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Valedictorians Reflect on YU Experience

Nine Yeshiva University Graduates Named Valedictorians for Outstanding Academic Achievements

On May 16, hundreds of students from Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools will receive their degrees at YU’s 87th Commencement Exercises, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Nine students will be honored with the designation of valedictorian for their outstanding academic achievement.

Left to right, 2018 Yeshiva University valedictorians: Mordechai Weiss, Jared Rutner, Meir Finkelstein, Brent Weinberg, Jesse Salver, Mindy Schwartz, Golda Aharon, and Shany Hava. Not pictured: Michael Klein.

As these graduates prepare to embark on the next chapter in their lives—pursuing a range of careers and advanced degrees in fields as diverse as business, education, finance, law, and Judaic studies—they reflected on the dynamic Jewish framework and fulfilling academic and extracurricular experiences that shaped their undergraduate years at YU.

“Looking back, I have to say it was all one incredible experience,” said Michael Klein, a valedictorian of the Sy Syms School of Business. “The tremendous amount of knowledge I have gained from rabbeim, deans, professors, and the Torah learning that was available to me at YU has made me into who I am today.”

Klein embraced every opportunity that YU had to offer him. He served as president of the Finance Club, Investment Club, and Investment Banking Society,  as well as captain of the men's volleyball team. Klein said he owes a lot of what he was able to accomplish to his professors. “Putting all of [what they taught me] together is what makes me confident that I have a solid foundation to continue on into the next stage.”

Klein isn’t the only valedictorian with an impressive resume of extracurricular activities. In her time at Stern College for Women, Mindy Schwartz, valedictorian of Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies at Stern College, served as a co-editor-in-chief of Kol Hamevaser: The Jewish Thought Magazine of the Yeshiva University Student Body, as well as editor-in-chief of the YU Observer. “The women at this University have so much to share and add to the important conversations on campus and it was a privilege to be able to give them a place to do that,” she said. Schwartz, who is also a graduate of the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls, is planning on extending her time at YU and will be attending its Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies in the fall.

Jesse Salver, Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program Valedictorian and an accounting major, was impressed by the caliber of his professors. Life on campus was also important to Salver, who hails from Miami, Florida. “My greatest memories include studying with the same friends that I enjoyed a Shabbos meal with, filled with holiness and song,” he said. “It's incredible to connect with people that take their studies seriously and at the same time connect to God in a very meaningful way.”

This year’s valedictorians also include Golda Aharon, Stern College for Women; Meir Finkelstein, Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies; Shany Hava, Sy Syms School of Business;  Jared Rutner, Yeshiva College; Brent Weinberg, Isaac Breuer College; and Mordechai (Mark) Weiss, James Striar School of General Jewish Studies.