Joining an elite club: Three generations at Brandeis

Alana Abramson joins her mother and grandmother on the alumni register

From left, grandmother Susan Prusky in her 1955 yearbook photo, mother Naomi Prusky from the 1980 yearbook and Alana Abramson '12.

Alana Abramson ’12 will join an exclusive club at the university’s 61st commencement on Sunday when she becomes a third-generation Brandeisian, joining her mother, Naomi Prusky ’80, P’12, and grandmother, Susan (Mandel) Prusky ’55, P’80, G’12, as Brandeis alumni.

“We are very proud of Alana. She has grown and accomplished so much during her four years at Brandeis,” says her grandmother.

Precisely because Brandeis was omnipresent while Alana growing up – she first visited campus as a nine-month-old for her mother’s 10th reunion and was back again five years later for her 15th – she wanted to be sure that she did not choose to attend Brandeis just for tradition’s sake.

“When Alana was younger, I always told her that she would go to Brandeis. I was just joking of course but she thought I was serious,” Naomi remembers. “It certainly was not preordained that she would attend the university.”

As a high school student, Alana visited several elite colleges and universities around the Northeast before deciding to apply to Brandeis as an early-decision candidate in November 2007. “It turned out that Brandeis had everything I was looking for,” Alana says.

Although they arrived on campus 32 years apart, Alana and Naomi each took a class with longtime American Studies Professor Jerry Cohen. According to Naomi, that may have been the only similarity in their academic experiences.

“I wasn’t half the student that Alana is,” Naomi explains. “She understood all the resources available to her and was a much more mature student. She just exploded intellectually and had a tremendous experience.”

Alana learned that the centrality of the unique Brandeis student-faculty connection to the overall academic experience was more than just admissions marketing hype. A political science and American studies double major, she met frequently with her professors and developed a particularly close relationship with Stephen Whitfield, Ph.D.’72, the Max Richter Professor of American Civilization. She took three of Whitfield’s courses and he served as her senior thesis adviser.

"It only takes one teacher to inspire you and make you believe in yourself and give you the courage to pursue your potential," Susan says of the first of her nine grandchildren, who will graduate Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.

Outside the classroom, Alana participated in a wide range of activities. She served as a writer and associate news editor at The Justice student newspaper and worked as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

She also built a strong network of friends that revolved around her membership in the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. Among her closest friends were sorority sisters Elizabeth Goldman ’12, whom she met on their first day on campus, and Rebecca Klein ’12. Both of her friends are Brandeis legacies as well, the daughters of Nathan Goldman ’79, and Daniel Klein ’78 and Deborah Lowen-Klein ’77.

“I enjoyed everything about my Brandeis experience – academically, socially and culturally,” Alana says.

She plans to attend Columbia University’s prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in the fall, meaning that Susan may not visit campus quite so frequently.

“When I would get to campus, I would call Alana and say, ‘You need to come get me or you will have one lost grandmother,’” Susan says with a laugh. “It’s all foreign to me now. I could never figure it out. The only remnants from when I was a student are a Massell dorm and the Castle. All of the other buildings are gone.”

The Pruskys have been active and generous alumni through the years. Susan co-chaired her 50th Reunion as well as the 1950s all-decade reunion in 2010.

To complete this picture of a Brandeis family, Rose Mandel and Claire Matrani, Alana’s great grandmothers, were charter members of the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, now renamed the Brandeis National Committee, and worked hard to support  the Brandeis libraries.

Categories: Alumni, Student Life

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