June 2, 2024
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June 2, 2024
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Dov Brodkin, Future Doctor, Named Touro University Valedictorian

Local resident joins three other academic stars as student commencement speakers.

(Courtesy of Touro University) Shortly after moving to Queens from Portland, Oregon to begin college, Dov Brodkin, whose family now lives in Monmouth County, was walking away from a local store where he had stopped to pick up a box of donuts. Just then a homeless man appeared to ask for money, but Dov told the man all he was carrying was his debit card. Dov offered to share his donuts instead which the hungry man happily accepted. Following the encounter, he was struck by the look in the man’s eyes, “a mixture of deep, sincere gratitude and connection.”

“I realized that perhaps what had touched the man was not the money my donuts were worth,” Dov said, “it was the fact that I had taken the time to look him in the eyes and view him as an equal, thus demonstrating to him that he was not invisible, but worthy in his own right.”

Although he was already planning to pursue a career in medicine, this experience was impactful and captured why Dov believed it was what he was meant to do.

Dov Brodkin –valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College for Men

“It may be cliche, but I’m interested in medicine because it allows me to combine my love of life-long learning and science with helping others,” he said. “I believe I’m well-suited for medicine and feel strongly that it is a field where I can make a difference.”

He will get his opportunity when he begins medical school this summer at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. The biology major was named the 2024 valedictorian of Lander College for Men (LCM) and will be one of the student speakers at Touro University’s Lander College commencement at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center on June 2.

Dov’s preparation for a career in medicine began even before he started college. He shadowed physicians during his summer breaks in Oregon while spending the rest of the year as a high school student at the Yeshiva of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Ariel Goodstein – valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences, Men’s Division

To develop his patient-interaction skills while at LCM, he volunteered in Manhattan and Queens through a hospice care program run by Calvary Hospital, a hospital which exclusively provides palliative care. He currently works part time as a direct-service professional in a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities. Besides responsibilities that include washing, cleaning, cooking and other necessary tasks to assist with daily living, Dov became Approved Medication Administration Personnel (AMAP) certified, which enables him to administer medications.

“Dov is an outstanding young man,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of LCM. “He is graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA—rare at Lander College for Men—he possesses true intellectual curiosity, reads broadly, is committed to Torah learning and is mature and poised beyond his years. I have every confidence he will make a superb physician and community leader.”

Dov chose to attend LCM because he felt it was uniquely suited to help him achieve his professional goals while in a Jewish environment. He said that Touro’s faculty sincerely cares about each of their students, and that they go “above and beyond” to help them succeed, noting that he has developed close relationships with Professors Kenneth Danishefsky, chair of the LCM Biology Department, and Ann Shinnar, chair of the Pre-Health Professions Committee and Deputy Chair of the Chemistry Department.

The commitment of the teachers, along with the small faculty-to-student ratio, “provides a level of support to students that is not available at other institutions,” he said.

Chana Birnbaum – valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences, Women’s Division

After high school, he attended Yeshivas Torah Ore in Jerusalem for almost a year, but had to come home early due to COVID, and the next year he returned to the Yeshiva of Greater Washington for a second year of Torah learning. The following year, Dov started full time at Lander. When he is not studying or volunteering, he enjoys reading, exercising, playing classical music on his violin and connecting with his friends, family and community.

Accounting major and future attorney, Ariel Goodstein, was named valedictorian of Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences men’s division. Ariel is learning at Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv and headed to Harvard Law School this fall. He may build upon his accounting background to pursue a career in tax law, but is keeping his options open as he enters law school.

During his college career, Ariel interned both at a brokerage firm called Rosewood Realty Group and for Justice Leon Ruchelsman of Kings County Supreme Court. The Supreme Court internship further piqued his interest in pursuing a legal career and cemented his decision to apply to law school.

Chana Birnbaum is the valedictorian for the women’s division at Touro’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences. A biology honors major and a recipient of the New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, she is employed as a medical assistant in a pediatric clinic and conducting rheumatology research at Brookdale Hospital.

Chana developed her leadership skills as a member of the Touro Flatbush Society of Fellows and by co-founding a committee to support fellow undergraduate students pursuing medical careers. She looks forward to an exciting career in the medical field but says her ultimate goal is to harness her empathetic nature to have a positive impact on the lives of her patients and develop close relationships with them.

Bracha Gluck –valedictorian Touro’s Lander College for Women

Bracha Gluck was named valedictorian of Lander College for Women. In her senior year of high school, Bracha was accepted into Touro’s Medical Honors Pathway program, a program that provides a direct pathway from high school to medical school for qualified students. She chose Touro’s Lander College for Women (LCW), “because it is the perfect blend of academia and spirituality that allows me to be a competitive student without compromising any of my values,” she said.

The LCW valedictorian currently works as a part-time medical assistant at a Women’s Center in Brooklyn and plans to begin a new position as a part-time research assistant in the cardiothoracic department at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital after graduation. Excited to begin Touro’s New York Medical College, Bracha hasn’t yet decided which field to specialize in, but whatever it is, “I hope to make an impact not only in the world of medicine, but also within the Jewish community by giving back with my new profession.”

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