Life After BBYO: An Alumni Q&A Part 1

March 8, 2021
Jess Daninhirsch

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Class of 2022

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Although it may seem hard to believe, high school doesn’t last forever, and neither does your time in BBYO. For some, that time may still seem very far away. For others, that time may be coming sooner than you might think. But what will your life look like after BBYO? That is up to you to decide. BBYO might even influence the choices you make regarding your future. I spoke to some BBYO alumni, including current college students, parents, and former staff members, to see how their experiences in BBYO shaped the people they have become and the places at which they are in their lives. Take a look at the different perspectives of BBYO alumni.

Andrew Exler (he/him), alum and former staff member—KMR and Delta

Q: How did BBYO affect your life after graduating high school and going into college?

A: BBYO had a great impact on me because it not only taught me important life leadership skills, it also made me more confident when interacting with others. Specifically, I met so many people and built a network of BBYO friends outside of my region. When I got to college, I already had connections to other people on campus which made for a very comfortable social life as a freshman and gave me some of my best friends. BBYO inspired me to eventually join the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Ohio University.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories of your time in BBYO?

A: My best memories as a teen definitely come from attending conventions. I loved getting to spend a full weekend with friends, and to take part in programming. As a staff member in CSR (now Delta Region) and KMR, I loved getting to pay it forward to give my experiences as a teen to hundreds of other BBYO teens that I got to supervise. Most notably, my journey came full-circle to become the Regional Director of KMR after growing up as a teen in Pittsburgh, where I got to work with & improve the region that is closest to my heart.

Q: Do you still have any physical ties to it (such as pins or clothing)?

A: Of course! I still have a variety of items around my home, such as clothing, accessories, cups, bags, photos, and more.

Q: Are you still in touch with the people you met in BBYO?

A: Absolutely! Some of my best friends for life are people I met in BBYO as a teen and staff member. I actually met my fiancee at BBYO Staff Conference in 2017, where we both initially met when I was the KMR Regional Director and she was a City Director for KIO in Louisville.

Q: Were you in a sorority/fraternity in college? Did your time in BBYO influence your choice to join one? In what ways is the sorority/fraternity experience similar AND different to BBYO?

A: I graduated from Ohio University in 2013, but I was in Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), and BBYO certainly played a part as it helped me understand the importance of my Jewish heritage and values. Overall, it's a similar experience from the sense of the bonds you build with your Brothers or Sisters in Greek life. Similarly, the network you joined will be beneficial for life.

Q: Did your experiences in BBYO influence any of your future plans (i.e. to include more Judaism into your daily life)?

A: Yes! Without BBYO, I never would have met my fiancée!

Q: How did your perspective on BBYO change after first being a member as a teen and then being a staff member?

A: For me, it was an honor to be a part of the BBYO staff team from 2014-2018, where I was able to continue to give back to an organization that did so much for me. Specifically, my time in KMR in Pittsburgh gave me the chance to work with my home community and make the region better. During my time with KMR BBYO, we hit goals, broke records, held amazing events, and even expanded our region by adding a brand new chapter, Gesherim BBYO, into the region.

Jess Daninhirsch is a BBG from Keystone Mountain Region who loves journalism, photography, art, music, and dance.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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