How WSA President David Aronov Plans to Build Community at NYU Wagner
by Gretha Suarez (MUP)
Name: David Aronov (MPA-PNP)
Hometown: Queens, NY
Current Employment/Internship: Lead Organizer for NYC Census 2020
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Queens in the most diverse county in the world. My parents fled as refugees from Uzbekistan during the collapse of the Soviet Union because of fear of religious persecution. Like any immigrant family, my parents worked as hard as they could to provide me and my sister with every opportunity to thrive. Growing up, I learned how to speak English and Russian at the same time, and attended public school all the way through college. The schools I attended were all really diverse and I gained a sense of appreciation from learning about different cultures early on.
What has driven your passion for community building and increasing engagement in the political process?
My advocacy work started when I was elected in high school as an 11th-grade representative. I had no interest in getting involved in student government, but I saw a lack of action and realized that I needed to do something if I wanted to see change. In my senior year, I was elected student body president. The way I was able to use my voice in this new role to elevate and represent others, combined with the change I was able to affect at 17 years old, allowed me to imagine a career in advocacy and envision the different leadership positions I could take on in the future.
Who are your role models?
As cliché as it may sound, my mom is my role model because I saw her struggle. She came to this country with a nursing background, but because she didn’t speak English she couldn’t practice in the field right away. My mother’s resilience and passion fuels me and reinvigorates me on my not-so-good days to go out and do better next time.
How do you manage graduate school and your full-time job?
I just started a new role as the lead organizer for NYC Census 2020, the city’s new office to ensure that all New Yorkers are counted in the upcoming census. Before this role, I worked for a New York City council member, joining in 2012 as an intern in high school and then moving through various positions for the next seven years. I stayed because I saw that I could affect change in the lives of New Yorkers. This also meant that I worked full-time while I was an undergrad student. What helped me then and now is my diligent time management skills.
What are some things you did in your role working for a city council member to advocate for your community?
I advocated for constituents on a variety of issues and represented the council member at numerous meetings and events. The part of my job that tied back into my community was working in the district that contained the largest population of Bukharian Jews in New York City, a community of about 50,000 in a single district in Queens, NY. As the director of community relations, I pushed for increased communal recognition of Bukharians. This involved working with elected officials to see the needs of Bukharian Jews, go to their events, sit down with them in meetings, and support their nonprofits and community programs.
Why did you run for President of the Wagner Student Association (WSA)?
I ran because I saw room for improvement and I knew I had the experience to do the job. I created the NYU Wagner Class of 2020 Facebook group soon after I accepted my offer of admission, and I was able to learn from my peers and build a greater sense of community at Wagner. One of the things I heard most often from students is that there aren’t enough events where they can gather in a social setting to just talk and get to know each other. This inspired me to advocate for more student space in the Puck Building.
What are your hopes for WSA in the coming year? What have you been working on since you joined?
For this year, we are working to revamp our events, have more WSA-led events, and promote co-sponsorship. A personal goal of mine is to host a sit-down dinner where first-year and second-year students can mingle and feel like a family. I also really want to work toward integrating second-year students with first-year students because that was an opportunity I saw lacking last year. One of our goals for this year is for all students to interact with their WSA members more, but especially for incoming students to know who their student representatives are to share any issues or concerns.