Infinite Impact

June 13, 2024

By Adrienne Egolf

Isabel Artemis DeJesus ’11 ’15MBA
Photo by Scott Cook.

A leader in the social impact space, Isabel Artemis DeJesus ’11 ’15MBA sees the promise of connecting passionate people with meaningful opportunities.

Isabel Artemis DeJesus ’11 ’15MBA remembers the moment when her calling became clear.

“I took a macroeconomics class my first semester at Rollins,” she says. “To this day, I always say, it either clicks and you love it—or it doesn’t and it’s the most difficult class ever. For me, it clicked. I remember learning how one country’s economy could impact the whole world. I loved it.”

These days, DeJesus—who was awarded Rollins’ 2024 Recent Alumni Achievement Award—describes herself as a conduit: “I help connect people with opportunities to change the world.” As the vice president of administration and programs at the Watson Institute, she oversees fellowship programs that support social impact founders and provide leadership training. But she still recalls learning about the ripple effects of global economic policies, doing projects on small-country economics, and studying the economics of piracy as an undergrad at Rollins. She wouldn’t be where she is today, she says, without all the support that followed her first lightbulb moment.

“I was always encouraged to explore a little bit more and given opportunities outside class,” she says, remembering a student-faculty research project with economics professor Anca Voicu. “I remember being so nervous to present our paper at a conference, but I did it. And ever since, anytime public speaking comes up, I think of that moment.”

Another formative experience came when she studied abroad in Australia. She was paired with a prominent Australian coffee roaster for an accounting internship.

“There are things from that time that I draw upon today,” she says. “The company I interned for was all about fair trade and sustainability. These were things I didn’t know much about at the time, but they resonated. Here was a company that was creating great coffee but also thinking about the bigger picture. That became a guiding principle for my professional experiences: What does the company stand for?”

DeJesus credits Rollins’ emphasis on service learning and global citizenship for letting her lean into this passion for impact, following up a bachelor’s degree in economics with an MBA at Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business.

As a graduate business student, DeArtemis built on her liberal studies foundation with practical skills in project management, financial modeling, case-study building, and analytical thinking. She also made a connection that would prove pivotal in her career.

“In one of my classes we did a consulting project for Rebuild Globally,” she explains. “I loved it and felt very connected to their work.” A social enterprise nonprofit focused on Haiti, Rebuild Globally—founded by Julie Colombino ’18MBA—is also paired with a for-profit arm that encourages sustainability.

“With my MBA brain, this big-picture thinking was really appealing to me, so I reached out to the founder and said, ‘How can I help?’”

That initial offer turned into an internship and eventually a full-time position as director of impact partnerships—a springboard for her career. In the years since, DeJesus has transitioned to her current role at the Watson Institute, where she’s launching an expansion of their existing fellowship program.

“Last year we started exploring the fact that not everyone wants to be a founder or entrepreneur, but there’s a whole group of ‘intrepreneurs,’ or people who are working from within a company, who also want a meaningful and impactful career,” she says, bubbly with excitement about the new ripples of impact this program stands to create.

“I’ve been feeling very nostalgic since I won the Alumni Achievement Award,” she shares. “I’ve worked hard the past decade to create impact and grow as a professional. It’s validating and exciting to be recognized for that. So what else is possible? What’s next? This is just the beginning.”

Students wearing caps and gowns walk to a commencement ceremony on Rollins College’s campus.

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