Talia Bensoussan – Class of 2006
Name: Talia Bensoussan
Graduating Year: Akiva Graduating Class of 2006
High School: Herzliah High School
University: McGill University Faculty of Law
– The Governor General’s Bronze Medal,
– The Lieutenant Governor’s Award,
– Scholarship for Highest Academic Standing in General Studies and Jewish Studies
– Publications: “My Philanthopic Journey”, Tikun Olam (Edition 84, November 2012)
1. How did Akiva prepare you for high school?
Akiva values tailored learning. Early on, my Akiva teachers noticed that I loved to read and write. They helped me refine my reading and writing skills by encouraging me to read an extra book a week in grade 2 and write a few more lines about my weekend in my grade 3 journal. My Akiva teachers also noticed that math was not my strong suit and that I would sometimes need to be taken out of class to be explained long division a little more slowly. By supporting me in both the subjects in which I excelled and the subjects with which I struggled, my Akiva teachers taught me to be confident that I was capable of mastering any subject that I wanted to as long as I learned it in the way that was best for me. It was this confidence that allowed me to tackle the first year of high school without being overwhelmed.
2. What was the most important thing that you learned from your experience at Akiva?
The most important lesson that I learned from my time at Akiva was to always strive to be the best that I could be. I was constantly reminded that if I gave my best effort, I would always achieve the personal goals that I set for myself. Bottom line, I learned to believe in myself.
3. What were your fondest memories at Akiva?
On the very first day of Grade 6, my English teacher Stacy introduced herself and then walked around the class and put a purple butterfly sticker in each student’s palm. She then told us all to close our fists around the butterfly so that it couldn’t fly away. As we all held out our fists on our desks, Stacy explained that we were about to embark on our last year of elementary school. Soon, we were going to leave our home of 8 years at Akiva, and begin our lives as adults. Each and every one of us were going to embark on our very own paths and we were each going to have to make a lot of choices—what career to purse, who to be friends with, and how to manage our studies. Right before the bell rang for recess, Stacy said, “It is up to you to keep your butterfly or let it fly away into the wild. Remember, the choice is always in your hands.” That quote has become very important to me. Stacy taught me that I could decide my own destiny and that I was always in control of my own life journey.
4. Why should a parent choose to send their child to Akiva?
A parent should choose to send their child to Akiva because it is the most warm and nurturing environment both inside and outside the classroom. Calling teachers and administrators by their first names is just one example of how familial the Akiva community is. At Akiva, I learned the power of community—not only the school community but the strength of the Montreal Jewish community. Being part of something larger than myself gave me a sense of belonging and a strong connection to my Jewish identity. Akiva was not only an academic experience but rather, it allowed me to begin the journey of forming my own Jewish identity.
5. What was your desired profession when you graduated Akiva? Where are you at now?
On grade 5 Career Day, I chose to be an interior decorator. For the entirety of elementary school, I was committed to being an architect or an interior designer. However, today, I am second year law student at McGill University’s Faculty of Law and a proud subscriber of many home décor magazines.