USF World News
USF Alumnus and Actor Serves as a Valuable Advocate Abroad for International Education
TAMPA, FL (June 22, 2023) -- Despite graduating from USF fifteen years ago in 2008 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, former Bull, and current Indian actor Ojas Rawal continues to be a passionate advocate for USF. He recently spoke to a group of incoming USF students from India just a few days before filming a movie on location in Los Angeles, CA. Upon returning to India, he was invited to serve as a pre-departure panelist by EducationUSA (EdUSA), Mumbai. The session helped orient Indian students who will be studying in the U.S. this fall. EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network that promotes U.S. colleges and universities to students around the world. They have hundreds of centers in over 175 countries. Mr. Rawal has been doing presentations for EdUSA for nearly two decades.
His days as a student were as just as hectic as they are now that he is an actor juggling roles in movies, plays and TV series. Despite his busy schedule he finds time be "a friend and guide” for international students at USF. Mr. Rawal graduated from (what is now) the Judy Genshaft Honors College, obtaining his USF degree in Biomedical Sciences with minors in Business Administration, Public Health. While at USF, he was involved in undergraduate research at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute as a laboratory apprentice of the Drug Discovery Program. He was also an undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the University Experience course that acquaints new students with the opportunities and demands of higher. Mr. Rawal was on the committee to establish the Center for India Studies at USF. He was a Resident Assistant in a hall for 300 freshmen and is still in touch with many of those students and according to Mr. Rawal has attended weddings for some of them. Recipient of the Golden Bull award and USF’s Distinguished Outstanding Senior award, he was a Student Government Senator, copyeditor of The Oracle and twice a USF Global Ambassador to India. Following graduation, he served as an adjunct faculty member for (what is now) the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College where he designed and taught two courses on India, including the Geographical Perspectives: India class.
The move from biomedical sciences to performing arts
The switch from Biomedical Sciences to performing arts was certainly unconventional, but according to Mr. Rawal, the fluid yet promising nature of the opportunities afforded to students in the U.S. higher education institutions prepared him well to diversify. Before he had the chance to specialize in the sciences, an opportunity arose to assist the legendary Bollywood film director Kundan Shah and after doing standup gigs at The Comedy Factory, he joined MG Productions, a local theater group where he wrote episodes for the television channel Colors. He came to the table with unending enthusiasm and a relentless desire to learn and managed to break into the field of performing arts. Mr. Rawal strongly believes that the art chooses the artist, and not the other way around and that acting is a gift that needs to be discovered and polished. With a decorated academic record, he believes he can always fall back on his degree, but with close to a decade in the arts, Mr. Rawal has “no complaints...only gratitude for the immense appreciation the audiences have showered upon me,” he said.
Mr. Rawal was recently in Los Angeles to act in an Indian film, "Minus One Dollar" − a biopic based on the rags-to-riches tale about Ramesh Bhagat, who arrived in the U.S. in debt and became a successful businessman in L.A. four decades later. Moving smoothly from the documentary to the thriller roles in his latest production "Ghulaam Chor," Mr. Rawal is now back in Mumbai and on the stage for his Gujarati comedy of mistaken identities "Aaje Rokda Ne Udhaar Kaale." The play, which recently crossed its silver jubilee run, has taken him from megacities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai to small villages like Vyara. Meanwhile, "Wagle ki Duniya,” the daily television series in which he plays a prominent role, is heading towards the 700-episode mark. His next project is a film titled "Ishwar Kyaan Che?" ("Where is God?") which will see him playing Lord Krishna.
Although his work keeps him busy, Mr. Rawal still finds the time to advocate for the importance of international education and dreams of returning to USF’s campus one day − his "home away from home."