Kolesar aims to add more Judaism to Kennesaw State chapter

By April Basler | abasler@atljewishtimes.com

Charlotte Kolesar KSU Hillel

Charlotte Kolesar

Kennesaw State University student Charlotte Kolesar recently accepted the position of KSU Hillel engagement coordinator through Hillels of Georgia.

Kolesar, a Woodstock resident, succeeded Lianne Nibley, who suddenly had to move to Israel, as Hillel’s head on the Kennesaw campus. She did not go through a formal application process but instead was asked to take over and accepted.

Having been active in Hillel at Kennesaw State, Kolesar became close with Nibley, talking to her regularly at events and by telephone. Kolesar believes that she was chosen for the job because of her excitement for Judaism and Israel and the hope to grow the campus Hillel in those directions.

Kolesar sees potential for KSU Hillel to evolve into a true Jewish student organization incorporating Jewish tradition.

“It’s not currently a Jewish organization at Kennesaw. It is at Emory and Georgia Tech. It’s a social organization right now,” she said. “I hope at the end of one year to see it grown as a Jewish social outlet. Social is great. It’s important, but the whole point is for students to be socially Jewish.”
Kolesar originally was told that the students wanted Hillel to be only a social group. But she talked with many of the Jewish students at Kennesaw and discovered a strong desire for Jewish experiences through Hillel.

“These students are looking for a Jewish community on campus. It’s exciting. There really isn’t one currently,” Kolesar said. “The potential for Hillel to be a driving force in the Jewish community here is pretty big. We just have to make sure that we point it in the right direction.”

KSU Hillel saw a sharp rise in membership the past year, something Kolesar credits to Nibley’s hard work. A typical Hillel event will draw 15 to 25 students, compared with five to eight last year.

KSU Hillel’s social events include bowling, rock climbing and, later this semester, WhirlyBall.

Kolesar hopes to continue growing membership and making Hillel what the students want it to be. And that means incorporating Jewish tradition.

“This is a really great opportunity, and I hope to do it justice,” Kolesar said. “It’s an important role, and I feel very blessed to be given this opportunity to hopefully make this difference in people’s lives.”

Kolesar studies business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. In addition to her new part-time job with Hillel, she is a full-time student. She also works full-time at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as a night-shift secretary in the emergency room at Scottish Rite in Sandy Springs. She is busy but finds the time to do it all, usually spending long nights studying.

Kolesar is part of a new program at KSU called Coles Scholars, which is essentially an honors program within the business school. It gives members important hands-on business experience. She is on track to graduate in May 2016.

Kolesar’s husband, Erik, is also a student at Kennesaw. They have been married for over five years and have been a couple for 12. While not officially members of Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb, they do attend services when they can and enjoy Rabbi Steven Lebow’s Wednesday morning Torah study.

The Kolesars are excited for the future and have many possible paths after graduation. They have considered business ownership and starting an outdoor store for activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking. They also are thinking about international work or study.

“We’ve considered making aliyah and moving to Israel and possibly studying for master’s degrees there,” Kolesar said. “We have some travel plans once we graduate. At that point we are going to make a decision on what we do next.”