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City Year Alum Madhov Shroff: Navigating Uncertainty and Championing Equity

People often talk about your 20s as one of the best times of your life. As a 25-year-old, I am enjoying this part of my life, but this age also comes with many uncertainties. So much pressure is put on young adults to figure out what they want to do with their life and career path, but many still have much to learn about themselves. Since I was 18, I have gone from wanting to be a physical therapist to getting my Ph.D. in psychology, working in sports information, and now wanting to be an elementary teacher. These changes are all too common for young adults and were also true for City Year alum and now board member Madhav Shroff. 

Madhav grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but attended college in Pittsburgh with plans of becoming a doctor. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and later moved back to Arkansas, where he attended UAMS and earned a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences. However, after completing his master’s, Shroff realized that he was no longer interested in becoming a doctor but rather in something directly impacting equity. With that in mind, he applied to City Year in 2015 as an AmeriCorps member. 

Madhav was a student success coach at J.A. Fair, where he served as a team leader. His two years of service instilled values in him that he still carries today. Shroff said his experience as a corps member made him more aware of the systemic inequalities that our students face in the public education system. He also said that he grew significantly in his year, preparing him for the professional world. The days as an AmeriCorps member with City Year are long. Madhav attributed the 10-hour days at J.A. Fair to helping build his stamina and improving his time management skills. Lastly, Shroff said that he developed a lot of confidence in his year. At the beginning of his term, he said that he often believed that he couldn’t complete certain tasks or thought that someone more qualified would be better at doing certain tasks. However, by the end of his time, he realized that you can only rely on yourself to do something. We all must believe that we can be a difference and get anything done if we put forth an honest and faithful effort. 

After serving with City Year, Shroff then enrolled to earn a master’s degree at The Clinton School of Public Service while also earning his Juris Doctor Law Degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock. After graduating, Madhav then worked as an attorney for almost three years. However, he was ready for another change. Shroff now serves as an equity officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. In his role there, he helps the foundation bring people to the table to have conversations on how to make Arkansas a more equitable place. The Rockefeller Foundation is a private foundation that donates around $5-7 million annually to help alleviate our state’s social, racial, or economic inequalities. Madhav is responsible for holding conversations with senior staff and politicians in the state to ensure that the foundation uses that money strategically to benefit Arkansas in the best way possible. 

Although his AmeriCorps service ended seven years ago, Shroff still serves. He’s an active board member at City Year Little Rock, volunteering his time to train and advise corps members and raise funds and friends for the site. He says that whenever he is frustrated, he always thinks back to his students at J.A. Fair and realizes why he is doing what he is doing. His path changed multiple times, but as a young adult, it is essential to recognize that opinions and ideas might vary based on your work experience. How do you know you want to do something until you try it? We as humans are constantly changing and evolving, so enjoy the ride and take lessons with you from wherever you are in your education or career. 

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