As a Chicagoan with undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology, I decided to go to Israel to explore possible career paths in the sciences. On the Masa Israel Journey-accredited internship program, Career Israel, I was able to take part in a cutting edge research project at Tel Aviv University and stay up-to-date in the field while applying for a Masters degree in science high school education. Now, back in Chicago, I am currently taking courses at DePaul University to earn my teaching certification in Illinois.
After staffing a Birthright trip after college, I realized that I wanted to return to Israel in order to deepen my connection to Israel and gain work experience. Israel, a leader in scientific innovation, turned out to be the best place to do this.
On Career Israel, a five-month internship program for young adults, I took part in research at the Anatomy and Anthropology Department at Tel Aviv University. There I worked with Dr. Gregory Livshits, whose work revolves around the genetics of human skeletal development. There, I was given the independence to work on my own project in which I examined the role that different genes play in human cranio-facial development.
Months after Career Israel's completion, I am still in regular contact with Dr. Livshits as we continue to collaborate through writing a scientific paper detailing our research. Shortly after the article is published in the scientific journal, Annals of Human Biology, I will have my teaching certification, allowing me to teach the subject I am most passionate about.
Aside from my internship, I was greatly impacted by Career Israel's cultural enrichment programs, including our trip to Sderot, which took place a few months before Operation Cast Lead of January 2009. In addition to learning about the city's history, we were able to gain a first-hand understanding of the security threats its residents face every day.
In Sderot, we met an American woman who now lives in Israel and works at the Sderot Media Center, which raises awareness of the situation in Sderot and southern Israel. Residents shared their experiences of dealing with shock and trauma. Listening to their stories, I was amazed to learn about the challenges that Israelis face in the struggle for peace and security.
Now, I am enrolled in DePaul University's science high school teaching certification program. I stay connected to my Jewish identity in part through the campus Hillel. Not only did Career Israel inspire me to stay connected to the Jewish community, but it has also helped me further my professional goals.