Heschel is proud to have alumni around the world with impressive accomplishments, both personally and professionally. We will be posting these spotlights regularly and encourage you to share your stories with us. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information or to send us your spotlight.
Sam, who was part of Heschel High School's first graduating class, took a gap year with Kivunim before attending the University of Michigan. Coincidentally, that was the first year that Kivunim offered the program to students. Aside from the incredible global exposure provided by Kivunim, Sam was excited to be a pioneer of this program.
After graduating from Michigan in 2011, Sam returned to New York City and worked at L'Oreal as a Brand Manager. He then moved over to the digital media industry at Thrillist, a digital publisher which covers food, drink, travel and entertainment, and then eventually shifted his focus to Snapchat.
When asked how Heschel has shaped who he is today, Sam said that "Heschel showed me the true value of curiosity, empathy and listening to others." He has taken those lessons with him through every stage of life and is now using them more than ever at Snapchat. He also said that Heschel "showed me how to build a Jewish community from a non-traditional approach and as a result strengthened my Jewish identity."
This past May, Sam was asked to join Heschel's Board of Trustees as the Alumni Representative. He says that the opportunity excites him because it gives him the opportunity to give back to an institution that shaped who he is. "Heschel has a unique approach to education and I look forward to being apart of its future."
Sam currently lives on the Upper West Side with his wife Dina Ufberg. They were married in 2015.
Adam Cole (HS '12) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Digital Media Design. He is currently living in San Francisco, CA and working at Slack, a business application that aims to make work simpler, more pleasant and productive. Adam is a frontend software engineer on the Core Product Messaging team at Slack. He works on the user interface of the desktop application and collaborates with other teams to build, test and deploy new features.
In his time at Heschel, Adam learned a variety of digital media applications and create wide range of content, including some very memorable Shabbaton videos. By the end of this time at Heschel he was coding his own websites and creating sophisticated designs. He says that "Heschel gave me the tools, freedom, and encouragement to explore various digital outlets, and likely contributed to where I am today."
Adin Lenchner (HS '08) is a Campaign Manager at Locust Street Group, a small Washington D.C. based public affairs consulting firm. Adin remembers that from an early age, The Heschel School "taught that it was not sufficient just to be, just to learn, just to live our lives -- we had to commit ourselves to helping those around us and to making the world a better place. That important lesson drew me to working on electoral campaigns and engaging in politics." Adin works with clients to help craft genuine, grassroots organizational efforts around public policy issues that are important to the firm and its clients.
After graduating from Wheaton College in 2012, Adin moved to Denver to work on President Obama's re-election campaign and since has worked on congressional and statewide campaigns in New Hampshire, New York, Iowa, and Utah.
In January of 2015, Adin had the opportunity to move to Tel Aviv with OneVoice as a Field Advisor to support V15, an effort to engage and mobilize center-left voters to vote in the March elections. He says that "it definitely pushed the bounds of my Heschel-learned Hebrew! How would I know all the technical terms I would need to say? 'Cumulative report' or 'canvassing', never mind walking our data team through our voter targeting..."
Adin credits so much of his path to what he learned at Heschel. "Heschel was so much about finding as much value in the process of learning as in the substance of the learning itself...I found the deep commitment to the process of learning to be really meaningful. It pushed me to attend a liberal arts college and continues to keep me thinking creatively about ways to engage voters, support my clients, and how to creatively tackle both professional and personal challenges."
Luis Serota (HS '12) is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Speech Up, an affordable and accessible platform that digitizes the speech therapy process by providing exciting games and challenges that children can play and solve by pronouncing words correctly. Before founding Speech Up, Luis attended Hamilton College where he received a B.A. in Computer Science and then went on to pursue a Masters of Engineering in Computer Science at Cornell University.
Early into his masters program at Cornell, Luis and his co-founder David Cheng were placed together at random to work on a challenge posed to them by Google's research team. While working together, they quickly learned that they both attended speech therapy as children. They discussed the tedious, yet effective hours they spent working on their speech, and how fortunate they were that their families were able to afford it. Luis says that "it became clear to us that speech therapy was an industry we were passionate about, and decided to compete for Cornell Tech's annual startup award." In the spring of 2017 upon graduation, Luis and David won the award and were given seed funding and free office space for a year at Cornell Tech's new campus on Roosevelt Island.
Powered by the phoneme recognition algorithm that Luis and David developed while graduate students at Cornell Tech, Speech Up provides real-time feedback on pronunciation accuracy and digitizes proven speech therapy methods they created with the help of Speech and Language Pathologists.
Luis says that "a stutter, or any speech disorder, can be an incredible impedance to the development of any child's self-esteem and confidence. The warmth and comfort of the Heschel community was so strong that it allowed me to forget I was a stutterer, and eventually turn stuttering into a source of pride and reason to test the waters of entrepreneurship. In retrospect, I took for granted that luxury during my K-12 years at Heschel -- a luxury I don't think I would have had anywhere else."
Leora Einleger (HS '14) is currently in her senior year at Barnard College, Columbia University where she is an Athena Women's Leadership Scholar studying Political Science and International Relations. Before attending Barnard, Leora spent a gap year on Kivunim.
In her short time away from Heschel, Leora has accomplished a lot, putting her academic interests into practice through various internships, including the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America and NY City Council Member Mark Levine. A highlight for Leora is having the opportunity to draft the questions that were asked before former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on women's health.
These experiences have allowed her to explore a variety of career options and she is now considering a career in international women's empowerment, reproductive rights law or even possibly running for office one day.When asked to reflect on her Heschel experience, Leora says that "I truly would not be the person I am today without Heschel. In Middle School I became involved with the social action committee. We ran Dance-a-thons, student gatherings and other fundraisers to raise money for genocides and tsunamis happening all around the world. Then, in high school, I was a member of the Hesed Committee. Through our Hesed Days and various volunteer opportunities, Heschel taught me to have empathy for others. My career interests are geared towards helping and caring for other people, which are values that were instilled in me during my time at Heschel."