Reflections on the 2015-2016 University Fellowship

Each year at the JFCS Holocaust Center, students from colleges and universities throughout the Bay Area apply for the Albert Jerassy University Fellowship. As part of this JFCS Holocaust Center program, two students benefit from a nine-month intensive study of the Holocaust that includes mentoring and teaching high school students, developing curriculum, working with primary source materials in the Tauber Holocaust Library and Archives, and gaining first-hand experience learning from Holocaust survivors. Upon completion, fellows are granted a stipend of $5,000 and course credit where applicable.

This past year, two students from San Francisco State University joined the JFCS Holocaust Center staff as Albert Jerassy University Fellows. Jesse Poe served as a Teaching Assistant for the Manovill Holocaust History Fellowship and Lauren Wadden served as a Teaching Assistant for the Next Chapter program. Intelligent and dynamic, both of the 2015-2016 Albert Jerassy University Fellows brought a wealth of knowledge and experiences that enhanced the work of the Holocaust Center over the course of their nine-month fellowship.

University Fellow Reflections

JJesse Poe, Albert Jerassy University Fellowesse Poe, recent graduate with an M.A. in History from San Francisco State University:

“Without a doubt, the Manovill Fellowship has been one of the most rigorous, challenging and also rewarding programs I have been lucky enough to participate in since I returned to school in 2009. Through my work with the students and with Morgan, Yedida, Nina and Nikki, I have learned a great deal about both pedagogy and history that I will continue to apply in my future jobs.
“In terms of working with students, one of my favorite parts of this program was that as their teaching assistant, I worked closely with them as they developed their research, wrote and rewrote papers, worked on creating films through iWitness, and participated as volunteers at the Day of Learning and Yom HaShoah. I got to watch them grow so much as scholars and as historians. Their work has improved in leaps and bounds since the first essay, and it is because we have challenged them every step of the way (and because they have risen handily to the challenge!). They will go to college not only armed with some valuable lessons about citations and organization, but also with the beginnings of a rich understanding of the messiness of history, the role of historiography, and the role of narrative.
“I have also benefitted quite a bit from working closely with the wonderful and supportive JFCS staff, who have pushed and challenged me as much as we have pushed and challenged our students. Lecturing and lesson planning were definitely weak areas for me before starting this fellowship, but since I was asked to teach something almost every class, and because Yedida, Nikki, Nina and Morgan treated me as a peer and a colleague and allowed me to take a part in their lesson planning process, I feel confident that I have the necessary grounding to teach students at the high school or college level. I also learned quite a bit that I will find valuable no matter where my life takes me, and am quite grateful that I was allowed to see so much of the day-to-day workings of this organization: everything from the ins and outs of non-profit management to event planning to budgeting. And I cannot overstate how wonderful it was that all of my questions, no matter how silly I felt asking them, were answered thoroughly and thoughtfully.
“Ending this fellowship is bittersweet to be certain, but I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity and would recommend it to anyone who wants to work with education or history in their future life.”


Lauren Wadden, Albert Jerassy University FellowshipLauren Wadden
undergraduate in the Philosophy department at San Francisco State University:

“Over the past eight months I have had the incredible opportunity to be a University Fellow at the JFCS Holocaust Center. Coming into the program, I was completely unsure about what the upcoming months would bring; I was scared I wasn’t equipped enough for the job. I knew I was going to be teaching a group of students but I felt my lack of expertise would show and the students would dislike me and the lessons I taught. Reflecting back on my time in the program, my fears from when I began seem so obsolete. The staff of JFCS made it a priority to teach me all the things I was scared I wouldn’t know how to do, from sharing the best ways to communicate with the students to reshelving books to mail merges. With their guidance I have learned an endless amount of useful knowledge that I will carry on with me to every other job I work at. I also got the chance to participate in numerous programs coordinated by the JFCS Holocaust Center. At both Day of Learning 2016 and Yom Ha’Shoah I was absolutely amazed at not only the size of the events but how well prepared and seamlessly run everything was. All the work that was put into the events was worth it to see the monumental impact on the hundreds of students and Bay Area residents.

“While my time as a University Fellow at the Holocaust Center has been the most meaningful experience of my life, the one part that stands out from the rest is the time I spent with The Next Chapter students. Watching each student transform from shy kids, nervous about sharing their arguments and thoughts, into confident students who were eager to share their opinions with their peers was astounding. Each and every meeting I would see more and more of their personalities shine through. Before my fellowship, I had never taught before, so naturally I had never known the joy of working hard on a lesson plan and activity and seeing the kids respond in a positive and engaging way. No matter what the lesson was or how much time I spent on it, I was always amazed at the students’ ability to bring up a point or argument that I had not previously considered. My time as a University Fellow at the Holocaust Center taught me the power of education and remembrance and the importance of an open mind.”

For more information about the Albert Jerassy University Fellowship, please contact Yedida Kanfer, Coordinator of Education Services, at [email protected].

Special support and funding are made possible by the Albert Jerassy University Fellowship Fund. 


Posted by Admin on June 29, 2016

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