Commencement 2017

The two class marshals who represent thousands of SU students have history as roommates and best friends

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Remembrance Scholars, friends and roommates, Nedda Sarshar and Rachel Brown-Weinstock give voice to thousands of graduating students.

After what she called “the most anxiety-induced few weeks” of her life, Nedda Sarshar opened a text message from her roommate asking if she got the call. After an initial scare of having to answer, “No,” she quickly noticed a voicemail notification. Sarshar stepped out of class, listened to the message, let out a scream of joy and called her roommate.

The voicemail told Sarshar she was one of two class marshals, students who represent and give voice to their graduating class. Her roommate, Rachel Brown-Weinstock, was also chosen as a class marshal.

“You kind of become this token to the university,” Sarshar said. “So if you want to push hard conversations, you actually have much more of a platform than other people do.”

Sarshar remembered sharing the news with friends and family the day she found out, but the idea that she represents her entire graduating class is surreal to her.

Graduating with degrees in citizenship and civic engagement, writing and policy studies, Sarshar said her experiences on and off campus reflect her true personality and made her the person she wants to be.

She saw opportunities to start conversations through the roles she has held: Remembrance Scholar, Homecoming court, intern for the Women’s Leadership Initiative, part of Syracuse University’s Student Association and Residence Hall Association and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity.

Coming from Toronto, Sarshar began her time at SU at an international students’ orientation where she met some of her closest friends. She and Brown-Weinstock met freshman year, when they both lived on the same floor of Sadler Hall.

“Nedda is constantly thinking about what’s going on in the world and how to make the world a better place,” Brown-Weinstock said. “Not just the local community, not just the campus, but the broader world in general and where she fits in with that.”

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Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

A Remembrance Scholar herself, Brown-Weinstock never shied away from her ambitions during her time at SU. She was the interim president for SU’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute; founder of the Glove for Glove Career Mentorship Program; a member of the honors fraternity Phi Sigma Pi; co-founder of the Syracuse Youth Development Council; and a co-president of M.E.S.H., Merging Expression and Scholarship through High Schools.

Brown-Weinstock traveled to South Africa twice as part of a summer study-abroad program to work with a nonprofit organization called Inkuleko, which supports South African youth to attend and graduate college.

With help of the Inkuleko classroom director, Brown-Weinstock established a poetry program where the M.E.S.H. students and the Inkuleko students exchange poems with each other throughout the year.

Like Sarshar, Brown-Weinstock is a triple major. She studied sociology, policy studies and citizenship and civic engagement and after graduation will head to Princeton University for a master’s degree in sociology.

“Sociology has always been what I wanted to do,” Brown-Weinstock said. “It’s how I see myself creating change in this world. I’m a very introverted person, so the idea of doing research and writing about it so that I can help people is very appealing to me.”

Mel Wherry, a junior studio art and psychology major, met Brown-Weinstock during her freshman year through Phi Sigma Pi and M.E.S.H. Wherry said she admires her drive and hard work, especially because she will always make time for the people around her.

“Everything she does is motivated by a true place of heart,” Wherry said. “The time and dedication that she puts into M.E.S.H. and the kids, caring about them individually and making sure their experience is great, is just so heartwarming.”

Brown-Weinstock admitted she gets stressed. While she looks to her friends, especially Sarshar, to talk to about important topics, they are also who she turns to when the need to wind down hits.

As roommates their junior year, the two would start their mornings sitting together and listening to “Forensic Files.”

“It’s just those little moments of peace that you need sometimes on campus. When you have a super stressful time, you know you have someone to come back to,” Brown-Weinstock said.

Jose Marrero Rosado, a senior biochemistry and anthropology double major, met Sarshar during their freshman year. He said he remembers having endless late night conversations about social issues with Sarshar in the honors program lounge.

“Those are our normal conversations, and they are always on social issues,” Marrero Rosado said. “Not everyone does that, and sometimes we scare people away. The depth of our conversations is always so great. That’s why I like to hang out with Nedda so much.”

To Sarshar, beginning conversations to gain new perspectives is important. Having these conversations with people, Sarshar said, connected her to the diverse population of students she represents as a class marshal.

“I’m personally so grateful that I was able to get involved and meet the people that I got to meet, honestly not even through my classes, but through my extracurriculars,” Sarshar said. “My involvement off campus and on campus was reflecting my true personality and made me the kind of person that I want to be.”

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