Jolie Radunich, a recent graduate of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Education Studies program, experienced transformation in myriad ways since first coming to campus four years ago. While applying to college, Jolie was drawn to NYU’s vast academic resources and exciting location. But she wasn’t sure what major she would choose. She entered NYU’s Global Liberal Studies four-year program with a global focus. “I was a good student. But I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do right out of the gate,” she says. “I figured Global Liberal Studies would let me take classes, join clubs, and explore my options while I took my core classwork.”
When the global COVID-19 pandemic struck during her sophomore year, Jolie reconsidered what she was hoping to get out of her education. Though she originally intended to study away at NYU Madrid during her junior year, travel was unfortunately off the table. She says, “I realized that, while I was still super interested in the global aspect of my studies, when I looked back at all my final projects and research interests, everything had some sort of an educational theme to it.”
The Final Clincher for a Growing Passion
Around that time, she read The Nanny Diaries, written by NYU alumni Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. “The main character goes to NYU and studies childhood education, and I thought that was super cool. Even her homework seemed awesome,” says Jolie. “She was a fictional character, and it’s funny to me how that started to solidify my interest in studying education.”
The final clincher for Jolie? An incredible course with Professor Thomas Gold: Education and Social Entrepreneurship. The course helped Jolie discover a new path in education. She knew she didn’t want to be a classroom teacher after graduation. And though she was interested in studying curriculum, child psychology, and other key areas, she wasn’t sure where the Education Studies major would lead her. Professor Gold’s course changed that.
“It gave me a different lens to see education through. And I credit that class with my desire to work in the edtech space after graduation,” she says. “When I started to read all the case studies and hear from our guest speakers, I felt like these were the types of creative and transformational opportunities I wanted to be a part of.”
Consistency Within So Much Change
Education and Social Entrepreneurship was Jolie’s first formal research course within her Education Studies major. It helped her prepare for her next big project: writing and publishing a book. Elephant Prints: Reconstructing Our Image of Brilliance is a nonfiction book that discusses how the K–12 curriculum and media leave out Black intellectualism and works to remedy that erasure by telling the stories of the hidden scholars and entrepreneurs who should fill our history books. “It sounds funny to say I’ve written a book as a student. But it’s been a really empowering experience,” says Jolie.
Despite all the change Jolie has undergone the last four years, one thing persisted: her work with Project Sunshine. It’s an NYU club that creates craft kits for children at partner hospitals. “Project Sunshine was actually the first club I joined in my first year. And it’s been a great way to build community,” she says. “You meet up with other students and put together these kits, then you take them to the hospital and interact with the kids. It’s important work that’s also fun.” After volunteering her first year, Jolie became treasurer of the club her sophomore year, and then president. “It’s pretty cool to say that I’ve been doing something for four years, because so much has changed with my major and other things,” says Jolie. “But this opportunity to really connect with people across the University stayed consistent.”