Twenty-four-year-old Rebecca Elspas has been active in the Jewish community for a while. She was a member of Mezumenet, the all-female Jewish a cappella group at the University of Maryland.
Elspas graduated in 2020 from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in public health science and earned her master’s in nursing from Columbia University earlier this year. She lives in Dupont Circle.
What got you into public health and nursing? What’s your favorite part of this career path?
When searching for a major during my time at U-Md., I wanted something that bridged my interests in biology, global health and environmental science. My academic adviser suggested the new public health science major, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I’ve always been such an indecisive person, but my college major was one of the few choices that I didn’t need to overthink — it was a great fit.
How do you embrace Judaism in your daily life?
In my day-to-day routine, I try and incorporate smaller customs that are meaningful to me, like reciting blessings before eating food and after using the restroom, or praying in the morning. I find that I connect most to Judaism through music, so I also sing Kabbalat Shabbat every Friday night I can. During the week, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to find me listening to Hebrew music or Yiddish opera.
What do you miss about the University of Maryland now that you’re at Columbia University?
I just graduated from Columbia University with my master’s in nursing in August! As it was a 15-month program, the entirety of my time at Columbia was during COVID. I knew most of my classmates only virtually, so I felt as though I missed out on the social aspect during my time in nursing school. At Maryland, I had the opportunity to create meaningful relationships with others — and even met my fiancé, so I definitely missed the social outlet I had at U-Md.
What would you like to do with nursing as your plan?
I will be starting a job as a labor and delivery nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital this month and couldn’t be more excited. I plan on using my RN and MSN as a labor and delivery nurse and to conduct research among obstetric patient populations. Further down the line, I anticipate becoming a family nurse practitioner or doctorally prepared midwife.
What else do you like to do?
Over quarantine, while the world was baking sourdough (which I wish I had a knack for but unfortunately do not), I learned how to write and arrange music. I even created a Soundcloud account and posted some of my Hebrew tunes up there (https://soundcloud.com/rebelspas).
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