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Brandeis introduces Lerman-Neubauer Fellowship for class of 2012

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Features

Beginning with this year’s Freshman class, Brandeis will offer a Lerman-Neubauer Fellowship each summer to 12 accepted prospective students who have demonstrated academic excellence during high school.

Funded by a generous donation by Jeanette Lerman, Neubauer ‘69- President of J.P. Lerman & Co., former Vice President of Communications for Time Warner, and the provider for the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring- the fellowship provides selected students with special access to research facilities, special University Seminars (USEM) options and a paid summer internship opportunity following Sophomore or Junior year. The Fellowship was inaugurated this year to “recognize students with exceptional scholastic records who can add to their potential fields,” according to program director Sarah Hoenig.

Accepted students will have access to stipends for independent research or research with a faculty advisor. In addition, Hoenig will ensure that there are numerous group activities for the Lerman-Neubauer Fellowship recipients, including lectures, workshops, guest speakers and special fun events such as outings to basketball games. “I’m hoping to get them to attend academic events, such as lectures by featured faculty or alumni,” Hoenig stated. “I also want to take them to fun events, such as a Celtics or Bruins game.”

This year’s recipients will be the “guinea pigs” of the Fellowship, as programming and activities are still being planned. “The group meets as a group every two weeks or so and with me individually so I can check up on them and see how they’re doing,” said Hoenig. “I ask them for their input so we can make the program better…at the end of the year we’ll have a focus group.”

Though what is expected of the students is still unclear, Hoenig has confidence that recipients “are going to be able to build on their own experiences.” For now, students are expected to participate in group activities, come to the weekly meetings, take an internship after Sophomore or Junior year and perhaps culminate their Brandeis experience with a capstone project, the nature of which is yet to be determined.

“It’s kind of being planned in the short term,” noted Shayna Medley ‘12, one of the first recipients of the award. “They’re still trying to figure out the different things that we are going to be offered. Right now, the paid internships that we are going to be offered is probably the best thing about it. Getting paid internships is not always an easy thing.”

Of the aspects of the program that she has experienced so far, Medley is quite impressed. Her Lerman-Neubauer -scholars- only USEM, “From Colonies to Independent States: Decolonization in Comparative Perspective” “is really cool…a little more challenging and a lot of reading every week.”

Medley took an active role in helping to make the group cohesive. After attempting to Facebook each of the other participants, she created a special Facebook group for members of the fellowship and sent E-mails to them to determine who was taking the special USEM and to get to know them more personally.

Perhaps her can-do attitude is what got her accepted into the program in the first place. “In high school, I started a community service project where once a month a bunch of us from high school went to a homeless shelter and cooked for the homeless people there, Medley explained.

In addition, Medley tutored a student through her honor society. Although she took challenging classes in high school, did well on her ACT, and she’ll tell you that “I was definitely not the top person in my school.”

She made sure to note her activism in her college application essay, which is one of the elements taken into consideration when deciding who to invite to the program.

“There are no specific guidelines for getting into the program yet, though obviously we expect excellence in high school,” explained Hoenig.

For now, standardized test scores are taken into account, as are the application essays, high school grades and demonstrated interests. In particular, “we looked for people who might be interested in social studies, such as Politics, History, Econ[omics] and [International and Global Studies,” she explained. “We also looked for people who had experiences that made them stand out, such as being a member of the National Honor Society, their high school debate team, done an internship…people who already had demonstrated interests.”

According to Medley, students thus far have had positive reactions to the program. Hoenig is excited for the opportunities presented to these students. “They’re so diverse, so busy all the time. “It’s really inspiring for me to watch all of them…and how motivated they are.”