Student or Learner
"Born and raised in Atlanta, John graduated from New York University (,) specializing in applied arts."
Is putting a comma after "University" discretionary? I think that when speaking one would make a short pause after "University," but I'm not sure if that warrants a comma.
I feel it's necessary there. You have three quite different thoughts combined in that sentence. Both commas are need to help read the whole thing naturally.