Alex Katz was looking for balance between his Jewish identity and what a secular education could offer; growing up outside New York City, he always wanted to be part of a more robust Jewish community. When the time came for him to apply to college, the opportunity to study at both the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University proved to be just the situation he was after.
Now in his third year in the Joint Program as a modern Jewish studies major at List College and a psychology major at Columbia University, Alex is confident that he made the right choice. Academically, he says, "It is thrilling to be in a classroom where the commentaries written on the texts you're studying were written by your professors. The faculty provide lots of individual attention in the classrooms, and I enjoy getting to know them on a personal level as well."
Even before Alex set foot in a classroom, he was already impressed. "When I arrived at JTS, the admissions director remembered my name and various details about my life. There are not many places you can go where each person gets such respect."
Outside the classroom, Alex's fellow students provide a diversity that enhances his JTS experience: "It is fascinating to be in such a wide-ranging and tight-knit community. Talking with people, from freshmen to seniors, I see that everyone has their own unique story to tell," he says.
While his first forays in New York consisted of exploring different neighborhoods and attending a variety of sporting events and tapings of TV shows, today Alex is part of the fabric of the city. He divides his free time between working as a writer/actor/producer in the Chowdah sketch comedy group at Columbia University and working as a Hebrew schoolteacher at the United Synagogue of Hoboken, just across the Hudson River.
Last summer, Alex had a valuable internship experience at AC Lion, an interactive recruiting firm. He discovered the opportunity through a posting on the List College email bulletin board and "learned a lot about effective job search techniques and how to build my resume and handle an interview. The experience makes me feel more confident about entering the job market."
This confidence will prove useful when Alex looks to launch his career next summer. Before that, however, he can rest assured knowing that he has finally achieved the balance he sought. As Alex says, "Being at List College has exceeded my expectations, and I am so thankful to be a part of JTS."
View Alex Katz discussing his experience in List College 101: