Arielle Ellis, who will graduate from the University of Ottawa next month, will be the first recipient of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s new Student Award.
Ellis, 22, will receive the award at the Federation’s annual general meeting, Wednesday, June 15, 7 pm, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre. The Student Award recognizes a student pursuing a post-secondary degree who demonstrates leadership and outstanding commitment to the Ottawa Jewish community.
Ellis says students shouldn’t be afraid that volunteering for organizations such as Hillel Ottawa will prevent them from getting their schoolwork done.
“Hillel has always been really understanding about the fact that we’re in Ottawa to go to school,” she said. “They have always been very accommodating. Organizations are run by real people, and they understand.”
Ellis joined the Hillel Ottawa student board in 2012 and quickly became one of its most passionate members, serving as citywide president of Hillel Ottawa from 2013 to 2015.
“I find that when I have a lot of things going on in my life, everything goes better for all of them; I’m better organized,” said Ellis, who completed a degree in public administration and hopes to go on to law school.
For the past two school years, Ellis was the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin’s Campus Life columnist.
“I’ve become pretty good at setting deadlines, and absolutely everything I do is in my calendar. School is always a big priority, but almost as big for me was being purposeful about writing my Bulletin column and volunteering in the community.”
She encourages other students to volunteer.
“The community is very welcoming and open to new ideas, and if you have an idea for something that isn’t happening yet, that’s all the more reason to get involved,” she said.
Ellis’ passion for involvement in Jewish student and community life was triggered by her meaningful experiences on the March of the Living as a high school student in Toronto.
“The program served as a very powerful reminder for me that I am so fortunate to be part of such a thriving, culturally rich community; and that is something that should never be taken for granted,” she said.
“The March reminded me of how lucky I am to be part of this vibrant time in Judaism, where I am able to so freely express my Jewish identity and publicly celebrate being a Jew.”
Hillel Ottawa and the Chabad Student Network both played large roles in Ellis’ four years at uOttawa.
“I found it to be incredibly important to have shared events between Hillel and Chabad, and while they both exist for different reasons, they have come to help one another out, rather than being competing forces.”
This month, Ellis is leading a Birthright Israel trip and then plans to work in Toronto for the summer.
Her parents are both entrepreneurs, and she has three younger brothers, ages 19, 15, and 12. The 19-year-old is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces.