2016 Sorensen Fellows

l-r: Marcelo Brociner, Yael Jaffe, Jake Greenberg, Sophia Warren, Brandon Tran, Jennifer Almodovar

Download "From the Outside Looking In: Six Stories of Difference and Discovery," which highlights the Fellows' experiences.

For PDFs of each essay, click here.

Jennifer Almodovar ’18 is from New York City. She is majoring in International and Global Studies, with a minor in Legal Studies. Jennifer entered Brandeis through the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (MKTYP), and served as the MKTYP Senator in the Student Union. She is a ‘DEIS Impacter and serves on the E-Board of the Caribbean Culture Club. Jennifer is a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, investigating wrongful conviction cases. Jennifer also studied international criminal law in an intensive summer program at The Hague in the Netherlands. She attended hearings and demonstrations at the International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice and various war crime tribunals. As a daughter of immigrants from the Hispaniola, Jennifer is very interested in immigration law and in human rights issues. For her Sorensen Fellowship, she interned at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) in Boston. Some of the issues that Jennifer worked on at IJDH included women’s rights, immigration, and the citizenship crisis for Haitian descendants in the Dominican Republic.

Marcelo Brociner ’18, from Somerville, Massachusetts, is majoring in Cultural Anthropology and minoring in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation. On campus, Marcelo works as an adviser at the Hiatt Career Center, and as a Brandeis Beacon, collaborating with fellow Beacons to initiate projects aimed towards creating a strong bond between the student body and the university. He is a multi-faceted artist, mainly focusing his creative energy on writing and recording rap music, photography, and illustrations. Marcelo is Cuban-American, the grandson of Rene Mederos, a famous Cuban political artist who was sent to Vietnam in 1969 to paint scenes of the war against the United States. Marcelo interned at the Work Room Four art studio in Hanoi, Vietnam. His responsibilities included researching potential projects to undertake, transcribing meetings, maintaining the studio space, and liaising with local artists.

Jake Greenberg ’18, from Old Tappan, New Jersey is majoring in Environmental Studies and Business. He is a Co-President of Net Impact: Brandeis Undergraduate Chapter, a Community Advisor and a Co-Chair of Brandeis’ Senate Sustainability Committee. He is especially interested in environmental policy and sustainability practices and believes that there is an inherent interest for companies, nonprofits and government agencies to protect the planet and its people. Jake has created a sustainability blog called Business Meets Environment, in which he writes and edits articles related to environmental issues, solutions and experiences. He worked this summer as a Rockland Conservation & Service Corps intern in Rockland County, New York for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County, building environmental awareness in the local community while discovering many of the natural marvels and challenges of New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. Jake worked to build hiking trails and clean out polluted outdoor sites. He also employed his public speaking skills to educate the Rockland community about hazardous chemical pollutants carried by fish in local waterways, the best practices for organic waste reduction, and various tips for local horticulture. Jake was most deeply involved in a citizen research science program with the Lower Hudson Valley Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management and an educational outreach initiative by the New York State Department of Health's Hudson River Fish Advisory.

Yael Sammi Jaffe ’18, from Hollywood, Florida, is double majoring in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minoring in Legal Studies and Near Eastern and Judaic studies. She is currently an intern for the Drisha Institute and is involved on campus as the education coordinator for Hillel and the undergraduate department representative for Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. For her Sorensen Fellowship, Yael interned with the Yerushalmit Movement, a grass-roots organization that works to build a more vibrant, pluralistic, and inclusive Jerusalem. Yael was involved in the group's various community organizing initiatives, including a group entitled "Women Changing Jerusalem," as well as the "Meeting Point" project - a weekly public gathering for music and peaceful dialogue surrounding controversial issues affecting Israeli society, which specifically serves as a locus of support for Jerusalem's LGBT+ community.

Brandon F. Tran ’18, from Houston, Texas, is pursuing a double major in Biochemistry and Biology. As a child, Tran followed one of his aunts to Buddhist temples weekly where he became inspired by the teachings and chantings. Tran co-founded the Dharmic Prayer Space in the Shapiro Campus Center during his first year at Brandeis, not only to continue his own practice and cultivation on campus, but for the well-being and education of the Brandeis community. He is interested in gaining a better understanding of how Buddhism, built upon values of social justice, has shaped and helped others. For his Sorensen Fellowship internship, Tran spent the months of July and August in New Delhi, India where he resided in the Fo Guang Shan Sramanera School, a Chinese Mahayana Buddhist temple and school that trains novice monks while providing the students with academic courses. Tran spent most of his time teaching the novice monks basic English grammar and conversational English. Through his instruction, he was able to assess the motives and reasons why these children have led the monastic life as well as how their cultivation and practices have shaped and changed their lives.

Sophia Warren ’18, from Scarborough, Maine, is studying international relations and the arts through an independent interdisciplinary major. She is a student liaison for the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, an English tutor of the English Language Learners Initiative, community advisor for first and second year students, and is student director of the Brandeis/Al-Quds Educational Partnership Initiative. Sophia participated as a U.S. delegate for three years with the international youth peace building program Seeds of Peace, in dialogue with young people from the U.S and conflict regions around the world. In bringing the value of dialogue to her own community, she organized around policy initiatives and artistic praxis, facilitating conversation on immigration, race, gender, and education reform, documenting recommendations for the Maine State Legislature, and State representatives. She also worked to develop art and film projects with community partners: the NAACP and Maine College of Art. Sophia interned with The Jerusalem Youth Chorus of the Jerusalem International YMCA. She contributed to the Choir’s work empowering high school singers engaging one another in musical and verbal dialogue, using skills in community building, communications strategy, and technological programming. Sophia also conducted research on integrating mediums of art in higher education.