JCRS Success Story: Lana Sorin
August 16th, 2010 •
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In 1989, Lana Sorin and her family landed in Nashville, TN by way of Belarus, Minsk. Local Jewish organizations helped her parents find an apartment, learn English, and get jobs.
Having escaped anti-Semitism, Lana’s parents always told her that they brought her to America so she would be free to be Jewish. They didn’t want her to have to hide her Menorah in the closet like they had had to.
Despite the difficulties her parents had faced, Lana grew up free to focus on her passions and talents. A creative child who loved painting and drawing, she also had a head for numbers. Someone mentioned that she should look into architecture. As Lana points out, “You use both sides of your brain, the artistic side, and the side that actually makes the building stand up – the mathematical side.”
A straight A student, she remembers her uncle teasing, “girls can’t be architects”, and that’s all it took. She set out to prove him wrong. Knowing that architecture was a profession that would have been nearly impossible for her to pursue as a Jew in Russia, she was doubly determined.
While resolve was not her problem – tuition was. Getting an undergraduate degree in architecture is a 5-year program, and therefore more expensive than the average 4-year college degree. However, JCRS was ready to help. While Lana received government loans as well, she pointed out that it would have been much more difficult for her to get this degree without the financial help she received from JCRS, and that in fact, JCRS was the only organization to give her assistance during her 5th and final year of architecture school.
Similar to medicine, studying architecture is so labor-intensive that trying to hold down a job while in school would have shifted her focus and caused her to neglect her studies. Says Lana, “JCRS took a lot of the burden off of my parents, and off of me as well. I was blessed that I didn’t have to worry about paying my way through. There’s enough stress with school without having to think about money as well.”
With a degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Lana is now an architect at a firm in Nashville. Inspired and excited by her new profession, she’s currently working on a 300,000 square foot student union at Middle Tennessee State University and says of it, “It’s nice to see something being built that I drew with a pencil. It’s amazing to know that even long after an architect dies, his or her buildings are still there and people enjoy them – and it’s beautiful in that sense.”
Now that Lana is also working on building a life with her fiancé, she muses, “There really aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am to JCRS.” Instilled with Jewish values and wanting to give Tzedakah, she adds, “I can’t wait to help the organization now that I have a job, and I’m starting to settle down – because there are just so many kids who can be helped.”
Vulnerable children and youth can grow up to become fulfilled, independent adults through the loving kindness and generous support of people like you. Make a difference in the life of someone like Aaron Friedman, and see how they blossom. Donate to the JCRS College Aid Program, or give to the individual program that inspires you most.