Endings and Beginnings

During the days of final week, time seems to alternate between a slow trickle of awaiting summer and the sprint of feeling like there’s not enough hours to study. However, in these moments, it’s important to take in the things around you.

While the end of the semester is a time of stress, it is also a time of jubilation: celebrating an awesome internship, a UF Hillel Birthright adventure, a cool vacation, graduation or even an interesting summer class.

It’s a big time of change. This period is a time of new beginnings and also endings, so it’s an important time of reflection.

UF Hillel is wrapping up on a year of great events.

There was Solidarity Shabbat, Mitzvah Day, services and Career Up Now.

There’s also memories of internships at UF Hillel.

This semester Amanda Oskam and Sophie Schnaper are graduating from UF, along with Sammi Bonder, who will continue at her graduate public health program here before heading to medical school in the Fall.

Since Oskam and Schnaper are moving on from UF Hillel, they took a look back at their start at UF Hillel and how they feel in this time of so many changes.

Oskam’s first interactions with UF Hillel were for High Holiday services.

“To appease my mother, who wanted me to remain connected to my Jewish faith in university,” she said.

After hearing that UF Hillel offered summer and winter Birthright trips, she decided to go on one with her little sister.

“We had an amazing experience in Israel, and I came back with a renewed passion for my Jewish identity, and a desire to become more engaged,” she said. “I was offered an internship position as a data analyst.”

“It is such a collaborative environment, and I am always excited to come in and see my fellow interns and the staff!” she said.

Oskam has been thinking about UF Hillel’s role in her college journey.

“The projects I worked on here helped me land a full-time job, and my experiences at Career Up Now events have provided me the opportunity to make new friends and network connections.”

On her UF Hillel memories, she has a lot to say. She said Rabbi Adam has always been there to talk to.

“He has been a truly great mentor, and I am grateful for the opportunity and experience to work here,” she said. “In general, I will remember how I was treated here, and how the staff taught me, laughed with me, and helped me grow. They are all truly wonderful people, and I am so lucky to have had this opportunity!”

Schnaper had a similar experience: first attending UF Hillel for High Holiday services.

“After that, I didn’t walk back into the building until my UF Hillel Birthright pre-trip meeting,” she said.

However, following UF Hillel Birthright, she said she was drawn back to UF Hillel and the Jewish community.

“I had recently developed an interest in graphic design, and I then applied for a graphic design internship with UF Hillel,” she said. “Luckily for me, Cindy (Creative and Marketing Consultant) saw potential in me and hired me. From the second I walked into the office for that interview, I was hooked.”

For Schnaper, UF Hillel has been about not only experiences, but also friendships.

“What UF Hillel has given me most are some of my best friends,” she said. “ UF Hillel gave me my Birthright bus, which I’m still super close with, as well as the group of interns I hang out with and talk to almost every day both in and out of the office.”

Graduation is quickly approaching, and she can’t believe it.

“It’s mixed emotions to say the least,” she said. “I’m so excited to continue my studies in education and be working full time in an upper-elementary classroom, but there is definitely something to be said about college being the best days of your life.”

Rabbi Adam is sad to see these interns go.

“The greatest challenge of being at UF Hillel is the reality that you grow so close with each and every student, and then you turn around and before you know it, they graduate.” he said.

“The UF Hillel team is really thankful for all the travel, educational and social good experiences we were able to share with the students,” he said. “Each and every student who has spent time here with us has helped make this organization reach another level.”

“It’s bittersweet to see them go,” he said. “But, also it’s awesome, because I know they’re going to do amazing things, and we’re just a stepping stone for it.”

Rabbi Adam’s advice to graduates is to continue to meet as many people as you can, continue to be kind, and remember there’s always a new degree to gain that’s not a piece of paper.

Here's to ends and new beginnings!

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UF Hillel

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