Guilty pleasure song: “Water Under the Bridge” by Adele
Spirit animal: Dog: “I would say I would be a dog, for sure a dog. Just like a really happy dog because I feel like I really like to be happy and I think dogs do too.”
Junior Melanie Edwards was never involved in any Jewish activities or organizations before she came to KU, and never thought she would get involved once she started college. But after making Jewish friends who took her to Hillel, she realized Hillel was one of her favorite places on campus.
“I loved it and it impacted me a lot,” Edwards said. “I really felt very welcomed. I’ve always felt really accepted by everyone in Hillel and I think it’s the organization I’m most proud to be a part of.”
Edwards is now a program intern for Hillel where she helps with any tasks Hillel needs, whether it’s checking inventory or updating databases.Her internship also ties back into her passion for leadership, as she as leadership studies minor at KU.
From her work at Hillel, Edwards has learned lessons about how she can grow as a leader in Hillel and in other activities. Both her internship and her leadership studies minor have taught her different aspects of leadership people don’t usually think about.
“I’ve learned it’s really important to be yourself and be confident with who you are,” Edwards said. “Ultimately leadership is a process and it’s more about just being able to handle adaptive challenges in the process, rather than titles or positions.”
Over winter break, Edwards will join Hillel on the Europe Leadership Mission (ELM) to Hungary and Bulgaria. Last year, Edwards went on the Israel Leadership Mission, where her favorite part was making connections with other young Jewish adults, which is something she is excited about for the ELM trip.
“My favorite memory from Israel was all of us standing at this monument in Tel Aviv singing the KU alma mater together and we all just felt really connected,” Edwards said. “So I’m looking forward to learning more about the Jewish culture on ELM and making connections with the young adults there.”
After ELM, Edwards will go to Spain to study abroad for her spring semester. For both the ELM trip and in Spain for her study abroad, she is excited to her immerse herself in the culture and see new places.
As for other students like her who weren’t involved in Jewish organizations, Edwards encourages everyone to try because Hillel has meant so much to her.
“It’s a really good opportunity to make connections with other Jewish students on campus and there’s something for everyone,” Edwards said. “Everyone that’s around Hillel just kind of lets me be who I am, that’s really cliche, but it really is true.”