For the past six years, a letter written by former student engagement interns at Maryland Hillel has made its way to the various places Merav Fine Braun has worked.
As of July, the 31-year-old has proudly displayed the letter in her new office at Hunter Hillel, more than 200 miles away from Maryland Hillel. For her, it serves as a constant reminder of why she decided to become a Hillel professional.
“The students are my inspiration to continue working in this field,” Braun said. “Having the opportunity to watch them grow and become the leaders that I see in them — that’s why I do this.”
Shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in government and politics, the New York native became an engagement associate at Maryland Hillel, believing the role would help forge her career path.
“I thought I would keep working at Maryland Hillel until I figured out what I wanted to do,” said Braun, who holds master’s degrees in nonprofit management and Judaic studies from New York University. “But it turned out that working at Hillel is what I wanted to do.”
As the newly appointed executive director at Hunter Hillel, Braun has dedicated ample time to accommodating programs and events for the college’s large student commuter population, many of whom travel over two hours to attend classes at Hunter College.
After meeting with more than 200 students, she and her assistant director worked meticulously to schedule educational classes, including the 10-week Jewish Learning Fellowship, and social events during the breaks between their students’ classes.
“It’s about putting the needs of students before all else,” Braun said. “That’s at the core of everything we do.”