Staff Portrait: Kevin Challenger

Monday, Nov 27, 2017
Juilliard Journal
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Kevin Challenger, public safety officer at Juilliard

Public Safety Officer

Since 2006, Kevin Challenger has been protecting and delighting members of the Juilliard community with his irrepressible cheer and can-do attitude. Born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, he went to Boys and Girls High School with “a very strict principal by the name of Frank Mickens” who became famous for transforming it into a high-achieving school. Kevin served in the Marine Corps (more about that below), and prior to arriving at Juilliard he worked in security at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel.

What do you remember about your first day at Juilliard?
I was a rover, and I was determined to learn all the ins and outs of the building. I’m not going to say how many times I got lost that day, but it was intense.

What’s been one of your favorite days here so far?
I don’t have just one favorite day, I have a certain day every year, and that’s graduation day. Seeing those students’ smiling faces and seeing those parents’ smiling faces just brings a tear to my eye. Knowing that they work so hard for this moment means the world to me.

What has surprised you about working here?
I never knew there were so many free performances that are available to the public. I love all kinds of music, and working here just gives me more opportunity to enjoy this blessing.

What might people be surprised to know about you?
That I am a World Trade Center survivor, I was trapped under some debris for more than an hour and I saved my supervisor’s life by running back in to get her and bringing her out safely by carrying her. I was named godfather to her daughter from that day on.

What’s the most memorable job you’ve had?
The U.S. Marine Corps. I traveled the world, met people from all walks of life, experienced all kinds of foods. But what made it most memorable was how the Marines molded me into the man I am today through discipline and taught me to appreciate life. Seeing how people live in other parts of the world is definitely a life-changer.

What was the best vacation you’ve had?
A 14-day tour of Italy with about 35 people—we visited Milan, Verona, Capri, Lake Como, Switzerland, Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, and Genoa. One thing that made it special was that there were two ladies in our group who turned 80 during the tour. So I arranged to have Italian singers perform for them at the restaurant where we took them for dinner and had it recorded for their memories.

Is there someplace you’ve always dreamed about going?
Iceland, Ireland, and Africa—I’ve been pretty much everywhere else.

If you had an out-of-the-blue day off, what would you do?
Anybody who is friends with me on Facebook knows I love music concerts and Broadway shows.

What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I write a lot of poetry, songs, scripts, and believe it or not, my passion is rap music. I have more than 200 songs already recorded.

If you could choose any meal, prepared by anyone, what would it be?
My mother’s oxtails—they are to die for.

What are you reading/listening to/watching/following?
I love reading James Patterson, I’m listening to any and everything—and this time of year I’m watching NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, ID Channel, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire, Designated Survivor, and Chicago—everything!!!

What’s the question you always get asked?
Can I walk around the building by myself?

What do you wish you’d get asked?
How is it that you’re always at work and still maintain a happy face?