2017 Sorensen Fellows

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2017 Sorensen Fellows on retreat. Clockwise from top left:
Michelle Dennis, Paul Sindberg, Ece Esikara, Max Gould, Mrudula Gadgil, and Leah Susman (Max and Leah attended the retreat from abroad)

Michelle Dennis ’18, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a Posse Foundation Leadership Scholar majoring in biology. On campus, she serves as a community advisor to first year residents, a teaching assistant in biology laboratory, and is a member of the Student Leadership Board of the Student Support Services Program. Michelle has studied ballet since the age of five and in the 2015-16 academic year, she served as the artistic director of the Brandeis Ballet Company. Her responsibilities included choreographing a work titled, “Hidden Language of the Soul,” which was performed in the 2016 Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts. Michelle is interested in ways dance movement can be incorporated into medicine as a form of holistic wellness. She interned with Light for Children in Kumasi, Ghana. The organization partnered her with five primary schools in the Kumasi area, at which she taught 15-25 interested students introductory ballet technique. She also volunteered in the laboratory of a young hospital, and with the guidance of the biomedical laboratory technicians, she assisted in interacting with patients, obtaining patient samples, and conducting and analyzing laboratory examinations.

Ece Esikara ’19, from Istanbul, Turkey, is a Wien Scholar majoring in politics and economics. On campus, she serves as the director of external relations of Brandeis International Journal, organizing panel discussions by inviting experts to speak on global and political issues. She works as an access and common services information and borrowing assistant at the Brandeis library and as a student research assistant at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies. Last year, she participated weekly in the Brandeis University Hunger and Homelessness Case Management Program in the Community Day Center in Waltham. Off campus, she serves as treasurer of the New England Student Association. Ece interned as a career coach and program assistant at Jewish Vocational Services in Boston, an organization that advocates for the local integration of refugees.

Mrudula Gadgil ’18, from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is pursuing a double major in biology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy. Mrudula spends her time at Brandeis as a Co-President of the South Asian Students’ Association, captain of the Brandeis Bhangra dance team, and a Community Advisor. She is currently the Project Coordinator on campus for MASSPIRG, an advocacy group dedicated to reducing antibiotic use on factory farms. For her Sorensen Fellowship she worked with the Pro Bono Counseling Project in Baltimore, Maryland to connect people with mental healthcare providers that perform free services. She also cultivated relationships with local temples and mosques and conducted a workshop about maintaining healthy relationships, and worked with clinical staff to recruit South Asian clinicians for the Counselors Helping South Asians CHAI program. Additionally, she updated marketing materials for Pro Bono, and attended South Asian social events to interact with community members. Since taking the Culture and Mental Illness course at Brandeis (ANTH 154A), Mrudula has been interested in studying the impact of culture on mental health and healthcare.

Max Gould '18, from Maplewood, New Jersey, is majoring in philosophy and American studies and is minoring in legal studies. Max is a member of the Brandeis University Mock Trial Association, and is a varsity épée fencer on the men’s fencing team. Outside of Brandeis, Max has worked at the Kathryn A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, the Public Integrity Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In spring 2017, he attended the Brandeis in The Hague program in The Netherlands. Max is interested in contributing to the abatement of wrongful convictions in the American criminal justice system. He worked with the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice in Bronx, NY, where he performed research for the foundation, assisted in developing a new social media and fundraising campaign, and evaluated claims of innocence. He also had the incredible opportunity to meet exonerees and others within the innocence community. He attended a lobbying event in Albany to promote legislation for a prosecutorial conduct oversight board, witnessed the release of Lorenzo Johnson after 22 years of wrongful imprisonment, attended the hearing of another exoneree in court, and met many other prominent figures in the Innocence Movement.

Paul Sindberg ’18, from Oakwood Hills, Illinois, is majoring in politics and intending to double minor in legal studies and music. He works as the Coordinator of Community Engagement at Brandeis’ Office of Prevention Services, where he strives to build a sense of community responsibility when it comes to addressing issues of sexual violence. On campus, he also serves as the Student Union Vice President. Previously, Paul interned with the Political and Legislative Department of Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers, where he represented the interests of a major labor union in high-priority state and federal political campaigns. Paul is a staunch advocate for coalition building as a means to effect social change, and he seeks to focus his advocacy work in anti-racism, gender and sexuality inclusivity, and the intersections thereof. He was thrilled to intern with OUT LGBT Well-being in Pretoria, South Africa for his Sorensen Fellowship. He worked in legal advocacy for LGBT individuals and hate crimes case support.

Leah Susman ’18 is from the Chicago area and is majoring in education studies and minoring in African and Afro-American studies. On campus, she served as the co-director of the Brandeis-Al-Quds Student Dialogue Initiative, a program that brought the first delegation of Palestinian students to Brandeis. She serves on J Street U’s national leadership and co-chairs Hillel Race Talks, a new program which aims to promote an anti-racist and inclusive Jewish community on campus. Leah interned with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs in Chicago , where she was part of the community organizing team, campaigning for police accountability and domestic workers’ rights, and worked against xenophobia and anti-semitism under the new administration. Through working with JCUA, Leah diversified her community organizing skills through working on pointed, local campaigns and building relationships in Chicago.