Goizueta Business School junior Erika Rief, vice president of freshman engagement for Hillel at Emory, was selected as one of five recipients of the national 2011 Philip H. and Suzi Rudd Cohen Student Exemplar of Excellence Awards — which recognizes exceptional leadership in students in Hillel — earlier this month.
The Hillel Foundation annually honors five college students across the United States who have “displayed exemplary leadership on their respective campuses by inspiring others to act and lead, building meaningful relationships, fostering innovation and creativity, and modeling and inspiring Jewish growth,” according to a November 2011 Emory Hillel press release.
According to the Hillel website, to be eligible for the award, students must further Hillel’s mission, make a significant impact on the community, motivate and inspire others and continue to positively impact the Jewish community.
Students are nominated by their respective institutions’ Hillel faculty and are ultimately selected by the Hillel Foundation for the award. The winners receive a $150 prize and a plaque to recognize their leadership efforts.
Rief was nominated for her leadership role in running Hillel’s orientation week programming and freshman engagement, according to Director of Hillel at Emory Michael Rabkin.
Having been involved in Hillel since her second semester of her freshman year, Rief said she was very excited upon receiving the letter informing her of the recognition and added that winning the award shows that she has accomplished what she desired at Hillel.
“I wanted to be that person who made freshmen feel welcome,” Rief said. “That is why I chose to serve as Hillel’s vice president of freshman engagement for the past two years. All of the hard work and preparation pays off when I get to see the freshmen enjoying themselves at all of the orientation activities I plan.”
Rief said that when she first came to Emory, the student leaders of Hillel reached out to her and made her feel like Hillel was a place she could call home for four years.
According to Rabkin, Reif is a driven, conscientious leader, and a role model for all emerging student leaders at Emory.
“One of the most outstanding examples of her leadership is that she made sure Hillel student leaders reached out to as many incoming Jewish freshmen as possible before school started to make them feel welcome,” Rabkin said. “A small touch like that can make all the difference for someone.”
College freshman Alexis Deitz, who attends Hillel regularly, said that Rief made her feel welcome and inspired her to get more involved in Hillel.
“I’ve recently became more active in Hillel because I admired her leadership and the way she got such a big group of new people involved so quickly,” Deitz noted.
— Contact Nicholas Sommariva.