The Alumni Spotlight highlights former Undergraduate Fellows of the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies who are agents of change in their communities and careers.
Daniella Wenger, Class of ‘18, has kept busy since her years as an Undergraduate Fellow at the Berkeley Institute. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration from Haas School of Business, a Minor in Public Policy, and a Certificate of Entrepreneurship and Technology from the College of Engineering, Wenger packed up everything and moved to New York City.
Wenger moved to NYC for a role at Spotify on a product insights team, where she helped create strategies for content moderation for Spotify’s podcast product. In Wenger’s words, this experience “was deeply impactful, and prompted me to begin a Fulbright Program based in Jerusalem where I studied issues of censorship and content moderation.”
While in Jerusalem, Wenger taught a quantitative research methods seminar in the Masters of Industrial Design program at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and conducted research on freedom of expression in Israel. She interviewed Israeli and Palestinian artists and creators across the country. However, it wasn’t all just work. Wenger recounts that during her year-long Fulbright scholarship she “took Arabic courses in the Old City, ran the Jerusalem Half Marathon, and learned how to swing dance at the YMCA.” Today, Wenger is a Master’s candidate in Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, where she is building on the research she conducted in Israel in her dissertation.
What was your favorite part of being an Undergraduate Fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies?
“I cherished my time as an Institute Fellow because it taught me how to be an intellectually curious and active participant of the academic community. One of my favorite parts of the Institute’s fellowship were the mid-morning coffee conversations that would take place in the Berkeley Law cafe. I loved being able to discuss politics, religion, and everything in between with students who shared my interests, who quickly became some of my closest friends. These coffee conversations poured into lunches followed by study sessions at libraries. The Institute’s staff (Rebecca, the Faculty Directors and outreach coordinators) are superb developers of an undergraduate academic community. I will always cherish their kindness and the community that they created for us as a cohort of fellows.”
What advice would you give to current undergraduates?
“Taking the road less traveled isn’t always easy, but it’s more than worth the journey. I was very nervous to spend a year in Jerusalem without knowing anyone in the city. I am grateful to both Professor Hassner and Dr. Rebecca Golbert for the push. Follow your interests and take risks!”
The Berkeley Institute houses two core programs, the Berkeley Program on Israel Studies, a nationally-recognized initiative for the study of Israel, and the Berkeley Program on Jewish Law, Thought and Identity, the only program of its type in the western United States.
Together the Institute’s programs promote student and faculty engagement by developing opportunities for research, programming, and mentorship; by bringing visiting faculty and scholars to UC Berkeley; and by organizing colloquia, programs, and classes to strengthen academic inquiry and discourse across the Berkeley campus.
The Institute was launched in 2011, and draws its 22-member faculty committee from Political Science, Sociology, Economics, History, Jewish Studies, Music, as well as the Schools of Law, Journalism, and Business.