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Alumni Profiles

 
Suzanne Hamstra

Suzanne Hamstra – Class of 2007

 

Suzanne Hamstra is a third year cantorial student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, where she studies Jewish text, liturgy, pastoral skills, music, Hebrew, and more. The first year of her cantorial studies took place in Jerusalem, during which she had an internship with Kehilat YOZMA, delved into the ancient history and modern culture and challenges of Israel as well as the Hebrew language (both biblical and modern), engaged in social justice in that complex region, and went hiking as often as she possibly could. She is now in her second year serving as Student Cantor at Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown, CT, tutors b’nai mitzvah students and teaches Hebrew at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, and is the head of the HUC-JIR New York campus Green Team.  Suzanne also participates in a monthly fellowship with the American Reform Zionist Association, learning about and connecting with the various Jewish organizations focusing on justice issues in Israel and/or the relationship between American Jewry and Israel across the political spectrum.  

 

Suzanne loves interfaith work and hopes to someday use her cantorate to establish an interfaith children’s choir to build connections, relationships, and understanding between young people from different backgrounds. Suzanne is very excited to begin serving as the Student Cantor at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, NJ at the start of the coming academic year.

 

With a background in opera, Suzanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Music in Voice Performance from The Boston Conservatory (2011) and a Master’s of Music in Voice Performance (2014). She spent several years as a a freelance opera singer and voice teacher, and still teaches a few voice students in her (limited) spare time and still sings opera occasionally for fun.

 

She anticipates earning her Master’s of Sacred Music in May 2021 and Cantorial Ordination in May 2022. 

 

(March 2020)

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Heather Fulton-Bennett - Class of 2008

 

Heather graduated from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in 2012 with a degree in Ecology and Oceanography and promptly came straight back to California. There she worked in a variety of positions, including environmental consulting, science education, and aquaculture. Despite many distractions and traveling as much as possible, she completed her Master's Degree in Marine Science in 2016 at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, with a focus on intertidal and kelp forest ecology. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Oregon State University, where she studies ocean acidification and marine community ecology in Oregon and New Zealand with Dr. Bruce Menge and international marine policy with Dr. Jane Lubchenco. 

 

(March 2020)

Caitlin Moe

Caitlin Moe – Class of 2009

 

Caity Moe is a Global Health Epidemiologist. She graduated from UC San Diego in 2013 with a degree in International Studies - Political Science. Thanks to her AP credits from PCS, she was able to take a foundational year off during undergrad to backpack solo through South America, the Middle East (where she found herself by accident during the Arab Spring), and East Africa. She earned an MS in Global Health Sciences in 2015 from UC San Francisco, where she continued on to work as a Research Coordinator and Analyst running clinical trials on blinding eye disease and child mortality in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Niger, and Thailand.  She is now a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she applies computational and spatial epidemiologic methods to better understand how, when, and where gun violence spreads as a ‘contagion’ in the US and Latin America. She just completed one of her favorite projects, which showed how violence increased Ebola virus transmission during the most recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

 

(March 2020) 

Z Oppenheim

Z Oppenheim - Class of 2010

 

Z (they/them) currently resides in Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington with a BS in Biochemistry and a BA in Ethnomusicology. As an undergraduate Z was an active part of various University music ensembles and conducted original research on Afrikaans language alternative music.

 

After a brief stint with technology consulting, Z began a career in Behavioral Healthcare and currently performs assertive community outreach for seriously mentally ill persons experiencing homelessness. They are also an active volunteer with a Seattle based Harm Reduction needle exchange as well as part of an activist brass-band.

 

(April 2020)

Tobin Ortenblad

Tobin Ortenblad – Class of 2013

 

Tobin Ortenblad is currently racing professionally all over the United States and Europe. At present he runs his own one man program with a few major sponsors, Santa Cruz Bicycles being one of the biggest and most local ones. After splitting his efforts between professional racing and a mechanical engineering degree at Cabrillo College, Tobin committed to racing full time and quickly thereafter rose to the top of the professional domestic ranks. For now racing is his full time job and he plans to finish up his engineering degree after his professional career is over. 

 

(April 2020)

Shaw Ramey Wright

Shaw Ramey-Wright – Class of 2013

 

Shaw earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with dual majors in Psychology and Sociology – Organizational Studies, at the University of California, Davis in 2017. During his undergraduate career, Shaw worked as the Director of Legislative Affairs for student government where he trained students to lobby the California State Legislature for affordable higher education, mental health funding, worker’s rights and other important issues in addition to working as a research assistant with the Sherman Social Cognition Lab where he studied stereotypes, prejudice, and self-regulation. He also served terms as the Social Chair, Vice President, and President of the Swim Club at UC Davis, a community and activity he still holds dear.  Over the summers, he researched CBT-I for cannabis cessation with the Department of Veteran's Affairs and was third-author on a research paper now published in Current Addiction Reports. In his last year as an undergraduate, he took on the responsibility of Lead Coordinator for a mental health and peer- counseling program on the UC Davis campus. After graduating, Shaw got his first job as a Campaign Manager in 2018 for Measure G, the Santa Cruz County sales tax measure to raise seven million dollars for public safety, parks, and social services, which was passed by voters.

 

Shaw currently works as a Clinical Study Assistant with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Public Benefit Corporation – an organization devoted to maximizing public benefit over profit. Since he first started the position, he has worked on the pivotal Phase 3 trial for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for severe PTSD. With this Phase 3 trial and other studies, hopefully the FDA will approve MDMA as a prescription to be used in conjunction with psychotherapy as a new modality to treat this difficult condition.

 

Having spent significant time in the field of research, Shaw is currently interested in the personal side of healing and what it’s like to be a therapist. In the near future he plans to volunteer with the Zendo Project, a department at MAPS that specializes in psychedelic harm reduction, and hopes to soon transition to work with Monarch Services, a local non-profit serving people who are experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault, as a Crisis Advocate. While not strictly providing therapy in these roles, he hopes to be more involved in the healing process, to understand non-ordinary states of consciousness better, and to gain experience serving those who are experiencing trauma.

 

At his heart, Shaw hopes to walk a path that harmonizes individual healing and potential through therapy, while using political work to address the societal structures which contribute to suffering.

 

When he isn’t working at his job or volunteering in the political community, Shaw loves being outdoors.

 

 (March 2020)

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Madeleine Friedenbach - Class of 2015

 

Madeleine graduated Colorado State University with a degree in Natural Resources Management in May of 2019. She spent her time in college as an ambassador in the Outdoor Club, the Snow Riders club, and the Natural Resources College Council. She was a member of Xi Sigma Pi (Forestry Fraternity) and Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. After she graduated, she worked as the Outreach and Engagement intern at Southern Rockies Fire Science Network and volunteered for the local radio station as an on air DJ. She just moved back to California for a position at Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite, where she will be an Outdoor Recreation Guide starting on Valentine’s day. She loves skiing, hiking, and seeing live music. Though she loved Colorado, she’s excited to be closer to her family and friends from home. 

 

(March 2020)

Kayla Abrams

Kayla Abrams – Class of 2017

 

Kayla Abrams is a junior (almost senior!) at Columbia University in New York studying Modern American History and Psychology. She has continued to fall in love with Columbia, particularly all the incredible people she is somehow lucky enough to interact with on a daily basis, and she can almost count herself as a true New Yorker. She is so grateful to share the city with her amazing twin sister, Eliana (NYU Class of 2021) and a PCS grad. At school, she is on the Board of Camp Kesem, which is a camp for kids who have parents affected by cancer, and helps guide other students through the Columbia judicial process as a Student Navigator. She has continued to pursue her passion for criminal justice reform through helping to represent children in Family Court cases, assist the Philadelphia progressive DA as his personal intern, and craft criminal justice policy at the Brennan Center for Justice. After graduation, she will hopefully (fingers crossed) be going to law school where she plans on focusing on holistic legal solutions which address the root causes of criminal justice involvement, particularly trauma. 

 

(April 2020)

Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith – Class of 2019

 

Currently, Sheridan is double majoring in Psychology and Photography at Pace University in NYC. Outside of her studies, she is teaching at a Dewitt Preschool and pursuing performing arts in the city. Since graduating, she has also been kickstarting her portrait photography business, so if you are visiting New York in need of headshots, be sure to visit her website or give her a ring! She holds immense gratitude for the Art/Drama programs at PCS for preparing and encouraging her to follow her dreams. To any current or prospective students, Sheridan highly encourages getting involved and connecting with teachers. PCS is truly a community like no other!

 

(March 2020)