My advice to UF students: Find yourself, but remember not to lose yourself in the process.
Growing up I attended Hebrew school. In high school, I was very involved with my youth group, and even served on the board for 3 years.
When I came to college, I thought I wanted it to be different. I tried to broaden my horizons, meet new people and truly learn about everything this University has to offer. However, I lost touch with the Jewish part of me in the process.
This past summer, I reached out to UF Hillel looking for an internship. I am starting my 5th year at UF, and that was the first time I had reached out to get involved with Jewish life on campus.
Honestly, my only regret is that I didn’t do so sooner.
Since I started interning at Hillel 3 months ago, I already feel a sense of belonging to this wonderful community. Students and staff walk into the building with a smile on their face and greet one another the way I was greeted when I used to walk into my synagogue growing up.
The staff has helped me to design a personalized internship that will help prepare me for the future, while also ensuring I’ll meet my graduation requirements. I am doing meaningful work and I’m so excited about it! Through the intern program, I have also met some friends that I will be able to go to Shabbat services and High Holiday programs with, something I’ve been searching for for a while now.
Redefining my Jewish identity before I graduate is important to me. While I may have been hesitant to do so before, I know for sure that I will join a synagogue after I graduate. I know that this community is something that I need to be a part of my life always, and I won’t lose sight of that again.
So, short and simple, my advice to you is this: reach out and take risks, but remember the foundation that built you. Do everything you can imagine in your time here. Take advantage of every opportunity. Find yourself, but remember not to lose yourself in the process.