The heart of a Trinity student has always been one of desiring to give back to the world they live in.
“I have always felt that Trinity students are a very sweet and kind group of people. I have seen during my time at Trinity, and even when visiting a couple of years back, that people who go here are service-oriented. They have a desire to make the world a better place,” Nava Kavelin ’06, M'07 shares fondly. Although she speaks of the Trinity family as a whole, this statement couldn’t hold more truth for Nava personally.
After graduating from Trinity with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education, Nava applied her degrees in a rather atypical fashion. With a desire to do volunteer work—which her time living in Trinity’s community service residence hall helped grow and nourish—Nava moved to Israel for four years, where she worked for the Universal House of Justice as a research assistant and then as a program coordinator at the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, an educational NGO. Both of her degrees helped prepare her for these jobs and allowed her to do impactful work where she could be a part of implementing change for gender equality and encourage the next generation to rise up and use their voices to do the same in areas they are passionate about.
Because Nava did not waste any time after graduating from Trinity to serve others outside the United States, she was not an active member of the alumni family until she returned after eight years of living abroad. She didn’t feel as though she missed career opportunities having not been connected to other alumni when she was away, but once she started getting more involved with the local chapters wherever she lived, she realized that there were more doors available to her because of the connections she made through the Trinity alumni network. The first person she reconnected with was her good friend, Simran Singh ’06, who lives in New York.
Nava and Simran had a similar experience at Trinity, where they were among a small group of students from minority religions. Even more uniquely for Nava is that she was the only mainland Puerto Rican and the only one who was of the Baha’i faith that she was aware of during her time at Trinity. Rather than be discouraged or feel out of place, she recalls one of her fondest memories of her time on campus is how others welcomed her and were curious to know more about her faith. Because of the wonderful community she found at Trinity, she was able to thrive in college and was encouraged and supported to co-found, alongside Simran, Trinity’s first Interfaith Club.
Nava experienced a lot of personal growth at Trinity, especially during her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) year, where the learning was intense and focused. She attributes a lot of her passion for what she does now to Angela Breidenstein ’91, M’92, Ed.D. Through Breidenstein’s mentorship and leadership of the MAT program, Nava was able to see what a successful career woman with a servant’s heart looked like, and that the two did not have to be mutually exclusive. Through every step of her career path, even transitioning from her work with the United Nations into the entertainment industry, Nava looks back to that master’s year where the example of wisdom, systematization, and clarity of vision exemplified by Breidenstein continues to inspire her.
That includes the work she accomplished with her award-winning 2020 film, Glimpses into the Spirit of Gender Equality. A beautiful piece of art that focuses on the triumphs of making progress towards gender equality in several communities around the world, the film received remarkable feedback from its audience. Many have watched Nava’s film and enjoyed how hopeful they feel about the advancement of gender equality and loved how accessible the film was. A few people noted that they wished the film had focused more on the challenges these countries face. “Even though that was not the purpose of this film, I respect their critiques and have even considered making another film that will address the challenges countries face in the fight for gender equality,” Nava shares.
When Nava made the transition from work at the United Nations to work in media and production, she also began connecting more with the Trinity alumni network. In this, Nava not only sought to make new career connections but also to use her servant’s heart: to be useful and help others on their journey to finding what they want to do in life. “I wasn’t really involved with other alumni while I was abroad, but I’ve found that Trinity alumni are very generous and very willing to give advice. I encourage others to reach out, even if you may feel nervous about connecting with people with whom the only thing you have in common is Trinity. You never know what doors they could help open for you.”
With Alumni Weekend just around the corner, Nava is most excited about reconnecting with some of her former peers and making new connections as she celebrates her 15-year reunion. She believes that the Class of 2006 had a very adventurous spirit, and she remembers that they really enjoyed living life to the fullest, while also giving back to their communities. She looks forward to seeing them again but also looks forward to forming new, sustaining relationships, and she hopes everyone else who attends will also make meaningful connections.
“Whenever you have an authentic connection with someone, it has the potential to become one of the most valuable aspects of your life.”
The thumbnail image features Nava (second from right) and Simran (center) in college.