Waltham High students earn Brandeis scholarships

Photo/Heratch Ekmekjian

From left, Herlyne Das, Waltham Mayor McCarthy, Michael Perlow-Zelman, Brandeis President Fred Lawrence, Waltham School Committee member Margaret Donnelly, Phuong Tran, and Sylvia Bi Lin

Brandeis University has awarded Stroum Family Waltham Endowed Scholarships to Herlyne Das, Phuong Tran, Sylvia Bi Lin and Michael Perlow-Zelman, graduating seniors from Waltham High School. The scholarship provides full tuition and is renewable for up to eight semesters of study at Brandeis.

Samuel J. Stroum, a Waltham High graduate and Seattle businessman and philanthropist, and his wife, Althea, established the scholarship to provide tuition for the top Waltham High seniors who are enrolling at Brandeis. Although Stroum left Waltham before Brandeis was established, he felt his gifts to Brandeis were a way of giving back to the community in which he was raised.

Herlyne Das
Herlyne Das is recognized for her achievements inside and outside the classroom. She took AP courses across disciplines and finished in the top five percent of her class at Waltham High. She also is an avid community service volunteer at Mount Auburn Hospital and an advocate for peers against violence. Das will be the first in her family to attend college.  These accomplishments are impressive in their own rights, but even more astounding when considering that she was struck by a car at the start of her junior year, which caused a severe concussion and partial loss of vision in one eye.  She did not allow her injuries to set her back. Instead, she used the accident as motivation to focus even greater attention on her academics.  Das plans to study biology at Brandeis and continue on to the medical field as a cardiologist after graduation.

Phuong Tran
For Phuong Tran, who grew up in Waltham, Brandeis has long held a special place in her imagination.  Last summer Tran participated in an elite science research internship at Brandeis during which she conducted research on proteins and, in her own words, “fell in love” with Brandeis and the research opportunities it offers. Along with stellar research experience and an impeccable transcript, Tran fills her time with numerous extracurricular activities, including dance, lacrosse, two part time jobs, various academic clubs and is a peer leader against violence at her school. Tran personifies the Brandeisian spirit of intellectual curiosity, relentless commitment to her community and social justice.

Sylvia Bi Lin
Sylvia Bi Lin has always known that higher education is the key to achieving the American Dream. Despite the numerous challenges and obstacles that come with learning an entirely new language and culture, her parents emigrated from China to the U.S. to forge more opportunities for their children. Lin, who has taken her commitment to education seriously, consistently challenged herself with the most rigorous courses offered across disciplines. She excels in the sciences, where she hopes to pursue a degree in neuroscience, as well as in languages. She is already bilingual and is well on her way to fluency in a third language, Spanish. Lin is also an accomplished violinist, a varsity tennis player, a mentor to students with disabilities, and a member of the student government. She plans to continue studying science at Brandeis and play on the tennis team.

Michael Perlow-Zelman    
Michael Perlow-Zelman, who has a keen interest in the sciences, physics and computer science, has explored his love of science beyond the classroom. For the last two years, Perlow-Zelman has spent much of his free time volunteering at the Boston Museum of Science as a hall interpreter. Additionally, he spent last summer at Brandeis in labs splicing genes and learning about plasmid insertion, gene expression and RNA synthesis. His academic talents are not limited to the sciences; he is a contributor to Waltham High’s abstract literary magazine, where he won best short-story/poetry. He also is an officer in his school’s engineering club, a member of Quiz Show and a musician. Perlow-Zelman plans to continue the research that he started at Brandeis last summer when he arrives on campus this fall.

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