Yosef Frenkel, Yeshiva College
Students of all ages and backgrounds come to Yeshiva University to pursue a range of professional and personal dreams, from scientific research and medicine to law, Jewish education and the creative arts. Our students seek to harness their unique talents and YU education to make a lasting impact on the world around them. This spring, when they graduate, these new alumni will hit the ground running.
Meet the Class of 2016.
He’s a scientist, an actor and an emergency medical technician—and for Yeshiva College graduate Yosef Frenkel of Riverdale, New York, that’s usually all in the same day.
As a biology major, he was often found hard at work in his rigorous science classes or performing research in Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Josefa Steinhauer’s genetics laboratory, both of which played an integral role in his undergraduate experience. “We were exploring a pathway in fruit flies which we believe is linked to infertility; if we can identify what goes wrong in that pathway maybe we can extrapolate to human infertility,” said Frenkel. “Genetics is an up-and-coming field which I’ve always enjoyed. We’re discovering new ways to manipulate genes every day.”
Frenkel was also frequently spotted on stage, as an actor in one of the Yeshiva College Dramatic Society’s productions—he minored in speech and drama—or behind the camera at a basketball game with MacsLive, the broadcast team that covers Yeshiva athletics, where he served as chief technology officer. “I loved MacsLive because it allowed me to combine my passion for cool technology and sports to make sure family and friends of the players could watch their games,” said Frenkel.
Then, too, there were times when the radio at his belt crackled with an urgent call and the undergraduate student transformed into a seasoned Hatzalah EMT as he ran for his truck. “As a pre-med major, working as an EMT gives you opportunities to try to figure out what’s wrong with patients and help them get better, while adding that human dimension,” said Frenkel. “People are scared when they call you and your job is to calm them and guide them through the healing process.”
Medical school has been a dream of Frenkel’s for a long time: “Applying my love of the sciences and problem-solving to make a difference in the lives of others was something I always knew I wanted to do.” But he also knew that there were many routes to achieve that dream, and he didn’t want it to come at the expense of his spiritual development. “I didn’t want to attend a school where I could just ‘stay’ Jewish—I wanted a place where I could grow my Jewish identity,” said Frenkel. “And I had heard how amazing the pre-health advising was here and knew they would help me throughout the entire process.”
At YU, Frenkel was been able to enjoy fascinating high-level courses in Bible and Jewish law alongside cutting-edge science and research opportunities, but he also discovered a camaraderie between his peers that can be rare in higher education. “Everyone here wants to help you succeed—it’s like a team sport,” he said. “When we took our finals for organic chemistry, which in many universities is an extremely cutthroat course, our whole class was sharing notes and testing each other. Underclassmen knew they could call, text or email me at all hours with questions, and it really gave me joy to be able to guide them because I knew how invaluable it was for me.”
He added, “The bond between students here was unparalleled and I really valued that.”
Still, for Frenkel, who will be attending YU-affiliated Albert Einstein College of Medicine this year and was selected to represent the graduating class of Yeshiva College as valedictorian, the crowning moment of his undergraduate career is easy to name: “To have that first acceptance in your hand is to know that all the late night studying and hard work over the last four years have paid off,” he said. “I have the letters on my wall right now to help me remember that it’s real.”