Inna Vernikov, 28


An advocate for people in need.

Growing up in Czernovitz, a city in Ukraine, Inna Vernikov did not experience anti-Semitism herself, but she heard stories of family members who had.

That, she says, sensitized her to the position of Jews — and other victims of discrimination.

She decided to become a lawyer. If someone needed help, “I wanted to do something about it.”

A recent graduate of the Florida Coastal School of Law, and a resident of Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood, Vernikov interned with Brooklyn’s District Attorney while studying in college.

Over the years she’s established a Jewish women’s study group, volunteered as a matchmaker with the Rajemate organization that serves the Russian-speaking community, and, as president of her law school’s Jewish Law Student Association, invited filmmaker-human rights attorney Brooke Goldstein to campus to speak about the recruitment of Palestinian children as suicide bombers.

The school’s Muslim Law Student Association objected; Vernikov prevailed; the speech drew a SRO crowd. “I learned a lot,” she said — never give up, stick to your principles.

Vernikov discovered 18 months ago that the commencement of her law school class was set for a Saturday. Sabbath-observant, she lobbied to have the date changed. The administration resisted — it’s always on a Saturday, they told her. She kept pressing.

Vernikov graduated a few weeks ago — on a Sunday.

No Fan of ‘Dolls’: Alerted that the Lifeline network was airing a “Russian Dolls” reality show about emigrés in Brighton Beach two years ago, Vernikov tuned in. Then she wrote an op-ed for the Forward, in which she called the program “an embarrassment and an offense to Russian Jews.” Some readers applauded her article, others said she was overreacting. Dugout duty: An active member of Baruch College’s Hillel chapter, she was chosen to present a Hillel T-shirt to Shawn Green in 2004, after the ex-Mets outfielder declined to play on Yom Kippur.