Excited. Anxious. Nervous. Proud.

Brandeis’ newest alumni take a backward glance as they embrace the future; parents bask in reflected glory.

Photo/Mike Lovett

The Class of 2014, and their parents, exhibited all the classic signs at Brandeis’ 63rd commencement Sunday.

“I’m leaving what I’ve known as home for the last four years,” said Bronia Goldman ’14, a double major in chemistry and biology headed to medical school in September. “It’s the saddest thing ever.”

But not for her parents. “I’m extremely proud of my daughter,” Bronia’s mother, BJ Goldman, piped up. “Bronia embraced all that Brandeis had to offer.”

“Brandeis brought out the best in her,” Bronia’s father, Simon, added. “This is the place to go.”

Echoing several other graduates experiencing that in-between, dreamlike feeling brought on by the end of college and the beginning of the vast unknown ahead, Julia Karant ’14 said, “It’s a little surreal. But it’s nice to know we’ll all be in the same boat — starting a new adventure and dealing with a lot of unknowns.” 

One thing the New York native does know is that a job teaching elementary school in an underserved Chicago neighborhood awaits her. 

Ernie Butner ’14 professed a little anxiety about the future, a sentiment that a planned gap year should help alleviate. After that? “Law school — it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was nine or 10,” said Butner, as his mother, a state trooper, looked on, beaming.

Jesse Vasquez ’14 and Adrienne Thompson ’14, who came to Brandeis together as Posse Scholars in the same group, also invoked the “S” word to describe their experience. “It’s surreal. Even to this day, it’s hard to believe how much Posse and Brandeis helped us succeed,” said Vasquez, as Thompson nodded in agreement.

Thompson majored in East Asian studies and plans to work in early education, perhaps even at Brandeis. Vasquez, an American studies major, plans to return to his native New York City and look for work in the tech sector developing applications.

For Ruizhao Chen ’14, whose parents came from Beijing to see him graduate, it will be at least one more year before he returns home, since Chen is a master’s in finance candidate at Brandeis International Business School. With their son translating, Chen’s parents said they loved the multicultural feel of Boston and Brandeis.  

From across the world or across generations, Brandeis’ commencement was a day for family happiness.

“We’re giving Brandeis a good hard shake,” laughed Michael Handler ’75 as he stood amid the usual pre-commencement picture-taking frenzy outside Gosman with his children, David Handler ’14 and Stacey Handler ’12. “I dressed them both in Brandeis regalia starting when they were two years old,” he explained, producing an iPhone photo of two toddlers in Brandeis sweatshirts.

Ben Schmitt ’14 seemed to sum up the overwhelming sentiment of his class when he said of his Brandeis experience, “I loved it. All of it.”

Categories: Alumni, General, Student Life

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