10 selected for Giumette Academic Achievement Awards

Giumette award winners

Each spring, a group of outstanding sophomores is selected for the Giumette Academic Achievement Award, which provides $5,000 each semester for their remaining two years at Brandeis.

The award recognizes students who have distinguished themselves and made a significant contribution to the community during their first two years at Brandeis. It was established in 2004 as the Brandeis Academic Achievement Award and was renamed in 2015 in honor of Peter Giumette P '03, who served as the dean of student financial services for over 20 years with a commitment to increasing access to educational opportunities for all students, especially first-generation and low-income students. The award recognizes outstanding scholarship and academic achievement as evidenced by grades, faculty recommendations, and personal accomplishment. 

The following 10 students have been selected as Giumette Academic Achievement Award recipients this year:

Leah Breakstone is majoring in American studies and minoring in journalism. She devotes much of her time to the student newspaper, The Justice, as a news editor and was recently selected to serve as a deputy editor beginning later this spring. Her interest in journalism stems from a desire to help reveal the threads of humanity that connect people and to amplify others’ voices. She is particularly passionate about investigative and feature journalism, which she has been able to put to practice through her work at The Justice and in her classes doing various storytelling projects including composing a podcast episode about the history of the Usen Castle. Last semester in JOUR 112B -- “Social Journalism: The Art of Engaging Audiences,” she created an Instagram account called “Brandeis Then and Now.” The goal of the account was to foster an intergenerational Brandeis community of current students and alumni by posting alumni anecdotes and photos, historical facts, and stories about the University with the help of the Robert D. Farber University Archives and the president of the Alumni Association. Additionally, Breakstone is active in the Jewish community on campus and is vice-president of Masorti. Outside of academics, she enjoys participating in the running club, yoga, and cooking for her friends.

Samuel Diaz is a current Posse scholar on the pre-med track, majoring in neuroscience with a minor in studio art. He is a Venezuelan immigrant in the United States since 2019, and has always had an interest in medicine as a career. Having found great opportunities in the arts here at Brandeis, Diaz has acquired an interest in exploring the relationship between art and wellness. He has joined Waltham’s art therapy center ArtRelief as a volunteer, where he has had the opportunity to work with children and preteens as they create art projects. Diaz has also joined the editorial team for Rise, a literary magazine celebrating the art of BIPOC communities at Brandeis. During the summer, he will intern at the University of Chicago Diversity in Cancer Research program. There, Diaz hopes to not only acquire laboratory and medical experience, but also work on creative projects portraying the experiences of cancer patients. 

Mandy Feuerman is double majoring in politics and English. She is from South Florida and intends to pursue a career in public policy when she graduates. As a research assistant and teaching assistant for professor Jytte Klausen’s Western Extremism Project, Feuerman studies terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, she studies campaign finance as a research assistant for professor Zachary Albert. Feuerman enjoys teaching English classes to immigrants in the Waltham area as a volunteer with the Waltham Group’s Language Empowering Action Project. She serves on the executive boards of Brandeis Democrats, Brandeis Parliamentary Debate, VoteDeis, and the Brandeis Journal of Politics. She also serves as the director of TEDxBrandeisU. In her free time, Feuerman likes to read, crochet, and play guitar.

Brandie Garcia is double-majoring in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies and music, but is currently in the process of creating a music-based Independent Interdisciplinary Major based on African-American Music. Originally from Chelsea, MA, they were raised in a low-income majority-Latino community and had very little access to adequate and culturally informed music education. Only when they had joined the Boston Children's Chorus in South Boston during sophomore year of high school were they able to access thorough music education. Garcia plans on redefining what music education is by searching into new forms of music pedagogy that serve low-income people of color. Garcia currently works as a sociology research assistant for professor Sarah Mayorga on racial capitalism and homeownership and stands as publicity manager for VoiceMale -- Brandeis' only masculine-centered and most racially diverse a cappella group on campus. You can also find Garcia at the Gender and Sexuality Center, assisting the staff as a Pride Rep or standing on the GSC's Leader's Roundtable, a coalition of student groups based on gender and sexuality. Their favorite artists are PinkPantheress, SZA, and Remi Wolf.

Samara Glazer is majoring in neuroscience with a special interest in substance use disorders. In professor James Howard’s lab, she uses chemosensory techniques to research the neural processes by which motivated decisions are made and adapted in changing environments. It has been an exceptional opportunity to explore behavioral neuropsychology and conduct research with applications in neurological disorders such as addiction. Outside of the lab, she holds a community advisor position in Massell Quad, supporting first-year students in their transition to college, and works in Sherman dining hall. Aside from academics and work, Glazer enjoys embroidery, playing “Just Dance,” and practicing the oboe. In the future, she hopes to conduct research on varied substance use disorders in an academic setting and advance her knowledge of the neurobiology of human disease.

Najla Khan is double majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy, and biology. She is a first-generation low-income student, whose determination to succeed is fueled by her desire to give back to her community in Pakistan. Khan is currently on the pre-health track and aspires to become an OB-GYN to help women in her community back home. Khan is an active member of several on-campus organizations. She serves as a Waltham Group coordinator for TAPS, where she helps to organize volunteer placements in classrooms. She is also a member of the Muslim Student Association Executive Board, where she contributes to the organization's events and initiatives. In addition, Khan is a Hiatt Career Center student advisor, where she meets with students to help them with their resumes, cover letters, and other career-related questions. When not studying or participating in campus activities, Khan enjoys spending her free time crocheting. Recently, she has also started learning how to embroider.

Destiny Kluck is a double major in biology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy. She aspires to become a physician specializing in serving children in the foster care and adoptee system. Having been adopted from China herself, Kluck is passionate about giving back to communities that have supported her. As a Posse scholar from Atlanta, Kluck is a leader in community engagement. She serves as a community engagement ambassador at the Department of Student Engagement, a digital specialist for the Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT), a Rich Collins fellow, and the president of Brandeis Encourages Women in STEM. In addition to her community-building activities, Kluck works as a research assistant in the Suzanne Paradis’ neuroscience lab, where she focuses on the Rem2 gene in the hippocampus. Off campus, she teaches dance at the Center Stage Dance Studio, provides respite care for Adoption Journeys, and volunteers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Kluck’s passions range from science and medicine to choreography for Adagio, Ballet Club, and BAASA. Her core value of giving back to others drives her to make the Brandeis campus more creative, inclusive, and passionate about service to the foster care/adoptee community.

Hana Klempnauer Miller is pursuing a double major in anthropology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy, as well as a minor in legal studies. In her time at Brandeis, she has been driven to explore and understand the world around her—and help others do the same. As director of accessibility for the Student Union, she has spearheaded initiatives including the provision of free prescription medication delivery to campus and securing a $100,000 grant to make the Brandeis Counseling Center accessible. Additionally, she works as the advocacy lead for the Brandeis Chapter of Partners in Health Engage, where she helps promote global health legislation, and as an editor on the Brandeis Law Journal. Outside of Brandeis, she is passionate about advocating for reproductive freedom, particularly in her home state of Minnesota. She has helped lobby for the passage of numerous pro-choice bills in the Legislature, including the recently passed Pro Act (HF 1), which enshrines abortion rights into Minnesota law. This summer, she will be continuing her advocacy as an intern in the Offices of Congresswoman Betty McCollum. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, videos of raccoons eating grapes, and the company of an interesting non-fiction book.

Megan Tan originally intended to major in biology, then spent a year studying applied math, but she finally settled on a double major in film, television, and interactive media and creative writing with the dream of one day becoming a screenwriter. But don’t let that fool you – one of her favorite courses at Brandeis is applied linear algebra with Carolyn Abbott, and she strongly believes that anyone who can take it, should take it. In her “free” time, Tan enjoys designing “Broadsides” with professor Elizabeth Bradfield, spending time in the WBRS studio and helping them plan events, and attending bible studies with ABSK. She plans on getting her own radio show next semester, and she hopes that anyone who’s interested in the radio station will come visit the studio in the SCC. She also loves hiking, playing tennis, and visiting her family back in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rashail Wasim is a major in economics with a minor in legal studies. In his study of economics, he has had the pleasure of conducting research with professor Geoff Clarke in his field of study, 19th century banking. Wasim is passionate about both the legal and economics fields, working in the summers as an intern at a financial advising firm, which provides a good intersection of his areas of interest. He is the president of the Pre-Law Society and the co-president and co-founder of the Brandeis Angling Student Society (BASS). Wasim also serves in the Brandeis Student Union as a member of the Allocations Board, and is the fleet manager for Brandeis’ Department of Student Engagement. He is also involved in the Brandeis chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

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