Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Rachel Gold-Brown

USA

MA-SID/MA-COEX '15

Peace Corps veteran finds similar dedication to social justice at Heller

Rachael Gold-Brown says students want to create real change.

Fifteen years after the Rwandan genocide, the Peace Corps resumed sending volunteers to live and work in Rwandan communities to focus on education and health initiatives. Rachel Gold-Brown, MA-SIDCO ’15, was in that first group of volunteers. East Africa had intrigued her from the age of eight. In college she was an African literature major. Diversity had been a deep interest because her ancestry includes a mix of Native American, West Indian, Jewish and African-American roots. Otherwise, one might have thought it strange for a former assistant to a global hedge fund manager at Deutsche Bank to join the Peace Corps and be living in Kamembe, Rwanda near the border of the Congo, encouraging small business development in sewing arts and basket weaving to help women have alternatives to sex work so they could make a sustainable living.

While in Rwanda, Gold-Brown met alumni from Brandeis who came to see her as a perfect example of a future Heller School student. Gold-Brown spent considerable time researching Brandeis University and the history and life of Louis D. Brandeis. Her research convinced her that a university with the motto Truth Even Unto Its Innermost Parts might be a community she’d like to join. Though she looked at other schools, she felt the social justice mission at Heller resonated with her and with the Peace Corps values she had embraced.

Attending Heller, Gold-Brown says, “is surprisingly not that different from the Peace Corps.” She finds the students amazing, the diversity serious, and all the different experiences come together because of the like-minded dedication to social justice. “It is so beneficial that our professors are so dedicated with great integrity surrounding their work and that they make the time for the students.”

“It’s safe to open up about poverty, war, and one’s life experience. Students are down to earth and want to create real change—and school is a secure platform from which to launch that—that’s what I wanted,” she says. Gold-Brown says she has formed relationships at Heller that are strong and lasting and has acquired a set of skills, knowledge and attitudes that allow her to have confidence that she will be respected in her work as she moves forward in her career.

Her future dream job is promoting diversity and social justice empowerment and Gold-Brown hopes to secure an internship in Washington, DC, with the State Department, expanding diversity within institutions.

“And when I say I went to Heller, people will know who I am and that I stand for something.”

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