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Nine Yeshiva University Undergraduates Recognized for Exceptional Academic Achievements

More than 600 students from Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools received their degrees at YU’s 84th Commencement exercises, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on May 17. Nine of the students were honored with the designation of valedictorian for their outstanding academic achievement.

(L-R) Standing: Katz, Weinberg-Waks, Lawee, Mark Weingarten, Auman, and Kohane. Seated: Grodko, Schreier-Glatt, and Wakschlag (L-R) Standing: Jonathan Katz, Ronan Weinberg Waks, Noam Lawee, Mark Weingarten, Yechiel Auman, and Benjamin Kohane. Seated: Daniella Grodko, Elana Schreier-Glatt, and Naomi Wakschlag.

As they embark on the next chapter in their lives—pursuing a range of careers and advanced degrees in business, education, finance, law, medicine, technology and the rabbinate—these exceptional graduates reflected on the dynamic Jewish framework and fulfilling academic and extracurricular experiences that shaped their undergraduate years at YU.

“I’ve always considered myself to be part of the Yeshiva University family; I’m fortunate to be a third-generation YU graduate,” said Elana Schreier-Glatt, recipient of the Sy Syms School of Business Dean Harold Nierenberg Memorial Valedictorian Award. “There was always something exciting going on at YU. The faculty and administration at Sy Syms guided me and mentored me throughout my college career.”

Schreier-Glatt, a native of Woodmere, New York, majored in marketing and plans to pursue a business career and earn an MBA. “I hope to use the skills I’ve gained at Yeshiva University to play a leadership role in the Jewish community,” she said.

At Stern College for Women, Daniella Grodko, valedictorian of the Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies, found “a place that took learning seriously—both Jewish and general studies—where I could continue growing, learning and advancing in all areas that were important to me.”

She also highlighted the friends she made at Stern: “I found people who were also dedicated to building a community at Stern, who had similar interests to me, role models, people who I could learn with and from and have a great time with.” Grodko, of Teaneck, New Jersey, majored in philosophy and Jewish studies and plans to study Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University and earn a teaching degree at Herzog College in Israel.

Yeshiva College Valedictorian Mark Weingarten praised the University’s faculty: “Their unmatched dedication and mentoring reflect an intrinsic part of the Yeshiva College experience. Despite their stature as leading experts in their respective fields, they are extremely approachable and invested in the growth of their students.” Weingarten, of Queens, New York, majored in biology and history and will begin his third year of semicha [ordination] study at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary next year.

Ronan Weinberg Waks, valedictorian of the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies, came to YU from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The computer science major and captain of YU’s soccer team was impressed with “the diversity of home countries” represented on campus and got involved with the International Student Committee “because I wanted to help fellow international students to feel as welcome as I felt when I came to YU.” After graduation, Weinberg Waks will work on Agora, a tech startup he cofounded with two fellow YU students. “I would like to create new tech companies and develop athletic and educational programs in my home country.”

Other valedictorians include Yechiel Auman, Sy Syms School of Business; Jonathan Katz, Isaac Breuer College; Benjamin Kohane, Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program; Noam Lawee, Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies; and Naomi Wakschlag, Stern College for Women.