Hailey Behrman, a senior marketing student graduating this May, always wanted to explore her Jewish identity, but didn’t know where to start. Behrman sought out Mason Hillel, a nonprofit organization affiliated with George Mason University where students can discover their relationship with Judaism through educational and social programming, including trips to Israel.
“I reached out to our previous executive director and expected myself to be a ‘fly on the wall’ and to learn from the outside looking in. What I ended up finding is that this whole experience has been immersive, I was encouraged to take ownership of my identity and found that many students had very similar experiences to me,” says Behrman.
Joining Mason Hillel’s Executive Board was the next step for Behrman. She began as a general board member, was elected social media chair her junior year, and has held the position of president since January 2021. That following summer Behrman began an internship with Hillel International as their marketing strategy and analytics intern—an internship she still holds today.
Behrman found that her School of Business classes with Associate Professor Gautham Vadakkepatt impacted her education the most. Taking both Emerging Technologies and Marketing Strategy and Retailing and e-Commerce Management over the last year, Behrman was concerned about understanding the material. “I had very little experience in these topics, but Professor Vadakkepatt’s passion for teaching and helping his students is what made these classes so amazing,” says Behrman. “He makes a point for students to know that he is here for our professional development too—he wants to see us succeed,” says Behrman.
“Hailey is an exemplary Mason student—smart, dedicated, driven, creative, and professional. She comes to class well prepared and ready to discuss [marketing concepts], and her client company project was very well received by the company. Hailey has exhibited leadership and initiative both inside and outside of class. Her future is bright,” says Vadakkepatt.
The School of Business encourages all its students to intern at least once during their undergraduate career. Behrman already completed five internships by the time she began working for Hillel International. Her favorite project being a marketing campaign that increased brand awareness of what Hillel is and what it offers to students before they ever step foot on a college campus. “We want students to know that we are here for them, wherever they may be in their journey,” says Behrman.
“Hailey has an incredible skill at understanding how to market to her peers in relevant and modern ways. She takes what we do at Mason Hillel and markets it in a way that speaks to our students' needs and desires. She has really enhanced all that we do here and helped us achieve over 70 percent growth this year in our engagement numbers. We are so thrilled that she is continuing her work with Hillel International,” says Rabbi Daniel Novick, executive director of Mason Hillel.
As a first-generation student it was important to Behrman to find a sense of belonging at Mason. “Because I was the first in my family to enroll at a university, I was obsessed with making sure I wasn’t missing anything as a freshman. After meeting with my advisors, I felt secure in being able to successfully be a student at Mason without a family roadmap. Mason was accepting, inviting, and encouraging to me as a first-gen student because everyone here already has such a diverse background. I never felt looked down upon,” says Behrman.
Through her Hillel International internship, Behrman gained new programming, field, and networking skills, and learned what it was like to collaborate with a team. “I learned that it is important to work for an organization that cares about you as a person, and where you feel connected to the company’s mission. Now that I have had the opportunity to combine both of my interests and passions—marketing and Judaism—I can’t ever see myself working where I don’t feel connected to a company’s mission,” says Behrman.
Behrman will begin her new role as the digital marketing associate of student experiences at Hillel International later this May.