IACT Coordinator Inspires Students to Connect with Israel



April 8, 2024

IACT (Inspired, Active, Committed, Transformed) professionals are helping Jewish college students learn about and engage more deeply with Israel, supporting thousands of students before, during, and after immersive travel experiences, especially Birthright Israel. This community building allows students to learn and develop their own authentic and meaningful relationships with Israel.

For Devin Davidson, the IACT Coordinator and Greek Life Specialist at Hillel at Arizona State University (ASU), her own experiences in Israel were so powerful that they changed the trajectory of her goals for her college — and post-college — career. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, Devin went on a Birthright Israel trip in 2019, and the following year, she picked up a religious studies minor and applied to be an IACT intern at MSU Hillel. 

As an IACT intern, she filled an entire Birthright bus, and discovered her passion for student engagement — and a greater love for Israel.

“Birthright offers a distinctive opportunity to connect individuals with their heritage, culture, and history,” Devin said. “My goal for my students is to help them develop a deeper sense of belonging and understanding within the Jewish community, as well as encourage a stronger connection to Israel.”

That close personal connection to Israel has been more important than ever to Devin in the months since the October 7 attack. As someone whose role is entirely student-facing, Devin found the weeks after the attack to be especially challenging. In addition to processing her own feelings about what had happened, she was also trying to help her students when they came to her for support. She acknowledges beautiful things arose during those difficult months at ASU. She witnessed Jewish student unity on campus, as a notable sense of Jewish pride emerged. Students were more aware of antisemitism, but she says they were also working hard to find ways to address it.

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Traveling to Israel Post-October 7

In March, Devin had the opportunity to travel to Israel with Hillel International, along with 15 other IACTs. It was her first trip back to Israel post-October 7, and the experiences and conversations resonated with her in ways she had never anticipated. Her typical trips to Israel are focused on facilitating experiences for others (this past summer she took 60 ASU students on Birthright) and she was moved by the chance to have her own space to experience Israel, particularly in this raw moment. Despite all of the devastation, Devin felt a powerful spirit of resilience and hope. She witnessed communities coming together to rebuild and support one another during a time of tragedy, and was revitalized by that determination to overcome obstacles in the face of heartbreak.

That trip, chronicled in the video above, became a source of comfort, strength, and renewal. It provided her with a new sense of clarity and purpose, while inspiring her to dive deeper into her own Jewish identity.

“It was truly a surreal experience, and it’s been amazing to be able to share that with the students,” she said. “Traveling to Israel now is even more important than ever, because you can discover a greater sense of purpose, and develop a much deeper connection to your Jewish identity.”

Traveling alongside her IACT cohort made the trip even more meaningful. Her IACT community played a pivotal role in easing her transition post-graduation, and she counts them as some of her closest friends. The trip strengthened their bonds with one another, and also provided a safe and supportive space for conversation during some of their most vulnerable moments.

Deepening a Sense of Unity on Campus

Coming back to campus, Devin’s biggest takeaway from her trip has been a desire to create the sense of unity and pride she experienced while in Israel. While building unity has been a common theme in the Jewish community at ASU, she sees the potential to take it even further. 

“It was an overwhelming, powerful feeling in Israel,” she said. “I want to try to emulate that special feeling on campus.”

Devin’s experiences with IACT have been transformative, and she’d recommend applying to become an IACT professional to anyone interested in getting into the student engagement and Israel space. 

“Being in the cohort has been such a positive experience for me,” she said. “If you’re thinking about applying, I’d say to do it!”

IACT professionals are leading students towards an enduring commitment to Jewish life and Israel through Hillel’s proven relationship-based engagement approach. Interested in becoming an IACT professional? Let us know, and we’ll be in touch!