2010 Student Testimonials

Students on the JBS 2010 summer programs wrote the following in the anonymous program evaluation.  

Environmental Health and Justice

Definitely would recommend this experience for people who range from complete novice, to seasoned veteran, in the field of Environmental studies.

I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in environmental justice and is looking for a hands-on experience in that field.

Everything we did, from learning in the classroom, to the books and other writings we studied, to the organizations we visited and worked with, to the professionals we met with all blended together to form an almost seamless whole, and I left the program feeling that I really learned a whole interconnected system, rather than just one part of it.

I believe that I learned more from this 8 week program than I could ever learn from a series of lectures because of our time outside of the classroom, where we gained valuable experiences and viewed a plethora of environmental issues through the eyes of various professionals before returning and tying it all together.

It definitely was an intellectually challenging program - I have never taken a course in environmental health and policy - and I have extensively expanded my horizons and understanding of the world.

I felt the program under the lead of Professor Goldin challenged me in a lot of ways that a conventional class does not. Being out in the field made it so that you were instrumental in making decisions that determined the success of your work.

The interesting dynamic of field and class work, mixed with the responsibility of fulfilling assigned roles, created a fast and engaging experience that certainly proved mentally and physically challenging.

I did not have much experience with college-level scientific courses and assignments prior to JBS as science is not my strength. JBS was unique in that it required learning and analysis of the same topics through many different fields, and I'm very appreciative of the new skills and knowledge I acquired through JBS which I most likely would not have elected to explore otherwise.

I thought that the topics taught in Environmental Health and Environmental Justice meshed very well with one another. We were able to immediately apply the knowledge we learned in a classroom setting to work we did in the field, be it in Worcester, or the local Waltham area.

The readings and class materials melded with the work that was done quite seamlessly. Due to the active measures in the field of Environmental Studies, it is impertinent that course content can be related to real-life events. The professors did a wonderful job of presenting topics, while still leaving room for the student to contribute in his or her manner.

Every aspect of the program was completely relevant and added more insight to the ones before, resulting in an expansive academic and practical understanding of the course material.

This is the first time I took a community-engaged / experiential learning. I cannot imagine any better way of learning what environmental health and environmental justice mean than putting all the concepts and general ideas into practice, interacting with communities touched by environmental hazards and observing methods by which the problems resolved.

The experiential component was the foundation of this course as a whole. Being out in the field, interacting with those that are constantly affected by the topics discussed in class brings a largely new dynamic to the learning process. I have definitely learned and grown a lot as a result of the JBS program.

Through direct community engagement, we were able to see the reasons for our work and possibilities of what our work could accomplish, which, to me, was highly motivating, and essential in discovering connections that one would not see or understand without the experiential learning.

I think every student should participate in at least one experiential / community-engages class during their studies at Brandeis. Particularly as a school that stands for social justice, having its students give back to the community should be its priority.

This program structure allowed me to feel more like I was preparing for what I may like to do as a career, working with other like-minded students that were all sacrificing their summer to learn. In a traditional academic structure there’s less time to really focus on one subject and give it your full attention, so this was a really valuable period where I could set aside eight weeks of my life to focus on one subject.

This program was intellectually challenging because it forced students to learn new information quickly, and then immediately put that new knowledge into action. There were very few days that did not introduce us to something entirely new, giving the students no other choice but to be constantly on our toes.

Great opportunity to form close bonds with both the students and professor.

This learning environment is much more conducive to gaining a fuller and more rooted knowledge as it enables students to make personal connections with the course material, as opposed to writing about abstract and distant concepts and memorizing facts for a test.

While classrooms provide stability and structure, outside of that environment, the world doesn't function in the same way. Having experiential learning not only provides the knowledge like the classroom, it also shows a relatable example so the event can be assimilated to what was learned in a classroom.

JBS has allowed me to further identify my strengths and weaknesses both in this field and in others, which has been extremely helpful in thinking about the ways in which I can best contribute to the community and feel like my efforts are valued, worthwhile, and will create improvements in people's lives.

This program has definitely inspired me to be more active in promoting environmental health and justice, and it has helped me to grow personally because of the knowledge I have acquired, the people I have met, and the firsthand experiences I have had.

Personally, the program opened my eyes to the importance of caring for the environment we choose to live in, the policies we choose to support, and products we choose to buy. It showed me that there is much more to life than pure career ambition.

I would say the program has made me more conscious of Environmental Justice issues that are frequently a big part of the perpetuation of poverty and a lower standard of living in immigrant and minority neighborhoods. It has inspired me to take a bigger role in the future working on this problem in any professional capacity that I can.

This JBS has and will give me motivation to constantly pursue new and engaging experiences, while seeking enjoyment. Enjoying what one does is definitely a goal worth pursuing. The teaching instructors provide a model worth striving to become.

I think this was a very strong program because of the way it pulled together so many different activities and topics and created such a unique and valuable learning experience. The leadership was also amazing, and I am extremely glad that I was able to get to know Professor Goldin better, who's passion and knowledge concerning environmental issues were clearly visible each and every day.

I learned a lot, made a ton of really valuable connections/friendships, and feel more aware as a community member about how I can help others. It made wanting to participate in my community seem valuable again and renewed my sense of the value of community service.

The instructors, topics, learning experience, events, group discussions, and applications of what was learned were definite highlights of the program. A change of perspective and personal growth are definitely attributed solely to this program. Experiential Learning is a different dynamic from what I was used to.

I gained a greater understanding of community organizations, and confidence in working with individuals affected by environmental and societal ills. The program was great in providing several viewpoints to look at similar issues and a supportive and wonderful group of people to discuss them with and learn from. It also was rewarding to see tangible applications and results of our work and the topic.

Web Services and Mobile Applications

To all of my friends who have even a peripheral interest in web development, I would recommend this program enthusiastically.

The JBS has allowed me to gain useful skills that I can apply in a real-world job.

I would recommend JBS program to those who want to develop a product from beginning and are interested in learning something different than the traditional academic learning.

I learned a lot about how to use Ruby, Rails, Java, and Android. It was challenging, but it was exactly what I was interested in. I really enjoyed it!

A wide variety of topics were covered in 8 weeks of time. Many technologies were new to the students so it was challenging to learn and work in a fast-paced schedule.

There were many concepts introduced to me that I have never experienced before. An example would be agile methodology for rapid development and the usage of GIT and ruby on rails. The homework was also extremely intense!

Lots of room for creativity, adapting new tools, and developing new modes of thinking (from networking to agile development).

Indeed, the topics of the course were well integrated. The lectures each day were backed up by a homework that included content from the lecture. In addition, we worked in a team to develop a cool product which was a key feature.

Many of the homework assignments involved directly applying what was learned in class to our incubator projects. This was a great way to solidify our new knowledge.

Learning by doing is one of my favorite ways of learning, and that's what this class was all about.

I feel that the new type of learning experience helps show how to apply the skills you've learned from classes into the real world.

Such a learning environment is rare in a traditional academic setting. Learning in a small group of like-minded, passionate individuals allows for a more tightly knit community to form, which in turn gives students a greater opportunity to learn from their peers.

I say, "I could make that" whenever I see a website.

This program inspired me in many ways. Tim Hickey inspired me to see the Internet as a platform for positive social change and individual empowerment; Pito Salas inspired me to seriously consider starting a business with my peers, as well as to take professional networking seriously. The program also strengthened my web development principles.

From this program, I found out that it's not that hard to build a web application and mobile application. This might encourage me to try more ideas and implement them on the internet.

Anyone interested in web applications should take this course -- it was well worth it!

This is an experience that you wouldn't be able to get in one semester anywhere else.

Some of the greatest benefits include meeting new COSI people, learning ruby, and just listening to speakers. What makes this program special is the unity between students and teachers along with the group work.