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Katya Lawson
Administrative Director, Pre-College

Katya Lawson, who was born and raised in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg—"the most beautiful city in the world," she tells us—is in charge of all administrative processes for the Pre-College Division and also works with the artistic director on curriculum planning, performance activities, financial aid, budget, recruitment, and development. Katya began her studies in English and literature at St. Petersburg University before moving to the U.S., where she received a bachelor's in cultural studies with a concentration in literature from SUNY Empire State. Katya's husband, David Margolin Lawson, does sound design for theater and teaches at Pace University. Their twins, Thais and Vanya, are in eighth grade in the Russian Mission School and also students at the MAP program at Juilliard; they play flute and clarinet.

Katya Lawson

Katya Lawson

(Photo by Nan Melville)

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What are your favorite Juilliard memories?

I have been at Juilliard for almost 20 years, and my most treasured memories are of colleagues, faculty, and students I've met over the years. I had the privilege of working with legendary faculty members such as Dorothy DeLay ('42, violin) and Louise Behrend (Diploma '45, violin), and I am lucky to enjoy the friendship of Pre-College and Juilliard alumni, many of whom have gone on to wonderful careers we all can be proud of.

What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day?

I would love to sit in on a few drama rehearsals. I used to work in theater and really miss the atmosphere of a drama production in rehearsal. If I weren't working at Pre-College, I would have loved to have worked for the Drama Division.

What's the strangest or most memorable job you've had?

I once was a bartender at a techno music night club in Jerusalem, and I don't know Hebrew, so the first night was pretty hectic. I lost a few shekels. By the second night, I learned numbers and names of drinks in Hebrew and that made things a lot easier. I also stayed in the Old City of Jerusalem during that time, and I'll never forget walking through it at 4 in the morning after work.

What's the craziest day at work you've had?

So many crazy days! Every Pre-College Saturday is crazy, but in a good way. I love the audition days too; they're certainly pretty insane, but very gratifying. I try to make sure every applicant has a good experience, and it makes me happy when I succeed in this goal.

Did you ever consider pursuing an art?

I wanted to be an actor once but realized I better as an administrator.

What other pursuits are you passionate about?

Reading is my life's biggest passion. Some of my all-time favorites are Dickens, Tolstoy, Pushkin, and the 20th-century Russian poets. Also Vladimir Nabokov, whom I happily read in both Russian and English, and many American writers such as Marilynne Robinson and Toni Morrison, among others. I suspect I'm not very original in this. I've just finished re-reading Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. I think Bleak House is next; in my opinion it's his best! And I read The New Yorker every week on my Kindle. And, of course, I also love the arts: music, theater, museums.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I do voiceover work in Russian and I recently recorded a part of a Russian language audio guide for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is my favorite museum in New York, so I enjoyed this project tremendously, and I learned a lot!

If you could give incoming Pre-College students and parents just one piece of advice, what would it be?

Welcome, don't be nervous, this is a friendly place! Our doors are always open; we are here to help.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the Juilliard community for this long, and I'm looking forward to many more happy years here.

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