Class of 2015’s Gulinoz Javodova

Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-Bound. If you graduated from Guttman, you know a SMART goal when you see one. You couldn’t make it through the first week of Bridge without writing a few of your own. For example:

Class of 2015’s Gulinoz Javodova

  •  Make a self-navigating, color-directed robot and demo it to other university and tech innovators
  •  Become a Peer Mentor and Global Guttman Ambassador
  •  Earn CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership award
  •  Graduate with an AAS in Information Technology in 2015 and earn a BA in Film Production from Brooklyn College in 2018
  •  Pursue a career in film or photography in New York City…Um—Global Pandemic?

“That wasn’t part of my plan,” said the talented 28-year-old. “COVID just happened and the way I used to operate—just taking every opportunity, going for the next thing, and the next— Well, I had to make a lot of changes.” First among them was the decision to uproot from New York, a place she had called home since 2008 when her family moved to Queens from Uzbekistan, to follow them 10 years later when they relocated to Pittsburgh. “In my senior year in Brooklyn College, I was living alone, working on my senior film project, but my heart wasn’t in it. I really missed being around my mother, siblings, nieces, and nephews,” she said.

Her first job, once she moved, was photographing newborns at UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “It was so beautiful to see the reaction of the parents to their babies photos,” she smiled. “But it wasn’t enough hours, and then everything sort of stopped with COVID. I had to figure out what kind of work I could do from home. I thought, ‘What if I made a documentary about how people lived during COVID?’ I was thinking about how in the future I would want to show my children what life was really like during that time.” So, the short feature film, Pandemidoc 2020, was born.


Gulinoz reached out to her former Guttman classmate, New York Times journalist Derek Norman, and asked him for an interview. From there, she re-connected with Olad Aden, a Berlin-based street youth social worker and photographer she met in Germany through Global Guttman. Using her New York and Pittsburgh contacts, she went on to interview a hiphop performer, an immigration paralegal, a climate activist, and a spoken word artist. She wanted to feature diverse individuals who held a deep sense of purpose, and through their words and actions, to explore how they lived their way through the pandemic.

Pandemidoc 2020 is a visually rich, multilayered feast with an ultimately comforting effect—much like the colorful stew, shurpa, a signature Uzbek dish that Gulinoz swears her mother makes the best. The film succeeds as a textured, impressionistic documentary that inspires even as it forces the viewer to remember the lives lost to COVID, the protests of Black Lives Matter, languishing immigration detainees, and the only-too-temporary respite from excessive carbon emissions.

These days, Gulinoz brings her openness to change, creativity and to her life as it unfolds now, with her husband, Akobir, best friend of her brother’s. They married last year December in Uzbekistan and are eagerly anticipating their reunion for the birth of their first child. “It is so hard to be apart,” she says. “He is my peace, my joy, my soulmate. We talk multiple times a day. We are so blessed to have found one another; he completes me.” Meanwhile, Gulinoz is surrounded by the warmth of her family in Pittsburgh. She continues to work from home for UPMC, using her skills in technology to support and schedule patients for telemedicine appointments.

“I’m essentially a hopeful person,” she says. “Yes, goals are important, but so is openness to the thing life is offering you. I’m learning that life will keep moving, and that to move with it, I have to look around. I have to believe I can do something—for myself, my family, and my community. To make your life, you have to do it.”

View Gulinoz’s powerful 38-minute documentary.

See her snappy marketing video for Guttman.