This past weekend, a member of the Breitbart family reached an achievement we’d all like to acknowledge and applaud. Julia Pollak, wife of our very own Joel Pollak, graduated from U.S. Navy Boot Camp and was awarded the Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award, given to the top recruit in each class of roughly 1,000 or so future sailors.
Julia’s story is the perfect allegory of what is great about America and speaks to the possibilities of achievement that is in inherent in the American promise. In an age where much of what we hear focuses on the decline of America’s excellence and the perceived limitations for ethnic minorities in our culture, this story is something we all need to know.
She was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Her parents were married in South West Africa (now Namibia) because at the time it was illegal for people from different racial groups to marry or to have intimate relations. Julia was born in 1987 in a racially segregated hospital, and as a child was denied admission to public schools based on race. She was accepted by Catholic and Anglican schools (she is now an observant Jew), which were the first to desegregate until the end of apartheid.
Julia graduated from St. Cyprian’s School in Cape Town, an amazing and beautiful place on the slopes of Table Mountain, where she was an excellent student and an accomplished cellist. She was admitted to Harvard College, but because of a mismatch between the South African and American academic calendars (South Africa ends the school year in November or December, and starts in January or February), she had to wait almost a year before enrolling. In the interim, she worked as an intern for the opposition in the South African Parliament (which is where she met Joel, who was working as a speechwriter).
Julia continued on to Harvard and majored in economics, writing a thesis under the supervision of former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff. Her focus was public debt, and the creation of fiscal advisory councils–and she chose the subject just a few months before the 2008 crash and subsequent “stimulus” debacle, making her research very timely. (She and Rogoff co-authored a paper that was presented last year in Hungary and which is to be published soon.) After graduating from Harvard, she was hired by the Heritage Foundation as a research assistant, and worked with MacKenzie Eaglen and other analysts in studying national defense, particularly the defense budget. She has several posts on the Heritage website on these subjects.
All of us at the Breitbart.com and “The Bigs” extended our heartfelt congratulations and sincerest gratitude to Julia and to Joel for their incredible service and dedication to our country.