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Alumni Spotlight

Jillian Berman

Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University

Bachelor of Arts in History, minor in Judaic Studies, 2011

Describe your job responsibilities:

I just started the Knight-Bagehot program, which is a business journalism fellowship at Columbia University. I'm there for the academic year, learning skills and knowledge that I hope will make me a better business reporter. Up until this month, I was covering student debt and the economics of higher education for MarketWatch, a financial news site.  Every day, I talk to student loan borrowers, experts, politicians, higher education leaders and other stakeholders about how student debt and the cost of college is impacting individuals, families and our country. I usually write a story every day and the topics range from things like how best to pay off your debt, the ways companies are helping their workers manage student loans, a rundown of new student loan laws being proposed at the state level and borrower-focused pieces on the challenges they face accessing certain student loan protections.

 

Why is your work rewarding?

I'm most proud of my work when it offers a space for people who otherwise wouldn't have a public forum to air their grievances to share their stories. My hope is that when people read about a senior citizen having their Social Security check docked over an old student loan or a teacher struggling to access promised loan forgiveness, they'll re-evaluate the way they view our nation's student loan problem.

 

Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:

I came to Michigan from Jewish day school, so it just seemed natural to me to continue my Jewish education once I got to college and I'm really grateful I decided to take the opportunity. I got the chance to explore Jewish history and culture from a variety of perspectives. My Judaic studies courses also helped inform the content and skills I learned as a history major.

 

How did your education prepare you for your current job?

My Judaic Studies and history courses taught me how to take in information from different points of view, analyze and synthesize it and the present my findings. Those are all tasks that I do every day as a reporter.

 

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies?

Take advantage of the wide range of courses and expertise available.