September 10, 2008 / 10 Elul 5768
Just three generations ago, Olga Maksin's family was being persecuted and even killed because of their Jewish identity. Now, thanks to the Jewish Agency's Atidim program, Olga not only proudly continues her family's line in Israel, but honors her grandfather's dedication to Judaism and Israel by achieving a promising and prominent future for herself, her mother and her future family.
Olga Maksin was born in Tallin, Estonia. Her maternal grandfather’s mother and younger brother were killed in a fascist bomb attack, and almost all of her grandfather’s relatives perished in the burning of the local synagogue. Her grandfather, only 11-years-old at the time, witnessed the entire tragedy.
In 1992, Olga’s grandparents made aliyah and three months later Olga and her mother joined them in Beersheva. Her grandfather commemorated the names of his lost loved ones at Yad Vashem.
Nine-year-old Olga, an only child, acclimated fairly quickly into Israeli society. “I joined clubs and social activities and was a youth counselor,” says Olga. “I loved to sing and dance and it was much easier for me than it was for my mother.”
Olga graduated high school with honors and received initial financial assistance for studying information systems engineering at Ben Gurion University. When she was approached by an Atidim representative to apply for the program, she was ecstatic. “Being accepted to Atidim helped my mother financially. It also helped me excel in my studies as I did not have to work my way through college.”
Atidim, a partnership of the Jewish Agency and Friends of Atidim, prepares the top 30% of talented young people in the periphery to study at Israel’s best universities. Atidim participants receive full tuition scholarship, tutoring assistance, a laptop computer and a network that supports them throughout their college years and into the job arena.
In her third year at Ben Gurion University, Olga was an academic instructor at the Israel Air Force flight academy. She graduated summa cum laude and her final project placed in the top three in the department. After graduating, Olga developed a WEB-based information system for the flight academy and then served as an academic career officer in military intelligence.
Today, Olga, 25, is working as an information systems engineer for a high-tech company near Beersheva. “After my grandfather passed away, I felt the weight of being the only child. My only family left is my mother, my grandmother and an uncle. It is important for me to succeed – to pursue a career and raise my own family in Israel.”
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To learn more about the mission of Atidim, and how it has had unprecedented success, click here.