Every year, an alum is asked to address the class at CESJDS graduation. Maya Lieber graduated in 2012.
Picture this: You graduate from JDS. You travel to Israel with all your friends. You are in your freshman year at college, and you land your first summer internship. Summer is here, and it’s your first day on the job, somewhere in Virginia. You’re late because you don’t know where you’re going. You find the place, you are rushing to get there somewhat on time. You grab your lunch and the rest of your things, step out of your car, and look toward the door where some of your new coworkers are standing. You take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and take a big, confident step towards the small crowd of workers. And then….you freeze. No...actually...you’re stuck. Quite literally STUCK, in a pile of fresh cement. This was the first day of my first civil engineering internship. Yes it really happened! I pulled my feet out of the heavy patch of concrete, my boots and pants were soaking wet and now colored grey. And then….I laughed, together with the entire construction crew who had rushed over to help me.
Could you say that JDS prepared me for this moment? Did my teachers get me interested in a career in engineering? I think so. Did my friends teach me how to laugh at myself? Ha. definitely. You could say that they all PAVED THE WAY….pun intended….for me to become the person I am.
My name is Maya Lieber. I am a JDS Lifer, a member of the class of 2012, and a civil engineer. I am also the youngest of four siblings who all went to JDS, and, perhaps my biggest accomplishment to date, I’m a member of the JDS Alumni Board. I am so honored and excited to say a few words to you all today in your final moments of high school, before you take your first steps into the real world, I hope with more ease and less wet cement than what I experienced.
JDS definitely taught me to work hard and to be confident. Today I walk confidently in my workboots every day on a construction site. And yes, I started my professional career with a very embarrassing moment, when I sunk in that pile of cement, but JDS gave me the confidence to enter unfamiliar territories, the ability to laugh at myself in the process, and taught me perseverance.
So, JDS Class of 2019, Mazal Tov and welcome to the JDS alumni community! I am here to communicate a single, simple message: today you are not just done with high school. Today is the first day of your new life as a young adult. JDS has prepared you well for it, and what an adventure you are starting! My message is that JDS stays with you on your adventure, and I want you to stay with JDS as alumni.
At JDS, we learned so much more than math, science, history, Hebrew, and Tanakh. We did more than just the Hagigat Hasiddur in 1st grade, walk a line of kindergarteners to the carpool lane as patrols, fill our 7th grade calendars with Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, practice endlessly for Zimriyah, play on a sports team and/or perform in a musical, and think up coded nicknames for our senior jerseys. Many of us also made friends with some of the very best people who have become friends for life. I cannot stress that enough, I am still best friends with my friends from JDS--while studying abroad I traveled to Greece, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen with them, I now live with one of them, and we all go on “reunion” trips every year!
At JDS, we became members of a strong community of alumni, teachers and parents who share these memories, and who remain passionate, creative, and hard-working, all while having fun and, finding joy in what we do. Tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now, you may not be a JDS student, but you remain part of the JDS community. That community is there for you, and we want you to remain an active part of it.
I like to think that my choice of college study and career reflects the values I got at home and at JDS. I chose a career where I get to problem solve on my feet, work with teams of people, and be a part of projects that strengthen and give back to the community. Whatever you choose to do next, JDS has prepared you to make new friends who share your values and open you up to new worlds of interests, philosophies, and backgrounds. Your time at JDS will guide you in making decisions that give you joy and create positive change in the world. You are now a part of the greater JDS alumni community.
I want you to know that we are here for you. We hope you will take part in what we do in cities across the country and the world. Whether it is meeting people from other grades while bowling, biking, or doing yoga, or attending a shabbat dinner with other alumni. We are here for you when you’re looking for your first internship or when you move to a new city. Welcome to the alumni community and get excited about all the opportunities that exist for you, just because you were a part of JDS.
So again, JDS Class of 2019, thank you, mazal tov to you and your families, and I’ll look forward to seeing you at alumni events.