Maxxe Sternbaum, 20

Prince St between Mott and Mulberry Sts

Maxxe Sternbaum

Maxxe Sternbaum Photograph by Donald Bowers

"This hat was a gift from one of my best friends. It was freshman year and I saw it in this antique shop on the East Side and loved it. And then, like, two days later I had it."

Hint around and maybe your friends will be as thoughtful. Ellen Christine Millenary (255 W 18th St, 212-242-2457) has felt fedoras from $145.

Is Maxxe short for anything?No, my dad wanted to name me after his father, but when I turned out to be a girl he decided that he should feminize it with the xe.

Does that double x ever elicit racy comments? [Laughs] No, but I get a lot of double-consonant comments because my middle name is Evva. It was another family name, and my parents added that extra v. I think they were bored.

What do you do? I'm a junior at NYU.

What are you majoring in? I'm at Gallatin, so I get to name my major. It's "consciousness studies." It includes psychology, music theory, neuroscience and art history. I realized after my first two years that I was leaning in a direction of defining consciousness—what it is that makes us human and separate from every other animal.

Speaking of which, tell me about your dog. Her name is Beatrix. She's half rottweiler, half Labrador.

That's like saying half vicious, half sweet. She's really amazing. I adopted her from the ASPCA on 110th Street about eight months ago. She's so friendly. Everybody probably says that their dog is like a human, but she really, really, really exhibits human characteristics. She's got a sense of humor, she's kind of prissy but in a funny way...she cracks me up.

Does she protect you? Yeah, I never feel unsafe if I'm out late at night and she's with me.

Even though she's so friendly that she might just cozy up to your attacker? [Laughs] Yeah, she is really just a big ball of love—I guess it's the Lab in her. But I think all dogs can sense when there's danger.

So what will you do with a degree in consciousness? I don't know. If I could do anything, I'd be an artist and just paint all day.

And express your unconscious. Yeah, definitely. It's all connected.—Kate Lowenstein

Market editor Kristina Dechter