By Angel Gingras
You can find her hosting meetings and planning events. You might catch her studying at any hour of the day, or tutoring others in a guided study session. Other times you may find her volunteering around the College Park community, and when she’s not working, she’s spending time with her closest friends.
This energetic, motivated student is Julianna Solomon. She’s a senior majoring in neurobiology and physiology with a minor in clarinet performance. However, this hefty workload does not stop her from pursuing extracurriculars. Solomon dedicates much of her time outside of school to various campus organizations. From serving as President of the Jewish Student Union (JSU) to volunteering with the Children’s Developmental Clinic, Solomon’s determination in all that she does is just one of the many qualities that make her a Jew you should know.
“I love being a part of the communities and being around like-minded and diverse people,” she said.
JSU, which Solomon is leading this year, is an apolitical and areligious social organization that focuses on the cultural aspect of the Jewish community. They are one of the largest university-recognized groups on campus, and host a variety of events, including the annual Israel Fest held in the spring.
Recently, the organization started a big-little program within the organization to bring members closer together in a virtual setting during the pandemic.
“We felt that it was important to take a stance against racism in America and contribute in any way that we could to help create positive change,” Solomon said. “We have an event in the works right now with the Black Student Union for the end of November.”
As president, Solomon is in charge of organizing meetings and events and communicating with the board members to implement their ideas into the program. She joined the group her sophomore year and since then has worked her way from chair member to board member, and now president. She loves being president because she wants to have a bigger role in outreach and planning for something that means so much to her.
Noam Yanay, a sophomore neurophysiology and psychology major, is the vice president of JSU and works closely with Solomon to plan events. They met in the first semester of Yanay’s freshman year and have been friends ever since. Yanay credits much of her growth in the Judaism religion to Solomon.
“I consider myself more of a cultural Jew,” Yanay said. “JSU is known for being more cultural than religious … Julianna has helped me navigate my understanding of the religion, and she’s a great person for that.”
In addition to their Judaism endeavors, Solomon and Yanay are both members of the only pre-med fraternity at the university, Phi Delta Epsilon. The fraternity’s philanthropic service partner is Children’s Miracle Network, which means a lot to Solomon as she intends to go into the pediatric field of medicine. Since Solomon rushed the fraternity freshman year, she has valued the help and dedication she’s received from upperclassmen.
“When I came into college, I was very nervous about the pre-med cutthroat stereotypes,” Solomon said. “But being a part of this organization has allowed me to meet other pre-med students that really aren’t that stereotypical at all and have been very open and helpful on my own journey.”
Emily de Raet, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, is one of Solomon’s closest friends. They grew up together and have been roommates at this university since their sophomore year. Although they aren’t in any clubs together, Solomon often invites De Raet to her JSU events, which De Raet really enjoys, and can showcase Solomon’s work ethic both in and out of school.
“Since I’ve lived with Julianna for three years, I’ve seen the way she works,” de Raet said. “I’ve struggled a lot with procrastination … and seeing her in work mode helps me realize I should be too.”
In addition to JSU and Phi Delta Epsilon, Solomon also volunteered with the Children’s Developmental Clinic prior to COVID. Through the School of Public Health at this university, Solomon and her colleagues spent their Saturdays assisting elementary school students with developmental delays, including helping with their basic motor and social skills. Solomon says this was a great opportunity for her career goal.
Solomon’s determination and passion for what she does makes her an incredible role model for her peers and the young students she works with. Yanay is just one of the many people who’s been influenced by her character.
“Julianna’s inspired me not only in how hard she works… but also as a person,” she said. “No matter how many hours she puts into getting something, she’ll never put anyone down or make them feel the slightest bit less than her.”