Students explore passions as World of Work fellows

Eliana Light '13 and Alex Kramer '13 are among this year's 46 fellows

Eliana Light '13

Alex Kramer '13

Forty-six students will get to explore their passions and career options with some help from the Hiatt Career Center, which has selected them World-of-Work (WOW) Internship Funding Program fellows for 2012.

The program awards stipends to Brandeis students who pursue unpaid summer internships. By eliminating financial barriers, WOW encourages students to follow their career passions, develop new skills, build upon their academics, and explore the world of work. The WOW program’s guiding principles – any career field, any organization, anywhere in the world – mean that students can identify a wide range of possibilities that support their individual career exploration.

This year’s fellows represent a diverse mix of interests, passions, skills and backgrounds.

“Recipients will travel to 15 states and 13 countries to intern in more than 40 industries and sectors including non-profit, healthcare, international business, media, government, the arts and scientific research,” says Jackie Blesso, WOW program coordinator and assistant director of Career Development at Hiatt. 

Eliana Light ‘13 will be interning in Atlanta, Ga., with The Bible Raps Project, an educational movement that uses hip-hop to enliven the core Jewish texts.

Light first experienced the organization’s teaching model and catchy songs as a counselor at Ramah Darom, a Jewish children’s camp where the Bible Raps crew kicks off their summer workshop tour.

Then as education coordinator on the board of Brandeis Hillel, she brought Bible Raps to campus earlier this year, which ultimately led to her internship. During this workshop, Light wrote her own rap about Tu B’svhat, the Jewish holiday for the trees.

“Art and Judaism are my two passions, so I am constantly seeking ways to merge the two,” says Light, who is majoring in creative writing and Near Eastern and Judaic studies.

“Through working with the Bible Raps model of integration and workshops, I will be able to develop my own writing through a Jewish lens,” she says.

This internship will also provide hands-on experience through managing tour logistics, editing videos and newsletters and running a promotional campaign.

“I hope to record, tour and promote my own music someday, and the experience I gain working for Bible Raps will help me build the skills I need to do just that,” Light says.

Hiatt’s WOW internship funding program also includes the Judith Cossin Berkman ’59 Endowed Internship Fund in Social Work and the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, which awards 30 fellowships to students pursuing internships at organizations that work to reduce social inequalities. According to Hiatt’s post-graduation placement survey and employment data publicly available on LinkedIn, more than 80 percent of Social Justice WOW recipients have continued their commitment to social justice post-graduation.

As a 2012 Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW fellow, Alex Kramer ‘13 will travel to Kenya to work as an intern at the Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP), which helps bright students from an underserved region of Kenya gain admission to elite colleges in the United States.

Kramer first heard about KenSAP from Brandeis alum and fellow distance runner Paul Norton ’11, who received a Social Justice WOW award in 2009 to intern abroad at the KIMbia Foundation, a similar Kenyan nonprofit that funds secondary-school fees for academically promising students.

“This program provides an incredible, life-changing opportunity for the participants,” says Kramer. In addition to test preparation courses, the students are also required to take part in athletic training, as the region produces about 90 percent of Kenya’s top distance runners.

To date, KenSAP has placed 89 students at top institutions, including Brian Kiptoo Kangogo ’15, a first year student at Brandeis who is training alongside Kramer on Brandeis’ track and field team. “[Brian] has been a brilliant addition to the Brandeis community and has made an excellent impression on the team,” Kramer says.

Through his internship, Kramer hopes to strengthen the relationship between Brandeis and KenSAP.

As a philosophy major with an interest in pursuing a legal career, many of Kramer’s classes have focused on social justice and human rights. While his studies have been eye-opening and motivating, he wanted to immerse himself in an entirely new culture and make real change.

“This internship gives me an opportunity to participate in a program that works towards achieving actual social justice by improving access to world-class higher education among gifted but disadvantaged students,” he says.

Kramer will teach SAT and TOEFL classes and help prepare participants for their transition into university life in America.

“I have no doubt that Alex’s enthusiasm combined with his talent as a runner will enable him to ingratiate himself very quickly with our students and win their trust and respect as a teacher,” says KenSAP Founder John Manners.

Blesso adds: “The WOW program is unique because it requires more than just a great internship. Applicants must identify concrete personal, academic and career goals that they can achieve within the set responsibilities of their internship.”

The fellows also receive Hiatt staff mentors who help them to track the progress on their learning objectives throughout the summer. Beginning in early June, the fellows will reflect on their summer experiences by posting photos and writing articles for the WOW blog, new this year.

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