Big Dreams on Little Sleep

Gloriya Nedler '12
Courtesy Gloriya Nedler
Gloriya Nedler '12

If there’s one thing Gloriya Nedler ’12 will remember about Brandeis, it’s her sleep schedule. Six nights a week, she slept three hours. On the seventh, the day before lab, the neuroscience major would pull an all-nighter.

During four years at Brandeis, she attended two parties.

“Everyone would always say, ‘You’re not having any fun,’” recalls Nedler, a member of Brandeis’ first Science Posse. “But when you know what poverty feels like and don’t have anything to fall back on, it really motivates you. Even if you won a million dollars, you’d still be governed by the fear that it could all be taken away from you.”

There’s a direct connection between Nedler’s past and her drive, ambition and determination. She grew up in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who were often too sick to work. Money was too scarce to be spent on the occasional meal out or movie. Nedler’s parents slept in the living room so she and her sister could focus on their schoolwork in the sole bedroom.

At age 12, Nedler started supporting her family as a babysitter and, later, as a party planner and tutor at the American Museum of Natural History. Her parents spoke halting English. She and her sister handled their medical care, taxes and bills.

Though she’d been an honors student and taken AP classes at James Madison High School, as a first-generation college student Nedler wasn’t fully prepared for Brandeis. “I knew going in I was going to have to work a little bit harder than everyone else,” she says.

Managing her time was tough. She signed up to work at Hyde Square Task Force, which runs youth programs in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Nedler helped other first-generation college students navigate the application process. At the same time, she started training to become an EMT. It was too much. “I didn’t really know what my limit was,” she says.

Things became easier, she says, when she completed the EMT program. She joined the Pre-Health Society at Brandeis, serving as its president during her junior and senior years.

Luckily, she had her posse. “There was always a Posse member within a three-minute walk,” she says. “Everyone had their own strengths, and we all understood each other’s struggles.”

After graduating, Nedler used a Fulbright Fellowship to study the health-care system in southwest Russia. Eventually, she hopes to help improve medical services for immigrants in the U.S.

In the meantime, she’s a medical student at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel.

And, believe it or not, she’s catching up on her sleep.

— L.G.

comments powered by Disqus