Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Celebrating 15 years of fostering social justice internships

June 13, 2024

Program has enabled nearly 500 students to pursue internships

Person talks in front of a white board.
Ilana Fitzpatrick, MPP’26, speaks at a luncheon for the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.

Photo Credit: Dave Marino

A Brandeis program has been jumpstarting careers for students passionate about social justice for 15 years, enabling them to help transform lives from Waltham to Alabama.

Since it was established in 2008, the Social Justice Fellowship funded by the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice has provided vital stipends to nearly 500 students as they pursue unpaid social justice internships. It is guided by an Advisory Committee composed of alumni and friends.

The program is close to the heart of the fund’s chief benefactor and founder, Jules Bernstein ’57, who has stridently fought for workers’ rights as a labor lawyer for over six decades. At a recent luncheon attended by dozens of stipend recipients, he was elated to hear six students talk about how they have used their experiences to propel their careers forward.

“When I was at Brandeis, I waited tables every summer to make ends meet,” says Bernstein, who is pleased that today’s students have the opportunity to gain real-world professional experience through internships. However, he recognizes that many social justice organizations have limited resources and can’t pay interns.

“I created this program so Brandeis students could access these professional opportunities regardless of their financial means,” he says.

Here are just a few examples of how students have utilized their stipends.

Treating America's Most At-risk Women

Ilana Fitzpatrick, MPP’26, didn’t just do an internship -- she created her own non-profit. 

Last year, she was diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer. Fortunately, she fully recovered. But the experience inspired her to question why so many women, especially in rural areas, are still dying from the disease.

Her research showed that the problem was access to care. So, she applied for a stipend to help her create GoGo Gyno, a mobile gynecological office to serve the most at-risk regions of the country.

Partnering with communities in the most affected areas in the Southern United States, she was able to create a business plan for pop-up clinics that increased access to coverage as well as conduct independent, on-the-ground research with women in Alabama. 

“Now, my career path is really focused on making GoGo Gyno grow,” she says. “I have so much gratitude to the Legacy Fund for helping me get here.”

Making Social Media Safer

Last summer, Alyssa Golden ‘26 interned at the Integrity Institute, a non-profit that advocates for healthier practices on social media–a particularly relevant cause to her generation. As a community intern, Golden said she was knee-deep in a variety of key projects.

“I quickly ascertained the importance of wearing many hats within a startup,” she says.

For example, she collaborated on a project that significantly increased the number of top decision-makers from the tech sector who could help craft and promote the Institute’s message.

Impressed by her ability to navigate work on multiple projects smoothly, the non-profit asked her to stay beyond the summer.

She says that experience has been instrumental to her career plans. “I want to practice law and address ethical issues around Internet use,” she says.

Inspiring a Lifelong Career

 Leah Goldstein ‘25 says that her internship at the Child Mind Institute helped her realize what path she wanted to take in her professional life.

That’s because her experience working as a counselor at the institute, which delivers mental health services to children and young adults, convinced her to pursue a career in psychology.

Goldstein worked closely with children who had behavioral problems due to severe ADHD. After working with them one-on-one for several weeks, she was amazed by the growth she saw.

“Without the stipend, I would still be unsure about what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I will forever be grateful for it.”

Dave Marino, GSAS MA'19