Pathway to Purpose

June 08, 2022

By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

Rollins students and their mentors.
Photo by Scott Cook.

As you immerse yourself in Rollins Gateway—our signature approach to liberal arts education—you’ll connect with a community of mentors who will provide essential guidance as you forge your pathway to purpose.

In the game of life, your college experience is perhaps the most transformative move as you start discovering what drives you. At Rollins, we know that expert guides are the key to successfully navigating your life’s journey, so we surround you with an entire community of mentors—from faculty advisors and alumni mentors to peer guides and staff experts—whose counsel, knowledge, and connections accelerate your pathway to purpose.

These mentors will help you discover your passion and give you the tools to pursue it with all your might. You’ll dive into our innovative, interdisciplinary core curriculum, which is designed to help you develop the broad-based knowledge and 21st-century skills like critical thinking and communication that are necessary to succeed in life and work. Along the way, you’ll immerse yourself in real-world experience—from study abroad programs and community engagement to collaborative research with faculty—as you work toward living a purpose-driven life and forging a productive career.

Follow along with three recent graduates who credit the mentorship and opportunities they received at Rollins for helping them make the right moves on their pathway to purpose.

Madhavi Mooljee ’21
Photo by Scott Cook.

The Social Entrepreneur: Madhavi Mooljee ’21

  • Major: Communication studies
  • Minor: Social entrepreneurship
  • Purpose-driven outcome: Fellow, Venture for America

Having grown up in Zimbabwe, Madhavi Mooljee ’21 started at Rollins not knowing what career she wanted to pursue. She simply knew that she wanted to make the most of her college experience. She credits that mindset combined with passionate mentors for setting the tone for her time at Rollins—and helping her find her way.

“I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I originally figured I’d major in business management,” she says.

Mooljee soon learned that though the major was broad enough to help her pursue any career she wanted, her heart just wasn’t in it. A slew of mentors—including alum Aislinn Betancourt ’12, whom she was paired with through Rollins’ Career Champions mentorship program—were instrumental in her development. But two professors she met in her first year would ultimately help Mooljee solidify her purpose.

An RCC class with mentor Josie Balzac-Arroyo helped spark Mooljee’s interest in social entrepreneurship.
An RCC class with mentor Josie Balzac-Arroyo helped spark Mooljee’s interest in social entrepreneurship.Photo by Scott Cook.

The first was communication professor Greg Cavenaugh who taught an Intro to Communication course that helped Mooljee better understand and appreciate her reflective nature. The other was social entrepreneurship professor Josie Balzac-Arroyo, who recognized how passionate Mooljee was about social impact work during her Rollins College Conference (RCC) course, Be the Change. Cavenaugh and Balzac-Arroyo encouraged Mooljee to change her academic focus because they saw the call to service churning inside her.

“Service has always been a big part of my life, but I didn’t know that it could be a whole career,” she says. “Their advice to combine communication with social entrepreneurship was the perfect match for me, even if it’s not a very common or traditional major combination.”

Madhavi Mooljee participating in study abroad and community engagement opportunities.

Blending a life of service with her career would prove to be exactly what Mooljee was meant to do. After partnering with IDignity while at Rollins, she worked as an accounting assistant at the nonprofit, which helps underserved residents obtain proof of identity. And now she has embarked on a two-year fellowship with Venture for America, which will hone her entrepreneurial focus by partnering with one of the country’s top startups.

“I don’t believe that I would be in the same position I’m in now if I went to a different college,” she says. “Everything I did at Rollins has brought me to this Venture for America opportunity, and I know it’s the perfect fit.”

Raul Tavarez Ramirez ’21 in a Rollins biology lab.
Photo by Scott Cook.

The Analytical Diplomat: Raul Tavarez Ramirez ’21

  • Major: International relations
  • Minors: Economics and Middle Eastern & North African studies
  • Purpose-driven outcome: Trade Trainee, European Union Delegation, Dominican Republic

Raul Tavarez Ramirez ’21 chose Rollins because of the interdisciplinary nature of its international relations program, study abroad opportunities in the Middle East, and liberal arts approach to learning. He knew he would have to make the most of all three to prepare him for a career in international relations.

What he didn’t yet understand at the time was how the opportunities he took along the way and the relationships he developed would help him refine his purpose.

Raul Tavarez Ramirez ’21 pictured with a pyramid in Jordan on a study abroad experience.
Tavarez Ramirez ’21 interned with NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions as part of a study abroad program in Jordan.

Among the most influential was an internship he completed with NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions as part of the School of International Training’s study abroad program in Jordan. That experience allowed him to clearly ascertain the connection between international affairs and the private sector—and reignited his childhood love of science.

“That was a critical point for me—realizing what direction I could take with my career,” he says. “I realized I didn’t have to be limited just to government jobs. I could go into consulting, still keep an international focus on my career, and get involved in science.”

He began taking science classes on top of his regular course load and engaged in pivotal conversations with a range of mentors across campus. International relations professor Mike Gunter provided him a clear view of the reality of a career in international relations and how long it would take to advance to the top. English professor Jana Mathews set more realistic expectations about how long it takes to land your dream job. Biology professors Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez and Jay Pieczynski helped him figure out how to incorporate science without changing majors.

Raul Tavarez Ramirez (left) and former art professor Josh Almond.
A pivotal course during Tavarez Ramirez’ time at Rollins was former studio art professor Josh Almond’s The Art of Science of Cell Death, an interdisciplinary class that fused biology, technology, and sculpture. Photo by Scott Cook.

“I realized I needed to find a hybrid between the two disciplines if I was ever going to be satisfied in my career,” he says. “Having all these mentors allowed me to see what was possible—the different directions I could go and the steps I needed to take to get there.”

Today, Tavarez Ramirez is coordinating trade efforts between the Dominican Republic and the European Union, making sure free trade agreements are met, educating DR import and export businesses on the benefits of the trade agreements, and supporting financial initiatives funded by the EU. He describes it as the perfect match of quantitative skills and international relations, a combination he wouldn’t have discovered without the freedom to explore and the close-knit relationships he was able to harness at Rollins.

Isaac Gorres ’21

The Art Conservator: Isaac Gorres ’21

  • Majors: Art history and biochemistry/molecular biology
  • Purpose-driven outcome: Environmental microbiology MS candidate, Radboud University, Netherlands

Isaac Gorres ’21 still recalls the skeptical looks he got during his high school graduation ceremony as he told people he planned to double major in biology and art history in college.

Unlike his peers, Rollins professors nourished his dual loves of science and art, helping pave his unique path. As part of that journey, Gorres is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental microbiology at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and he cites two projects through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program for giving him a leg up on his current classmates in both his writing ability and interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Isaac Gorres and art history professor Susan Libby present their collaborative research at the Rollins Museum of Art.
Gorres and art history professor Susan Libby present their collaborative research at the Rollins Museum of Art.

For the first project, he partnered with art history professor Susan Libby to explore new and emerging methodologies for conserving modern artwork.

“Contemporary art objects can present a lot of challenges for art conservators because they can be very diverse in their material origin,” he says. “How do you even begin to approach an art object made from a mylar balloon, for example? Dr. Libby was so incredible to work with, and it was really cool to get to go to the Venice Biennale as part of that experience and see some of the artworks in person that I was writing about.”

Next he worked with Santiago-Narvaez to identify which specific pigments were used to create the different red paints in The Crucifixion with St. John, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene, an Old Master painting attributed to Marcellus Coffermans, a 16th-century Flemish Renaissance artist. Gorres developed the concept proposal, which helped earn him a Goldwater Scholarship—the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate science award.

Isaac Gorres ’21 in a Rollins biology lab.
Photo by Scott Cook.

“The project allowed me to fuse together the two best parts of my education,” he says. “It’s also a huge part of why I’m in the Netherlands. I wrote about it as part of my application to Radboud and got a full scholarship. I’m so thankful to my Rollins professors for being so open and flexible to making my undergraduate experience as full and purposeful as it could be.”

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