by Sarah Feliciano
Early life in Sharon, Mass., had a great impact on Harpur College junior Ezra Shapiro.
"(My mother) made me read all the time and was always taking me to museums, art museums, the annual Springfield Symphony," Shapiro said. "I ended up developing a strong set of skills from the lack of TV and other influences. Her whole thing was: 'Culture, culture, culture. Become educated.'"
Shapiro credits his mother for his voracious reading. In the absence of television, he read "The Hardy Boys," "Animal Farm," Robert Frost, T.S. Elliot, Greek mythology and much more. Shapiro enjoys indulging in all genres, as limiting himself is not an option. His current projects are proof of his multifaceted nature.
Although Shapiro is already busy as a double major in political science and history, he serves as opinion editor for Pipe Dream, Binghamton University's student-run newspaper.
"I was a writer and editor of my high school paper, The Shevuon (which means 'The Weekly'), so I decided I should try out here," he said. "I tried out for opinion because I liked opinion and I've always had a lot of opinions."
Shapiro places strong emphasis on the importance of arguing an opinion: "If I adopt a viewpoint I'll argue it strongly, but you know, I'm 20 years old. I don't know anything. I don't really know what's right. I just like to learn how to verbalize things. If you argue viewpoints you completely disagree with, it's hard to put those into words. If you practice that, it just becomes easier."
As opinion editor, Shapiro finds writers, makes up schedules, has meetings, stays in contact with the writers, writes editorials and line-edits. Because of his strong belief in free speech, he gives as much wiggle room as possible to his staff to verbalize their opinions in their own way.
In addition to his Pipe Dream commitment, Shapiro is the current president of Alpha Sigma Phi, for which he previously served as vice president.
"[It's] definitely an interesting time [to preside over a fraternity] — it's a big chance to reform an institution that's in need of reformation," he said. "It's probably the most difficult [activity]. Getting frat guys to do anything is like herding cats; it's impossible, but it's also the activity I get the most out of in terms of interpersonal skills, etc."
Shapiro is also vice president of Binghamton University's J-Street chapter, a pro-Israel advocacy group. The group takes what he believes is a "more nuanced approach than some of the other groups on campus in discussing the political situation in Israel and what we as Americans want to see happen in terms of our relationship with Israel."
"When I was looking to start J-Street U at Binghamton, Ezra was one of the first people I spoke to, and he is now the vice president of the e-board," J-Street chapter Co-founder and Pipe Dream Assistant Copy Desk Chief Tina Ritter said. "He is politically aware, thoughtful and articulate, and I thought he would be an excellent addition to the team. He and I work very well together. He is a strong communicator, responsible and I'm looking forward to next semester, when he and I can really get the J-Street U chapter at Binghamton working to hold events and meetings in earnest."
"There isn't enough ongoing dialogue about Israel on campus," Shapiro said. "It's just starting up and looks like it will be a challenge, but it's a good one. As a Jew and someone who's spent a lot of time in Israel, it's something I feel passionate about."
Shapiro's abundance of extracurricular responsibilities is not where this jack-of-all-trades draws the line. He also is an equipped landscaper who founded his own company last summer, and he attended the Democratic National Convention. The Dean's List student has a thirst for being well-rounded, but despite his success, remains humble.
"I've been invited to honors societies, but I haven't joined them because I'm big on the idea that your accomplishments should speak for themselves," said Shapiro, who aspires to become a diplomat or crisis negotiator. "You shouldn't have to put voice to them. That means you don't need fancy titles to add to your résumé. The way you comport yourself is indicative of what you've done with yourself. The more responsibilities you take on and the more success you achieve, the more confident you are, and no title can demonstrate that."
Last Updated: 12/10/14