UVA fourth-year Jyotika Chandoke knows the importance of community. With a major in commerce, a concentration in finance, and a track in global commerce, she demonstrates a candid awareness of how the health of one community can impact the health of another — an awareness that clearly shows in her approach towards service.

“Because I’m an international student, I think I’m interested in those things that are happening in the world,” Jyotika says. “I knew about Madison House before even setting foot on Grounds. I was looking for ways to be involved, and I was — and still am — passionate about community service.”

Jyotika has always been involved with her local community. As a high school student, she taught English to under-privileged students and faculty and picked up trash off the streets of India. From the moment she was accepted to UVA, Jyotika came into her first year ready to serve. “I wanted to make an impact while I was in Charlottesville, and that’s how I knew I needed to volunteer with Madison House,” she recalls. “Volunteering takes you outside UVA and introduces you to the people who have their roots here.”

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“Madison House is such a crucial element of the whole undergraduate experience. Being able to be a part of that has been incredible."

Image: Jyotika with fellow Program Directors during the 2018 BIG Event.

Jyotika has always been involved with her local community. As a high school student, she taught English to under-privileged students and faculty and picked up trash off the streets of India. From the moment she was accepted to UVA, Jyotika came into her first year ready to serve.

“I wanted to make an impact while I was in Charlottesville, and that’s how I knew I needed to volunteer with Madison House,” she recalls. “Volunteering takes you outside UVA and introduces you to the people who have their roots here.”

Jyotika became involved with The BIG Event after volunteering during the annual day of service as a first year. She joined a team of volunteers assigned to a community garden where residents could grow vegetables that were native to their home countries and were generally unavailable in American supermarkets. For Jyotika, this moment at the community garden changed her perspective.

“Coming from India, I had always assumed that everywhere in the States would be more developed,” she says. “That was clearly the wrong mindset to have, and volunteering with Madison House opened my eyes to the fact that there is still economic disparity, even in a town that is so economically developed.”


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The BIG Event
at-a-glance

Image: The sign-in and t-shirt table during the 2018 BIG Event.

Total Estimated service hours during The 2018-2019 academic year:

1,317 hours

Estimated Economic value of Madison House 2018-2019 service hours:

$36,217

Community partner organizations:

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority, Burnley-Moran Elementary School, Fry’s Spring Beach Club, The Habitat store, University Montessori School, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Wildrock, First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, Theological Horizons, Fluvanna Master Gardeners Children's Garden at Carysbrook, Local Energy Alliance Program, SPCA of Nelson County, WTJU 91.1 FM, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, Town of Scottsville, Morven Kitchen Garden, Bellair Farm, Park Street Christian Church, Office for Sustainability at UVA, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Belmont Arts Collaborative, and private Charlottesville community members.


During her time as Head Program Director and committee member of The BIG Event, Jyotika has continued to learn about the importance of community. She recounts one specific site visit where a community partner was unable to be present for a walk-through of the site because she was in the hospital. “Her neighbor met us at the house and guided us through the property, pointing out what needed to be done and what resources were available,” says Jyotika. “This neighbor managed the whole process even though it wasn’t her home. She reminded me that the community supports, not only the UVA student body, but also each other.”

For Jyotika, volunteering has also helped her to develop her abilities as a leader and define her management style. She remembers being initially worried about taking on a role where her decisions would impact the overall implementation of an entire program, but Jyotika soon found that the support of Madison House leadership gave her the confidence to grow.

Her advice to incoming student volunteers? Don’t be afraid to do something you’re unfamiliar with.

“Madison House is such a crucial element of the whole undergraduate experience,” says Jyotika. “Being able to be a part of that has been incredible.”

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"I was looking for ways to be involved, and I was — and still am — passionate about community service."