Dual Degree Students in Israel Look Ahead to Their First Fall Semester

September 08, 2021

This fall, the Dual Degree Program between Columbia University and Tel Aviv University is excited to welcome the largest class of incoming students to the Dual Degree Program since its launch in December 2019. The Class of 2025 includes 40 students, out of a record 129 applicants. Learn more about Gili Kafri and Rachel Lisbona, who are both embarking on their first year in the Dual Degree Program in Israel this year.


Incoming Student Gili Kafri

Gili Kafri

After realizing that her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology weren’t the right fit, Gili Kafri ‘25GS, born in NYC to Israeli parents, decided to pursue a spot in the Dual Degree Program to enhance her connection to Israel and complete her studies under a broadened, dual lens at two institutions. 

What are you most looking forward to about starting your journey in the program?

I began my college journey at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the niche field of fashion business management. Although I enjoyed it, I quickly realized that I want a broader education before choosing a definitive career. A significant reason Columbia and TAU’s program appeals to me is the rare opportunity to study several broad and complementary disciplines. I am most looking forward to studying in very different environments so that I can see things through new lenses. The Dual Degree Program will allow me to continue, expand, and intensify transitions by combining social studies with the humanities. I hope that I will not only acquire various multidisciplinary bodies of knowledge but also diverse perspectives on the world.

Why did you choose to apply to this program and what do you hope to gain from it over the next few years?

I have always danced between the U.S. and Israeli cultures. Born in New York City to Israeli parents, I spoke two languages from a very young age and benefitted from exposure to the fascinating arts and culture scene a dynamic city like Manhattan had to offer. These experiences impacted my personality greatly. I became an introspective person continuously reflecting on and challenging the values and norms of society. When I turned five years old, we all returned to Israel to be closer to family and to enhance my connection to Israel. I believe that Columbia and Tel Aviv University’s Dual Degree Interdisciplinary Program will allow me to further deepen my Israeli and American roots while expanding my international educational experience.

Incoming Student Rachel Lisbona

Rachel Lisbona

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, incoming student Rachel Lisbona ‘25GS is most excited about the diverse group of students she’ll be able to connect with throughout her time in the Program. Lisbona is passionate about film and television and plans to study digital culture and communication at TAU and film at Columbia. 

What are you most looking forward to about starting your journey in the program?

I am eager to learn about new cultures and meet people with diverse backgrounds and points of view. Being able to spend four years in two different places is one of the most unique opportunities, especially for someone who loves to travel and meet new people like me.

Why did you choose to apply to this program and what do you hope to gain from it over the next few years?

I was looking for a college opportunity where I could attend a prestigious school that would prepare me for my future but also a place where I would meet different people and build lifelong connections. This program couldn't offer a better match for what I was looking for. I hope that over the years I will become a better version of myself by gaining new experiences and forming new friendships.

What's the best advice you've received over the past year and how will you carry it with you into the program?

"Never regret your past actions, only the actions you didn't take." You can always learn from what you did. If you don't take the risk you will never know if it would've made you a better person for it. I choose to always carry this mindset with me so I never forget to take risks, being those academic, personal, social, or others.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your background, something you're passionate about, what TV show you're currently streaming, your proudest accomplishment, a fun fact about yourself?

I am currently streaming Mare of Easttown and I am very passionate about the film and television industry so I watch tons of movies and TV shows.