November 22, 2000
wealthy need not apply: Larry Shinn *72 leads Berea College,
where (only) poor students earn quality education
performer, part teacher: Rabbi Josh Zweiback '91 challenges
his flock to develop a grown-up understanding of Jewish texts
sisterhood for black teenagers: Angela Coleman '92 hopes to
take her nonprofit national
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wealthy need not apply
Larry Shinn *72 leads Berea College, where (only)
poor students earn quality education
When the trustees of
Berea College went looking for a president in 1994, it was as if
the ghost of the college's founder led them to Larry D. Shinn *72's
door. Founded in 1865 by a slaveholder's son, Berea was the first
interracial, coeducational school in the South. Today, the liberal
arts college in Berea, Kentucky, remains true to its founder's vision
of inclusiveness with one exception - the wealthy need not apply.
"We're serving the
poorest rural region in America, educating diverse students who
otherwise couldn't afford an education the quality of Berea's,"
says Shinn, who earned his doctorate in religion. Eighty percent
of those enrolled hail from southern Appalachia, with an average
family income of less than $23,000 a year. Berea doesn't accept
students from families making more than $44,000 a year. Students
receive full scholarships and agree to work about 15 hours per week
on campus or in the local community. With this novel mission in
mind, you can see why this former vice president of academic affairs
at Bucknell left his post for Berea.
A self-described "Christian
open to all people and all faiths," Shinn embraced an inclusive
worldview while teaching in Quaker mission schools with his wife,
Nancy, in Jordan in the mid-1960s. As a Christian living among Muslims,
he came to believe that "you don't have to give up your faith
to build bridges to other faiths."
That realization led
the father of two to study Islam and Hinduism as a Princeton fellow
and to teach about India's religions, among other topics, for 14
years at Oberlin. When he moved on to Bucknell as dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences, the egalitarian United Methodist minister
more than doubled the number of people of color on the university's
Logically, his next step
would be to a school whose motto is "God has made of one blood
all peoples of the earth." Despite fundraising trips 110 days
a year and a smaller salary than he could be earning elsewhere,
Shinn says, "Berea is a good match for Nancy and me; it speaks
to our passion for making a positive difference in the world."
By Regina Diverio
Regina Diverio is the
former editor of Drew Magazine.
performer, part teacher
Rabbi Josh Zweiback '91 challenges his flock to
develop a grown-up understanding of Jewish texts
Josh D. Zweiback '91
is no run-of-the-mill rabbi. When he teaches or leads services at
Congregation Beth Am in Palo Alto, California, he is likely to pull
out his guitar or break into an ad-lib comedy routine. It's an unusual
way of combining his love of performing, Triangle Club experience,
and passion for Judaism.
His rabbinical practice
is unusual in another sense: He is the first full-time adult-learning
teacher ever in the Reform Judaism movement - and only the second
in American Jewry (the first was Conservative). Most Jews complete
their religious education at age 13, for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Zweiback is something of a pioneer - teaching the faithful at a
more mature, perhaps more thoughtful, age.
A religion major at Princeton,
he earned a rabbinical degree and a master's in Jewish education
from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, studying
in New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem. He was ordained in 1998.
Rabbi Yosh, as his congregation
calls him, doesn't focus only on adults; he has an uncommon way
of teaching kids, too - as a Jewish rock star who, with a partner,
has cut several CDs and performs in concerts to screaming teens
from Jewish youth groups across the country.
He brings that same excitement
into the classroom. The traditional adult courses he teaches at
his congregation examine the Talmud and Old Testament. In another
course, parents learn from an adult perspective what their children
are studying in Sunday school. And one of his favorite courses "examines
contemporary Jewish thought in conjunction with ancient texts"
- making Judaism more relevant to people's own, modern lives.
"What I do addresses
the growing interest in lifelong learning and the criticisms aimed
at 'pediatric Judaism,' i.e., Bar Mitzvah and you're out,"
he says. "It's important to have an adult relationship with
By Karen Regelman '89
Karen Regelman is a freelance
writer and editor based in San Francisco.
sisterhood for black teenagers
Angela Coleman '92 hopes to take her nonprofit national
It's no secret that disproportionate
numbers of African-American women are adversely affected by problems
including dropping out of school, poverty, teen pregnancy, depression,
and single parenting. So it's no surprise that when Angela D. Coleman
'92 began offering a program designed to offset these problems,
it met with an overwhelmingly positive response.
Sisterhood Agenda, Inc.,
established in 1994, is a nonprofit organization in Durham, North
Carolina, dedicated to empowerment through the principles of sisterhood,
self-knowledge, self-development, and self-esteem.
One of the organization's
core activities is "A Journey Toward Womanhood," a 13-week
curriculum created by Coleman for at-risk girls ages 12 to 17. The
girls meet for four hours each week in small groups led by Sisterhood
Agenda staff. Other Sisterhood Agenda activities include a teen
club, a summer camp, and a forum for women.
Sisterhood Agenda is
a direct outgrowth of Coleman's academic and personal experiences,
including the culture shock she felt at Princeton in terms of race
and class issues. Princeton is "a place where females and ethnic
minority students are still kind of separate,"
she explains. "It was a shock getting acclimated to a new
Academics, however, put
things in context. "It wasn't until I went to college that
I realized I had missed a lot of knowledge about myself and my culture,"
she says. A psychology major with a certificate in
African-American studies, Coleman focused on issues related to African-American
identity, self-definition, and self-esteem in her independent work
- the same principles that drive Sisterhood Agenda.
Coleman is opening a
satellite office in New Jersey, with future plans for national expansion.
When she's not applying for grants or training staff, she travels
extensively for speaking engagements. She regrets that she's too
busy for hands-on work with the girls, and she initially resisted
expansion in favor of keeping things small and intimate. "Now
I don't fight it anymore," she says. "It's good because
we can serve more girls."
By Andrea Gollin '88
Andrea Gollin is a writer
and editor in Miami.