Jenny Dhoomo and Lauren Kirshenbaum both found out on Instagram.
Ms. Dhowmo, a 24-year-old New York University senior, was doing schoolwork in a cafe when she saw a friend’s post from Rolling Stone announcing that Taylor Swift would be speaking at NYU this month and her doctorate. will receive an honorary degree. Fine arts.
Ms Dhaumo, who will earn a degree in media, culture and communications after seven years of challenging college enrollment at three universities – she took time off to work and help her family – has been a fan of Ms Swift ever since. her boyhood in Queens; Ms. Swift’s debut album was her first CD. She worried about her prospects after graduating. The news was good.
“It felt like a strange sign, like an assurance that things would be okay,” Ms. Dhoomo said on the blossoming edge of Washington Square Park, the public space in Greenwich Village that doubles as the university’s quad. “I think she’s a symbol of my youth, and now that I’m into adulthood, she’s coming back to me. Not to re-live my childhood, but maybe to connect with my inner child a little bit.” ” To say, “Remember who you were when you were 11, and now that you are here today, this young woman is getting ready for the world.”
Ms. Kirshenbaum, a 22-year-old computer science major who is Ms Swift’s self-described “moderate fan”, expressed surprise at the singer’s persistence and relevance in her life. “It’s crazy to think about the people I grew up listening to — Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles — and how relevant they still are,” she said. “We have grown with them.”
Conversations with half a dozen seniors graduating at NYU arrived at the park, demonstrating the enormity of his relationship with Ms. Swift.
The pop star has released 10 albums that have hit #1 on the Billboard charts since 2006, almost the entirety of these students’ memory. So this personal relationship with him and his songs could be specific.
“She feels deeply. It’s a great talent,” said Senia Mason, a 21-year-old international relations major from Phoenix, who was photographing her graduation with her roommate, Isabel Jacques, a 22-year-old psychology major from Boston. “If I hear it, I’ll hear it, but I don’t go out of my way to find it.” She stopped. “‘1989,’ I really love that album. ‘Safe and Sound’, ‘Out of the Woods’, I love those songs too.”
Ms Jacques echoed the sentiment: “She looks really good and good. So it would be great to see him talk. But I can’t say I’m dying.”
Ms Swift’s pervasiveness extends to social media, an all-encompassing scroll in which the group was first immersed in adolescence. He has about 300 million combined followers on Instagram and Twitter, Though she follows zero people, and hasn’t posted much lately, her existence on those platforms in the formative years of these students has created a bond for many.
“I think in my generation, in particular, these are the cross-social relationships that develop with celebrities,” said 20-year-old Bay Area film chief Ishaan Parmar. “So, people will say that Taylor Swift is speaking at my graduation, and they think there’s going to be some kind of one-on-one connection with Taylor Swift. In fact, it’s probably a speech she wrote.” Whether or not she’s going to deliver at Yankee Stadium. But it’s still cool.”
According to an email from John Beckman, senior vice president of public affairs at NYU, honorary doctorate recipients are selected in areas in which the university conducts research and teaches — the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, law, medicine, business, public Service. “We select respected people whose talents, achievements and work will serve as examples for our graduates.” Past recipients have included Sonia Sotomayor, Ang Lee, Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Janet Yellen, Hillary Clinton and Clive Davis.
“The awarding of an honorary degree is a distinction that NYU takes very seriously,” wrote Mr. Beckman. “We have an extensive selection process that begins with an official nomination in writing by a member of the NYU community, followed by a vetting process by staff and then review and approval by the University Senate, and finally by the Board of Trustees.” When asked about how the specific recipients are chosen, he wrote that “the enrollment process and the views of the candidates are confidential.”
The election of Ms. Swift is not impossible. He is among the most famous people of his generation, and Brittany Spanos, a Rolling Stone senior writer, taught a class this year at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU (previous classes in this series have covered Stevie Wonder, James). Brown, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie. Asked whether the class was related to an honorary doctorate, Mr Beckman wrote, “As far as I know, there is no connection; it is a coincidence.”)
Nekesa Mumby Moody, editorial director of the Hollywood Reporter, said, “She really stirred up the conversation about the role of female pop stars.” Ms. Moody wrote a chapter on Ms. Swift for her 2018 book “Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce.” The Girl Groups to the Riot Grrl,” and her interviews with Ms. Swift for The Associated Press almost date back to the artist’s early days.
She noted Ms. Swift’s songwriting abilities, her ability to connect with her fans, and especially her enthusiasm. “It has forced us to rethink how we examine how female songwriters discuss their heartbeats,” said Ms. Moody. “She’s definitely endured a lot of conversation about it, some of it sexist.”
Although Ms. Kirshenbaum stopped listening to Ms. Swift’s music in high school, she has recently returned, and finds it renewed. “I remember growing up, all those teen magazines, and being portrayed as someone who dates a lot and then breaks up and writes songs about these people,” she said. “Now, we don’t see him that way. We see more complications.”
Ms. Swift’s ability to take her music in new directions and otherwise respond to the industry’s challenges also garners respect.
Johnson Liu, an animated 21-year-old biology major from Queens, described himself as “not really a fan” who years ago abandoned any brief affection for Ms. Swift in favor of heavy metal. But he respected this quality for his ability to shift styles to “jump into trying new techniques and approaches”, referring to this quality as a “pretty rad”.
When ownership of her previous songwriting catalog was sold to Scooter Braun, Ms. Swift was outraged. Bursting the system, she is re-recording and re-releasing her first six albums, allowing her to retain the rights to new versions and put a new spin on the songs. His fans have flocked to the albums. Even Swift skeptics like Mr Parmar described the tactic as “a beautiful boss move”.
Furthermore, all the students interviewed for this article thought having Ms. Swift as her commencement speaker brought cachet to her school and graduating class, and sparked joy in the pandemic-stricken collegiate career. Her presence felt like a gift, not least because so many people they knew, and even people they didn’t know, had approached her to participate.
“People are yearning for those tickets,” Mr Parmar said. Ms Dhaumo said she had heard of people trying to resell them, “but we are not allowed to.”
“Not that I thought about it,” she said. “But I thought, hey, this is like a really expensive-worthy ticket. It’s like the golden ticket to the candy factory in ‘Willy Wonka.
“I got texts from my friends saying, ‘Oh my god,’ and ‘I’m so earless,’ and ‘Are you selling your tickets? Ms Mason said. “I was like, no. I’m graduating from college. I want my mother there.”
Students only get two tickets, and the university is trying to enforce its ban on selling seats for the event, even by threatening to withdraw diplomas from rule breakers. It is also reminding the public that the speech Ms. Swift will deliver is traditionally a matter of five to 10 minutes, and is delivered on behalf of all respected people. (MIT President Susan Hawkfield and CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez will also receive honorary doctorates.)
“People should be aware that Ms. Swift, whom we are honoring as one of our honorary degree recipients this year, will be speaking, not giving a performance,” Mr. Beckman wrote. “Of course, her fans are very enthusiastic, so I’m not sure even awareness will curb her enthusiasm.”