I am currently in the last semester of the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation’s Springboard Social Justice Fellowship, and I am full of gratitude. Hillel calls it the Springboard Fellowship because it is built to give young Jewish professionals the tools to spring into their future careers. And, for me, it is doing just that.
While I work most closely with the incredible UArizona Hillel staff, I also have the support of a larger national cohort of fellows. Through UArizona Hillel and Hillel International, my network, opportunity, and experience have grown substantially. From teaching a course on the relationship between Judaism and Justice, to interviewing Rabbi Micha Odenheimer for The Sally & Ralph Duchin Campus Lecture Series, to sitting on a panel for Hillel International’s Higher Holidays series, to traveling the world, creating innovative programming, and offering consistent pastoral care for our students, this position continues to prepare me and give me the confidence to handle anything and everything that comes my way.
I think back to the first event that I hosted at Hillel. I planned a self-portrait collage night for the students to explore and share their identities through art. I was so nervous! This was my first time marketing, programming, and facilitating at this level, with this age group. Was anyone going to show up? And if they did, would it be an impactful event for them? When the students arrived all my worries faded. They were (and are) the sweetest humans you can imagine, curious and excited about making new connections, learning, and the evening’s program, they actively participated and engaged to the fullest. The night flowed beautifully. While creating, we discussed identity intersectionality and shared personal stories about how our identities affect us in our day to day lives. Their vulnerability and the immediate support that they offered each other was something I will never forget. My first taste of my time at Hillel gave me the certainty that I was going to have an incredible experience.
I look forward to the last 6 months of my fellowship. Building justice-minded programming, creating a culture with diversity, equity, and inclusion at the center, and my commitment to facilitating Jewish community at the University of Arizona remain the goals that guide my work. I am grateful to my coworkers, my cohort, and my students who have taught me so much. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact at UArizona Hillel, and I am grateful for the bright future ahead, post-springboard. I am full of gratitude.
Claire is the University of Arizona Hillel’s Springboard Social Justice Fellow. She graduated from Arizona State University, receiving degrees in Global Studies and Philosophy (Morality, Politics, and Law). She minored in Sustainability and received certificates in both Jewish Studies and Modern Hebrew. Claire is a Tucson native and loves spending time in nature, traveling, and working with the most amazing UofA students ever!