Amogh Thakkar knew he wanted to be an astronaut-filmmaker for years. At NYU, he has the freedom to pursue it.
Amogh Thakkar knows exactly what he wants to do next. At present the rising sophomore is concentrating his studies in interactive science filmmaking and space entrepreneurship at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He’s already interned with NASA, apprenticed with National Geographic, and founded a filmmaking company. Oh, and he’s a practicing magician.
At NYU, you’ll meet all types of people. They come here from across the country and around the world because NYU offers a supportive and flexible community, with the resources to explore it all. “I’m kind of all over the place, but I know what I want to do. I want to become an astronaut-filmmaker. And NYU has given me that freedom,” affirms Amogh. “I didn’t have a dream college, and I didn’t find a fit until I found Gallatin. The fact that I can pursue these wildly different disciplines—astrophysics and new media—in the first place is a testament to NYU’s power.”
Business, Film, Space, and a Touch of Magic
Amogh has always enjoyed having a packed schedule. For example, he started his own business in second grade, began making films in middle school, and took intensive science courses throughout high school. Following two production internships, he decided combining his various interests was the only way to do everything he wanted to do. “I’ve been fascinated with stars from the start,” he explains. “When I was little, I was always injuring myself from looking up and falling backward.” Soon enough he decided making films about space was the perfect combination of his interests. Today, his dream is to be a member of the first human mission to Mars and make a docuseries about the experience. As for the magic part? It’s mainly a hobby for now. “Doing the impossible is a consistent idea that attracts me,” Amogh explains.
Freedom to Focus at Gallatin
At Gallatin students have the freedom to explore their varied interests without the pressure of requirements. At the same time, students like Amogh have the autonomy to study exactly what they want. “In the morning I learn about a fascinating physics topic, and in the afternoon, I practice my storytelling techniques. It’s developed both sides of my brain—the analytical and creative,” he says. Furthermore, he found a similarly creative community in his fellow students and a support system in his professors. For example, “If I have a question about cosmological redshift, I can simply knock on a physics professor’s door. It’s the same with film. Everyone is so eager to help,” he shares.
An Experiential Education
Two weeks into his first-year Gallatin experience, Amogh was selected as a Jackson Wild Media Lab Fellow. Jackson Wild is a conference, festival, and forum that unites industry-leading media creators and scientists with a focus on the natural world. The once-in-a-lifetime experience required him to miss school for 10 days—and no one at NYU Gallatin blinked. “I told my professors I got this fellowship and had to miss two weeks of school, and they all said, ‘Great!’” he recalls. This focus on experiential learning proved crucial to his internships. In his classes Amogh explains, “I would learn a new topic or technique on a Thursday, then use it on Friday when I would go to my internship. Knowing the content I learned was directly applicable to the real world reaffirmed my decision to come to NYU.”
To NASA and Beyond
This summer Amogh is focusing on the astronaut part of his career goals as an astrophysics communicator intern with NASA. Recently, he had the “incredible experience” of helping release the James Webb Space Telescope images. He is considering switching his major to Physics and Interactive Media Arts to make it easier to get his master’s degree in Astrophysics—but then again, he might not. That’s the great thing about NYU Gallatin: you can craft the education that works for you. “It’s how education should be,” Amogh concludes. “If you’re someone who thinks a bit differently, a bit more entrepreneurial, a bit more creative, and a bit more free, then Gallatin is the place to let that spirit flourish.”