Meet University Life
Travis Vidic is the Operations Manager for University Life. He comes from Columbia University's Office of Religious Life, where he worked as both student and staff. He is an alum of Columbia’s School of General Studies, and a recent graduate from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where he received an MA. There he wrote his thesis under Dr. Farah Griffin on the ontology of riot, through Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “Riot,” and scholars Sylvia Wynter, Antonio Gramsci, and Stuart Hall. He is currently studying performance, Black, and interdisciplinary studies with Fred Moten at NYU. Travis is also passionate about music (live), volunteering with Columbia's Justice in Education Program, and biking down the Hudson when the sun’s got things looking pink.
Stephanie Busch is the Assistant Director for Student Life at University Life. She holds a B.A. in American Sign Language and an M.S. in Educational Administration in Student Affairs with specialization in Academic and Career Advising from the University of Rochester. Before joining University Life, she worked at Columbia University School of Nursing supporting student life, admissions, and student services. Before Columbia, she worked at The School of the New York Times as a Student Life and Communications Specialist.
Stephanie hails from Long Island and loves the autumn season and her dogs. She's still exploring campus, and so far Stephanie’s favorite spot is College Walk.
Peter Donatich is an executive assistant for University Life. Peter started his Columbia career in the Office of the President where he worked as Senior Administrative Coordinator for several years. Before Columbia, he worked at Oxford University Press and DC Comics, and in addition to publishing, he worked in consulting and lobbying. Peter earned a B.A. in English from Amherst college, and he has a fondness for karaoke and enjoys exploring New York City with his wife and friends.
Olger C. Twyner, III, is Executive Director of Community Impact (CI) at Columbia, a non-profit with a mission to advance the public good in Upper Manhattan through volunteer and service initiatives in the areas of youth, adult education, emergency services, and health.
Olger earned a B.A. in History from Jackson State University, a J.D. from The Ohio State University College of Law, and an M.B.A. in Public and Non-Profit Management from Columbia Business School. He has worked with a variety of legal and non-profit organizations, including Southeast Mississippi Legal Services, the Ford Foundation, Mississippi Center for Justice, and Row New York. In higher education, Olger has also been engaged in community outreach and public service initiatives at Columbia Business School, NYU Law School, Double Discovery Center, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Olger is an avid New York Yankees fan and enjoys cooking and international travel. His favorite place on the Columbia campus is the Low Library steps, directly behind Alma Mater, facing Butler Library at Dusk.
Niko Crawford is the First Year Experience Coordinator at University Life. He has experience in student support roles at Columbia and New York University focused on connecting students to resources for well-being, sexual respect, and social justice. He is pursuing a Master's Degree at Teachers College in Politics and Education, centered on building democratic and anti-racist pedagogies.
Niko hails from the Bay Area, California, and is a current Brooklynite and lover of RnB and Filipino food. He loves to take in the views of the Amsterdam overpass bridge.
Maya Castronovo ('23) attends Columbia College and is pursuing a major in film and media studies. She is interested in the intersections among social justice, awareness and video content. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Maya is excited to explore all the film opportunities that New York City has to offer. Her favorite spots in Morningside Heights include Yoga to the People and The Hungarian Pastry Shop.
Lori Paulson came to University Life from the School of General Studies communications team, where she served as a Communications Assistant. She is also a GS alumna (GS '21), with a degree in Psychology. Lori's interest in web design and strategy stems back to the days of Angelfire and Geocities, where she liked to build pages about her cats and favorite musicians (not a lot has changed). She's also passionate about viewing the student experience holistically. While originally from Seattle, Lori has moved across the country a couple of times and now lives in Brooklyn. She's excited to combine her site-building and organizational skills with her passion for higher education as she continues her journey at Columbia.
Joseph Defraine Greenwell serves as vice president for student affairs in University Life. A leader and strategic partner in student affairs for more than 20 years, he has served at University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State, Stanford, Colgate and Vanderbilt Universities. In his role at University Life, Joseph partners with Columbia's 17 schools, central student services and students, staff and faculty on a wide range of student affairs and campus climate topics. He focuses on wellness and mental well-being, equity and inclusion, and community citizenship in order to best support students at Columbia and beyond.
Joseph received his doctorate of education in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University, where he also earned his bachelor's of music and master's in education degrees. He is passionate about the arts, plays piano, enjoys exercise and hiking and is excited to collaborate with all members of the Columbia University community to continually enhance the student experience.
Jessica Pavone serves as Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for University Life. She has a wide-ranging background in communications and strategy, and has served in leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. Jessica joined University Life in 2021, initially serving as Executive Director of Communications. She is a skilled storyteller and has crafted and managed high impact communication strategies and marketing campaigns over the course of her career, as well as strategic initiatives at multiple organizations.
Jessica has worked in the field of education since 2014, from Pre-K through higher education. Her past experiences include Chief of Staff for the KIPP Foundation’s Policy and Public Affairs team, the NYC Department of Education, where she led operations for the Universal Pre-K expansion. Prior to that, Jessica worked in urban planning, economic development and disaster resiliency at the American Red Cross for Greater New York and New York City Economic Development Corporation. She holds a Master’s in Urban Policy from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a B.A. in Spanish and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A lover of great public spaces, Jessica enjoys summer picnics on Morningside with her family, and exploring Columbia’s campuses.
Rev. Dr. Ian Rottenberg directs Columbia’s Earl Hall Center for Religious Life. Dean Rottenberg has academic degrees in philosophy and theology from Haverford College, Yale University, and Fordham University. As a leader of faith communities, he is passionate about increasing multi-faith dialogue, promoting mutual understanding, and working to meet the diverse religious needs of our university community.
He loves appreciating Columbia’s collection of outdoor sculptures and frequenting the many great coffee shops on and around campus.
Gabriela is the Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives for University Life. She formerly served in the Office of Global Inclusion at New York University (NYU). Gabriela began her career in local government where she gained skills in community engagement, collaboration, and event planning. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University and a Master of Public Administration from NYU.
Gabriela is originally from San Diego, California, and enjoys listening to podcasts, exploring NYC, and DIY projects. She looks forward to exploring Columbia University and finding a favorite place on campus!
Eunisha Tucker is the Project Coordinator for Student Life, Inclusion & Belonging for University Life. She has experience implementing DEI-centered programming, events, and trainings to enhance student sense of belonging and promote cultural competency amongst faculty, staff, and admin. They recently completed their master's in Higher Education Student Affairs at New York University. They served as the graduate assistant for programs and events with the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs.
Eunisha is a native New Yorker hailing from Brooklyn. She enjoys listening to K-pop and Beyoncé, creating playlists on Spotify, and watching anime. They look forward to exploring more of the campus and discovering their favorite restaurant on the West Side!
Emma Winters is Content Strategist & Editorial Coordinator for University Life at Columbia. Prior to joining University Life, she managed communications for three years at the Center for Migration Studies of New York, a think tank and educational institute that studies international migration and promotes rights-respecting immigration policy. She began her career reporting Catholic news and working on audio, newsletters, and social media at America Media. Emma is a 2018 graduate of Boston College.
Dawoom Jung is a Graduate Assistant at University Life. She is studying Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy with a specialization in International Organizations and UN Studies at the School of International and Public Affairs.
Before joining Columbia University, she worked as a Communications Officer at an Asia-Pacific regional organization in South Korea. She also has experience in student leadership roles at Yonsei University, where she holds her B.A. in International Studies, and Justice and Civil Leadership. Dawoom is from Seoul, South Korea but she grew up in Aurangabad, India for most of her life. She is fluent in both Korean and Hindi and loves to explore the diverse Asian cultures and cuisines in NYC.
David is the Social & Multimedia Specialist for University Life. He has a BA in Journalism from Brooklyn College and has spent the past few years in the non-profit and public education world where he loved sharing the stories of students and staff alike on social media.
David was born and raised in Queens and is a big New York sports fan. You can often find him at Yankee stadium or Citi field catching a baseball game, but he's also looking forward to exploring his new home at Columbia University.
Christian Johanson is the Financial Analyst for University Life. He has been a staff accountant in the software industry for the past few years and has worked in finance since 2018. He is passionate about increasing department efficiency through the implementation of new technologies and systems. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, visiting museums, trying new restaurants, and exploring NYC with friends and family.
Cherryl Pereira (‘24) is an M.A. candidate in Social-Organizational Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an associate at the Organization and Human Development Consulting Club (OHDCC), a student-led organization where she works on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism (EDIA) initiatives. Originally from Mumbai, India, this is her first time in the states and away from home. She is excited to see everything New York offers and wants to make the most of her time here. Apart from being a huge fan of performing arts, she is a violinist who deeply appreciates music. She loves making friends and meeting new people, so be sure to say hi!
Camilla Nelson is the Administrative Coordinator for University Life. Camilla joins University Life with an event planning and operations background in the fashion and financial services industries. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Retail, Merchandising, and Product Development from Florida State University. Originally from Miami, FL, Camilla is a proud Brazilian-American who spends her free time performing in musicals, enjoying Central Park, and honing her volleyball skills. Her favorite place on campus is College Walk when the trees are decorated for the holiday season.