From Environmental Advocacy to Pediatric Healthcare, Stern College Students Show Passion for Public Service on Summer Internships
Summer internships provide valuable career opportunities—but for many Stern College for Women students who are passionate about public service, they’re also avenues to put their talents and dreams to work building a better world, on a local and global level.
“Each summer, Stern College students dedicate themselves to internships to serve their communities and also to countless others in need,” said Dr. Joseph Luders, the David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of Political Science. “They work tirelessly to bring about a positive impact in hospitals, law offices, advocacy organizations, and elsewhere. They are a great credit to Yeshiva University in their many vital contributions and I am personally very proud of them.”
Whether they’re helping impoverished children get the heart surgeries they need, fighting health care fraud or advocating for environmental sustainability, here’s a few ways students are making a difference.
Attorney General’s Office, State of New Jersey: Tzivya Beck and Rochel Hirsch
Tzivya Beck, a Monsey, New York native who will graduate with a degree in political science this fall, applied for an internship at the Attorney General’s Office of New Jersey in preparation for her studies at Harvard Law School in 2018. At Harvard, she plans to focus on public interest law; her internship at the attorney general’s office gives her exposure to the area as she investigates cases relating to government and healthcare fraud. The cases typically employ the False Claims Act to prosecute those who defraud the state government.
“Each case requires all hands on deck to process thousands of records in order to move the case forward,” said Beck. “One week, interns including myself went to visit a nearby United States District Court, where we watched a gang leader being sentenced for his crimes of murder, attempted murder and racketeering. Afterwards, we met with Judge Greenaway, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit to hear about his experiences serving as a federal judge. After eight weeks working alongside interns and deputy attorney generals, I know that I will have a lot to look back on once this internship is over.”
At Stern College, Beck has deeply enjoyed her courses on the Middle East and Arab-Israeli Conflict, taught by former Israeli Deputy National Security Adviser Dr. Charles Freilich, as well as fundamental political science courses taught by Luders. “During my sophomore year, I took a course that provided a comparison between Talmudic law and U.S. law, which foreshadowed my decision to learn Talmud in the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies program at YU before pursuing a law degree in 2018,” said Beck.
Rochel Hirsch, a junior from Passaic majoring in history and Judaic studies, is also spending her summer at the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey, working with Beck in the government and healthcare fraud section of the Division of Law: “I wanted an internship that would allow me to gain exposure to law and give me insight into the workings of the government.”
Like Beck, Hirsch learned about the opportunity from Pre-Law Advisor Dassy Chelst. “I’m considering a career in law, so this internship is a great opportunity to explore the public service side of the field,” she said. “During weekly seminars designed to introduce interns to the attorney general’s wide range of responsibilities, I also get to learn about other divisions’ work.”
Red Cross, New York City: Chava Baum
Chava Baum, a senior from Madison, Wisconsin, studying sociology and studio art, is working with the New York Red Cross in their disaster cycle services department. “I was briefly a Magen David Adom volunteer a few years ago and I’m trained in non-violent communication techniques—additionally, one of my strengths is remaining calm during emergencies,” said Baum. “I also wanted to explore ways I could use my sociology degree after graduation. These were all big motivators in terms of why I wanted to work with the Red Cross this summer.”
As an intern, Baum’s major project is to improve volunteer engagement. “Ninety percent of Red Cross workers are volunteers, including almost all of the responders,” she said. “This is an underratedly huge project because it involves understanding every gap of communication throughout the entire volunteer process, what factors contribute to volunteers becoming dissatisfied and devising ways to fix the communication gaps. To do this, I have to plunge my way into the job of a responder, so much so that I literally have two titles – Intern and Responder In Training. It may sound exhausting but it is honestly what keeps my job interesting, plus it means that I can return as a full responder after the summer is over and continue helping people.”
So far, Baum has been moved by the organization’s accommodation of her needs as an Orthodox Jew. “People have gone above and beyond for me,” she said. “My supervisor moved our department’s presentations at the weekend-long convention to be on Sunday so I could attend and present. My fellow interns changed a Friday night get-together to Thursday night and made it a potluck so I could be a part of it. I haven’t seen a single other religious Jew in the Red Cross building on 49th Street, so this is a pretty impressive level of acceptance.”
At Stern, Baum has found her sociology courses fascinating and even uplifting. “I really admire Dr. Roberta Farber for her ability to exemplify Torah Umadda in her teaching,” she said. “I’ve also greatly enjoyed Dr. Jill Katz’s classes—her passion about her field inspires me to love it too.”
Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York City: Chani Grossman
Chani Grossman, a Jewish history and biology major from Monsey, New York, is fulfilling her dream of working behind the scenes at a museum with her summer internship at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “I chose the Museum of Jewish Heritage because I’d visited it and been very impressed and I’m very passionate about Holocaust education, which is a very strong focus of theirs,” she said. Her responsibilities can range from reading over tour evaluations to preparing group activities and administrative tasks. She also organized a summer conference for teachers at Jewish schools to learn more about European Jews before the Holocaust.
“One of the best parts of working at a museum is that you get to go to the galleries whenever you want, which has been incredible,” said Grossman. “I also got to go to lectures held at the museum, which were always fascinating. Another of my favorite things was being able to interact with student groups and see what they thought about their experiences at the museum. Many of the students come in with almost no knowledge of the Holocaust and to see the amount of information and insight they’ve gained is incredible.”
Her internship’s focus on education fits well with Grossman’s fascination with Jewish history, which has flourished at Stern. “I’ve had such great Jewish history professors—Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, Dr. Jeffrey Gurock, Dr. Ronnie Perelis—and I’m looking forward to having even more when I start taking courses at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies this fall,” she said. “I’m also really enjoying the experience of working on my senior honors thesis with Dr. Perelis, especially as I get to work on a period of Jewish history—1970s Argentina—that I knew little about before, but relates closely to my family history.”
350 Seattle, Seattle, Washington: Adina Genauer
Adina Genauer, a junior from Seattle, Washington studying political science, is giving back to her hometown through an internship at 350 Seattle, an environmental nonprofit. “I wanted to intern at an organization like this because environmental protection and sustainability is a passion of mine and something I find to be extremely important,” she said. “Global climate change is the biggest problem that our world is facing and we must do everything in our power to help prevent it as much as we can.”
During her internship, Genauer is educating the local community about climate change, meeting with city leaders about passing resolutions to reduce carbon dioxide emission levels, and creating forums and active communities for climate-conscious citizens. “We’ve accomplished some really amazing things since I began working here,” she said. “We recently worked very closely with a resolution that was put before the city council that would oblige Seattle to uphold the Paris Climate Deal. Many people from our organization went to the city council meeting to show support for the resolution which passed among our city councilmen—and some of our leaders spoke up during the meeting!”
Ultimately, Genauer hopes to continue working in the field of environmental sustainability, perhaps on the policy side, combining her love of political science with her passion for environmental preservation. “The ultimate dream job would be to work in the Knesset on agricultural policy,” she said.
Save a Child’s Heart, Israel: Estee Steinberg
Estee Steinberg, a biology major and art history minor from Los Angeles, California, had volunteered with Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) in both London and Israel before applying to intern with the Israel-based nonprofit this summer. SACH provides urgently needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for indigent children from developing countries. “I wanted to spend time in Israel this summer and felt my experience would be enhanced by further exposure to the Israeli medical arena,” she said. “The Pauline R. and Joseph F. Silber Public Service Fellowship at YU afforded me the opportunity through the SACH medical interning and volunteer programs to combine my multiple aspirations into a single Israel experience.”
At SACH, Steinberg shadows physicians, assists with weekly echocardiogram clinics catering to residents in the Palestinian Authority and observes heart surgeries. She also spearheaded a project that will create educational pamphlets for partner sites in Africa, seeking to increase awareness about treatments and symptoms of congenital and rheumatic heart defects among new parents. Steinberg will continue to work on the project from New York when she returns to Stern College this fall.
“One of the most inspiring moments I experienced interning with SACH was during a conversation I had with the mother of a child who underwent heart surgery,” Steinberg said. “I asked her what she liked most about her stay in Israel and she replied, ‘airplanes and jam.’ After seeing my puzzled face she continued, ‘In Tanzania, my homeland, we don’t have anything as grand as planes flying over our heads or anything as sweet as jam in our lives. Israel has opened my eyes and heart to life beyond the small village I come from.’ Even in a time of concern for her daughter’s health she could look at things in life with simplicity and appreciate those things for the small joys they brought her— how much more so should those of us who have their health and the comfort of living in developed countries appreciate all the blessings we have.”
While Steinberg plans to pursue a medical career specializing in women’s fertility, her experience this summer has affected her profoundly: “My exposure to global medicine and witnessing firsthand the impact it can make on people’s daily lives has compelled me to commit time within my career to enhance women’s health globally.”