Growing up, I formed a close relationship with my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1979. It was our relationship that sparked my deep-rooted passion for gerontology, and prompted me to make it a focus of my academic studies.
As an undergraduate student, I founded Hillel at John Carroll University, which has since been recognized by local and national media outlets for its programming. In 2011, the Cleveland Jewish News wrote a story with the tagline, "Hillel at a Catholic School? Really?" As a result of my work, I was awarded the university's Outstanding Student Leader of the Year Award, described as "the highest honor a student can receive on behalf of the university," in 2012 and 2013.
In April of 2014, I faced a great challenge in my life when I awakened one evening paralyzed from the waist down. I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, an acute spinal cord condition that affects five out of a million people. Two-thirds of those diagnosed with the condition never fully recover. While physicians couldn't tell me whether I would ever walk again, I was fortunate to recover entirely, running a half-marathon only six months after my initial diagnosis.
In 2015, my story made its way into Runner's World Magazine, the publication calling me "a most unlikely half-marathon runner." In 2017, I received a letter from former President Bill Clinton, calling my story "remarkable." In that letter, President Clinton also noted, "If you have the ability to make a difference in someone's life, you have an obligation to do so." By speaking about my battle with Transverse Myelitis, it is my hope that I can inspire and motivate those around me to conquer their personal life challenges.
Currently, I serve as Congregation Beth Emeth's Executive Director, where I get to implement creative ideas to help serve the Jewish population in the greater Washington D.C. area.