Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Making Space for New Artistic Voices: Linda Heller Kamm ’61 Prize Goes to Music Club Founder

May 29, 2024

Lizbeth Sandoval ’24 is the founder of Melody Mentors, the president of Basement Records, and a mentor to students on campus.

Person sits in a chair with headphones
Lizbeth Sandoval ’24, awarded the 2024 Linda Heller Kamm Prize for her mentorship with music, wears headphones in a studio.

Photo Credit: Gaelen Morse

Lizbeth Sandoval ’24 is dedicated to helping marginalized people express themselves creatively.

That’s why, at Brandeis, she founded Melody Mentors. The student-run club partners with the local nonprofit Africano Waltham to pair Brandeis and high school students together in musical partnerships. The goal, she said, is to encourage students of diverse backgrounds to create original songs.

“I want to be someone who uplifts marginalized communities and BIPOC creatives in the music industry,” she said in a recent interview. “With sessions happening on campus, the students also get to see what it’s like to be at a university.”

Now, Sandoval, a double major in business and psychology, is being recognized for this work and for her involvement in a number of other extracurricular activities: In May, she was named the 2024 recipient of the Linda Heller Kamm ’61 Prize. Awarded annually, the prize recognizes student leaders in social justice.

In addition to founding Melody Mentors, Sandoval serves as president of Basement Records, a campus club dedicated to creating inclusive spaces for multimedia artists to connect and collaborate with one another. Under her leadership, the club is pursuing a distribution deal with Sony.

Sandoval is also one of the first students to participate in the Samuel Scholars Program, an initiative created by the Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT). The year-long program offers first and second-year students an introduction to community engagement at Brandeis. To that end, the center helped connect Sandoval to Africano Waltham to get Melody Mentors off the ground.

Additionally, Sandoval serves as a peer mentor and pride representative for the university’s Gender and Sexuality Center.

“As a child of parents who did not complete high school, sharing my achievements with them in Spanish can sometimes be challenging due to the language barrier,” she wrote in a letter of gratitude upon receipt of the award. “However, this award has filled them with immense pride and gratitude, as it represents the culmination of my efforts.”

Kamm, a Brandeis trustee who was the first woman appointed general counsel to a United States Cabinet department, created the prize in honor of her 50th Reunion in 2011. Every year since, one student leader has received a $1,000 reward, intended by Kamm to encourage interest in public service as a career path.

“I want to see people pursue careers in public advocacy. In every era, there are important issues of social justice that need to be addressed, never more prominently than now.” - Lizbeth Sandoval ’24

Sandoval, who expects to graduate in December and then pursue an MBA at Brandeis, said the recognition is of “profound significance” for her as a first-generation and low-income student.

“This award is a testament to the power of perseverance, well-intentioned actions, and educated decision-making,” she continued in her letter of gratitude. “It motivates me to continue striving for excellence and making a positive impact in the world around me.”