USY News

Assistant Regional Teen Engagement Director, Katie Samiljan

It’s Full Speed Ahead for New Far West USY Assistant Regional Teen Engagement Director

When beginning a new job, it’s common for friends and family to tell you to “hit the ground running” so you can make a great first impression. For Katie Samiljan, she may have taken the expression literally when she became the new Far West USY Assistant Regional Teen Engagement Director in early December. Almost immediately after accepting the position and moving across the country from Amherst, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California, Katie was again traveling—this time to Chicago for the USY 67th annual International Convention on December 24-28.

“I flew into San Diego where my sister was at, bought a car, drove to LA and showed up to the USY office right before leaving for the International Convention,” Katie says. “I’ve never been a part of USY or went to these events as a kid, but when I was in Chicago, I was able to meet a lot of USY people and learn all these new terms. It was a little overwhelming but I really appreciated getting to know the kids and having some one-on-one time with them to introduce myself.”

Although new to USY, Katie is no stranger to being a mentor and friend to Jewish youth. She worked five summers at Camp Mountain Chai, a Jewish overnight camp in San Bernardino, California, and was nominated as a Cornerstone Fellow, which gathers the strongest counselors from more than 60 camps for a four-day workshop and training experience. Through a Cornerstone alumni group is where she initially found the open position with USY.

Now two months into 2018, Katie is already making a big impact. Last month, she played an important role getting things ready for the Jr. USY Kinnus (7th and 8th graders) and Kadima Kinnus (4th through 6th graders) on January 19-21 by seeing who was allergic to what and helping place kids into bunks and cabins. It also gave her another great opportunity to connect with students and show them they can rely on her when needed.

“Moving forward, I really hope to be a positive person to each of these kids and hope to be someone they feel comfortable enough talking to and asking for help,” Katie says. “I know at their age it can be hard to ask for help, so I want to make sure they know we can get to that point.”


Congratulations to These Far West Leaders

USY has announced the selection of the 2018 International General Board, with thanks to all the applicants. Kol HaKavod to these young leaders from Far West Region who will be taking on the following portfolios:

  • Religion/Education: Noa Kligfield (Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles, CA)
  • Membership/Kadima: Austin Kaufman (Congregation B’nai Israel, Tustin, CA)
  • Communications: Sam Adler (Congregation B’nai Israel, Tustin, CA)

We wish them much success. May they go from strength to strength.

thicker-line2Relive USY International Convention 2017

Want to know what USY’s International Convention in Chicago last December was all about? Here are a few ways to get the feel of what it’s like when hundreds of teens from across North America come together:

  • For an overview of the Opening Session, written by a USYer, click here.
  • To view the photo gallery, click here.


Scholarships Available for USY Summer Programs

Don’t let money stand in the way of your best summer ever! Check out our newly updated scholarship database and see what funds are available in your area here.

Know of a scholarship that isn’t featured on our page? E-mail with all information and we’ll be sure to include it!


Partnering to Repair the World

USY partnered with Repair the World to provide resources ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and help turn the tables on racial and social injustice. It’s not just about the conversations we have around our tables today, but what we are going to do tomorrow. Follow the movement on social media @RepairTheWorld to #ActNowForRacialJustice. Learn more here.


Now Seeking Teen Opinions!

Teenagers between the ages of 13 to 19 years old are invited to participate in a short survey about what USY/Kadima and Jewish Life mean to them. Click here to get started.

Survey participants will be entered to win prizes, including a $50 Amazon gift card, a $500 Amazon gift card and a $1,000 Visa gift card.


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