Rollins Ready: Madhavi Mooljee ’21
December 14, 2021
By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA
After jumping into every opportunity imaginable at Rollins, Madhavi Mooljee ’21 is preparing to embark on a two-year fellowship with Venture for America, which matches startups with the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Affirmation and opportunity. Madhavi Mooljee ’21 found both in abundance during her time at Rollins.
A communication major who developed an affinity for volunteerism during her childhood in Zimbabwe, Mooljee lived out Rollins’ mission of global citizenship and responsible leadership and forged a network of mentors who helped guide her to opportunities to put her ideas into action.
Mooljee has walked through virtually every door that opened over the past four years, and her Rollins resume is almost impossibly robust. She held a nearly four-year internship with a local nonprofit. She led campus tours for the Office of Admission, produced social media content for the Office of Marketing, and worked as a Living Learning Communities coordinator for the Office of Residential Life & Explorations. She not only participated in practically every community engagement initiative that the College offers, but has evangelized the power of service learning through leadership positions with SPARC Day, the U.N. Millennium Fellowship, and Bonner Leaders.
One semester, Mooljee held four jobs while taking 28 credit hours. She graduates this month as winner of Rollins’ Unsung Hero award for silent leadership.
“My mom used to always ask, ‘How do you want to serve humanity?’ and that’s always been ingrained in my mind,” says Mooljee. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to study at Rollins, but I knew what my mission was, and I just really wanted to grow while on campus.”
In fall 2022, Mooljee will start a two-year fellowship with Venture for America, which grooms the next generation of entrepreneurs by embedding them in startups across the country. Empowered through this experience and the opportunities she received at Rollins, Mooljee aspires to create her own social enterprise that combats poverty and supports immigrant communities.
Rollins Gateway—the College’s signature approach to preparing students for meaningful lives and productive careers—prioritizes applied learning experiences like internships, study abroad, and community service, but few Tars have embraced these real-world opportunities with as much fervor as Mooljee.
She engaged 21st-century challenges like poverty, homelessness, and hunger right at the source through Rollins’ Immersion program and developed her cultural acumen while studying abroad in Rome. She helped new Rollins students grasp the power of service as a SPARC Day ambassador and served as campus director of the Millennium Fellowship, a leadership development program that empowers college students to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Through the Bonner Leaders Program, which provides scholarships and training to students active in community service, Mooljee started interning her first semester with IDignity, an Orlando-based nonprofit that helps disadvantaged citizens gain access to personal identification such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. She served as the organization’s marketing and communications intern for more than three years, gaining experience in everything from social media management to grant writing.
Mooljee’s applied learning experiences not only helped her figure out what she wanted to do professionally, but they also gave her a leg up in earning her Venture America Fellowship.
“There’s only so much a textbook can teach you, especially about entrepreneurship,” says Mooljee, “and I wouldn’t have been as ready to go out into the world if I didn’t have all of these hands-on experiences that Rollins makes such a prominent part of your education.”
Throughout her Rollins journey, Mooljee was guided at every turn by a constellation of mentors who encouraged her to pursue her interests and opened up opportunities for her to find her purpose.
Her faculty advisor, communication studies professor Greg Cavenaugh, helped Mooljee decide on communications as a major. Bonner Leader supervisor Bailey Clark nurtured her passion for service and helped guide her through financial challenges. Aislinn Betancourt ’12, an alumni mentor in the College’s Career Champions program, became a good friend who helped her explore shared interests in diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Jayashree Shivamoggi, former director of Rollins’ Office of External & Competitive Scholarships, pointed her toward the Venture for America fellowship and guided her through the strenuous application and interview process.
“All of them were very confident in the person I was, even when I wasn’t,” says Mooljee. “Affirmations like that really did help me grow as a student. I know I can call up so many different people, tell them what I’m going through, and have their support without judgment. It’s just pure support, and that is such a powerful thing.”
Perhaps most of all, Mooljee found a mentor in social entrepreneurship professor Josie Balzac-Arroyo. Mooljee had never considered taking classes in social entrepreneurship until she was assigned to Balzac-Arroyo’s Be the Change Rollins College Conference (RCC) course during her first semester. Her experience in that class and Balzac-Arroyo’s guidance helped Mooljee realize that the field was a natural complement to her mission and strengths. Choosing social entrepreneurship as a minor would be another critical waypoint on Mooljee’s journey to Venture for America.
“She saw a lot of potential in me,” says Mooljee. “I was a little reluctant, but I decided to take it up and learned I was really good at project management. I chose classes like Changemaking that required hands-on things like pitching an idea to a board of judges and trying to secure real funding. I learned all the strategies and skills to go out in the community and ask about people’s needs.”
Mooljee won’t learn which startup she has been assigned to until April, but she knows Venture for America is the ideal next step in her life and career.
“Looking back at the past four years, I can see all of my experiences getting connected and I think that’s what Rollins Gateway is all about,” says Mooljee. “Everything I’ve done at Rollins has brought me to this Venture for America opportunity, and I think it’s the perfect fit.”
After completing the two-year fellowship program, Mooljee can imagine both going to work for an established company and launching her own startup. Regardless of what the future holds, Mooljee knows her Rollins experience has prepared her to excel in virtually any professional capacity.
“With the skill sets I’ve developed at Rollins, I feel that I can be successful in whatever field or industry that I go into,” says Mooljee. “Rollins has ingrained this idea that we can take these skills and ideas that we develop here and apply them to improve the world. That might mean creating new positions or creating completely new systems.”
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