Carly and her pug, Bear (yes, he is as cute as his name suggests) made the trek all the way from Kalamazoo, Michigan to the Bayou City and can't wait to meet you! Carly loves to create accessible Jewish experiences for our undergraduate students in Houston and that's just one reason she is the most incredible mensch of the month! Keep reading to learn more!
Alyssa: So, what is an Innovation Springboard Fellow?
Carly: A springboard fellow is 'a two-year fellowship that brings recent college grads with passion for building Jewish life, and skills in innovation, social justice or Jewish education to college campuses across North America. To me, being an innovation fellow means creating/brainstorming ideas of how to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with students. My job is to learn what is important to students and how I can create an authentic Hillel experience for them.
Alyssa: Did your Jewish experiences at home and/or college influence your decision to work for Hillel?
Carly: My Jewish experience at Grand Valley State University Hillel made me want to apply for the fellowship. I didn't have a sense of Jewish community before college. I was unsure of my Jewish Journey compared to other students in my Hillel. Thanks to Hillel professionals, I quickly learned that my Jewish Journey was valid and somewhat normal. I was no longer scared of how 'different' I may be from others and quickly started to love all things Hillel. I want to be able to make sure other Jewish students know that their Jewish Journey is specific to them and whatever that may be, is perfectly okay!
Alyssa: How have your first 2 months in Houston been?
Carly: I love Houston! The city is so diverse and sparkling with life. There is always something to do, someone to meet, or something to eat. I'm from Kalamazoo, Michigan which is the complete opposite. I don't think I'll ever get used to the heat, but it sure beats a Michigan winter. I have also realized that 5 miles could be a 25-minute drive.
Alyssa: What has been the biggest surprise about living in Texas?
Carly: The biggest surprise about living in Texas is THE BUGS! I was not prepared to see cockroaches the size of my hand. The second surprise is that a lot of people I have met are not originally from Houston. There are a lot of 20 somethings that are here for work and move around quite a bit.
Alyssa: If you could bring one Michigan staple to Texas, what would it be?
Carly: If I could bring one thing and one thing only from Michigan, it would be Sherman's Ice Cream from South Haven, Michigan (specifically cake batter flavor). It would also be the only thing I would take with me if I were stranded on an island.
Alyssa: I heard that you have a sweet little pug that you brought with you! Tell us all about him!
Carly: Bear is my favorite thing in the world. I begged my parents for a pug my whole life and they finally got me one when I graduated high school. He has been with me all through college and now in Texas. He loves to be crazy at the dog park then come home and sleep the rest of the day. He will eat anything and everything that gets put in front of him and is a terrible beggar! He loves every dog and human he meets. He is so full of love and snuggles. He has even been featured in a We Rate Dogs calendar and sometimes gets noticed!
Alyssa: When you aren’t grabbing coffee with Jewish students all over Houston, what do you like to do for fun?
Carly: I'm a huge foodie. When I'm not with students, I'm trying out new restaurants! Call me crazy but my favorite restaurant is the Cheesecake Factory. Every year my mom and I take the Amtrak to Chicago to have dinner for my birthday. We just recently got one in Michigan, but the tradition lives on. I also love to practice portrait photography and travel.
Alyssa: Is there anything else you want the Jewston community to know?
Carly: I'm really excited to be in Houston! I can't wait to meet new students and people in the Jewish Community. I want to make new friends, build connections, reach professional milestones, and create many memories to share.
Alyssa: When Jewston comes together, we...?
Carly: have fun, make connections, and play Jewish Geography!