Ask Robyn Hughey and she’ll tell you she’s a Spartan to the core. But at the same time, she’ll tell you she’s just as passionate about the role of Hillel in East Lansing and campuses across Michigan. For 15 years, her passion has been her profession serving MSU Hillel in various positions, including her newest as Executive Director, a role she was appointed to this past July.
Robyn’s helm as Executive Director signifies a new chapter for the Lester and Jewell Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center. With her expertise, passion and deep understanding of the Hillel community, she is poised to lead the organization to new heights, nurturing the growth and success of Jewish students on campus and beyond.
“While I am new in my role, I am not new to MSU Hillel,” says Robyn. “For the past 15 years, I have worn many hats at our organization. My journey began during my time as an undergraduate at Michigan State, where I cultivated leadership skills and planned diverse programs — including the first ever Sparty’s Bar Mitzvah Party. I continued my leadership post-graduation, serving as an engagement associate, director of engagement and, most recently as our associate director. While I grew my skills as a Jewish professional, I also found personal fulfillment at Hillel – meeting my husband and becoming a proud parent to two adorable Spartans-to-be. I truly bleed green and white and can’t wait to continue my journey impacting Jewish students statewide.”
Recently, My Jewish Detroit was able to capture a few moments of Robyn’s busy schedule (Welcome Week was just around the corner!) to find out what her goals, hopes and aspirations are for MSU Hillel along the banks of the Red Cedar, and the other 10 campuses the MSU Hillel reaches through the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan program.
What is your vision for the short- and long-term future of the MSU Hillel?
We live in a rapidly changing world, and our students are a new generation who have had unique life experiences dealing with the pandemic during the past three years. My short-term vision is to continue to facilitate dynamic experiences and connections that add value and meaning to every Jewish student on campus. I want us to delve into understanding their needs and working directly with our student leaders to curate peer-led experiences that speak to students and excite them to connect with Jewish life.
Our long-term vision remains the same—to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life. It is my hope that our students will feel inspired by their experiences at Hillel to continue to stay connected to our community, to live a rich Jewish life and to maintain and grow the relationships, friendships and connections made at Hillel throughout their adult lives.
Why do you think Hillel is important to Jewish students on campus?
College is the first time in a young adult’s life when they are on their own, exploring their identity and shaping their future—on their own terms. Hillel is an important place for Jewish students to find community, develop leadership skills and be in a safe space where they can connect with others. We help students from a variety of backgrounds connect with Judaism on their own terms—and there truly is a place for everyone here. Hillel provides an important network for students seeking connection, community and growth. Additionally, we are there for students during challenging times—whether it’s navigating anti-Israel sentiments on campus or an antisemitic incident—we advocate for and support Jewish students statewide. We really are here for students and strive to make meaningful connections that positively impact all Jewish students.
If you could say anything to someone not currently involved with Hillel what would it be?
Hillel offers so many opportunities that you will never have again once you graduate. Whether you attend a Shabbat dinner to find community, travel to NYC for a Hillel International social media conference, attend Sparty’s Bar Mitzvah Party with 700 of your closest Spartan peers, participate in the Jewish Learning Fellowship or get an opportunity to travel internationally on a Birthright Israel trip or Fact Finders Mission—Hillel is a unique experience that can enrich your college experience and help you create lifelong friends and connections.
More about the MSU Hillel.
MSU Hillel serves as a vibrant hub for more than 3,500 Jewish students at Michigan State University and runs the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM) program. Through HCAM, MSU Hillel extends its reach to serve an additional 10 campuses statewide, building dynamic and vibrant Jewish communities for students at Alma College, Albion College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University and Western Michigan University. Their mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world, and to build a new generation of Jewish leaders.