Planning events for the community, rooting for the Aggies and helping children and adults in the hospital...just a days work for this mensch! Scroll down to learn more about our favorite fourth generation Houstonian!
Alyssa: Tell us the story of Jenny!
Jenny: I am from Sugar Land Texas, I grew up there, went to synagogue there, bat mitzvah, confirmation, everything! I went to college at Texas A&M and there I found Chabad which became my second home. I found all of my friends through college and through my sorority. I was the founding member of the Jewish sorority at Texas A&M because we didn’t have one yet. When I was a freshman we had a group called Aggie Jewish Women, but we wanted to eventually become a national sorority, so the first step was to open a local sorority named Zeta Beta Sigma, and now A&M is AEPhi! I am still good friends with a lot of my sorority sisters to this day. After college I went to UT Health Science in San Antonio and I completed a three year doctoral program and am now a Physical Therapist. I moved back to Houston and have been a PT at Memorial Hermann for 4 years working with adults and kids with neurological disorders. Since moving back to Houston I have been a part of many Jewish young adult organizations and have made so many post grad Jewish friends, i’m just loving life!
Alyssa: Do you consider Sugar Land, Texas part of Houston? I feel like I always get different answers!
Jenny: Absolutely. So when people ask me where i’m from, I always say Houston, but if they ask “what part of Houston?”, then I say Sugar Land Texas. If I start with Sugar Land then people are like, “where is that?”, and I explain that it’s a little suburb of Houston like Pearland, so we are on the outskirts, but I would still consider us a neighbor of Houston.
Alyssa: Is your family from Texas as well?
Jenny: On my dad’s side, I’m a fourth generation Houstonian, so my family does not fly far from the nest. My parents grew up in Houston and they actually lived two streets away from each other. They went to the same middle school and high school, and it turns out they were in the same Pre-K class at Beth Yeshurun! There is a picture of that Pre-K class and for their wedding rehearsal dinner, my grandma blew up the photo and put a heart around my mom and dad's face. So we are definitely all from Houston, including all of my parents' siblings who have stayed in the area a well.
Alyssa: That must be a super fun Thanksgiving!
Jenny: Yes! Growing up, it was so big that we would do my mom’s family dinner in the morning and my dads in the evening because we had so many people get together.
Alyssa: When you attended Texas A&M was there a vibrant Jewish community on campus?
Jenny: It was definitely a smaller community, but I felt like by the time I was a senior there the more Jews coming to Texas A&M and the community really flourished. People didn’t come to A&M for Jewish life, they found it once they were there, and because of that I felt like I was able to know everyone and find a close group of friends that I still connect with to this day.
Alyssa: When you were in college, did you know you wanted to be a Physical Therapist?
Jenny: Actually, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I entered as a general studies major, but I knew in school that I always loved math and science better than english and grammar. My mom's best friend is a physical therapist and she mentioned that I would be perfect for it because I love to help people and I really love kids. In fact the first job I wanted was to be a school teacher, specifically second grade because I’ve always loved kids! So at the time my mom worked at Texas Children's hospital and got me in to do some observations for physical therapy. When I went there for the first time it was like a lightbulb went off, I was like this is what I want to do. I get paid to play with kids and make their lives better! I went on through college with a one track mind for PT, got into the kinesiology major, and took all the electives and classes that I needed to do. When I started my doctoral program we had to do rotations, and I was able to do one at Texas childrens and the Harris county health system, where I was able to work with adults with neurological disorders. I loved working with adults and kids, specifically the neuro track. So I am now able to do both adult and pediatrics! It’s hard work, but seeing what we do to help our patients and our patients' family's quality of life become better makes it all worth it.
Alyssa: Do you find that your job and Jewish values are entwined?
Jenny: Definitely. In this profession the patient has to come first and that has always been in line with my values. I’m the first person to help out a friend or family member, so bringing that to my job with my patients to make sure they get the proper care and equipment they need is a testament to how I was raised in synagogue and in my home, Jewish values have really helped shape the person that I am today, professionally and personally.
Alyssa: What sort of leadership positions have you held in the Jewish community?
Jenny: I was president of Chabad my Junior year of college and I was in a leadership position at Zeta Beta Sigma, so it was something I always searched for. I guess it’s the type A in me that I’m a big planner and I’m very organized so that kind of role comes naturally to me. When I moved back to Houston I was on the board for YAD and now I currently sit on the J-HYPE board. Most recently I have assumed a new role, so everyone be on the lookout in 2021! We are creating a Jewston 2.0 kind of thing for those who age out and still want to be part of that kind of community.
Alyssa: What’s the first thing you are going to do when COVID ends?
Jenny: I want to go on a vacation so bad! I had a plan to go to New Zealand and Sydney next month, but that had been canceled, so I would just love to get out of Houston safely and just go on a vacation and travel.
Alyssa: Have you traveled a lot in the past?
Jenny: My family is a cruise family, specifically my dad. We have been on 11 cruises in total, plenty of time in the Carribean. I also did a backpacking tripping with my friend in Europe a couple of years ago. My dad wanted to do a big family vacation, but I was like dad, I want to do it big, cruise out of somewhere other than Galveston, so that’s how New Zealand and Australia came in which is a bucket list item for me. I am definitely not done traveling, COVID may be a speed bump, but it’s not gonna stop me forever.
Alyssa: This may be controversial...but what is your favorite Cruise Liner to go on? Jenny: We are a Royal Carribean family. We have gone on all the liners, but we have found that Royal Carribean is the best. That being said, if you are going with friends for spring break, Carnival is great, but if you are looking for a little bit of a party, but more relaxed, Royal Caribbean is your best bet.
Alyssa: Is there anything else our Jewston community should know about you? Jenny: Definitely don’t be afraid to attend your first event. I know when I came back to Houston I was nervous and out of my comfort zone, but as your life changes so does everything, so come to an event with a friend, reach out to Alyssa for coffee, but don’t be afraid to make that first step. Especially if you are looking for an awesome community of like minded people who share your Jewish values and traditions. I have made some of my best friends at Jewish events here in Houston, so put yourself out there, you won’t regret it.
Alyssa: When Jewston comes together we... Jenny: Have some good times!