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Ten Undergraduate Valedictorians Recognized for Their Academic Achievements by Respective Schools

More than 750 students from Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools were presented with their degrees at YU’s 81st commencement exercises, held at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ on May 24. Ten received the distinction of valedictorian, an honor that reflects their exceptional academic achievement.

Valedictorians (L-R): Elana Sand, Chana Zuckier, Jennifer Lazaros, Yair Saperstein, Gregory Kupsin, Yehuda Safier, Anosh Moshe Zaghi, Avi Libman and Jesse Bernstein. Not pictured: Sultana Shoshani.

As the new graduates prepared to take their drive, creativity and dedication to a range of exciting careers and challenges, from medical school and finance to academic law and communal leadership, they recalled the close relationships with faculty, vibrant Jewish life and rich academic and extracurricular experiences that shaped their undergraduate years at Yeshiva.

“YU taught me to take advantage of any opportunity,” said Yeshiva College Valedictorian Yair Saperstein, of Lawrence, NY. As a chemistry major, Saperstein founded Project START! Science, an independently-run initiative that sends 150 YU students to public schools in nearby Washington Heights to teach science. He will attend medical school next year.

“I chose this university for its balance of Jewish religious and cultures studies, rigorous science courses, art and music classes, and research opportunities, among others,” said Saperstein, who delivered the valedictorian address at commencement. “The desire and drive to take part in all of these experiences was one I shared with many students here and the tenacity of my fellow graduates encouraged me to pursue them.”

For Gregory Kupsin of St. Petersburg, Russia, YU has been more than just a center of learning. “It’s my second home,” he said. “I felt so much warmth and so welcome here that it really is difficult to leave.” Kupsin, who majored in finance and will begin work as an assistant accounting manager this summer, is the valedictorian of the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies/Mechinah Program. He recalled the meaningful friendships and connections he forged during his undergraduate years: “I met such great people here—rabbis, professors, my wrestling coach and so many friends.”

Chana Zuckier, valedictorian of Stern College for Women’s Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies, will continue to pursue her passion as a master’s candidate in both the Biblical and Talmudic Interpretation and Jewish Philosophy programs at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School for Jewish Studies before moving on to a career in academic law. As an undergraduate, the Monsey, NY native was editor-in-chief of Kol Hamevasar, the Jewish thought magazine of Yeshiva University’s student body.

“It was the most challenging and fulfilling experience of my college career,” said Zuckier. “Through editing and publishing multiple editions of Kol Hamevaser on a host of religious issues facing the Jewish community and organizing events pertaining to Jewish thought, I hope I have raised the level of critical discussion within the YU student body.” She added: “I’ll miss the physics and philosophy courses that have inspired me to think analytically and critically, and the professors who have patiently accompanied me throughout my course of study.”

Anosh Moshe Zaghi, of Boca Raton, Florida, was selected for the Sy Syms School of Buisness Dean Harold Nierenberg Memorial Valedictorian award, along with classmates Elana Sand (Teaneck, NJ) and Sultana Shoshani (New York, NY). An accounting major, he will be giving back to the University next year as a Presidential Fellow in University and Community Leadership at the Center for the Jewish Future’s Department of Service Learning and Experiential Jewish Education. “I participated in the CJF’s Humanitarian Mission to Nicaragua this past January, where we worked with a local nonprofit association on a community-based development initiative to help build an adult education center,” said Zaghi. “In addition to performing hands-on tasks to improve the locals’ standard of living and interacting with the local community in a multifaceted way, we learned about issues affecting the developing world, the history of Nicaragua, levels and definitions of global poverty and their universe of obligation.”

Other valedictorians include Jesse Bernstein (New Rochelle, NY), Isaac Breuer College; Jennifer Lazaros (Woodmere, NY), Stern College for Women; Avi Libman (Toronto, ON), Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies; and Yehuda Safier (Teaneck, NJ), Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program.

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