The Foundation for
Jewish Campus Life

Humans of Hillel

I was adopted from China when I was 1-year-old and raised in Florida.

Orlando, Florida | 2018

"I was adopted from China when I was 1-year-old and raised in Florida. I grew up proud of my Jewish heritage and was active in my local Jewish community. That encouraged me to take a trip to Israel when I was in high school. It changed my life, helping me connect to Judaism and Israel in a personal and meaningful way. Two years ago, I enrolled at UCF and was looking to continue my Jewish involvement. Within a few weeks, I attended my first Hillel event — a pool party by the gym on campus — and saw Sam Friedman, who staffed my high school trip to Israel. Sam works as the assistant director of UCF Hillel, and he recognized me immediately. I told him how the trip had a lasting impact on me. That conversation and the people I met that day sparked my interest in becoming a leader at Hillel. I became a photography intern at Hillel during the spring semester of my freshman year and a David Project intern this semester. Hillel has given me opportunities to learn and grow in ways I never thought imaginable.” — Renee Surrey, University of Central Florida