Hillel at Georgia Tech added a third employee to its programmatic team, joining Director Lauren Blazofsky and Israel fellow Omer Zimmerman. Eliza Duberstein joins Hillel at GT as the Springboard Fellowship innovation program. The Springboard Fellowship is a two year Hillel fellowship that places recent college graduates on campuses across North America for their first post-college job.
This year, Springboard offered two “tracks” or foci. The Ezra fellows concentrate on Jewish texts and teaching, while the innovation fellows explore “design thinking” and student engagement. A week-long institute training taught Duberstein the methodology of “design thinking.” Duberstein describes her experience at the institute: “I learned a process of thinking creatively and critically, a method in which I consider my desired outcomes and radical empathy. Now when deciding what ideas I want to implement at Tech, I consider what needs Tech students face and what is the best – perhaps unprecedented – way to meet those needs.”
For now, Duberstein is focusing on her engagement work. She wants to fully understand the students before creating new programs or ideas. Her goal is to reach out to every freshman, and hopefully every Jewish person on campus. Her favorite part of the job so far is taking students out on “coffee dates,” a national Hillel initiative to increase engagement by emphasizing the importance of one-on-one interactions. Duberstein loves the meetings because “every student at Tech is so intelligent and unique. I leave each coffee date having learned something new or contemplating an interesting question.” Duberstein will also be co-facilitating the Jewish learning fellowship, which encourages college students to “ask big questions” and analyze ethical issues within the context of Jewish texts.
Duberstein studied political science at Emory University and was a board member and engagement intern with Emory Hillel. After Emory, she participated for four months in a Jewish Studies program in Prague. She hopes her position at Georgia Tech will positively influence the Jewish community there, and increase the reach Hillel has on campus.