Naomi Broker Named Valedictorian of Lander College of Arts & Sciences
New York, N.Y. – As a volunteer at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Brooklyn, it pained Naomi Broker to see patients so afraid to fall that they refused to walk, eventually losing the ability to do so altogether and confining themselves to wheelchairs.
“It was heartbreaking to see someone who was mentally all there but physically trapped in a body,” she said.
Today Naomi holds on to that memory, using it as extra motivation as she pursues a career in physical therapy (PT).
“People are scared to move after they’ve had surgery, a stroke or any illness,” said Naomi. “But when they are pushed to start walking again, there is a tremendous increase in their quality of life.
“It’s more than just the ability to walk; it’s the independence that comes with it and knowing that you’re not a burden on others.”
Naomi’s hard work and dedication paid off as she was named 2015 valedictorian of the women’s division of the Lander College of Arts & Sciences in Flatbush (LAS) and will serve as a student speaker at the 41st commencement exercises of the Lander Colleges at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. Immediately after commencement Naomi will begin a doctoral program in PT at Hunter College. She was also accepted to programs at the Touro College School of Health Sciences, the College of Staten Island and at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
The recipient of two major academic scholarships—the Lander College Honors Scholarship and the Touro College Deans Scholarship—Naomi graduates summa cum laude with a 3.98 grade point average, 4.0 in the sciences. At commencement she will receive the Lander College Biology Award. She was also a winner of the Lander College for Women’s first Torah Essay Contest for prospective students studying in Israeli seminaries.
“Naomi has compiled an outstanding record of academic achievement and has demonstrated a keen interest in the natural sciences,” said Dr. Robert Goldschmidt, dean of LAS and the vice president for planning and assessment of Touro College. “We are confident that Naomi will become a caring and compassionate health care professional serving the needs of our community.”
A biology major, Naomi credits the department for preparing her for a career as a health professional. When her brother was a first-year medical student, she glanced at his histology textbook and realized she had learned the same material in her anatomy and physiology class.
“I was learning in LAS what he was learning in his first year in med school,” she said. “That was what really impressed me about the education I was getting at Touro: When you’re learning the material in class, you don’t realize how advanced it is.”
Even though her father and grandfather both became doctors, and her two brothers are in medical school, Naomi said that she never planned to become a physician. Through her volunteer work at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital since 2012 (she was also the recipient of the 2014 Beth Israel Star Volunteer Award), she has seen the benefits of PT firsthand. Initially Naomi was assigned to the Emergency Room, but she was drawn to PT after she moved to the regular wards and witnessed the steady progress of the rehabbing patients.
“The doctors are there to help the patients get better, but the PTs help the patients get on with their lives. It’s a much happier time in the recovery process,” she said. “There are no words to describe the looks on patients’ faces when they take that first step. I hope to inspire my patients to recover the strength they’ve lost, guide them to recovery and share in their joy when we reach a goal together.”
The Brooklyn native’s determination to succeed is exemplified through one of her favorite activities: swimming. After seeing legendary swimmer Michael Phelps win the 100 meter butterfly event during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Naomi decided she would learn the stroke as well. That year, while studying at Michlalah in Jerusalem, she practiced virtually every day in the seminary pool. By the end of the year Naomi could swim the butterfly for over an hour without stopping.
“I never wanted to be the lifeguard watching others,” she said. “I wanted to be the one in the pool.”
The Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, with separate divisions for men and women, is located at Avenue J and East 16th Street in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. More than 1,000 students are enrolled each semester at the campus. Encompassing more than 90,000 square feet, the campus was inaugurated in the spring of 1995. In September 1997, the New York State Education Department officially designated this site as The Flatbush Branch Campus of Touro College.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris and Florida. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/news/.