Ruderman Scholars committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities

Four Brandeis seniors spent the past summer participating in disability-related research and advocacy thanks to a Ruderman Family Foundation grant that established the Ruderman Social Justice Scholars in Disability program last academic year.

Now back on campus, Jennifer Bromberg, Elizabeth Chalfin, Jennifer Lee and Deanna Marion, the second class of fellows, are completing Health: Science, Society, Policy coursework and a research assistantship. Under the direction of Marji Warfield, the students are collecting data from the Making Healthy Choices program, which helps adolescents and young adults with disabilities and special health needs prepare for adult life, with a particular emphasis on health, self-management of health care, and transitioning to adult health services.

Susan L. Parish, the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy and director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, heads the Ruderman Program. “The Ruderman Family Foundation has a passion to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” says Parish. “This is the only program of its kind in the country. We want students to have a sophisticated understanding of the needs of people with disabilities and disability policy in the United States.”

Deanna Marion Marion was selected as a Ruderman Scholar after working in Washington D.C. for the Long Term Quality Alliance (LTQA), an organization that supports increasing long-term care and support for people with disabilities. At LTQA, Marion conducted research and worked with government officials on Capitol Hill. “The Heller School was so well-known in D.C. and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity by Heller and the Ruderman family,” says Marion, who is graduating a semester early this December. “It will give me great experience as well as help me establish networks and grow as a researcher."
  Deanna Marion
Lee interned at the Center for Independent Living in Boston this summer, where she assessed facilities and restaurants for their accessibility for people with disabilities. Lee also contributed to the Projects for Access Award, an honor that recognizes organizations that are exemplary in providing adequate accessibility to people with disabilities. “The Ruderman Foundation provides an amazing opportunity to assess the making healthy connections program,” says Lee. “I’m looking forward to learning how the program prepares young people who have disabilities for the next chapter of their life.” Lee
Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Bromberg Bromberg valued her experience of working on disability policy as an intern at the Arc of Massachusetts in Waltham, an organization that supports legislation to make the state’s public and private spaces more accessible. Bromberg is hoping to gain practical and research experience as a Ruderman Scholar. “I'm getting to know a great group of students who share similar interests with me,” she says. “We are just now starting to plan the research project we’ll work on, but it’s amazing to have such input on Professor Warfield’s research. I’m looking forward to seeing the research unfold as we collect and eventually analyze data.”
 Jennifer Bromberg

Chalfin worked during the summer at Greater Waltham Arc, also working closely with people who have moderate to severe physical disabilities. She hopes her experience as a Ruderman Scholar will help her refine her skills and prepare her for a masters in public health, and eventually, a career in community work. “I want to engage with people rather than work in an office,” says Chalfin. “This is a great opportunity to learn how to conduct research.”

The application period for the 2016 Ruderman Social Justice in Disability Scholars Program fellowships opens Jan. 1, 2015. More information about the program and the application process are available online.

Elizabeth Chalfin

   Elizabeth Chalfin

Categories: General, Humanities and Social Sciences, Research, Student Life

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