Maria Kol Yaakov
"My name is Maria and I was born in Kazakhstan. I made Aliyah in 2006 with The Jewish Agency's Na'ale program. Through the Na'ale program I finished high school in Israel. My Jewish identity was always extremely important to me and so when I was in twelfth grade I decided to convert by Orthodox Halacha. I converted, changed my last name, and joined the IDF. I served in the field intelligence unit.
Before completing my army service in 2012, I participated in the Jewish Agency for Israel's Wings program. Becoming a civilian was difficult for me as I found myself very confused, faced with many questions and difficulties. Where to start? Where to work? What to study? I also had financial problems and needed professional help.
The Wings program gave me the answers I needed - to know my rights as a new immigrant and soldier. And the tools to make good decisions - about higher education, developing my potential, organizing my time and how to budget my finances. Wings helped me develop my independence, and gave me confidence and faith in myself. The results are clear – I was accepted to my first choice of higher education and managed to resolve my debts. I know I can always call them for help. "
Today Maria is a student in her third year of studies at the WIZO academy of design and education in Haifa where she is studying for her degree in Photography and Education.