Borough President Gale Brewer

Borough President Gale Brewer

This afternoon, the School of General Studies sent an email to students announcing this year’s Class Day Speaker will be Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer GS ’97. According to the email, the 27th Manhattan Borough President as well as an alumna of GS was “a part-time GS student who majored in urban studies and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree while working full time; she also returned in 2002 to teach a junior colloquium in urban studies at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.”

The email also announced this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian for GS. Valedictorian of the class will be Ido Haimi, a Biochemistry major. The salutatorian will be Human Rights student Gabriel Jackson. Information on both students’ involvement in the school can be found in the email below.

To see full bios and pictures for all of the speakers, see this article posted on the GS website.

The three speakers will be featured during the GS Class Day on Monday, May 19 at 9 a.m.

Email sent to GS students:

Dear Graduating Seniors,

I look forward to celebrating your graduation at the GS Class Day ceremony and reception on Monday, May 19 at 9 a.m., and again at the University’s 260th Commencement on Wednesday, May 21 at 10:30 a.m.

Class Day is a magnificent event that celebrates you and your fellow graduates and the impressive achievements of the Class of 2014. At Class Day, each one of you will be presented by name to the Columbia President, Provost and assembled faculty and guests.

In celebration of your accomplishments, I am pleased to announce the Class Day keynote speaker and the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2014.

Class Day Keynote Speaker | Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer ’97

This year’s Class Day keynote speaker is distinguished School of General Studies alumna Gale A. Brewer ’97, 27th Manhattan Borough President. As Borough President, Brewer is responsible for advising the Mayor and City Council on borough concerns, commenting on all land-use matters in the borough, advocating for the borough in the municipal budget process, and appointing members of Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards.

She previously served on the New York City Council for 12 years from 2002 through 2013, representing the Sixth Council District, which includes most of the Upper West Side and northern Clinton. As Councilmember, she successfully passed legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, compelling landlords to fix repeat violations, requiring all City data be published online, and the nation’s first law protecting domestic workers. She was the founding chair of the Council’s Technology Committee in 2002.

Immediately prior to her election to the City Council, Brewer served as Project Manager for the New York City Nonprofits Project at CUNY’s Graduate Center, and before that worked for the Telesis Corporation, a private firm that builds affordable housing in New York City.

Prior to her nonprofit and private-sector experience, Brewer served in City government in various roles such as New York City Deputy Public Advocate, Director of Mayor Dinkins’ Federal Office in New York City, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, and Chief of Staff to West Side Council Member Ruth W. Messinger.

At Columbia, Brewer was a part-time GS student who majored in urban studies and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree while working full time; she also returned in 2002 to teach a junior colloquium in urban studies at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Additionally, Brewer earned a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

In addition to serving as the Borough President, Brewer also co-teaches a class in urban policy each spring with former Borough President Messinger as part of Hunter College’s Public Service Scholar program, and has taught urban affairs at other area colleges, including Barnard, Baruch, Brooklyn and Queens Colleges.

Class of 2014 Valedictorian Ido Haimi

The Valedictorian of the Class of 2014 is Ido Haimi. Born and raised in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem, Ido served from 2004-2007 in the Israeli Defense Special Forces soldier and then commander, where he earned the Brigade Commander Citation for Excellence in Commanding in 2006. Following his service, Ido backpacked across South and Central America and was inspired by a Bolivian surgeon who treated him during his travels, which led him to apply to GS to pursue a premedical path as a biochemistry major.

Ido, who serves as a special agent at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, has also been a teaching assistant since his third year at Columbia and is currently co-instructor of Methods in Biological Research. Additionally, Ido has also served as editor of the Columbia University Journal of Bioethics; as a volunteer the St. Luke’s Hospital Intensive Cardiac Care Unit; and as a Columbia University Undergraduate Summer Research Fellow where he studied bacterial adhesion under shear stress in a Columbia University laboratory. As a GS student, Ido was also inducted into the GS Honor Society and School of General Studies Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduation, Ido will attend Yale University School of Medicine.

Class of 2014 Salutatorian Gabriel Jackson

The Salutatorian for the General Studies Class of 2014 is Gabriel Jackson. A Northern California native, Gabriel found a creative and spiritual outlet in music and channeled this in his work at a Bay Area jazz radio station where he produced a weekly show while also managing the station’s transition to digital music. Gabriel credits his work in this field with not only turning his life around, but also inspiring his continued interest in digital property rights.

Prior to matriculating at GS, Gabriel made his way to New York to pursue his dream of a legal career where he worked for the New York office of Gordon & Rees LLP, one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms, as a case assistant.

Gabriel has continued his love for and commitment to the law while at GS, serving as a research assistant for Dinah PoKempner, Human Rights Watch general council and Columbia University adjunct professor of political science. Under Professor PoKempner’s guidance, Gabriel conducted legal research focused on international human-rights law, which was instrumental in helping to develop his senior thesis, “All Quiet on the Domestic Front; Private and Public Life, Social Media and the Household Exemption: The Third Theater of the Privacy Wars.” As a GS student, Gabriel was awarded the Columbia University Undergraduate Human Rights Program summer internship prize and was recently inducted into the GS Honor Society and School of General Studies Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduation, Gabriel plans to apply to law school.

In addition to our Class Day speakers, I am also pleased to announce that for the first time in recent history, we will have two GS graduates, Scott Scheff and Will Tant, speaking at the Baccalaureate Service, which will take place on Sunday, May 18 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Chapel.

For more on graduation activities and ceremonies, as well as a graduation checklist, please see the Graduation section of the GS website, a comprehensive source of information for questions about academic regalia, forwarding email from your Columbia account after graduation, guest lodging, etc.

Congratulations once again, and I look forward to celebrating this great accomplishment with you in May.


Professor Peter J. Awn
Columbia University School of General Studies

Photo via the Borough President’s Biography