Oct 23, 2008 — A group of 13 Yeshiva University (YU) graduates from the class of 2008 enjoyed their studies so much that they will stay on for a year after graduation, serving as Presidential Fellows. The prestigious group includes Chani Schonbrun of Cedarhurst, NY.
The Fellows will build their professional skills while assisting in administrative and service roles in various departments and schools across the institution. Since it was established by YU President Richard M. Joel in 2004, the Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership has played a major role in transforming the University into a leadership laboratory, training top graduates and expanding YU’s service to the Jewish community.
“The program has motivated its participants to reflect on the positive experiences they have had at Yeshiva University and examine the opportunities in the Jewish community––both for lay leaders and professionals—in light of their interests and skills,” said President Joel. “The fellowship inspires them to reach for the nobility and responsibility that comes with leadership.”
The Fellows were chosen after an intensive screening process based on academic performance, campus leadership, and involvement with the Jewish community. They are mentored by a senior administrator within their assigned department and work on projects of importance to the University. Throughout the year, the Fellows attend a graduate-level weekly leadership seminar covering key topics in university administration and Jewish communal leadership.
Ms. Schonbrun, who majored in biochemistry at YU’s Stern College for Women and is taking a year off before entering to medical school, wanted “to do something meaningful with her year.” She will spend the year assisting the Office of the Vice President for University Life, under the guidance of Dr. Hillel Davis.
“I believe that no matter what profession a person chooses, he or she must have the ability to take charge and be a leader,” says Ms. Schonbrun. “I hope that the Fellowship will help hone and develop my leadership skills so that I can become more than just the average doctor; so that I can be a leader in my field.”
The Fellowship has also led to more permanent work for some of the graduates within the University’s administration. Among the five Fellows from last year who have taken jobs within the University is Marc Fein, who worked in the Office of the President and is now a communications associate in that office. “It was an incredible learning experience to constantly be under the tutelage of President Joel and Josh Joseph. I was encouraged to cultivate my own sense of drive and mission and apply that to my work. I am excited for the opportunity to nurture these mentoring relationships and continue to grow as a professional.”
Previous Fellows have also taken positions in the corporate sector as well as in Jewish communal organizations such as the American Jewish World Service, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the UJA-Federation of New York, and various Jewish day schools. Others have gone on to graduate study in public service, psychology, law, dentistry, medicine and the rabbinate.
The program is directed by Rabbi Josh Joseph, chief of staff in the Office of the President, and coordinated by Elysia Stein ’04S, herself a former Presidential Fellow.