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Our Alumni

Evelyn Mendal ‘04, Licensed Mental Health Therapist

An alumna and current Scheck Hillel parent, Evelyn’s career as a Licensed Mental Health Therapist had its roots in Hillel’s AP Psychology class.   

What warms your heart when you think of your time at Scheck Hillel?
The sense of community we felt. In general, we felt a sense of warmth, unity, and inclusion. I went to school there from Pk2 to 12th grade, so you could imagine how much of an impact the school had on the development of my identity. I am so excited that my daughter is there now, experiencing the same thing. She LOVES going to school, and it warms my heart so much!  

Share a funny/interesting/unique story from your time at Scheck Hillel.
We took a field trip to volunteer at a homeless shelter in downtown Miami. They gave us a break for lunch, and Melanie Mizrahi and I walked around Bayside only to come back and find that the buses had totally left us behind. I started crying (I don't even think we had cell phones yet) and have no memory of how we got back to school. To top off my anxiety, we got back only to find out that we got detention for not being "responsible." It was not my best day at Hillel.

Was there a teacher who had a positive impact and made you feel special, like you could do it all?
Mrs. Silverman in Grade 2. I will never forget her contagious positive energy and how much she believed in her students. She took the entire class to see the Heat game because she was a huge fan. 

Do you feel like your time at Scheck Hillel had an impact on your adult life and your choices? How so?
As a mother, I now understand the importance of integrating my daughter into a place where she is welcomed with kindness, warmth, and community. Hillel also helped me integrate my religion and spirituality into my identity as I developed into an adult. Jewish community and tradition became a large part of my value system. 

What educational path did you follow? 
I received my B.A. in psychology from George Washington University and my Master's in mental health counseling from the University of Miami. I am now a licensed mental health therapist.

What is your current profession, and where do you work? How did you come to work in this field?
Licensed mental health therapist with my own private practice. I focus highly on working with parents of young children but also see some children and adolescents in therapy. I teach workshops and have done preschool staff training as well. Honestly, my interest in psychology began when I took AP Psych at Hillel! I loved diving into the workings of the human mind and exploring human behavior.

What is most rewarding about the work you do? What are you passionate about?
During my time as a therapist in a community mental health center, I got trained in infant mental health and became obsessed with early childhood and the role that the parent-child relationship has in a child's emotional development and brain development. I truly see the impact of helping parents learn to parent their children with unconditional love, acceptance, healthy limits, and lots of room for failure and mistakes. The way a parent talks to their child ends up becoming the way that child will talk to himself- so I must guide a parent in how they talk to (and interact with) their children even through challenging times. 

Looking back, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?  
Things will NOT go as planned. You will fail. You will make mistakes. Turn those mistakes into opportunities for learning and building resilience. I used to be very hard on myself when reality did not meet my expectations, and I definitely sweat the small stuff way too much. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff for too long - be compassionate and kind with yourself.