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Friday, February 6, 2015

My Journey, from NYU to Newburgh

MY JOURNEY FROM N.Y.U. TO NEWBURGH - I am sitting in a puddle of college marketing letters.  There are over a hundred.  I should note that my oldest son is a freshman, at Don Bosco Prep High School, and took the PSAT’s last Fall, his freshman year.  Apparently, he did pretty well, and also checked off a lot of boxes, because he gets more mail now than we do.  But my heart stopped for a beat when I was the familiar purple torch and the embossed logo.  NYU. It brought me back to the day, in Spring of 1983, when I got my letter.  NYU was my Dream school. My grandmother went to NYU undergrad and got her Doctorate in Education from NYU.  But to have a Legacy, you need to have a parent who went there.  Even if I got in, would I get enough scholarship money to be able to go to my Dream School?  I had my mother open the letter.  I won’t keep you in suspense:     I got a full ride to NYU, full scholarship for all tuition and room and board for 4 years, all I had to do was to keep up a 3.5 GPA.  

At first, it was a struggle.  I was dropped into the Greatest City in the World, but I still had hay between my teeth.  It was culture shock.  But I adjusted super quick, and just like that, NYU turned out to be the Best Four Years of My Life, bar none.  NYU was a Dream come true in every way for me.  I wanted to get the heck out of Fishkill, which was a Cowpie Town at the time (yes, dear readers, this was WAY before Starbucks and all the box stores).
NYU made me fall in love with learning and writing.  I literally jumped out of bed every morning and couldn’t wait to get to class.  I walked out of my dorm on Fifth Avenue and strolled the 4 blocks to WSUC, which is contiguous with Washington Square Park (there, you could get a different education “Hey, Little Momma, you need some reefa, some cheeba?”  No thanks, Larry, gotta get to class.  “You go, Little Momma!”)  It was the culture, or the "cult" of NYU that makes it the place everyone secretly wants to go to, and will forever set us alumni apart from all other alumni.  Because our campus was actually the Big Apple itself.  Every single NYU student has a 4 year love affair with New York City.  
NYU students got free rush tix to Broadway plays.  I saw everything.  Students read Moliere and Joyce for pleasure reading.  And we drank a $&*% load of coffee:  Turkish coffee, handmade Espresso, Armenian coffe, cafê con leche, you name it.  We hung out for hours in NON trendy coffee shops (we were always looking for authenticity, not trendy stuff favored by “B & T’s” -- Bridges and Tunnels) on the sidewalks of Greenwich Village.  There, we spent hours people watching, and debating philosophy, literature, politics, and whether we would do a semester at NYU in Spain or NYU in France.  So many friends, so beautiful, so intellectual, so talented.  I ate lunch with Adam Sandler and supported NYU film grad Spike Lee when his first film came out.  An up and comer named "Madonna" used to sing at the Peppermint Lounge on 14th St on Friday nights and I almost interviewed her but she canceled at the last minute.  I got my hair done next to the Royal Princess of Saudi Arabia and we compared notes on fashion.  One of my best friends was the son of a diplomat and also the “right hand man” to David Rockefeller.  Yes, I dined at Mr. Rockefeller’s home with my friend, and he got us tickets to lots of Grand Galas like openings at the Met, which meant I would fuss over my outfit for days.
And the clothes, oh the Clothes!  I was a size 0, Betsy Johnson had a shop in SoHo and Patrcia Fields had a shop right on 8th Street.  They weren't even a little bit famous yet and they used to dress my friends and me (yes, that is the correct grammar, look it up!)  Designers gave us "extras" and told us to wear them to clubs (Ok, if you insist).
I was beginning to make a name for myself as a campuswide fashion icon and a promising writer for the very respected school newspaper at NYU.  Life just got better and more exciting every day.  Then I graduated.  And, as my Grandma always said, “Big girls know when it’s time to leave the Party.”
Fast forward 28 years and here I am, neither a fashion icon nor a famous Journalist but a very happy wife, mom, entrepreneur and lawyer, best known for my rowing and charitable activities.  I think the reason I like the City of Newburgh is because it’s authentic.  It’s gritty, but it’s straight up.  Architecturally, I feel really comfortable around all those brownstones, as dilapidated as they may be.  And I have always been drawn to Downing Park, which after all was designed by the same man who designed NYC’s Central Park.  I could never live in the middle of a bunch of box stores.  
And here I sit with a letter from NYU addressed to my son.  How is this possible?  It’s a basic marketing letter, it’s way too early for me to establish the Legacy connection (a Legacy basically means as long as either of my kids wants to go there and their grades are good enough, they will automatically get in).
Over the decades, many parents and would-be students have drooled over my NYU diploma on the wall, along with all the NYU activities and awards.  But would I want either of  my sons to go there?  I am not sure about that one.  Fortunately, I don’t have to think about it right now.  And I may not ever have to cross that bridge, as I am sensing a real trend with the letters:  University of Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee, UCLA, you get the idea.  My oldest one wants to go somewhere warm.  And who I am to stop him?  As my grandmother always said:  “You have a Dream, now work for it.  Pity anyone who doesn’t dare to Dream.”  
And so it begins.
Have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo   For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog go to