Monali Bhakta ’20: Embracing and Creating Change

The Gustavus senior has served others as an intern for Senator Amy Klobuchar and through a variety of campus leadership roles.
Posted on October 18th, 2019 by

Monali Bhakta

Monali Bhakta '20

Gustavus Adolphus College senior Monali Bhakta is always looking for ways to get involved in public life. An English and political science major from Shakopee, Minn., she testified in front of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee last spring, interned for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar this summer, and is currently serving as the Gustavus Student Senate Co-President.

Interns with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Bhakta (second from left) with Senator Amy Klobuchar and her fellow interns.

While her English and political science studies have combined to open doors for Bhakta, she wasn’t always so confident about what path to take. When she started at Gustavus, Bhakta planned to pursue a biology major with the intent to go into the medical field, but she knew her heart wasn’t in it. “I felt discouraged and I didn’t feel like that career path was my calling,” Bhakta said, describing the discomfort she felt while discerning her vocation and the growth that eventually came from it. “I switched to political science at the end of my sophomore year and I feel like it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

As an intern in Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Minneapolis office this summer, Bhakta talked to constituents, worked on correspondence, and put her skills as an English major to use as a writer and editor.

“That was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I know it’s pretty cliché to say that, but it wasn’t until after I finished the internship that I realized I learned so much about government and especially about social service and how we serve constituents in Minnesota.”

While her experience over the summer was eye-opening, the experiences she’s had on campus mean the most to her.

“One of the best organizations I’ve been a part of is Building Bridges. The topic that we had last year was Immigration: Demolishing the Legacy of Bigotry in the Land of Opportunity. That was very personal to me,” Bhakta said, explaining that both of her parents are immigrants. “I feel like I have a moral obligation to advocate for people like me.”

Gustavus Student Senate Cabinet 2019-2020.

Bhakta (front row, second from left) with the other members of the Gustavus Student Senate Cabinet.

Bhakta also serves as the co-president for Student Senate. “That experience, honestly, has been so humbling and informative. It’s something that I take seriously because I know that there are so many people on this campus that want to spread their voice or have a specific message that they want to convey or different changes that they want to see at Gustavus,” she said.

Under Bhakta and co-president Karrie Villareal’s leadership, one of the biggest milestones for Student Senate this year has been an environmental one. The group passed a bylaw that created a new permanent environmental sustainability chair on the cabinet. The decision to make this change came not from Senate, but from listening to input from other students on campus. “Gusties have a lot to say. The purpose of Student Senate is to catapult their voice and be a force of change,” Bhakta said.

As a senior, Bhakta knows the clock is ticking as she continues to advocate for change on campus. “Every day is something new to experience,” Bhakta said. “There is such a strong support system here. What I’m going to miss so much about it is that sense of comfort—this is my home now.”

Bhakta says that her favorite memory on campus is hard to choose, but she points to events such as Christmas in Christ Chapel, Africa Night, Diversity Week, the International Festival, and, of course, Building Bridges.

Before graduation, and eventually law school, she plans to spend January Interim Experience studying away in Australia and Japan.

“It’s a way to treat myself,” Bhakta said. “But I hope it makes me uncomfortable.”

That’s where the growth happens.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


One Comment

  1. pravin/vasantiben bhakta says:

    We’re so proud of you.We are very pleased of your achievement.We always pray for your happyness and success.