Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Central Florida Hillel welcomes new engagement staff


Danielle McKinstry and Arielle Ladue, new engagement associates at UCF Hillel.

According to a recent survey by Hillel International, Jewish college students from around the country, and around Florida in particular, are increasingly choosing UCF over any other university. With a conservatively estimated 6,000 Jewish students on campus, UCF has the second largest Jewish student population of any public University outside of the State of Israel.

With such a robust and dynamic Jewish student population, the leadership of Central Florida Hillel changed their model to best service Jewish students from before they get to campus to after they have graduated.

"By working closely with the Jewish communities before teens come to college, we are better able to receive them and transition them to Jewish life on campus." says Aaron Weil, executive director and CEO of Central Florida Hillel. "This makes life less stressful for the incoming student and for their families."

"I was a committed and dedicated BBYO teen," says Danielle McKinstry one of two new engagement associates at Central Florida Hillel. "And had it not been for my BBYO director calling my Hillel director, I may have never discovered what it meant to be a Jewish college student." McKinstry, a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, recently started at Central Florida Hillel as an Engagement Associate whose job will focus on high school juniors and seniors, as well as incoming college freshmen and sophmores.

"We also know that we have an obligation to transition our students back to Jewish life upon graduation," says Weil. "By hiring Arielle, our second engagement associate, we are connecting the last piece of the college pipeline and doing our part to ensure the continuity of the Jewish community."

Arielle Ladue, another recent graduate of the University of Connecticut who served as an engagement intern at UConn Hillel, will be focusing on college juniors and seniors, as well as graduate students and young professionals. "For many years Hillel was the place that college students went on Friday nights for a free Shabbat meal and to find their spouse, but Central Florida Hillel is so much more than that. Our leadership training has helped our students find jobs and internships in their fields of study, and our programming is meant to stimulate our students intellectually, socially and spiritually."

Last year, UCF and Central Florida Hillel were selected as one of eighteen campuses for Hillel International's Comprehensive Excellence pilot. Comprehensive Excellence is a program designed by the Shapira and Beacon Foundations to determine best practices for Hillels around the world. By providing Hillels with additional funding, as well as top-level guidance and support, Comprehensive Excellence seeks to demonstrate what is essential for the success of a Hillel, and how a successful Hillel will benefit the greater Jewish community.

For more information on Central Florida Hillel, go to http://www.CentralFloridaHillel.org or @UCFHillel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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