Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

Double major lives her destiny

School of Human Ecology senior Elana Rabishaw originally thought she would be a business major, but knew she was destined for the Community and Nonprofit Leadership (CNPL) major when she began writing the application essay to the Wisconsin School of Business.

“I found myself talking about wanting to work for nonprofits, and wanting to make a difference in my community now, and following graduation,” explains Rabishaw. “The essay applying to CNPL came easily to me because I realized that my interests and goals could fit with this academic path. I knew immediately this was what I was going to be doing and this was the right place for me.”

Graduating in three and one half years with a double major in Community and Nonprofit Leadership and Modern Hebrew, Rabishaw will enter Hebrew Union College and begin the six-year program to become a rabbi and Masters in Hebrew Letters/Literature and Ordination. Anyone who spends time with Rabishaw quickly learns she’s living her destiny of teaching Hebrew to 7th and 11th grade students. She works with a cohort of 15 teenagers helping them create their lesson plans to run their own Hebrew review classes.

The Los Angeles native describes being a rabbi involves being an educator, but so much more. “When I think about the career I want to have 20 years from now, I see the rabbinic and education role together, and having the foundation of the (Community and Nonprofit Leadership) major is incredibly important.”

During her fall internship in San Francisco, she was also a full time student carrying 15 credits through online courses and independent study offered through the School of Human Ecology and College of Letters and Science.

“The professors at SoHE are passionate, so supportive in figuring out how to take the curriculum and helping you find what it is you want to be passionate about. The two work perfectly,” explains Elana. “With the CNPL major I was in a classroom with all kinds of students with individual passions, and you could see it through our papers and conversation. We were able to take the material that we were learning and apply it to where we were and who we want to become.”

In SoHE Professor Carolina Sarmiento’s class, Community Issues and Service Learning students work in teams. “This class pushes the boundaries and challenges me on things I’d never thought about. For instance, talking about labor unions. No one in my group had ever worked with labor unions and it was great to learn about a different domain in nonprofits,” states Rabishaw. “You can tell she’s (Sarmeinto) passionate. It makes topics so much more interesting, and easier to get up for an early class!”

Preparing her application to Hebrew Union College led Elana to reflect on her experience at the School of Human Ecology and the UW-Madison. “I decided to apply to be a rabbi after my semester in San Francisco. It was an unreal opportunity to be working at one of the oldest synagogues in the country with amazing mentors, and learning what I could professionally do.  Working with kids, being in the community and following my dream – an opportunity I don’t think I would have had anywhere else.”


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