New Students Get Acquainted and Explore the Big Apple

Two years ago, on August 24, I prepared to move into the Juilliard dorms. That morning I awoke with a bigger and more horrifying case of nerves than I had experienced on audition day. Homesickness had set in prematurely (in the middle of a cup of coffee, sitting at the hotel with my parents, to be exact) and I was convinced this was an idiotic idea. I mean, who did I think I was, leaving the comforts of Kansas for the dark, cold world that my mom (and her hours of watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) had convinced me New York City was? I was prepared to tell the taxi driver to pass right by Juilliard and to take me home when I was greeted with a potentially terrifying, yet somehow comforting, scream of welcome from the orientation leaders and resident assistants. By the end of the day, all thoughts of homesickness had disappeared. Somehow, these overly enthusiastic, outrageously eccentric people had made me feel right at home. The next 11 days of orientation confirmed what those greeters had instantly instilled in me: that Juilliard could be my home, too. So I set out with a similar goal in mind when I took on the role of orientation leader and welcomed this year’s new students to Juilliard on August 23—if I could make one person feel that Juilliard was home, then I could be completely and totally content. After all, there truly is no place like home (I’m from Kansas, remember?). 

—Raquel Gonzalez, Third-Year Voice Student

Our experiences at Juilliard are filled with wonderful memories and important life lessons, but the friends we make during this time will be what we hold the closest to our hearts. As this year’s orientation chair, I was proud to be leading such a welcoming and energetic team. It was a tremendous joy to be able to open our arms to the incoming students and show them the pleasures of Juilliard and their vibrant new home, New York City. Truthfully, I decided to be an orientation leader because I no longer wanted to come back to school each new year and see so many unfamiliar faces. Juilliard students are always very busy and it is sometimes discouraging to meet new people when we are often secluded from students in other majors. This year, I made it a point to make sure the new students were happy during their transition and to also be open to discovering new friendships. There is much truth to what President Polisi said in his welcoming speech—we all strive to be the best technicians we can be, but the beauty of Juilliard is that we are encouraged to transform that technique to discover our true artistry. This can only be done if we open our minds and embrace the many interesting and inspiring people around us. The artist within is cultivated and expansive, and cannot grow within the confinements of a studio. It was a pleasure to see young artists take that chance and enjoy themselves at orientation. Whether it was on a trip to Central Park, during Casino Night, or on the Circle Line cruise, everyone was letting loose and making ties. I hope the bonds we made during these first weeks will last us a lifetime, and I am excited to follow the journey of our new incoming class.

—Rachelle Scott, Third-Year Dancer