My name is Rachel Cooklin and I am incredibly fortunate to be the Yoni Jesner Scholar for 20Rachel Cooklin7-18.

I go to Yavneh College where I am Head Girl and study History, Politics and Psychology. I plan to study History at the University of Birmingham after spending a year learning at Midreshet Harova with Bnei Akiva.

I enjoy playing Netball and have been incredibly fortunate to play for Middlesex County for two years and for Great Britain at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. At school I try to be the most effective leader I can be, creating a mentoring programme for younger students run by sixth formers and always trying to be a role model to younger students.

I cannot thank the Yoni Jesner Foundation enough for this opportunity and am truly humbled. It is an absolute honour to have even been considered for the scholarship let alone be the recipient of it.

One of the things I have learnt from Yoni is understanding the importance of an individual’s role in a community. Yoni gave assemblies in his school and wrote the assemblies for the year he planned to be in Israel, so that they could still be held. To me, this small act holds so much power. Yoni understood that his small actions could have a monumental impact - this is a lesson I will always take with me.

If I could ever be a fraction of the person Yoni was, it would be a privilege.

Mrs Sarah Max, Head of Informal Jewish Education at Yavneh College:
I have known Rachel since she started Yavneh College in year 7 and during the last 6 years she has made Judaism an integral part of her life. Rachel is the Head Girl of Yavneh College and acts as a fantastic role model to the pupils at the school through her passion for Judaism and Israel, her academic achievements and her kind and caring nature. As Head Girl she has to be able to balance her A-level studies with the additional responsibilities of being a leader. She has started a mentoring programme in which 6 th form students mentor younger pupils. When she was a house captain, she demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities by organising House events and encouraging younger pupils to achieve their full potential. She finds time to continue to play competitive netball, she is a Bnei Akiva madricha at Mill Hill Shul, she priorities Tzedakah and following the year 12 Poland trip she stepped forward to restart the Pennies with Purpose charity project which was started by Yavneh students and aims to raise 6 million pennies for Holocaust initiatives. She ensures that her time is spent with purpose and meaning.

Marsha Gladstone, Chair Yoni Jesner Foundation:
We are delighted that Rachel is our Yoni Jesner Scholar for 2017-18. The Scholarship panel was inspired and impressed by Rachel’s engaging and empathetic character. She is a passionate advocate against modern slavery and genocide. Rachel’s thoughtful and committed approach to her variety of leadership roles at her school, Bnei Akiva and beyond is to be commended. We felt she had a spark that was reminiscent of Yoni and we are honoured to have her as our scholar.

Read Rachel's blog here