In 2005, Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans native Paul Gennaro a new purpose in life. He set out to make a documentary film about struggling families in post-Katrina New Orleans. There was one hitch: Gennaro, an aspiring screenwriter, didn’t really know much about documentaries, or film production in general. He also did not have a bachelor’s degree. He decided to correct both deficiencies.
Paul Gennaro walked into his New School admission interview feeling anxious. He was attracted by The New School's tradition of progressive education and its historical connection with philosopher John Dewey, but "I wasn't a traditional college candidate. My academic background was nonexistent, but they gave me a shot, and it made all the difference."
NSPE's unconventional undergraduate program allowed Gennaro to focus on media and film. "The flexibility the teachers gave working students was unparalleled. If someone needed an extra day for an assignment—no problem," he says.
During his first year, he took a digital media course taught by David Arcos. "David introduced me to several people at the United Nations, where I volunteered as a photographer and film editor." Soon Gennaro was working full-time as a video editor in the office of legal affairs at the UN while he finished his bachelor's degree.
Paul Gennaro currently oversees the production of the International Law Lecture series for the UN. He completed his post-Katrina documentary, Washed Away. Now he and fellow student Jacob Estes are working on a film about pesticides in agriculture, to be called Vegetables of Mass Destruction. When not busy shooting interviews, he is working on a master's degree in Media Management at NSPE.