A few years ago, Floridians Jonah Egolf and his wife, Adrienne, decided that they wanted to spice their lives up a bit. “So why not the biggest, toughest city to live in?” they asked themselves. Jonah, who celebrates his third anniversary at Juilliard this month, reports that “N.Y.C. has roughed us up enough so if the future brings us anywhere else it will be a piece of cake.” Now, with the birth of their son, Sam, on Christmas Day 2012, they’re getting a whole different slice of the New York experience. At Juilliard, Jonah’s main responsibility is administering the management system for all of Juilliard’s desktops and laptops. The Melbourne, Fla., native got his bachelor’s degree in communications/radio/TV production with a minor in psychology for the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, where he was a technology specialist and the central I.T. support for the counseling center before coming to Juilliard.
What’s one of your favorite Juilliard memories?
One of the first things that I loved about Juilliard was listening to the students sing in the stairwells. I remember one time a student ran into me and apologized for singing. I guess he thought he was alone, but I thought it was crazy to apologize for that. I thought to myself, “Keep going, man, if I could sing like that I would never stop!”
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
While it’s not a job, I would change places with a student in the Drama Division. I have a fear of public speaking and would love to be able to perform in front of an audience on stage and just let it all out. Actually that sounds quite terrifying.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had?
While I was in high school, I was the maintenance guy at an arts and crafts store called the Old America Store. I always thought it was funny to tell people I was doing that at the time. When I applied for that job, the hiring manager seemed to be thinking, Really? Then after she learned I liked to fix things, I liked to clean, and I was cheap labor, it was a done deal. I ended up being laid off—which I thought was awesome. I was 17 and had already been laid off from a job. I was living the fast life.
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve ever had?
I worked as the tech at an elementary school, which was crazy on a consistent basis. They really take advantage of “other duties as assigned” on your job description. In addition to my I.T. duties, I was a lunchroom monitor, car pick-up monitor, testing proctor, student mentor, oration contest judge, morning news director, and teacher’s aide.
What are the three top ways your life has changed since becoming a father?
I learned that three of the most precious things are your child’s smile, your child’s laugh, and the simplicity of life.
If Juilliard employees could learn one thing about computers, what would it be?
To always reboot three times. It will solve any issue. *winks*
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do?
Take Adrienne and Sam to either the Bronx Zoo (if sunny and dry) or the Museum of Natural History (if anything other than sunny or dry).
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Lately I’ve been into playing guitar, so much so that I took lessons, which helped promote me to somewhat-mediocre-yet-inconsistent status. My son loves it when I play guitar so that may very well get me to moderately-decent-plus-fairly-consistent status.
What was the best vacation you’ve had?
When my wife and I went to the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t just seeing the Grand Canyon itself but the whole experience that made it special. We flew to Las Vegas, rented a car, hit the open road, stayed at Zion National Park, and saw both the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon (we preferred the North and it is worth the extra effort to get to). It was the great American road trip.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
That I can juggle. I believe one day that skill will help me in the final challenge of a reality game show.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
The food! I mean, come on.
What’s surprised you most about N.Y.C.?
The wide diversity of people living in such close proximity of each other. My wife’s cousin recommended we live in Astoria. I thought—hey, I like Doug Heffernan! (At the time my only reference to Queens was the TV show The King of Queens.) He told us it was an extremely diverse, safe, family friendly neighborhood—with an excellent selection of restaurants. He was right on every count but the diversity is what was most surprising. We can walk down the street and hear three to five different languages being spoken. Even though there’s this tight mix of entirely different worlds and cultures colliding, we have always felt comfortable and welcome here. It really shows you how we can all be so different yet find some commonalities that make us the same. It was the right place for us to be, and I’m happy my son gets to experience it at such a young age.
What are you listening to?
I’m obsessed with the band Deer Tick. They have a lot of influences such as alt-country, folk, blues, psychedelic, and even punk, but they also play lots of covers. I saw the lead singer, John McCauley, perform with his main band, in side projects, and solo seven times during my first year in New York. I saw them performing as Deervana at Brooklyn Bowl (all Nirvana covers), at Death by Audio in Brooklyn (a D.I.Y. venue that, for all intents and purposes, is a basement), and even Carnegie Hall. Carnegie was by far my favorite show—I was blown away at the amazing sound.