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On a quest to gain a greater understanding of her heritage, Sara Kreisel ’07 conducted independent study research combining subjects of her own interest within Jewish life.

“I began research on a few different topics in Jewish history,” explains Kreisel, who graduated May 19 with an A.B. in biology. “We combined history and Jewish literature as a vehicle for looking into the topics. I looked at how women’s roles in American synagogues have evolved over the last couple of centuries, the changing role of Judaism in the United States in the last two centuries, and the history of Israel’s creation and the role it has played in helping to re-establish civil rights in the Middle East.”

According to her adviser, Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History, Kreisel came to Lafayette because she was fascinated by how the College presents Jewish life. He adds that Kreisel’s leadership talent grew and matured over her undergraduate years.

“The work allowed her to complete her growth as a potential Jewish leader and paralleled well with her extracurricular activity; it will enable her to be a better leader in the future,” says Weiner.

Kreisel, who served as president of Hillel Society during her senior year, reflects on her close relationship with Weiner, the group’s director.

“There could be no greater person to be either my adviser for this project or a mentor,” she says. “His openness and inviting nature as one of the Hillel faculty advisers factored into my decision to come to Lafayette. My relationship with Bob grew as I took on roles on the Hillel board that eventually led me to be president. He knew of my interest in Jewish heritage and history in the more modern sense, and he wanted to help me gain further insight into where American Jews have been going for the last centuries.”

Kreisel took full advantage of the benefits Lafayette offered. She pursued the opportunity to conduct her own research, developed leadership skills through involvement in extracurricular activities, and created an exciting academic and career path within her major.

“Lafayette has been a good place to be a biology major,” Kreisel explains. “I entered Lafayette not sure of where I wanted to focus my study, but the freedom within the major has allowed me to explore different options. I was able to quickly find my own niche in the department, and finishing my requirements early allowed me to explore the interdisciplinary aspects of environmental science. From there, I took courses in civil engineering and geology, as well as interdisciplinary courses, and these have allowed me to fine-tune my interests.”

Kreisel will pursue a master’s degree in tropical marine conservation at William & Mary College. She plans to study the affects of global climate change on reef populations and what implications it might have for the reef communities and ecosystems.

A past recipient of the Morton Levy Hillel Leadership Award, Kreisel has studied abroad in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She served as a biology lab assistant, Williams Center for the Arts gallery guide, and host for prospective students. She also founded Lafayette Ceramics Society, and was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Marquis Players, Arts Society, and Madrigals singing group.

Categorized in: Academic News