Rebecca Mikhaylova, a Brooklyn college student, led blood drives by Tanger Hillel in collaboration with the New York Blood Center in 2019 and on March 5, 2020 as the coronavirus reached New York.

Rebecca Mikhaylova, a pre-med student at Brooklyn College, knows the lifesaving importance of blood drives. That’s why she volunteered to be team captain for Tanger Hillel’s blood drive held on March 5, which took place at the Tanger Hillel House in collaboration with the New York Blood Center. And it’s why she remained committed to the project even as the coronavirus outbreak reached New York.

“Some students backed out, but we collected 103 pints of blood that day,” Rebecca says, and adds that she was confident in the precautions the center took to protect blood donors from COVID-19.

She never lost sight of her purpose, and that vision has steered Rebecca since she emigrated from Moscow with her family in 2017. Rebecca had completed four years of medical school when her family made the decision to reunite with family in Brooklyn and come to the U.S. for better opportunities.

After working as a medical biller for a year, Rebecca enrolled in Brooklyn College in the fall of 2018, determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a physician. Soon after, she discovered Tanger Hillel, a UJA partner.

“I didn’t know anyone at Hillel, but I attended an event and was so surprised at how supportive everyone was, both students and staff,” Rebecca says. “They helped me adapt, helped with English essays, and became my second family.”

She volunteered at Tanger Hillel’s Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people, led the 2019 blood drive, and this winter started a Chai Club through Tanger Hillel. The Chai club connects a group of diverse students to help the community and raise awareness about health and other issues.

In the two and a half years since she arrived in New York, Rebecca’s leadership in Hillel has clearly made a positive impact.

Now like other college students across the country, Rebecca is continuing her courses online. And she’s maintaining contact with Tanger Hillel.

“Hillel’s offering many Zoom sessions,” Rebecca says. “I feel like my Hillel family is still there — and has become even stronger.”