The big send-off: seniors celebrate with drinks, food at Hillel’s beer garden

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By Ambriah Underwood
For Mitzpeh
@Mitzpeh

The impending graduation of students at this university was a bittersweet topic for seniors participating in Thursday’s beer garden event held at the Rosenbloom Hillel Center.

As the second part of three gatherings slated to kickstart Maryland Hillel’s annual senior sendoff, the Senior Beer Garden gave students the opportunity drink, socialize and reminisce on their time at the university.

“I’m sort of hoping Hillel will let me keep coming,” joked Cassidy Laidlaw, a computer science and math major.

Students like Laidlaw have been attending events at Hillel since they first arrived at this university.

“I’ve been involved with Hillel since my freshman year,” said Ilana Bernstein, a broadcast journalism and theater major.

Bernstein pointed to social meet-ups at friends’ homes and Friday night Shabbat dinners—the theme of the final senior send off event—as “some of my favorite memories.”

Many students said they are attending these final events to hang out with friends, get away from the stresses of final papers and exams and eat some great food. On the menu: bite-sized foods like sliders, onion rings and brownie-shaped cookies.

Students eat food at the Hillel Beer Garden for seniors. Ambriah Underwood/Mitzpeh.

Jessa Cameron, a Springboard Innovation fellow at Maryland Hillel, described the event as “a really great opportunity to hang out before they graduate.”

Around 35 students came to partake in the event Thursday afternoon, receiving a mark to indicate whether or not they were eligible to drink after signing in.

Though he only had 40 minutes until the start of his next class, Aaron Gladstone, a government and politics and history major, said he wanted to stop by the event to socialize with friends and pick up his chords.

Set to attend Fordham University for law school after graduating, Gladstone said, “I’m kind of ready for a change in scenery.”

Craig Wasserman, a kinesiology and dietetics major, offered similar thoughts about the pros and cons of leaving the university.

“I’m excited to move on a little bit,” he said. Wasserman also said he was hoping to “see a bunch of friends” before leaving and mentioned the importance of freshmen getting involved early to feel more comfortable on campus.

While there are students like Gladstone, who seem to have a more definitive idea about what they’re going to be doing after the semester ends, others seem to have a more general idea about their prospects and are awaiting to see how upcoming interviews turn out.

“We want them to stay forever,” said Cameron, adding that she was happy for the success of graduating students.

Alyssa Silva, the program and operations associate at Hillel, said not only were students able to relax at the event, but they could also network with organizations like GatherDC and Moishe House, which offer Jewish students post-college opportunities to connect with communities like the one they formed at Hillel.

Seniors socialize as they look forward to opportunities after graduation. Ambriah Underwood/Mitzpeh.

Silva said these types of organizations help students figure out “what’s in store after graduation.”

Public health major Yael Magid said that she would encourage incoming students to join Hillel as a way to make friends.

“It’s like my fraternity,” said Magid.

Echoing similar sentiments, kinesiology major Aaron Yitzhaky said the truth of the matter was that once students really have the opportunity to adapt to the change in environment – transitioning from high school to college – you begin to “feel a strong association” to organizations like Hillel.

He advises incoming freshmen to “always try to advance and grow beyond” their established comfort zones. For the upcoming seniors, he said, “Never say no your senior year. Be a yes man.”

Yitzhaky said he will continue to try and be part of communities like the one at Hillel after graduating. “There are definitely a lot of organizations to be a part of post-college,” he said.

Although senior send-off is one of the definitive markers of the end of many students’ college experience at this university, events like these help bring their journeys full-circle.

“I’m very lucky. I’m sad to leave,” said Bernstein.

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