Two Bronx residents, Lisa Blanco and Leah Fredman, captured the top honors at Commencement this year: Blanco, a double major in English and Italian, won the Ella Burstein Award for the graduating senior with the highest index and psychology major Leah Fredman earned the Margaret Spahr Alpha Chi Alpha Award for the graduating senior with the highest index in the social sciences.
Blanco, a dual major in English literature and Italian, came to Lehman knowing that she wanted to study literature, but it was here that she developed a love for Spanish, in which she earned her minor. Combined with her knowledge of Italian—she attended high school in Italy—she now wants to pursue a Ph.D. in comparative literature.
A Lehman Scholar, she graduated summa cum laude and is a member of both Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key. She also attained High Honors in both English and Italian and won the Patricia Solomon Scholarship, the Herman Melville Prize from the English Department, in both 2011 and 2012, for the best undergraduate paper in literary criticism, the Patricia A. Cockram Portfolio Prize in English, the Cafferata Prize for Excellence in Italian, and the 2009 Tussiani Award for Excellence in Italian.
Fredman, who minored in art, has fond memories of her time at the College, where she worked as a tutor in the Psychology Department, helping her fellow students understand statistics as well as other aspects of her field. “I loved everyone at Lehman,” she says. “All my professors were so supportive. I would never have been able to graduate without their help and the help of the Lehman College Child Care Center.”
The mother of two young boys, Fredman left one of her sons at the Center while she attended class. “It was hard at first,” she said. “He didn’t want to stay, but eventually he didn’t want to leave.”
For now, Fredman is lining up work in the fall, while she sorts out plans for graduate school.