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Meet Julianna Orkin ’23—Hillel President and Engaged Community Member

September 28, 2021
A Hillel student taking a selfie of herself

Written by: Eva Savill '22

“Through the challenges and triumphs,” says Julianna Orkin ’23, “I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities York College has afforded me and will continue to afford me.”

Julianna Orkin ’23 (Long Island, NY) knew she was meant to be at York College the moment she stepped on campus for a tour. “Once I visited, I knew almost immediately that this was the school for me,” she says. “I was able to picture myself here walking around campus even before I committed.”

From that moment onward, she has found success as a Mass Communication and Professional Writing major and as a member of a variety of campus communities. She is currently the President of YCP Hillel, a YCP Changemaker, a member of the Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity, the Campus Media and Digital Outreach Intern, and a writing tutor with the Writing Center.

Acting as Hillel President

York College Hillel and the Doris and Bernard Gordon Center for Jewish Student Life is a welcoming community on campus that serves as a gathering place for Jewish students, faculty, and staff as well as those with an interest in Judaism. “The overall goals of Hillel are to create a thriving Jewish community on campus that’s inclusive and welcoming to all,” she explains. As a junior she is now president, but Orkin has been a part of Hillel since the day she came to campus.

A recipient of the Doris and Bernard Gordon Scholarship, she believes that the Gordon Center “feels like a home” and her involvement with the organization has only grown since her first year. “I wanted to be sure I would be able to give back to the organization that’s given so much to me,” she says. 

As President of Hillel, Orkin wants to “facilitate helping my e-board members build connections with community members and develop a Shabbat service deeply meaningful to everyone.” She says, “some of my goals for this year are making sure everyone’s opinions and ideas are heard, making connections with on-campus organizations, and continuing to run board meetings and events smoothly.”

Through her work, Orkin is always thankful for the support she receives from other Hillel members and the support they show each other, and she considers the moment she was encouraged by other members to run for president to be one of the most memorable. She also appreciates moments with the community like “attending Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars in Maryland with Hillel members and helping set up for Shabbat.”

Reflecting on college so far

Through her time at YCP, she has experienced her share of both the good and bad. She considers the pandemic to be a low point, but appreciates last year’s Spartan Day and the positive environment the day created throughout campus. “I think the pandemic was definitely a major challenge,” she says. “Adapting to a new environment can be really difficult, so to have adapted and then have to re-adapt back home so soon was really hard, and I definitely think it affected my mental health significantly.”

Even with the challenges, Orkin has also had a lot of high points. She considers her work with Hillel to be one of the things she is most proud of in her time at YCP. She also presented a project created for Associate Professor Gabriel Cutrufello’s Document Design class – she worked with the Cultural Alliance of York County -- to YCP’s Center for Community Engagement. Most recently, she is working as the Campus Media and Digital Outreach Intern and appreciates “being able to see the business side of how college communications come about and then be part of creating some of those has been a learning experience and one I’m super grateful for.”

To summarize her time at YCP so far, Orkin says, “Through the challenges and triumphs, I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities York College has afforded me and will continue to afford me,” she says. “The faculty and staff here are amazing and deeply want their students to succeed to do the best they can in their chosen career field. The students are also wonderful, and I’m blessed to have made some amazing friends during my time here.”

York College supports students as they work to turn career dreams into reality. Some 99 percent of new, full-time students receive financial assistance or scholarships. A variety of scholarships and grants are available, based on both merit and financial need.