Left to right:  Professor Janine Zacharia, UCLA undergrad Michaela Esposito, Visiting Graduate Researcher Ann Pei, UCLA undergrad Gillian Smith and Maia Gelerter, UCLA Professor Sarah Abrevaya Stein

How many UCLA undergraduate students finish their degrees having played a significant role in the book publishing process? Michaela Esposito, Maia Gelerter, and Gillian Smith, three Leve Center Undergraduate Fellows with additional help from Visiting Graduate Researcher Ann Pei, will be able to say they have. Esposito, a second-year history major; Gelerter, a fourth-year history major and art history minor; and Smith, a fourth-year history and anthropology double major, are currently working with Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, on editing the memoir of Holocaust survivor Israel Cappell. The three women have worked together on various aspects of the publishing process; from transcribing handwritten pages, to identifying the people and locations mentioned, to copy editing the finalized manuscript, Esposito, Gelerter, and Smith are playing an integral role in the preparation of Cappell’s work for publication.

When asked about their work, the three all expressed their passion for this stimulating intellectual endeavor. “It is an honor to be trusted with this story,” Smith explained. “In doing this work, I hope to pay homage to this survivor.” Esposito echoed these sentiments, before adding that the project, which is led by Sarah Abrevaya Stein and Janine Zacharia (Stanford), is “a meaningful chance to work with women on a women-led project.” As for Gelerter, she clarified that the project was “an incredible opportunity for a transfer student” that gave her the “passion and confidence to branch out into different fields” related to her own research on WWII in Japan. All three women plan to go on to complete graduate work, and are grateful to the Leve Center for offering them this unique opportunity to work together on such an impactful project.