Column Name


Tina Gonzalez
Director of Financial Aid


Tina Gonzalez with husband Dave Byrne on eastern Long Island, c. 1998.


Born in Queens and raised in Valley Stream, L.I., Tina earned a B.M. in vocal performance from the Boston Conservatory, and an M.S. in higher education administration from Baruch College. After graduation, she worked as the receptionist at the Boston Conservatory and later managed its box office. Before coming to Juilliard, she was the office manager at a recording studio outside Boston, where she had the privilege of witnessing recording sessions by Max Roach, Seiji Ozawa, and Barbara Bonney, among others.

How long have you worked at Juilliard, and what do you remember about your first day?
I started as assistant director of financial aid in March 1995. I remember having so much information hurled at me that first week and wondering how I was ever going to remember it all. I try to remember that feeling when students come to ask me questions, now that I’m the one doing the hurling!

What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I think I’d like to be a member of the production staff—a stage manager, or anybody who gets to hang out backstage during performances. I think that’s the best view in the house!

What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
When I was in college I played in a holiday handbell choir at Quincy Market in Boston. From Thanksgiving until Christmas we had seven outdoor performances every weekend. We wore these cute little sweaters, so of course we were always freezing! But it was fun to meet all the tourists in between shows, and afterwards, we’d all go hang out at the Black Rose and sing Irish songs.

If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
If it were a nice day, I would sit out in my backyard with a nice glass of merlot and a good book. If not nice, then the same thing—except inside, by the fireplace.

Did you continue pursuing your art, and if so, how do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
I do have a degree in voice, but I know how hard it is to make a living, even when you’re good. And to be honest, I wasn’t very good! But I still try to stay connected to music in whatever way I can. I’ve had some wonderful experiences singing in the Juilliard Choral Union, and I also play a little piano (badly), and I’m learning to play cello (slowly).

What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I love literature, especially Hesse, Kundera, and Tolstoy. I also love classic movies and good food, although I definitely did not inherit my mother’s cooking genes. I love animals. And I do enjoy sleeping, a lot.

What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
My favorite vacation was to Ireland, not only because it was our honeymoon, but because of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. I’m not a very outdoorsy kind of gal, but for once, I was truly in awe of nature.

What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’ve been an avid soap opera fan for many years, especially All My Children and One Life to Live. That’s an added bonus of working in this neighborhood—I get to wait in line for coffee with all my soap characters.

What is your favorite thing about New York City?
That there are limitless opportunities to see performances of every kind and of the highest possible caliber—and because of this, I’m able to see so many of our Juilliard alumni who still live in town or are at least passing through.

What book are you reading right now? Or what CD are you listening to?
I just finished two books about Iran: Neither East Nor West by Christiane Bird, and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Two very different memoirs of a rich and complicated nation.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
My grandmother attended Juilliard for voice and had a brief career as an opera singer. In fact, my grandparents met when my grandfather, a passionate opera lover, saw my grandmother on the beach at Coney Island, studying the score of LaBohème. I guess, if it weren’t for opera, I wouldn’t be here!


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