UMass sophomore Andrew Circle was studying abroad in Barcelona when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Suddenly, he went from working toward a minor in Spanish to packing his bags for New York.
The year had already been a whirlwind of travel for Circle, who went on the campus Birthright Israel trip with his CJP-funded IACT coordinator, Ashley Nalven. The 10-day trip with other UMass students was Circle’s most immersive Jewish experience since enrolling in college, he said.
“I have never been in a group where everyone was so open to meeting everyone else,” said Circle. “The community that formed during the trip was incredible.”
This summer, Circle planned to return to Israel for an Onward Israel internship, which would have meant eight weeks of interning, Hebrew immersion and cultural programming. With that plan also canceled, Onward Israel and CJP found Circle a remote internship that he just started.
“I am working for TechforGood, an NGO that uses technology to address the world’s biggest social and environmental issues,” said Circle, who is double-majoring in economics and finance.
Founded in 2015, TechforGood promotes “impact investment,” helping companies make money while contributing to the United Nations’ sustainability goals in, for example, education, health care and other areas.
Currently, Circle is helping TechforGood expand its database of opportunities for companies to partner on sustainable projects. He is also helping the organization apply for grants. In both of these areas, he brings experience from projects with the UMass group Jewish Leaders in Business.
“I am happy to know I am making an impact,” said Circle. “We need to keep applying technology to make a social impact.”
Also on campus, Circle is involved in Challah for Hunger, raising money for a food pantry in Amherst. When he’s not in class or studying, he plays intramural soccer and skis.
Next month, Circle will stay in New York and take his classes remotely. However, his hopes for world travel during college have not been totally dashed, including a semester in Argentina and, of course, a return to Israel.