Jessica Munitz, a Religion major from Baltimore, MD, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton. Her academic references were uniformly first-class – "thoughtful and reflective beyond her years," and "unusually mature and bright," and "the embodiment of Princeton's motto 'in the nation's service.'"
While in college, she also became one of the leaders of an organization called Sustained Dialogue, in which small groups of students, faculty and administrators meet regularly to discuss race relations on campus. Sustained Dialogue received the Daily Princeton Award in 2001 for its contribution to student life, and the Vice President for Campus Life cited it as "having a deep impact at Princeton." The founder, Harold Saunders (president of the Class of 1952), had developed this program out of his long international exposure. He now wanted to move it to additional campuses – developing a college network that, in his words, "will clearly have a Princeton center of gravity" – but he had no funding to accomplish this. That's where the ReachOut '56 Fellowship stepped into the breach. We'll let Jessica tell the tale.
"During my year as a ReachOut '56 Fellow, I worked for the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, in Washington, DC. As the Sustained Dialogue Campus Project coordinator, I collaborated with universities around the country, adapting the Sustained Dialogue model to relieve tensions surrounding diversity on their respective campuses.
'The year that I spent with IISD was the organization's first year in existence, and a very exciting time to be working on our project. I had the opportunity to witness the creation of a non-profit from the ground up, and I immediately began developing relationships with existing campus leaders and initiating contact with prospective Sustained Dialogue campuses. Working with our interns, I developed manuals for student leaders and quickly began traveling to campuses to train dialogue moderators. The capstone event of the year was our first annual Sustained Dialogue conference, held at Dickinson College and attended by over one hundred students, faculty members, and administrators from 14 campuses.
Class of 2003
"Throughout the whole experience, I had the privilege of working under Dr. Harold Saunders '52, a man whose knowledge, experience, and intuition continue to be a constant source of inspiration to me."
We then asked Hal Saunders what difference having a ReachOut '56 Fellow meant to his organization. Here's how he replied:
"A new institute—then with little funding—was able to capture the momentum of this student energy to build what is now becoming a well-established student movement with a national reach. I am proud and deeply grateful that the Class of 56 partnered with the Class of '52 to create this movement. As the student tagline says: "It's not just talk . . . It's a social movement."
After completing her fellowship, Jessica went to Philadelphia for the 2004-2005 academic year, where she completed a post-baccalaureate program inClassical Languages, studying Classical Greek, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew,and German. She received an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations fromHarvard University in 2006, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law in2010. Jessica has returned to Washington, D.C., where she is currently an associate atLatham & Watkins, LLP.
Here's what Jessica has to say about her Fellowship experience. "I can hardly believe that it has been more than nine full years since I submitted my applicationfor the ReachOut '56 Fellowship. Since completing the fellowship and having had the opportunity to be a member of other university communities, I have an even deeper appreciation for the ReachOut '56 program. In my opinion, Princeton's alumni community is unequaled, and the ReachOut '56 Fellowship represents precisely what is so unique about the Princeton tradition. The time, energy, and generosity that themembers and spouses of the class of '56 committed have simultaneously allowed Princeton graduates to begin careers in public service while creating and solidifying connections between so many classes. I feel honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to take part in the Reach Out '56 Fellowship program and I cherish the relationships that I developed as a Fellow. I hope that our classes will be able to contribute to future generations of Princetonians in the way that the Class of '56 did for us."