April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Touro College Salutes 2021 Valedictorians

Future doctors, lawyer and information security engineer honored at commencement.

(Courtesy of Touro College) Touro College recently announced the valedictorians of three schools: Lander College for Men, Lander College for Women and Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush. Yaakov Saxon, Elisheva (Marcus) Kaminetsky, Rena Schreier and Jacob (Coby) Fliegelman will be honored at Touro’s commencement ceremony, which will be held virtually at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 30.

“These young men and women all have cultivated a love of learning, a desire to help others and a commitment to Torah values,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, president of Touro College and University System.

In total, 583 students will graduate from Touro’s Lander College for Women, Lander College for Men and Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, while 167 students will graduate from Machon L’Parnasa and The School of Lifelong Education. The 2021 graduating class includes seniors from 19 states across the United States, and five foreign countries (Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada and Israel).

Yaakov Saxon, Valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College for Men

Yaakov Saxon has loved tinkering with computers since his father gave him an old DOS computer when he was 6 years old. His interest in computers followed him through grade school, where he began honing his skills in information security. On one occasion, while taking a test in ninth grade, he figured out how to gain access into the server of an eLearning product his school used. He wrote the CEO to let him know how he was able to access the answers. His honesty paid off, and he received a college letter of recommendation and the start of an exciting career path.

At Lander College for Men, Yaakov found the opportunity to explore his interest in technology. Throughout his college career, Yaakov worked to refine his skills and test the security of various applications. He happened to find another vulnerability in another eLearning software program while at Lander, and after disclosing his findings, was offered a job with that company as an application security tester.

Today Yaakov is putting his white-hat hacking skills to good use as an information security engineer for North American Bancard, a credit card processing company, while working remotely from his new home in Orlando, Florida. “Cybersecurity is about figuring out how to put together all of the pieces of a puzzle,” he said. He credits his professors at Touro with giving him personal attention and additional challenges to develop his skills.

Yaakov grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Hillel Academy. He studied at Chofetz Chaim Jerusalem before moving to Queens to attend Lander College for Men.

Elisheva (Marcus) Kaminetsky, Valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College for Women, The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School

Elisheva (Marcus) Kaminetsky is a perennial student who plans to become a professor someday. “If I could be paid to be a student for the rest of my life, I would be happy to do that,” she says. Her love of learning led her to become the valedictorian of Lander College for Women. She won’t stop there.

In September, Elisheva will begin her JD studies at NYU Law School. Growing up in Kew Gardens Hills, the oldest of six children, she recalls being told from a young age that she would make a great lawyer. She pushed it to the back of her mind, but at Touro, political science and prelaw classes inspired her to pursue law. She interned at The Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) that provides limited legal advice to low-income New Yorkers being sued by debt collectors. She loved seeing how law can improve the lives of people in need. Elisheva also found time to volunteer with Partners in Torah, NORPAC, Young Israel of Queens Valley and JEP. She worked as a research assistant at Lander College for Women, sourcing data and coauthoring an academic paper.

Taking advantage of online classes during the pandemic, Elisheva spent this semester in Jerusalem. While completing her coursework at Lander College for Women, she gave a series of guest lectures at Michlalah, the seminary she had attended in her gap year. Explaining her decision to try out teaching, Elisheva points to the influence and impact of her Touro professors. “Beyond helping me appreciate their particular disciplines, they helped me appreciate the art of education,” she said. “It is largely because of them that I hope to someday re-enter the world of education as a professor of law.”

Rena Schreier, Valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences Women’s Division

When Rena Schreier started at Lander College of Arts and Sciences Flatbush Women’s Division, after spending a year at Machon Raaya seminary in Israel, she expected to find large lecture halls and intimidating professors. Instead, she found a warm, supportive environment that empowered her to do her best. She seized every opportunity. As a result, she will graduate as valedictorian and plans to start medical school at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in August.

While maintaining a stellar GPA, Rena was a member of the Flatbush Society of Fellows Honors Program, the Touro Science Journal Editorial Board and the Touro Science Society, and secretary of Touro’s branch of NPreMa (National Pre-Med Association). She also participated in Touro’s Biomedical Ethics Cross-Cultural Education Program in Bangkok, Thailand. While in college, she worked as a medical assistant and a phlebotomist, gaining real-world experience in medicine.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Rena had always been interested in medicine. “When I started college, I considered different options in the healthcare field, but I always knew that I wanted to care for people in their happiest moments and calm them in their hardest moments,” she said. Now, as she heads to medical school, her goal is to specialize in emergency medicine so she can capitalize on her ability to stay calm in crises.

Jacob (Coby) Fliegelman, Valedictorian, Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences Men’s Division

The grandson of a pediatrician, Jacob (Coby) Fliegelman has a deep appreciation for medicine and an unwavering desire to be a physician in order to make a difference in people’s lives. As the valedictorian of Lander College of Arts and Sciences Men’s Division, he is on his way to achieving that goal.

Jacob is self-driven and determined about his mission. In addition to graduating as a biology honors major, summa cum laude, he published an article in the Lander Science Journal and sought out internship opportunities to gain firsthand experience in medicine. Jacob was a volunteer research assistant at the Berger Research Lab at the NYU School of Medicine, where he studied the inflammatory properties of platelets and macrophage polarization in atherosclerosis. He also interned at Amtrust Financial, working directly with the global chief compliance officer.

Building on his own experiences, Jacob tutored students in biology and chemistry. He also mentors hearing-impaired children and their families, providing emotional support and guidance.

Jacob was raised in Cedarhurst, Long Island. During 12th grade he took college courses through Touro. He then spent a year participating in the Touro College Israel Option at Yeshiva Bais Yisroel in Jerusalem. When he returned to the United States, Lander College of Arts and Sciences afforded him the opportunity to continue an intensive learning program in Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv while completing his college degree. He praised the faculty at Lander College of Arts and Sciences for empowering students by encouraging healthy dialogue and creating a supportive, congenial atmosphere.

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