Starting with founding her own campus group, Rachel Glazer ’16 focused her time at UNG on changing hearts and minds.
When she couldn't find a student club devoted to religious inclusivity, the Newman Civic Fellow created Interfaith Alliance and encouraged students from all backgrounds to discuss faith and life from different angles. But that’s not all. She educated peers on sexual consent, Title IX and safe sex with Rape Response. She mentored young campers each summer, connecting them with their Jewish heritage. She hosted UNG’s first Who Needs Feminism booth during Women’s History Month.
As a rising Jewish camp counselor and psychology major, Rachel was one of 20 students worldwide selected for a Nachshon Fellowship to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to Hebrew, she studied Israeli trauma and resilience in the face of terrorism and disaster, and the neuroeconomics involved in decision-making.
Nachshon challenged her to step up and stand out as an educator and gave her $1,000 to bring Jewish education to campus. When she returned to UNG, she wrote and produced a play on the complex relationship that American Jews have with Israel. Rachel, also founder of the Improvable Odds performance group, drew from her study abroad experience and interviews with her American Jewish friends to write her play in the style of The Vagina Monologues, a play she once directed on campus. Cities of Gold: From Appalachia to the Middle East debuted at UNG to an audience of 200 people.
"I wasn't really sure how I could bring Judaism back without preaching, "Rachel says. "I wanted to open everyone's eyes to a whole world of diversity. Just like there are different denominations of Christians, there are different kinds of Jews. The play struck a chord with people, especially with our audience members who were from the Christian faith, who were looking at the roots of their own faith and realizing that Judaism isn't some ancient, dried-up tradition."
Rachel also took diversity conversations from the stage to the classroom. She was appointed as a UNG Diplomat for Diversity, initiating for some students first-time conversations about racism, women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Now, in her post-college career, she's a fellow for the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, combining her social justice and philanthropic work to improve the Mississippi public school system.