Isha Godara

AUG '17, '21 BCom

Founder, JIVAM Foundation

Isha Godara began her university studies at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in 2016 before heading to North Campus to complete a bachelor of commerce degree in finance. She is passionate about international development, working to make societies more equitable and combating climate change. Through various competitions and projects during her degree, she was able to learn more about international development issues.

When Isha returned to her village in India in July 2020, she noticed that the education of students from low-income families were being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. As a result, she established the not-for-profit JIVAM Foundation to empower rural communities. What first began simply as providing academic lessons to students, JIVAM would later address other interconnected issues by offering career workshops, hosting community events, organizing recreational activities and more.

During her degree, she was involved in various leadership endeavours, such as chairing TEDxUAlberta, managing campaigns for the University of Alberta Students’ Union candidates, developing a responsible investment course in the Alberta School of Business and her work within the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. In addition, she served on university governance committees and represented the university in business case competitions and conferences such as Daughters of the Vote.

Q: Why did you choose to study at Augustana Campus?

A: I wanted to do a bachelor of commerce degree at the U of A and it required a prerequisite year. I applied to Augustana for my first year because it has a tight-knit culture, and I thought it would be easy to transition to a new environment as an international student.


Q: What is your favourite memory from your time on campus?

A: During my first Thanksgiving, one of my classmates from a statistics class invited me and the other international students in the class to her home for Thanksgiving. It was really sweet of her and her family. The experience shows the depth of connections you make at Augustana because of small class sizes and that close-knit environment.


Q: How did you come to find yourself in the community you reside in today?

A: I originally belong to the village in India where I started my NGO. I wanted to take a gap year someday to do developmental work here, and COVID-19 provided the opportunity to be here for an extended time due to virtual learning.


Q: Did Augustana prepare you to engage with your community in a meaningful way?

A: In the short span of a year, I started to get to know everyone from students to cafeteria personnel. Everyone was quite welcoming and kind towards international students. It made me want to give back to the community and get involved in a variety of volunteer opportunities in my first year.


Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your community interaction/your career?

A: As the founder of JIVAM Foundation, I love that I have been able to use my skills to provide quality learning opportunities to youth in my village.

As a child who grew up in a small town in India, there were not many opportunities for me to explore different interests and learn about new people. Books filled this gap and enabled me to learn about various things that inspired me to study hard. I am glad that the children of my village will be able to experience this, too, as I opened the first library in my village through my work at JIVAM Foundation.

The most rewarding part has been mentoring and educating young girls in the village who are extremely hardworking, ambitious and kind. I am excited to see what the future has hold in for them and how JIVAM can help them in achieving their dreams.


This Alumni Q&A was originally published in the 2021 CIRCLE alumni magazine.