Without hesitation, Danielle McKinstry traded in her snow boots for sandals just two weeks after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2015.
The 24-year-old, who serves as director of engagement at Central Florida Hillel, thought she would apply to dental school once she received her bachelor’s degree in Allied Health Sciences. But she “had a change of heart” during her last semester as a Husky, encouraging her to apply and accept a position as an engagement associate at Central Florida Hillel.
Although the Orlando-based Hillel is located at the University of Central Florida, it also serves Jewish students attending Rollins College, Stetson University, Barry College of Law and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“A UConn Hillel professional said to me, ‘You need to do something you love, not something that makes you stressed and upset.’ When we broke down my involvement in college and what made me happy, it was clear that my passion for Jewish life always followed me — no matter where I went,” she said.
McKinstry’s high level of involvement at UConn, including her role as vice president of social affairs at Hillel and activeness in Alpha Epsilon Phi, prepared her to meet students where they are and connect with them.
To increase her efforts, she launched ‘Jewber,’ a free-ride service that shuttles UCF students to class using CFH golf carts. McKinstry said the service, which has made an appearance the first week of each semester since fall 2016, has helped her create and strengthen one-on-one relationships with students, especially with those who haven’t stepped foot in CFH.
“That’s what it’s all about — engaging with students,” she said.