Nichole Knight arrived at Juilliard in October 2010, to take a part-time evening position and three months later became the associate in the Office of Student Affairs (O.S.A.). Before starting full-time, she also taught English to international students at Kaplan International College’s language school. Born in New Haven, Conn., and raised in nearby Waterbury, Nichole attended Smith College, where she earned a B.A. in film studies. As the Student Affairs associate, she helps out in all aspects of the office including scheduling and organizing O.S.A. events and activities, working with student groups, troubleshooting during orientation, and assisting in the Residence Life Office. Knight also notes that she manages the O.S.A. Facebook fan page, “which everyone should ‘Like’!”
What is one of the things you like best about your work?
Since our office strictly works with students in a nonperforming capacity, I always love going to performances to see students in their element.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I think I’d get a lot of fulfillment helping to build and paint sets. Actually working in any of the production shops would be fun, because there’s always a tangible result you can point to and say, “yeah, I did that.” And I think it’d be nice to work with my hands.
What is the most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
My most memorable work experience was not so much a job as it was a life, and that would be the two years I spent teaching English in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. I was not only a teacher but also a cultural ambassador. I taught in two junior high schools, one rural and one suburban, coached English speech competitors and shared presentations on various aspects of life abroad. Outside of teaching, I really found that the arts helped me to connect to my community. I joined and performed with a local dance class and played on a taiko (traditional Japanese) drumming team for two years. The memories I have from then and the relationships formed there are really important to me.
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve ever had?
I don’t know about the single craziest day, but the craziest period here at Juilliard was certainly orientation 2011. It’s normally a very hectic time, but with new students moving in during a hurricane, last-minute changes to the schedule, and the subway system shutting down, it certainly isn’t something I’ll forget anytime soon. And did I mention that it was my first orientation here?
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Depends on the weather—if it was nice out but not too hot, I’d probably go biking around Brooklyn or look up some hiking trails. If it was in any way inclement, I’d head to a movie, museum, or my favorite coffee shop in the West Village.
Where would you most like to travel and what draws you to that place?
Living in Japan, I was able to travel all over Asia. I was part of a volunteer group that raised money and helped to build houses in a Dalit village in Andhra Pradesh, India. That trip was demanding, but very rewarding. I’d really like to travel around South America: I’d see Machu Picchu, hop over to Brazil, work on a farm in Argentina, straddle the equator in Ecuador, and then jet out to the Galápagos. I’m just really interested in seeing new places.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
While I am not a professional artist, I keep the arts in my extracurricular pursuits. Since being in New York, I’ve taken dance classes at Ailey, sung in a chorus, and trained for three months with the East Coast’s oldest taiko team. When I was younger, I also played the flute and violin, and was active in musical theater. One reason I probably never pursued one artistic endeavor professionally is that I wouldn’t have been able to choose one above all the others.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I’m really active in New York’s chapter of the JET alumni association, and we do a lot of networking and also plan Japanese cultural events. I’d really like to get back into film, which I haven’t done since graduating; I particularly enjoyed post-production work. This summer, I raced in the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (in New York) for the first time with the New York Dragonflies. Also, any of my work-study students will tell you I’m pretty serious about spur-of-the-moment songwriting—it’s a craft.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’ve been on Broadway! To be fair, it was during an eighth-grade field trip. We came to New York to see Ragtime, and there was a behind-the-scenes segment for school kids before the show. To demonstrate the effect of lighting on the costumes, three volunteers stood on stage wearing primary-color raincoats while the lights changed around them. I was one of the volunteers. My English teacher at the time told me that from then on, I was allowed to say I’d been on the “boards of Broadway.”
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
My absolute favorite thing about this city is the way that the funniest coincidences can happen in the most unexpected moments. This city has a way of really picking you up when you need it! A close second would be all the cool free stuff there is to do in the summer.
Spontaneous dance parties are therapeutic!