursuit.



Caitlin Cacciatore graduated from Baruch College this year and is already a published and award-winning writer comfortable with sharing her views and values. She decided to pursue an M.A. in Digital Humanities to put her values into action and program human biases out of the artificial intelligence that governs much of life.



Patrick Rizzo rose through the ranks of journalism to serve as a bureau chief at Reuters, economics editor at the Associated Press, and a senior business editor at NBC News, but he had different hopes when he was an undergraduate at Brooklyn College. This fall, he returns to CUNY to get a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences and follow his formerly abandoned academic interests.



As a lawyer and nonprofit leader, Rachel B. Tiven became a leading advocate for LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, and voting rights. She is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe College and Columbia Law School. Find out why she is coming to the Graduate Center for a Ph.D. in History



Atilio Barreda parlayed a humanities degree from Brown University into working as a software engineer. As an incoming student in the interdisciplinary M.S. in Data Analysis and Visualization program, he is looking forward to boosting his technical skills and returning to his humanities roots. He also intends to inspire other Latinx people to pursue the sciences.


As an undergraduate at City College, Sophia Yip was named a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, which provides her with continued support in graduate school. An incoming English Ph.D. student, she explains how her experience as a Malaysian Chinese immigrant influenced her scholarly interest in globalization and literature