“This is how you give back”: Daughter and son-in-law of Arts Camp alumnus create a scholarship in parents’ honor

Rebecca Renzas (IAC 96-00, IAC St 02), whose parents met through Interlochen connections, shares what inspired the James and Pamela Brandman Family Endowed Camp Scholarship in Music.

Renzas and Brandon families 2022

Russ Renzas, Rebecca Renzas, Pamela Brandman, and James Brandman with Russ and Rebecca's children and their niece and nephew. 

At a private family gathering over the 4th of July weekend in Interlochen, Rebecca and Russ Renzas presented Rebecca’s parents with a very special gift for their 50th wedding anniversary—an endowed scholarship at the institution that brought them together. 

“They never would have met had it not been for Interlochen,” Rebecca Renzas says. 

The family founded the James and Pamela Brandman Family Endowed Camp Scholarship in Music, a financial need-based scholarship for music students at Interlochen Arts Camp. Renzas says the gift was the perfect way to honor her parents. 

“They're incredible people and have been incredible parents. My husband and I tried to think of something that would be meaningful for them … We wanted to give them a meaningful gift that gives back,” she says. 

When asked why she and Russ opted for an endowed scholarship as opposed to an annual scholarship, Renzas is quick to reply: “I wanted something that would last.”

Finding Love Through Interlochen 
Rebecca’s father James Brandman attended Interlochen Arts Camp from 1962-64, studying in the Piano Performance program. The experience was a transformative one for him. 

“He's a huge music lover, and I think Interlochen really helped kindle that. He always encouraged us to love music and make it a big part of our lives,” Renzas says. 

Even after his Interlochen years, Brandman maintained a connection to the place. In fact, a good friend of his from Interlochen introduced him to Pamela. The couple married a few years later. 

Both of the Brandmans went on to lead successful careers. James worked as an oncologist and a professor in the medical school at Northwestern University, while Pamela became a social worker. They had two children, Rebecca and her brother Jeremy, and now have several grandchildren. 

A Generational Legacy 
Over the Fourth of July weekend, the family came together in Interlochen to celebrate the Brandmans’ anniversary. For Russ and Rebecca, the festivities were the perfect occasion to honor the Brandmans’ impact. 

“They practice what they preach by devoting their lives to helping others,” says Renzas. “The older I get, the more I appreciate how uniquely kind, giving, and honest they are in how they live their lives. My husband and I have such a deep appreciation for who they are and what they've done for both other people and for our family.”

Asked how she hopes the scholarship will affect students, Renzas says, “We want to give them the opportunity to experience Interlochen and enjoy everything that's wonderful about it.”

The impact of Interlochen lasts through generations. From two people meeting and falling in love to a scholarship that will benefit students in perpetuity, the ripple effect only continues. Renzas hopes it reaches her own children as well. 

“It's a message that I want to send my kids: ‘This is a meaningful gift. This is how you give back.’”

For information on endowed scholarships, or other ways to give to Interlochen, please contact the Philanthropy Office at 231.276.7623 or philanthropy@interlochen.org.