By Sara Blake
CASA Advocate Jahnavi Muppaneni moved to the United States from India around 5 years old. “My parents moved here first, so my brother and I lived with my grandparents for a few years,” she shares. “After my brother and I came to the US, my parents worked in separate states for a while so they could build a life for our family here.”
A friend of Jahnavi’s in the area was a Montgomery CASA volunteer and invited Jahnavi to a community event where they readied a house for a relative adopting a child.
Jahnavi’s family eventually settled outside of Houston. A friend of Jahnavi’s in the area was a Montgomery CASA volunteer and invited Jahnavi to a community event where they readied a house for a relative adopting a child. “I was 17 or so at the time, and could clearly see the impact of CASA firsthand,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to be an advocate when I was old enough.” Two years ago, Jahnavi reached her goal and was assigned to her first CASA case.
Almost immediately, Jahnavi felt a connection with the siblings on her case. “They reminded me of my brother and I. They were immigrants too, so I understood the language and cultural barriers. For instance, in many countries, people rarely drive. When one of the parents missed a lot of meetings, I realized they didn’t have a way to get there and weren’t used to driving,” Jahnavi explains. “It’s easy to read about the case and make assumptions. But then you get to know the parents and families, and you see how hard many of them are working to overcome their obstacles. You see how much they are trying to change.”
"It’s easy to read about the case and make assumptions. But then you get to know the parents and families, and you see how hard many of them are working to overcome their obstacles."
It's not the first time we’ve seen it happen, but it never fails to inspire us when we hear that a CASA volunteer changed their school major or career path to focus on helping children
Jahnavi has always been drawn to storytelling and originally found an outlet for it in her marketing career at Dell after studying Communications and Journalism at UT Austin. But after her experience as a CASA volunteer, she realized it was time for a change. “I love marketing, but I want to focus more on social impact – specifically diversity and inclusion. I want to learn how to use business to do good.” Recently, Jahnavi was accepted into the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College where she plans to get her MBA. While we are sad to see her go, we are so excited for Jahnavi and her vision to use her career to make a difference for others in such a purposeful way!
Jahnavi in the Miss Texas pageant representing Austin. "My platform is ‘Be the Change for A child’, and it’s all about child advocacy and mentorship"
Jahnavi has even brought CASA into the pageant realm, as she will soon compete in the Miss Texas pageant representing Austin. “My platform is ‘Be the Change for A child’, and it’s all about child advocacy and mentorship!
“CASA is a great example of women in leadership, in a world where the glass ceiling still exists. Being a volunteer teaches you how to advocate for yourself by advocating for others. It showed me that leadership is not who is the loudest in the room, but it’s often who is the most compassionate,” Jahnavi says. “I’m excited to channel that into my own life!”
Could CASA be your passion? The children we serve are waiting for dedicated and caring community members just like you. Learn more on our Volunteer page or RSVP for an upcoming Volunteer Info Session over Zoom. If you're ready to begin your volunteer journey, apply today!
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