More Than Money: How the Hilb Scholarship Provided Eli Support

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“JVS Career Services really cares about me and my education, and they make me feel super supported. I really don’t know where my support system and help would have come from if JVS Career Services didn’t exist,” said Eli, a University of Cincinnati senior.

He said thanks to the Hilb Scholarship he was able to focus on his classes, instead of worrying about working and how to make ends meet.

Being part of the Jewish community is very important to the Cincinnati native. When he was in sixth grade, his father passed and the community has always been there to help support him.

It was a late morning during the week, and most students were in class or at work. Entering the sanctuary at Cincinnati Hillel, even though it was empty, felt like an intrusion. While standing there flipping light switches, trying to find one that brought on the overhead lights, a quiet voice, Eli, said, “I think it’s this one.” Sure enough, it was that one.

As Eli sat down for the interview he began to explain his education, his aspirations. Eli is studying neuroscience, “I just love it,” he said. “I love genetics and psychology, so being able to find a field that lets me combine my two passions is really cool.” When asked about what drove him to this difficult degree, he shrugged and with a shy smile said, “I always knew I wanted to succeed.”

But success wasn’t always a given for Eli. After his father died, “that’s when I became pretty independent in regards to my finances. Paying for school, paying for housing. It’s all very difficult, but even more so when you’re doing it on your own.”

Many would likely have given up, but not Eli. “I was in gifted classes when I was a kid; AP classes in high school, and as I got older I kept myself motivated by telling myself that I can do this.”

After high school, but before college, Eli visited Israel for a year. He says he was able to pay for the trip entirely though scholarships and financial assistance.

When he started at UC, he wasn’t entirely sure how he was going to pay for it. Then halfway through his freshman year, his mother suggested he apply for the JVS Career Services Hilb Scholarship. “She told me this was a very good opportunity for me, and it would help me get some money for college. I finally applied and was accepted – I’ve been accepted now for three years. I only wish I had applied earlier, when I was a senior in high school, because they have helped me so much.”

Eli will be wrapping up his degree this spring, and plans to become a genetic counselor, which requires a master’s degree. But before he starts on that program, he plans on taking a gap year to teach English in a foreign country or work for a national Jewish organization.

When asked what his life would be like without JVS Career Services, Eli thought for a moment, shrugged, sighed and said, “I’d be crumpled. I’d be in tens-of-thousands of dollars of debt. I would be paying that money for decades.”

Eli said he hopes to one day be able to give back to JVS Career Services, “they’ve done so much for me. I feel like I should also help them, so they can help support other kids like me in the future.”

He stood up, swinging a messenger bag over his shoulder he headed out to his next class. On the way out, he pointed out which switch was the one to turn off the overheads. Sitting in the darkened sanctuary, you couldn’t help but be amazed at how bright Eli’s future is.