A lover of Junot Diaz, Johann Sebastian Bach, and the Baroque era, Dania Duran is powering through her senior year at New York University with the elusive end-goal of paid post-grad employment. The Oceanside, Long Island native majors in journalism and music, but happily mentions her abandoned minor in Creative Writing, and smiles behind her thick Ray-Ban glasses at the thought of her favorite book (Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”). When she’s not in class, this fiery 21-year old plays principal viola for the N.Y.U. Community Orchestra, takes on the challenges of being an older sister, and rides the Long Island Railroad back and forth from home. Dania shies away from making concrete career plans, but hopes that music-related pursuits are in the notes of her future.

Choosing a track: I came into N.Y.U. as a pre-med major under the pressure of my parents to be something I wasn’t. I went to public school, but we had a good AP program and a college honors program, so I took a lot of science courses; I hated all of them and I don’t know why I picked the pre-med track. I got to N.Y.U. and I was like— no, no, no! I decided that all the writing I had done scientifically wasn’t because I enjoyed science, but because I enjoyed writing, so I picked journalism. And then you have to co-major with something: I realized that I’ve been playing the viola for 13 years, I love music, I basically talk about it any chance I get, why not just do a music major?

College as a “musical” experience: One song by Bach to describe my college experience: the prelude to Suite No. 6. It’s a little chaotic, a little messy. It starts off fairly organized and then progressively gets more complicated. It’s originally a cello piece, but it’s really hard and very layered; there’s structure, but there’s also chaos within that structure. You know what you’re doing, but at the same time, you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t know where it’s going to go but it will just reach a conclusion whether you can play it or not.

Siblings and the city: My sister, Kristina, also goes to N.Y.U. She’s in the Liberal Studies Program, she’s younger. Last year we lived on the same street, but in two different buildings— she lived in Founders Hall and I lived a couple blocks over. She’s the only sibling I have; we’re very close. I feel protective of her, naturally, being the older one, but I go to her for a lot of advice.She’s very personable, and she’s usually my jumping board for a lot of decisions I make. Possibly in the future we’ll live together, but I feel like she should stay in the dorms for now. She’s a sophomore, she should have that experience— I had that experience.

Digging up cultural roots: My dad came here when he was 11 from the Dominican Republic. My mom is Puerto Rican and French and Italian, and Spanish from Spain, so I’m half Dominican and half a bunch of other miscellaneous romantic countries and Puerto Rican. At first I kind of rejected any part of being Spanish, but I didn’t reject it voluntarily; it just kind of was never brought up. Now, it’s like taking in two sides of a coin, realizing there are two parts to everything. Having two different perspectives on something, not a lot of people have that. The struggle my father has put in to create a life here in this country is something I’ve been able to see in a new light. He would discuss all the hard work he has done, but I think I never really understood all the challenges he faced.

Decisions, decisions: My plans for the future: getting a job. I guess I’ll apply to grad school, I’m not totally sure, and if I get in, great. If I don’t get in, I need to find a job that pays money— it doesn’t even have to be journalism at first, I just need to find something. I’m not sure if I want to do journalism, I could do journalism, but I’m also really interested in scholarly music pursuits—kind of like critical classical analysis. Ethnomusicology seems very interesting to me, I would love to be able to understand the cultural and historical structures that music can take place in.


Written by Jane Gayduk