Jewish Girl of the Week – Donna

We hear that you’re a Juban. Can you describe a family gathering that exemplifies your Latin, Jewish upbringing?

Growing up Juban was pretty special, especially in Miami where there were so many of us. Like with most things in Judaism, I feel that I can best express the awesomeness of being Juban through food. At my family’s Shabbat and holiday dinners, we would forego the gefilte fish and kugel and instead feast on plantains, ropa vieja (Cuban beef stew) and congri (Cuban rice and beans). Also, during Passover we’d have to go through the Haggadah in Hebrew, Spanish and English (our seders are epically long).

What is your favorite time of the Jewish year?
Definitely Purim. What can I say, I’m a sucker for costumes.

Your area of expertise is the public health field. What drew you to this field?
Health disparities have always fascinated and frustrated me, so I always knew that I wanted to work in healthcare in some way. When I was in college at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), I quickly realized that my strengths lay in communications. And that’s when it hit me: I wanted to be the person to create programs and mass communication campaigns that would effectively educate people on different health issues and what they could do to either prevent or treat them. I’ve been hooked to public health and health communications since, and I absolutely love my field!

Word has it that you were once a devoted thespian.  Do you do anything now to help foster your drama vein?
Unfortunately no, but I would love to one day reprise my role as the Wicked Witch of the West. Not going to lie, I was one scary witch –  I made a kindergartner pee himself during a performance! In the meanwhile, though, I satisfy my drama itch by singing along to Glee and getting way too into live band karaoke.

You recently went traveling. Where did you go, and what is some of the distilled wisdom you gained on your adventures?
I spent this summer backpacking through South America, starting in Ecuador, working my way south through Peru and Bolivia, and ending in Argentina. It was an amazing experience and I feel that it really allowed for me to learn a lot about myself and what I’m capable of, especially since I was traveling by myself for the most part. I also gained a lot of wisdom into the art of stuffing a ridiculous amount of things into a 60-liter backpack and making sense of Bolivian bus schedules.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing young professional Jews today?
What should we do about it?Attempting to save up ample vacation days in advance of the high holidays. Just kidding (well, partially at least). In all seriousness, though, I feel that young Jewish professionals have it just as good and bad as the rest of the yuppie workforce. And that is a great thing, that is not to be treated any differently than our peers just because we’re Jewish.


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