Brandeis’ larger-than-life history drives Jonathan Goldman '19

Jonathan GoldmanPhoto/Mike Lovett

Jonathan Goldman '19 had a revelation while sitting on the couch one day during his sophomore year in high school.

At home during spring break and with no real plans for his free time, Goldman’s older brother, Benjamin, came into the room and made a remark about how he wished he had accomplished more during high school.

"I started thinking about what I was doing, or more what I wasn't doing, and it was like a light went on," Goldman said. "And ever since then, everything I do, I try to make sure it has purpose."

That's continued during his time at Brandeis. He's a double major in politics and philosophy and a triple minor in economics, legal studies, and social justice and social policy, and his list of accomplishments outside the classroom is lengthy. He's a member of the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (BADASS), he started a nonprofit, The Right to Immigration Institute, to provide legal resources for immigrants in Waltham, and in November 2017 he became the youngest elected member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee.

Goldman took some time to answer questions about his experiences at Brandeis:

Why does Brandeis fit you?

The people who were a part of Brandeis in its early years were these larger than life figures – Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonard Bernstein, Albert Einstein, the list goes on. While I can never say I think I will be nearly as driven as them, it’s something I look up to. Trying to live up to these figures who wanted to make a difference. That’s what drives me.

What has been your proudest accomplishment outside the classroom?

It's hard to choose one thing, but it's probably starting TRII (The Right to Immigration Institute) and all the work we’ve done here in Waltham. As soon as I start thinking I’m proud of things I feel like I might start to get complacent, so I try to always look forward, but within 18 months to start a nonprofit like this, that is a unique program without anything like it in the country, it’s hard not to be proud.

TRII started as a simple idea in a Brandeis classroom. Victoria St. Jean '19 and Munis Safajou '16 had recently taken Douglas Smith’s Immigration and Human Rights course. After reaching out to him about how they could make more of an impact, Professor Smith pitched the idea of starting TRII, and, since I was in the class and a good friend of Victoria, they brought me on to help, too.

What do you nerd out about?

The main thing I nerd out about is political races. I’m really drawn to the races where the people who are running are challenging the status quo. I nerd out about this because it shows a changing time that we are fortunate to be a part of. It’s an opportunity for people to put our morals into action. I’m doing this by being involved with campaigns and working to mobilize campaigns in Western Massachusetts, where I'm from.

What’s been the biggest challenge that being here helped you overcome?

Being more willing to listen to others. When I’m putting myself out there or trying to start new things, I'm always worried about things crashing down, and I don’t want it to be anyone else's fault but mine. So many of the students here are active and want to get involved, and they also recognize that fear exists. They’ve helped me realize you can always accomplish more if you can have people there with you.

Categories: Student Life

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