Kyla Alterman originally shared this story as part of the University of Delaware Hillel twentieth anniversary celebration on October 28, 2013.
My name is Kyla Alterman, and I am a senior from New York City in the University of Delaware honors program, majoring in International Relations and minoring in theatre and Jewish studies. I am the current president of Kesher, Hillel’s reform student organization, public relations chair of project change, Hillel’s community service student organization, secretary of model United nations, the joint crisis committee chair for the university’s high school model UN conference, and the Jewish studies chair on the Institute for global studies area studies student advisory board, to name a few.
I have been on the Kesher board since my first day at UD, as a participant of Hillel’s annual freshman fest. After Friday night services, I was cornered by two of the current Kesher board members who had heard me singing along during the service. Then and there I became Kesher’s religious chair, not knowing I would end up serving as chair for two years before taking my current role as president. My work planning events and building community for Hillel is what led me to declare my Jewish studies minor.
The Jewish studies department has allowed me to combine my Jewish interests with my passion for international politics. I have had the opportunity to learn and connect to Jewish culture and the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, which is at the core of what I want to accomplish with International Relations. This past summer, I was a summer scholar at the University of Delaware doing research on Israel advocacy in America. I have used this as the foundation for the senior thesis I am writing to earn an honors degree with distinction. This winter, I hope to be traveling to Israel for a month to work on my thesis with professors at Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, and the Israel Democracy Institute.
As a senior, I have begun to think a lot about what I have gotten out of my time at the University of Delaware, the new interests and passions I’ve developed, and who and what has shaped me into who I will be and what I will pursue in my future. Hillel has been a door to opportunity, has been a home to me, and a place to learn about how to be a leader in a community. I am thrilled to be a part of the Kristol Center’s 20th anniversary celebration, honoring all of the things they have accomplished and people they have shaped.
Kyla Alterman is a senior at the University of Delaware. She will graduate in May 2014 with an honors degree with distinction.