The University Record, November 20, 2000

Renée Safra is student speaker

By Mary Jo Frank
Office of the Vice President for Communications

Renée Safra, an LS&A honors student in economics, will be the student speaker at winter commencement.

Safra, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a James B. Angell Scholar, will receive a B.A. at the ceremony. Safra is from Atlanta, Ga.

Students and faculty serving on the student commencement speaker selection committee said they chose Safra’s speech from six entries because of the quality of writing and the content, noting that she captured the spirit of a Michigan education, including the importance of student engagement in the academic community.

Safra, who has been a leader of the Conservative Minyan in the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life in Ann Arbor, teaches 3rd–10th grade students in afternoon religious school and tutors bar and bat mitzvah students. She also has been active in Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, which each year selects a faculty member to receive the prestigious Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching. Safra, who plays intramural basketball and soccer, also enjoys running, skiing, travel and reading.

Safra’s parents encouraged her to attend Michigan. “It was definitely the right place for me. I loved all my classes and had a great experience in my major and in the Honors Program in general,” she says.

Elleanor Crown, student services associate in the Honors Program and Honors academic adviser for Safra’s orientation in the summer of 1997, says, “I was very impressed with the breadth of her academic interests and with her intellectual courage. A conversation with Renée was always interesting.”

One of the highlights of Safra’s time at the U-M has been writing her honors thesis. Her adviser, economics Prof. Stephen W. Salant, describes the thesis about racial profiling and drug smuggling at the Mexican border “as a courageous and analytically sound investigation of one kind of racial profiling.”

Safra is looking forward to working in advertising and eventually would like to earn an M.B.A. She is the daughter of Clara and Mark Safra of Atlanta and the sister of Seth and Mickey—a 1997 U-M graduate.