Inner Circle: Member Spotlight

On September 19, recipients of Footsteps’ 2019/2020 scholarship awards gathered to celebrate their educational journeys.


Devorah S.
Sophomore at Stanford University
Majoring in Electrical Engineering

Growing up in a Yeshivish community in Queens, Devorah quickly realized that the avenues for higher education open to people living in her community were limited and narrowly defined.

“There were only a few acceptable colleges, with even fewer acceptable majors,” she recounted at September’s scholarship reception. “I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.”

At 12 years old, Devorah began working to finance her college dreams, knowing that she would not get her family’s support if she chose to follow them. She worked for pennies, making about $50 a month for essentially full time work.

After being rejected by her family and her community for expressing her views, Devorah worked hard to get into and pay for college at one of the US top schools for engineering.

‘œI found myself having to teach myself basic chemistry so that I could understand what was going on in my classes,’ she said. ‘œThis on top of teaching four or five coding classes a week to support myself. I was living with friends who lived far from the campus and spending hours commuting. I was exhausted.’

At times, Devorah was even skipping meals in order to pay for her textbooks. She was making it work, but she was burning the candle at both ends.

Then, she learned about Footsteps. She was amazed to find an organization dedicated to people like her, who had left ultra-Orthodoxy in search of their own paths. She found a warm and vibrant community of people who know what it’s like to grow up like she did, who understand and empathize with her experiences on a deep level.

She also found the financial support she needed.

‘œFootsteps allows me to focus on what is important ‘“ my school work and my research,’ said Devorah. ‘œI am so grateful to have their support, and to have a community that knows where I came from.’

Heading back to school for her Sophomore year, Devorah can cut back on her work hours and stop worrying about how to pay for her textbooks, so that she can have the college experience that every student deserves. With her hard work and determination, we can’t wait to see what she does next!

The scholars pictured here are only a fraction of those who received scholarships this year – this was our largest scholarship year to date, with 125 students receiving funding!