Adam Schwartzbaum '07
An English degree at Brandeis is a pathway to the humanities. I knew I was going to become an English major during my freshman year class, Introduction to Literary Theory. As Professor King demonstrated how different philosophies, critical theories, and perspectives could influence the way we read and the meaning we take from reading, he radically transformed my worldview. I majored in English & American Literature because it perfectly complemented my interest in thinking and researching across disciplines.
About half of my English classes were centered on poetry, while the others were more theoretical. I loved every poetry class, which I still consider the most difficult and rewarding medium for literary study. Poetry classes taught me the many ways in which meaning can be expressed, and gave me an appreciation not only for the significance of language, but for its sounds, textures and rhythms. My more theoretical classes helped me draw connections between English literature and my studies of politics, history, and theater.
I graduated from Brandeis with majors in English & American Literature and Politics and a minor in Theater Arts. Working with Professor Irr, I authored an honors essay was entitled “Imagining God’s Nations: Jews, God, and the Left Behind Series,” that exemplifies the ways in which a Brandeis degree encourages cross-disciplinary study. The essay examined the role the popular Christian evangelical “Left Behind” series of novels has in fostering a sense of community amongst consumers of the texts, and in creating a shared ideology. It then analyzed the political and cultural significance of how certain literary elements within those works position both Jewish people and the state of Israel. My Brandeis degree provided me with the intellectual skills to think critically and creatively about any text, broadly defined, that attempts to convey meaning – skills that have enormous applications in my current profession.
After graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C., where I spent the summer interning for my former Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and studying for the LSAT. I then spent a year performing national service as a Corps Member with City Year Washington DC, focusing on education and youth development in our nation’s capital.
In 2008, I entered law school at the University of Pennsylvania as a Levy Scholar, no doubt assisted by my Brandeis degree and the skills that came with it. As a member of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, I was honored to have my student Comment published in that publication. The Comment, entitled “The Niqab in the Courtroom: Protecting the Free Exercise of Religion in a Post-Smith World,” explored the question of whether a Muslim woman has a constitutional right to testify in court without removing her face veil.
Three years later, after graduating from Penn and passing the bar in my native Florida, I was hired to work as an associate at White & Case, LLP, an international law firm with an office in Miami. For the last two years, I have worked on a range of litigation matters in both state and federal court. As research and writing are some of my core competencies in this profession, particularly in my lively appellate practice, the skills I acquired from my Brandeis English degree possess an enduring relevance.My Brandeis education prepared me for professional life, and made me a more interesting, thoughtful, and well-rounded person. No matter where my life leads me, I know I will be forever grateful for my Brandeis degree.