Five outstanding sophomores win Giumette Awards

Students honored for academic achievement, contributions to community

From left: Senior Adviser to the President Peter Giumette, Jake Greenberg, Tova Perlman, Mya Goodman, Xinyue Wang, Zachary Kasdin, and Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren

Sophomores Mya Goodman ‘18, Jake Greenberg ‘18, Zachary Kasdin ‘18,  Tova Perlman ‘18 and Xinyue Wang ‘18 have been awarded this year’s Giumette Academic Achievement Award. The award provides $5,000 per semester to currently enrolled sophomores for their remaining four semesters at Brandeis and was developed by the Office of Students and Enrollment, in conjunction with the Student Union and the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

The award recognizes rising juniors who have distinguished themselves in their course of study, made a significant contribution to the community, have a GPA of 3.50 or higher and are not already receiving other merit awards. The award, which began in 2004 as the Brandeis Academic Achievement Award, was re-named in 2015 in honor of Peter Giumette P'03, who served as the dean of Student Financial Services for more than 20 years and is currently a senior advisor to the president. Through his career Giumette has been dedicated to increasing access to educational opportunities for first-generation and low-income students.

Mya Goodman '18 is double-majoring in African and Afro-American Studies and Education Studies, and will study abroad in Denmark next year to learn more about ethnic diversity and multiculturalism in Danish education and social policy.  Professor Chad Williams' "Introduction to African and Afro-American Studies" course challenged and inspired her to become a more critically aware citizen, and the experiential learning component to Prof. Rachel Kramer Theodorou's "Exploring Teaching" class offered her the opportunity to work in a classroom with Spanish-, Haitian Creole-, and Portuguese-speaking elementary school students. Her experience in Prof. Derron Wallace's "Critical Perspectives in Urban Education" class motivated her to become one of the main organizers of this year's "Justice Jam", which brought Brandeis students, alumni, and faculty together with Massachusetts-based activists to address the question: "How do we act for justice in urban education?" Mya is also a Buddy in the Brandeis Gateway Scholars Program, a tutor in the Brandeis English Language Learning Initiative program, and a member of the Brandeis University Varsity Women's Soccer Team. Mya Goodman is the Ida and Edward Nathanson Scholar.

Jake Greenberg '18 is an Environmental Studies major and Business minor. He is also the President of Net Impact: Brandeis Undergraduate Chapter and a committee member 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. As a Sorensen Fellow, he will intern this summer for the Rockland Conservation & Service Corps in Rockland County, New York, building environmental stewardship while increasing preparedness for disaster and emergency situations. During his internship, Jake will be building hiking trails, mapping storm drains, cleaning up rivers, and working on other conservation service projects, combining technical GIS and data collection tasks with community engagement work focused on environmental advocacy and protection. Jake is also a Community Advisor, a Research Assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and was a Marketing and Communications Intern at the Hiatt Career Center. Jake Greenberg is the Ted Bigman '83 and Family Scholar.

Zachary Kasdin '18 is double-majoring in Politics and International and Global Studies and will study abroad at the University of Oxford for the whole of his junior year. Zachary serves as both a contributing writer and as the North America Regional Editor for the Brandeis International Journal, and he is also a member of the Brandeis International Relations Council, which has allowed him to attend a number of Model United Nations and Model Arab League events in the Boston area. Both of Zachary's faculty recommenders emphasize his extraordinary writing ability, with Prof. Jeffrey Lenowitz writing that "Rather than summarizing complex philosophical arguments, he is engaging with them directly to take a nuanced and sophisticated position on our comparative moral obligations to the poor globally and abroad. It is quite impressive." Zachary is also the Events Coordinator for Brandeis Democrats and volunteers with middle school students through the Afternoon Enrichment program.

Tova Perlman '18 is an Art History major who is passionate about using art to create social change. As a Brandeis Bridges Fellow and Coordinator, she facilitates opportunities to strengthen ties between black and Jewish undergraduates, and strives to create spaces where members of the Jewish and Black community can speak freely about racial and religious relations at Brandeis, in their community, and beyond. She planned, organized, and helped raise funds for a group of twelve students to travel to Ghana, where they visited the Jewish community called Sefwi Wiawso, toured two slave castles, and attended Chabad in the city of Accra. Tova is also a tour guide at the Rose Art Museum and works in the Brandeis Office of High School Programs. Tova Perlman is the Morton and Barbara L. Mandel Scholar.

Xinyue Wang '18 is a Computer Science and Economics double major with a 4.0 GPA. As a research assistant with Prof. Nidhiya Menon, she explored the topic of water quality and child cognition in India, and she also initiated an independent research project studying the characteristics of the emerging market of peer-to-peer online lending, which will be the subject of her Schiff Fellowship next year, under the guidance of Prof. Raphael Schoenle. As the chief Erhu player, Xinyue shares traditional Chinese music with the community through the Brandeis Traditional Music Club, and she participates in a wide variety of cultural events on campus. Xinyue hopes to find ways to use new technological capabilities in the service of social justice.

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