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Tony Ferrara

A Message To New Yorkers

By Courage No Comments

New York City is dead forever.

A claim so comprehensive and all-encompassing that it lacks the substance to garner true attention from New Yorkers. Still, it conveniently reaches the tongues of pessimists and spreads like wildfire in an already-tense social, political, and economic climate—the perfectly chaotic and anxiety-inducing combination for students, professionals, and families transitioning back into New York City. Of course, to say that New York is the same bustling metropolis, holy grail of nightlife/culture, and flooded tourist attraction it was last February is to reject the truth. And how could it be? But to say that New York is dead, lifeless, and unrecoverable is to turn your back on your home—and that is a notion I must reject.

Back in late February when COVID-19 first posed a threat in New York, there was just one overarching emotion that found commonplace among the city’s population—fear. As we faced the brunt of COVID-19’s effects throughout the spring and into the summer, this deep-rooted fear unfolded, grew, and took the shape of real, tangible, life-changing tragedy. Tens of thousands of human lives were taken, and countless measures of human progress—long-developed businesses, future study/travel plans, or major events including that of athletics and politics—were delayed if not wholly eliminated. New York City would quickly become the COVID-19 capital of the world, making a name for itself as the singular most unsafe place to reside during the pandemic—and yet, remarkably, New York proceeded to crawl up from the depths of COVID-19’s effects, stand as a model, leader, and forward innovator to urban spaces around the world in the areas of COVID-19 prevention, research, and recovery, and come to be defined by its overall solidarity, compassion, and genuine regard for human livelihood and safety. Never before in my entire life did I feel so proud to call a place my home than I did during the aftermath of the pandemic’s worst, and never did I predict a city as large, iconic, and reputably unforgiving as New York—with residents hailing from every corner of the world, practicing every faith, and living such drastically different lives from their mere closest neighbors—to become small. Shrink. Integrate into a single unit bound by genuine hope, unwavering commitment, and calculated action. To express the slightest bit of disregard, lack of empathy, or fruitless negativity toward a city that has shown such resilience in the face of a pandemic would be a grave disservice.

And oftentimes—conveniently, of course—those claiming that New York City is “dead forever” have absolutely no will, plan, or desire to change it. There is undeniably a certain demographic that criticizes from a comfortable distance, and far too often that demographic is comprised of people who would rather moan over basic inadequacies than make the first step toward solutions (i.e. donating to local hospitals/healthcare workers, staying indoors/following safety protocols, supporting local restaurants and businesses, etc.). This mindset is not unique or original in light of the current pandemic, but rather holds true through an array of different topics and institutions—politics, policies, social issues, and so on. Logically speaking, how much easier is it to complain about an issue than to actually solve it? Or rather, attempt to solve it? Contribute to solutions? Much, unfortunately. And while many of us recognize that such a mindset is unproductive and vain, it’s quite effortless in its execution. Why exert effort into hope, optimism, and practicality when you can comfortably slide into the groove of pessimism—a fan favorite and easy conversation starter! In fact, I’m beginning to sound pessimistic myself.

Thus, as you can imagine, it upset me when I announced to family and friends that I was moving back to New York City for my sophomore year of college and was met with this exact sort of negativity. Not only did it bother me, but it opened my eyes to the ubiquity of such a thought process—one marked by blind and utter complacency. Complacency in our current systems, institutions, and problems. Complacency in accepting the fact that there is greater comfort and familiarity in negativity than in forward thinking and progress. While it can be daunting to speak on ideas, solutions, or topics you’re passionate about in a genuinely positive manner, it will be personally rewarding to know that you’ve moved in the direction of change and haven’t fed into the negativity that is oftentimes so welcoming and comfortable. Courage is a value we hold deep to our core here at Scholars of Finance, and it’s one that New Yorkers unapologetically express as they stay positive, aid in the city’s social and economic redevelopment, and make their way back to residence. Facing such criticism and negativity not one but several times before my move back to New York has been quite difficult, but as mentioned, I’ve confronted it with my passion for positive change, commitment to forward thinking, and loyalty to New York’s recovery—and haven’t looked back since.

In a world where one can choose to be anything, I may never understand why so many choose to be negative. How can you live a positive life with the weight of a negative mind? Moving forward, when prompted with “Why would you move back there now? New York City won’t ever return to normal!” I’ll simply make it known that normal wasn’t in the cards—New York will be back and better.

Enduring the COVID-19 Quarantine

By Courage, Curiosity, Humility, Impact, Integrity No Comments

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the world as a singular, integrated entity—one free of borders, restrictions, or individual nations. Rather, a massive unit of free-flowing thought, boundless inspiration, and limitless ideas. With our current circumstances, how could I not? No matter which corner of the Earth you hail from, you are likely to be one of billions stuck at home, battling similar feelings of concern, angst, or frustration toward the COVID-19 quarantine. However, looking past its overtly devastating impact and a tragic impediment to society, COVID-19 has left one particularly remarkable effect on the world—solidarity

A new degree of global awareness, one that is far too often lost in the hectic pace of everyday life, has been garnered by so many of us. For example, never have I found myself so engaged in the daily lives and feelings of those from Italy or China, who were initially afflicted the most dramatically. Never have I been so inspired by the collective voices of citizens singing from balconies, or videos of healthcare workers stripping their masks off in celebration of success. Never have I felt so in sync with the world or understood so clearly the nature of humanity—to suffer, and heal, as one.

Still, even with a firm grasp of the nature and severity of the situation, how are we going to get through this? As Scholars of Finance members, business students, and analytical enthusiasts, we are certainly accustomed to a level of unpredictability, but never before on this scale. How can we make the most of our time during the COVID-19 quarantine? In what ways can we harness growth and continue to build our personal and professional skillsets? While I am no expert, I am happy to share the number of ways I have been sustaining my productivity and sanity, plus a few more that might help you do the same.

First and foremost, while I have continued maintaining relationships that I have formed with professionals during my first semester at NYU Stern, I have also continued maintaining personal relationships. It is equally as important to check in on those who care about you and to be responsive. Allow your academic and professional roles to be principal in your life, but prioritize your friends and family just as carefully. From personal experience, when you have trouble balancing all of these different sectors of life, consider revisiting the Scholars of Finance core values—integrity, humility, curiosity, courage, and impact—to help guide your decisions.

Furthermore, it is very possible to excel in your academics. Following a relatively strict time schedule to complete your coursework, possibly one identical to your pre-quarantine schedule, deems itself a promising plan. Give yourself a structure. Consistency is key. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to change out of those pajamas you’ve worn for three days!

On a more professional note, it is unfortunate to hear that many summer internships have been canceled. However, there are a number of firms that are willing to accommodate internships digitally. In fact, just last week I interviewed for a firm that told me to expect the possibility of an online transition. Additionally, there is a multitude of online resources aimed at providing alternatives to those whose internships have been canceled: I’d recommend simply opening up your LinkedIn account, and I can guarantee that a number of these resources will pop up on your feed. If you’re having trouble, be sure to reach out to your established connections or create a post—you never know who might be able to help you. Luckily, interview prep, resume workshops, and career panels are still in abundance. Many companies are hosting live and interactive webinars, such as Wells Fargo’s 2020 Beyond College Webinar Series, and are committed to your success now more than ever.

With that, I hope a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you are able to find clarity in the transition to a digital academic/professional experience if it comes down to it. Again, it can be extremely beneficial to stay busy. Keep up with your coursework, continue advancing your professional skills, and maybe even pick up a new hobby—personally, I’m trying to learn Spanish!

To the extent that you can, try to mirror or slightly modify activities that helped you find success, and peace, before the days of the COVID-19 quarantine. In the midst of enormous chaos, it is vital that you keep stillness inside of you. Here at Scholars of Finance, there is a tremendous amount of support and guidance through all of this, so do not hesitate to reach out to a member or an executive should you feel lost or defeated—maybe even consider joining our organization in the future. Lean on your family, friends, and mentors as you see fit. It is difficult to overstate the tragedy and disturbance that COVID-19 has brought us, so please know that any fears or concerns you may have are valid, understood, and empathized with. Above all, stay positive and hopeful for the future—your own future, the future of the sick or less fortunate, the future of the economy, and the future of the cities you might call home. As not just a member of Scholars of Finance but a student at NYU Stern, I am incredibly hopeful and optimistic for the greatest city in the world (and others) to beat COVID-19 and to return just a little bit greater.

 

— 

Tony Ferrara is a member of Scholars of Finance and one of the original Co-Founders at New York University. Tony is currently a freshmen at New York University and is majoring in finance and sustainable business with a minor in public policy at the Stern School of Business.

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