by Lisette Dolgin
Irina was involved with Hillel during her time as an undergrad at Loyola University Chicago. As a sophomore, she chaired the Social Committee in hopes of bringing new and exciting ways for students to bond. A driving force for connecting Loyola Hillel students to the cross campus community, Irina engaged her peers at events such as the Skate for Israel, Hookah in the Sukkah, and monthly get-togethers at different students' homes across Chicago.
Irina was particularly interested in offering pre-med and healthcare profession students a chance to interact with professionals in the field by hosting panels where professionals offered their insights. Irina’s goal was to bring together pharmacists, physical therapists, doctors and nurses to help her and her peers in their career decisions. Irina was particularly interested in how healthcare professionals balance work and family life, "Each of these careers requires a large time commitment and some people, especially women, wanted to have a career in healthcare, but not take too much out of their family life." Irina explained, "Since family is a huge Jewish core value, it was important for people in Hillel to be able to balance their love and passion for healthcare and their family." Irina will be graduating this year from Nursing school and looking forward to being able to return to Hillel and offer her advice to students on campus.
"I learned more in Hillel than I did my entire Jewish life," Irina went on to say, "because of my family roots from the FSU, my parents, growing up in the Soviet Union, were not allowed to practice religion. They were robbed of their knowledge of Judaism because they weren’t allowed to participate." Hillel served as Judaism 101 for Irina, and she brought back to her parents her newfound knowledge of their faith. "They looked to Hillel to teach me the significance of the holidays, or why we have certain traditions," Irina explained, "On top of that, they wanted me to see how important it is to have a Jewish family. Not just my own family, but friends, a community--it’s what the Jewish religion is all about."
Irina’s experience in Hillel helped prepare her for her career in Nursing. "Nursing is a field where you are a member of a team. Between all of the disciplinary roles, everybody comes together to take care of the patient. Hillel taught me what it means to be part of a team, as a community, and how to work for a common goal. From my Jewish education, I learned the importance of teamwork--a huge strength to have in the healthcare field."
Irina wants current students thinking about the medical field to know that they should stick to their passion and identity. "In medicine, you really have to love what you do. It's so important to come into work with a smile on your face. As a Jew, it’s important to stick to your roots, even if you’re not super involved. Stick to your culture and look where you came from and it will bring forth those values of hard work and commitment that truly make who you are."