Sara Hofstein currently works in animation in Vienna, Austria on the US TV series Talking Tom and Friends and is in post-production on her live-action directorial debut, the short film Refuge. Click READ MORE for the full interview.
Looking back on your time at SCDS, what do you value as being the most important life lesson you acquired?
Take risks, get out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to be different.
Discuss your preparedness for college and how this has translated into your current career path?
I entered Columbia University with approximately 18 credits--more than a semester’s worth--due to the amount of AP classes I had taken at Country Day. This gave me the freedom to pursue other interests, and I took exploratory classes on film, astronomy, German, and even extra classes in my major, Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Ever since I was a child, I always knew what I wanted to study in college. Mr. Onorato’s freshman English class, and specifically the unit on Arthurian literature, cemented that desire, and taking extra Medieval English classes above what was required only enriched my university experience.
The extra credits also allowed me to take lighter loads some semesters so I could have the time to intern in the field in which I wanted to pursue my career: Film. I interned at ABC, NBC, and a few independent production companies during the school year, and used the contacts I built at these companies to land jobs during the summer on films and TV shows in New York, Atlanta, and Savannah. This work ethic snowballed into a full-time position at a production company in New York within one month of graduation in 2011, in a city still feeling the effects of the recession, and with jobs difficult to find all around.
What SCDS teacher had the greatest impact on your academic and professional career and why?
This question is difficult to answer because I truly appreciated all my teachers, and Mr. Weber, Dr. Owens, Mrs. Caparisos (Sideris), Mr. Braithwaite, Mrs. Lucas, and Mr. Foley all certainly deserve mentions.
That being said, Dr. Boyd, without a doubt, had the greatest impact during my time as Country Day. Though he never admitted it, I know Dr. Boyd championed me throughout high school. He helped me find a place at Country Day where I could embrace my nerdy self. He was (and I’m sure still is!) a fantastic teacher and a terrific Quiz Bowl and World Quest coach. His wife is an equally amazing pianist and she became my piano teacher. He ultimately helped me to be unafraid to pursue my interests, no matter how diverse they may be.
What would be your advice to our current seniors as they begin their college and professional career adventure?
Speaking from personal experience, when I stepped onto the Columbia campus, I felt very indifferent about it. I didn’t have the “Eureka” moment where I knew it would be the place for me. I didn’t even like New York City. Yet I still chose Columbia because it offered the major I wanted and because its location in a metropolis offered opportunities to explore life outside of the classroom. College was an amazing and challenging experience that allowed for true personal growth; I knew by my second year that Columbia was absolutely the best place for me. If I had followed the gut feeling I had at 16 and chosen differently, I would not be where or who I am now. My advice to current seniors would be to attend a university in an unfamiliar environment as adversity helps us learn and grow.