Students meet donors who make their Brandeis education possible
By Emily Evans
“The generosity in this room changed [my life]. The opportunity and support you gave me allowed me to pay it forward and impact others,” Eden Shoshan ’16 said as she welcomed a crowd of 250 alumni, friends, students, faculty and trustees to the Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon. The annual event – now in its 14th year – took place in Sherman Function Hall in the Hassenfeld Conference Center on March 31.
A senior majoring in computer science with minors in business and Near Eastern and Judaic studies, Shoshan shared that she originally had mixed feelings upon her acceptance into Brandeis. She was excited to attend college – an opportunity her Israel-born father did not have – but anxious about the financial burden it would create, especially since treating her mother’s multiple sclerosis was expensive.
However, the John “J.J.” Jamoulis Endowed Scholarship and additional scholarship support made it possible for Shoshan’s college experience to center around her academic and personal interests, rather than expenses. Once at Brandeis, she discovered a new passion for computer science, co-founding Girls Who Code, a program that provides teenage girls with early exposure to the field. After graduation, Shoshan will remain in Waltham to work as a software engineer for an email marketing company.
Trustee Barton Winokur and his wife, Susan, who established the Morris J. Winokur Endowed Scholarship in honor of his father, hosted the luncheon. In his remarks, Winokur praised the “strong and compassionate leadership” of Interim President Lisa M. Lynch, and said that the reason he has remained committed to Brandeis for more than three decades is the University’s founding principle to educate all students, regardless of social or financial background.
“Brandeis has, from the start, been committed to making the world a better place,” he said. “Education of our young people enables them to succeed in life and as citizens.”
Winokur appealed to attendees for their continued generosity, and reiterated how the world-class programs at Brandeis are dependent upon the steadfast support and advocacy of the University’s donors. He also introduced the luncheon’s featured student speaker, Angelica Fajardo '17.
A first-generation college student, Fajardo immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, from Ecuador at the age of 6. Although she struggled to adjust to life in the United States both academically and socially, her first-grade teacher went to great lengths to ensure her transition was successful. Today, Angelica is a junior majoring in Hispanic studies with minors in education and politics. She volunteers at the Lemberg Children’s Center and serves as treasurer of Brandeis Boxing Club. Inspired by the kindness of her first teacher in the United States, Fajardo aspires to become a middle school Spanish teacher.
“Without scholarship support, I wouldn’t be able to study in an environment where all ideas are respected, and with students who have unique minds yet a similar goal of making a difference in the world,” said Fajardo, this year’s Winokur Scholar.
She articulated the impact of her Brandeis experience on her life, saying that support from the University’s benefactors has helped her become assertive, compassionate and ambitious: “I am a confident woman with clear goals, ready to conquer anything.”