Hardenbergh Hall, College Avenue Campus

“My mom and dad both left Russia because of anti-Semitism and in search of a better life. My dad couldn’t come straight to America and had to wait months for a letter from his uncle before he could leave the country. He had to go through Italy and Austria and it took him several months to complete his journey.

My dad arrived in America with $100 in his pocket. My mom didn’t even know she was Jewish until she was 12 or 13. Her parents told her she wasn’t so she wouldn’t be made fun of in school. One day, her girlfriends took the principal’s book that had everyone’s information and it said she was Jewish. That day, she came home in tears and confronted my grandparents. They had to sit her down and tell her that she was Jewish. My mom told me she was so upset that she wanted to jump out a window or run away.

Knowing that, and knowing that I’m not oppressed here, I’ve always wanted to take advantage of the opportunities my parents weren’t able to. I’m involved in the Russian Jewish Club and I try to stay as involved as I possibly can on campus. I went on a Birthright trip [to Israel] through Rutgers and it was easily the best 10 days of my life. I’m very grateful that my parents came here so that I was able to grow up not having to worry about being discriminated against.”

Cecilia is a sophomore from Berkeley Heights, N.J. majoring in supply chain management and marketing. She currently resides in Hardenbergh Hall on the College Avenue Campus.