Hillel experience shaped time at URI for marketing senior

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Buffalo native explored heritage in Prague, Israel

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 19, 2009 –The first time Jessica Wolchok set foot in Rhode Island, it was to visit the state university.

Four years later, Wolchok’s time at the University of Rhode Island has helped her see the world. As a member of the school’s Hillel chapter, the Buffalo native and Delmar, N.Y. resident made trips to Israel and Prague.

Wolchok served as president of URI Hillel – a student group designed to help students explore their Jewish heritage or learn the culture. During her sophomore year, the group went to Prague as part of an alternative spring break trip.

“We visited different Jewish cultural sites around the city,” Wolchok said. “We visited a concentration camp as well. It was very emotional.

“They had a whole Jewish quarter and it was really interesting because there was a lot of history with everyone leaving. That city was a real melting pot. We visited some gorgeous churches as well. It was just a beautiful city.”

When Wolchok joined URI Hillel, the group had just a handful of members. Working closely with Amy Olson, executive director of Hillel, she took on a major role in recruitment. By the time she graduated, the group had more than 50 active members, and a mailing list of more than 300 students.

“The staff at Hillel, especially Amy Olson and (student life coordinator) Lisa Friedman, I am really going to miss them,” Wolchok said. “They have really helped me a lot in terms of personal growth and expanding my world a little bit.”

While Hillel played a big role in Wolchok’s URI experience, she was active in other areas of campus life as well. She was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, the Student Alumni Association, and the Business Student Advisory Council, where she served as a liaison between students and faculty from the College of Business. She also served as president of URI branch of the American Marketing Association.

“I learned a lot about teamwork, event planning and project management, which is all beneficial to my career path,” Wolchok said.

Looking back, Wolchok knew from the day she first stepped on campus at URI that this would be the place to experience her formative years.

“In my mind, this was what I pictured college to be.”