Suzanne Chipkin knew that several things were nonnegotiable when it came time for her to select an undergraduate institution—she had to be able to study Judaism in a serious environment, learn from engaging professors, and delve into secular studies.
Now a junior in the dual-degree program of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary, majoring in Jewish Literature at JTS and Urban Studies (with a concentration in Psychology) at Barnard College, Suzanne's list of requirements became the blueprint for her ongoing success.
"I loved that at JTS I could get it all: I could pursue Jewish Studies in an intellectually challenging place, but also get a top-notch education at Barnard. Also, my Jewish liberal arts education wasn't going to dabble or skim the surface—I would explore Judaism from different angles and understand different facets, from theology and sacred texts to history and modern forces," Suzanne says.
Suzanne credits Dr. David Roskies with illuminating Jewish literature for her, this being an area of study to which she had not been deeply exposed. "I have now taken three literature classes with Dr. Roskies, and have adored them all. He is a brilliant scholar, a professor with a great sense of humor, and a wonderful teacher. His passion comes across in every single class session."
Suzanne has taken advantage of many different community programs and fellowships offered to dual-degree students. Last semester, Suzanne interned in the Adolescent Portable Therapy Program at the Vera Institute for Justice and participated in an alternative spring break with a multicultural coalition of students through the Barnard College New York City Civic Engagement Program.
Next year, Suzanne will be a recipient of List College's Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship. While it was clear to Suzanne that her Jewish values have informed her interest in social justice work, this fellowship will give her the opportunity to cultivate more deeply the connections that she has already forged between her Jewish learning and her professional aspirations to work in the social justice field.
Suzanne is "seriously considering pursuing a master's degree in social work and helping inner-city kids get the mental health resources they need and deserve." When she graduates in May 2010, she will do so with more than just two bachelor's degrees—she will leave with a unique vision and skill set that will fortify her professionally and personally as she strives to make a difference in the world.