Nina Gurak ’16, R.A., D.J., and “resident badass,” sat down with The Argus to discuss her leadership on campus, sense of humor, and manipulation of her residents with cookies.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated as a WesCeleb?
Nina Gurak: Well, it probably has to do with the fact during sophomore year, I learned all of the words to the radio edit of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”
A: Wait, seriously?
NG: No. I don’t know. That question is hard.
A: Did you learn that song for your WESU radio station or simply because you wanted to?
NG: No, I just thought it would make me a cooler R.A. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. But it did get me some traction.
A: You’re like Daniel Radcliffe. He performed a song-slash-rap on “The Graham Norton Show ” in which he sings/raps/lists all of the elements of the periodic table!
NG: Yeah! He has this other alphabet song he raps on “Jimmy Fallon. ” I forget the name, but search it up.
A: Tell me more about your WESU radio show.
NG: I play unusual Broadway songs. I’ve had my show since the spring of my freshman year. It’s called “Beyond Broadway” on Sundays from 6:30-7:30 [p.m.]. I also really like metal, so I’ll sometimes throw that in there. I’ve done some interesting shows. I did one where I talked about a news release about someone, who for two nights only off Broadway, was doing a show about the life of Jesus using only Britney Spears songs.
A: Do you do theater? Is that was got you interested in musicals?
NG: Not really. I grew up in a family that was really appreciative of the arts, knowing full well that none of us were talented enough to pursue the arts. So, like, an appreciation. And maybe critique, too. I think the interesting thing about radio is that if you tell a joke and you don’t an immediate response, which sounds obvious! I remember my first show; I played a song from “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” Paris Hilton is in the movie version, and she plays the role of a woman who is the daughter of this gigantic cooperation, and she’s obsessed with plastic surgery. My joke was, “Oh yeah, she’s really stretching her acting skills here.” Then no one laughed, but then I remembered, “It’s radio.” So I just paused and said, “Okay . . . Moving on.”
A: Do you have a favorite Broadway musical?
NG: My favorite is “Rags.” Not many people know about it. It’s about these Jewish immigrants’ experience in New York City. The music is beautiful and the story is interesting, but dark. It’s been my favorite show since the first grade. I have a real sense of loyalty when it comes to favorites. Like, my favorite band is still my favorite band from like, seventh grade.
A: What is it?
NG: I’d rather not say! [Laughs] It’s a little embarrassing. A little fun fact: My car is named after the lead singer of the band. My car’s name is Mick. You’re never going to guess the band!
A: What do you do on campus?
NG: I’m mostly involved in sexual violence and sexual health activism. I’m one of the co-presidents for Students for Consent and Communication, a student title IIX member, and I’m one of the core people in ASHA. I do a lot of reproductive justice work with local and national affiliates. I’m also an R.A. I also did “Prometheus,” but I’m no longer a practicing member.
A: Yeah! I live in the Butts A, and they still practice on the lawn.
NG: Yeah! I was an R.A. in my sophomore spring. One thing that I did, which I loved, was camping out in the hallway, and I would put my feet up and have some cookies. I would be like, “You’re not allowed to pass unless you tell me something about your life and eat a cookie!”
A: Best R.A. ever.
NG: [Laughs] I still do that! If I feel like someone hasn’t or won’t talk to me, I’ll position myself and ask [my residents] to tell me a fun fact about their life! I love being an R.A., and people are just so cool. Everyone is so fun and interesting. My residents are always a hoot and a half.
A: Tell me about your study abroad experience in Samoa.
NG: I took a semester off from Wesleyan and went with a separate academic program. I’ve never felt so small, being on a tiny island in the middle of the vast vast ocean. It was a wild experience. Like people sit on top of each other on buses and it’s called “stacking.” That’s fun. I didn’t have a problem adjusting. The only thing were the bugs. Outside and inside is a very fluid place.
I got to do so many incredible things, like cliff jumping and swiming with giant clams. I was also the “resident badass” in my program, which is not normally a role that I occupy. The title was given to me because I was the only person to jump off the cliff. I got into two bar fights [intervening as a bystander], and I won one!
I stayed with my host family in their village for two weeks. One time, our water ran out, and we had to walk to the cousin’s house a mile away. We were all huddled under this shower. You’re not suppose to shower naked, so you use a sarong type cloth. The showers are outdoors, so you wouldn’t shower naked in your yard. So we’re all showering under this little spigot of water. I finished showering and my host mom turns to me and says in English, “Oh Nina, did you wash your pussy?” This is a very conservative culture, and I was literally dying, laughing so hard. Like, this is such a universal truth: We’ve all got to care for each other’s pussies. It’s just how it is! I thought that was so great; what a great moment.