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Student Spotlight: Pallavi Gopee paves the way for students of diverse backgrounds at the Muma College of Business

By Nicole Miskovic

Pallavi Gopee

TAMPA (August 9, 2017) -- No challenge goes unconquered by Pallavi Gopee. Whether it's the hurdle of moving to a new country, becoming a college student or adjusting to a new culture, this business administration major has overcome each of them, one by one, making them chapters in her book on how to succeed.

"It was hard in the beginning," she said, "but I was set on becoming part of the university and making my mark, rather than just attending it."

As a freshman to the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business in 2014, Gopee established herself as a motivated individual intent on success during and after her college career. And as a student in the INTO program, which helps international students weave their way into the university's social and academic fabric, Gopee got a head start on her education.

"INTO gave me a smooth transition to the U.S. and a way to enjoy the enriching culture at USF," she said. "The small courses allowed me to have one-on-one communication with my professors and be comfortable asking them questions."

The transition from high school to college was one of her most daunting challenges, she said, and the struggle to establish her own identity in a new environment made that transition even more stressful. But Gopee soldiered on and she's conquering those challenges at every step along the way.

Being from Mauritius, an island off the east coast of Africa with a culture rooted in the varied backgrounds of its residents, Gopee grew up in a cultural melting pot, so the diversified population at USF reminded her of home.

"Mauritian culture is based on the diversity of the population," she said, "that's why there is no 'official religion' on the island. Hindus, Tamils, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and others from all over the globe live in harmony and respect the free practice of all religions in Mauritius."

She liked the idea of becoming part of another diverse – but unified – culture with people who have the similar goals in the business world, and so the Muma College of Business was the perfect fit.

"Having spent my life in a country with such an enriching and diverse cultural background, it was easy for me to interact with people here and get active in student organizations on the USF campus," she said. "I kept on building great experiences here at USF and meeting great people."

She relies on and enjoys the backing and trust of her family, who has encouraged her aspirations even though they resulted in a move to the other side of the world.

"My family has shown strong emotional support for me," said Gopee who graduates in 2018, "especially being away from them."

As the eldest of her siblings, she strives to be a role model for her younger brother and sister.

Though the workload of college courses makes it hard to juggle additional extracurricular activities, Gopee doesn't let this keep her from being involved. Outside interests are a way to participate in the things she loves and a way perhaps to advance her career.

She has taken extra credit hours each semester and enrolled in conferences and boot camps. For two consecutive years, she participated in the Model Arab League in which she represented the delegations of Yemen and Tunisia, respectively. This year, she was given the Outstanding Delegate Award for her representation as a delegate from Tunisia within the environmental council. This April she was a delegate for the Model United Nations Conference in New York and her team won the Outstanding Delegation honor, the highest award earned.

"With all the activities I have going on, I always try my best to dedicate my time to all my responsibilities and perform all my duties diligently," she said. "To pursue my passion for writing, I write a column for the USF Oracle in which I've touched on social issues at USF, such as smoking on campus."

Through all her involvement, Gopee still manages to focus on her academic development. She is a service site leader for Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at the Bulls Service Break and she's actively seeking an internship to get one step closer to her goal of being a successful business woman.

Not afraid to venture out of her comfort zone, Gopee has established a place for herself at the Muma College of Business. She cofounded the Association of Future Professionals in Business Management, a student organization that has grown to more than 70 active members. The organization is open to students of all majors and provides information to those interested in business management. It hosts professional speakers and serves as a networking community of skillful professionals for students leaning toward a business career.

"My vision behind establishing this organization revolves around the idea that management is a vital asset within many fields," she said, "not just the business world."

She served as president of the organization for over a year.

Involvement in these activities brings immediate and long-term benefits.

"I realized that becoming involved in various roles around campus will not only help me grow on a personal level," she said, "but it could also open doors to new opportunities."

As someone who aspires to be a CEO one day, Gopee knows the importance of working hard and overcoming obstacles. With her dedication, she has found the motivation not only to break through barriers but to surpass expectations; to manage and lead despite being a minority and a female in the business world.

Gopee hopes her example will help pave the way for students of diverse backgrounds at the Muma College of Business and other future businesswomen.

"I've seen a lot more students with diverse backgrounds involve themselves at Muma and participate in the programs the school has to offer," Gopee said. "I've also noticed that many of my friends and other female students are taking on leadership and management roles in student organizations.

"This is very exciting to see and I hope the numbers continue to increase."