Degree: Master of Arts in Religious Studies
College/School: Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
One of Venu Mehta’s biggest challenges as an international student at FIU was missing her family in India, particularly her mother, Dr. Purnima Mehta, whom she considers to be one of her greatest influences and mentors.
A strong sense of determination and dedication to learning helped see her through to earn her master’s degree in religious studies, adding to the Ph.D. in multiculturalism through literature education she had already earned in the Gujarat state of India.
Upon her arrival at FIU, Venu immediately stood out to her professors, who were impressed by the cutting-edge social science research she had already done on the Jain community and the American Jain diaspora.
Venu has published an award-winning primer for English speakers to learn the Gujarati language, based on her work as a Fulbright Scholar at Indiana University, Bloomington.
At FIU, she assisted her professors with an effort to catalogue another ancient language, Kacchi, for which there are few dictionaries in North America or Europe. Her work earned her induction into Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies and theology, for which she is currently president. She also founded the Preksha Meditation Club, bringing a central practice of Jain spirituality to FIU students.
Following graduation, Venu plans to continue her studies at the University of Florida, where she will pursue her Ph.D. in religious studies.
By Amy Ellis