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A Journal from Monika Narain (’25): Exploring the Arts & Sciences with Duke in New York

Published By Duke Arts / published on: January 29, 2024

Scientist by day and stand-up comedian by night, Monika Narain '25, a double major in Physics and Visual & Media Studies with a minor in Mathematics, takes us on their journey through their Fall 2023 semester with Duke in New York: Creative Industries, a program from the Global Education Office, co-sponsored by all of Duke's arts departments.

Eligible to Duke Sophomores, juniors and seniors, the Duke in New York Creative Industries program immerses students in one of the world’s great cities, where they develop not only their intellectual skills but also their professional networks. Students earn course credit by selecting two core courses taught by Duke faculty, a practicum course that is filled by an internship and a course of their choice at New York University (NYU). Applications are currently open for Fall 2024. The deadline to apply is March 1st. (Apply here!)

Monika Narain ’25, a double major in Physics and Visual & Media Studies: Cinematic Arts with a minor in Mathematics shares their memorable semester in New York City.

Monika Narain's Duke in New York:

 

Preparation for the Semester in New York:
The program partners with Hollywood Resumes to guide participating students through virtual workshops on résumé building, cover letter and bio writing services and internship scouting best practices.

Move-In Day:
I stayed in the EHS St. George Towers Residence dorm in Brooklyn Heights with students from varying universities such as NYU, Columbia and more.
I was a little intimidated at first but excited about the challenge of getting to explore all the parts of New York City.

Coursework Schedule:
One of the core courses I took was a creative writing course “Writing in the City.” This class met at the St. John’s University Manhattan Campus once a week at 11 a.m.
My Screenwriting 1 class was held on NYU’s campus in the Tisch School of the Arts building and met at 3:30 p.m. once a week.

Exploring a Science-Focused Internship:
I was eager to integrate science back into my professional work life which led me to the Center for Computational Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital.

At the hospital I used math and computer science techniques to study mental illnesses. I chose this lab because I’m really interested in emotions and social cognition which are two process that both underlie artistic appreciation and creation.

Stand-Up Gig at the Broadway Comedy Club:
Most people would consider me really serious, but I’ve always liked jokes and puns and now I can do puns professionally!

One of my favorite gigs was at the Broadway Comedy Club because I was inspired by the recent lab I did, and my cohort came to cheer me on!

The interesting part about New York is that every club has its own vibe and friend groups with different humor dynamics. I had to learn how to cater to each audience’s specific taste in humor.

 

Networking at DEMAN* & Donuts:
This was an opportunity to meet alumni from the entertainment, media and medical industries and find inspiration and motivation to “keep it up and persist.”

Through this opportunity, I established a connection with alum Dr. Lipi Roy, an addiction medicine specialist who manages her own public speaking company. I seek to maintain contact with Dr. Roy, as I am interested in exploring a similar career path.

*DEMAN is the Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network. Learn more here.

Adjusting to City Life:
There is a huge learning adjustment from navigating the trains and getting around, and after two months you start to feel like a NYC local.

Project Highlight:
Sky Garden was my final short film project I crafted about talking plants. I was inspired by a film I saw at a scientist and filmmakers film festival called “Science New Wave.”

Internship Recap:
Throughout my internship, I spent days coding, recording and analyzing EEG brain wave data as well as shadowing with experiments and clinical psychiatry evaluations.

Reflections on the Semester:
New York is a really fun city, there are so many circles to be exposed to from theater, music, to fashion and more.

“This semester has taught me so much about research, about art, about the city, about myself and I am really excited to take it back with me to Duke.”

Why you should apply!

“Many of these programs such as Duke in New York are not only springboards, but crash pads,” says Narain. “Duke faculty and professors will help you through navigating the failures. They will help you when you fall and push you to the career you want to pursue.”