Favorite Jewish food: “Matzo ball soup - my uncle Frank could win a matzo ball soup competition. He uses like 3 dozen eggs to make a batch and the balls are bigger than the bowl and I swear I have dreams about them - so matzo ball soup, but only if it’s from my uncle Frank.”
Spirit Animal: “My personal spirit animal is a horse because I could just picture myself running through a meadow really fast with long hair.”
When KU Hillel’s office didn’t have a recycling bin, sophomore Hannah Gilgus talked to Hillel staff members about investing in one for students to use. After constantly asking every time she was at Hillel, Hillel finally got a recycling bin on Gilgus’s birthday.
Gilgus, a development intern at Hillel, said she has learned so much from the work she has accomplished through her internship. Hillel, she said, has given her the opportunity to work for things she cares about like recycling and sustainability, while also learning how to use Excel and reach out to donors.
“Recycling is a huge thing that every single person can do,” Gilgus said. “So having [recycling at] Hillel, like a student leadership group, is exciting and such a good way to start implementing it in [student leaders’] lives, which will trickle down as leaders into other people’s lives.”
In her freshmen year, Gilgus said she wasn’t involved in Hillel and never really considered it until the end of the year when she talked to KU Hillel executive director Jay Lewis, who she said changed her mind. Since talking to Lewis, she said Hillel has become a valuable part of her college career.
“I think getting re-involved has made me also a better student because I think there’s more for me to do and so I feel busier so I feel more productive so I feel like a better student,” GIlgus said. “Hillel did that for me too.”
Gilgus also works at an internship with Cans for the Community where she and the organization are collecting cans to meet a goal of recycling 5,000 pounds of aluminum for earth month. The organization donates all money from the recycled cans to other nonprofits in the community.
The skills Gilgus learned about fundraising and reaching out to people from Hillel, she said, have helped her with all her other endeavors.
“I really want to get more involved in the fundraising [at Hillel],” Gilgus said. “I think that’s super interesting whether or not I do that outside of school, I think that’s super knowledgeable to know how to be able to ask someone for money in a good way, for a good cause.”
Aside from gaining work skills and learning how to fundraise for things she is passionate about, Gilgus also said she values the relationships she’s made from going to Hillel. She said her favorite Hillel memories are when everyone is together, like at the Beren Leadership retreat when everyone sat around the campfire together.
“I love when you walk in the door and you just see all of your friends and it’s super exciting and you’re like ‘oh my god, I haven’t seen you,’ but it feels like you just saw them yesterday too kind of.”
For other Jewish students who, like Gilgus her freshmen year, aren’t sure if they should get involved in Hillel, Gilgus said she encourages everyone considering it to try it out.
“I would definitely say it’s a special experience and that’s a feeling you’ll always feel when you’re there,” Gilgus said. “You just need to try it one time to get what I’m saying and once you feel it, you won’t ever think twice about not coming again.”