The Future Is Definitely This Female: 11 Questions with Navya Dev


Meet Navya Dev, President of Society of Entrepreneurs at James Madison University, feminist, and all around queen.

Navya Dev is a senior at James Madison University, an Independent Scholar who’s research is in Ethical Considerations for A.I. She is currently President of Society of Entrepreneurs at James Madison University, an organization that fosters the entrepreneurial mind and spirit, with a community where students come together in educating and supporting students’ new ventures. In 2012 Dev created Paige’s Closet, a clothing center for low-income students at a high school that served over 200 families a month, where she managed a volunteer base of over 100 students.


Interview: Navya Dev

  1. What made you want to run for President of Society of Entrepreneurs (SOE)?

“From when I joined initially in 2015 I have always been captivated by SOE’s dedication to sharing ideas with people who believed in independent thought and action. I wanted to run for President because I knew I could continue that spirit and bring about change that was meaningful. When giving my speech, I reminded members not to vote for me because of our friendship but rather for my proposed ideas because of my full and continued commitment to following through on my plans for the organization.”

2. What are some of the challenges you faced early on, and how did you overcome them?

“Change management is a tricky thing. Getting people to believe in not just you, but your ideas in which they don’t fully understand, is difficult and I learned a lot about getting people to understand by spending time listening to those around me and tailoring my plans around their hopes and interests. I learned to continuously ask, how can we be better? And the result was a huge improvement in efficacy.”

3. Favorite book(s)???

- The Asher Lev series by Chaim Potok
- Barbarian Days by William Finnegan 
- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut 
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell 
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“All of these books were life changing for me, I would highly recommend reading these for a healthy dose of ‘Woah. What the heck?’ and ‘Oh my god I need to learn more about this.’”

4. Tell me about a time you did something you were immensely proud of.

“Starting the clothing center was a huge accomplishment for my community and I, but the aspect that made me most proud was the impact it had on every group that participated in its creation and upkeep. Students that had never done service or had never interacted with groups like the ones that needed the closet’s services were compelled to help out and always returned, saying that they loved helping out even though they didn’t expect to. That was huge for me. Sustainable change impacts both groups and I was very proud to have engaged students that previously wouldn’t have taken time to contribute.”

5. What woman(en) is your biggest role model and why?

“My mother, Gerda Taro, Reese Witherspoon, Cardi B, Susan B. Anthony (I was nicknamed Susan B. Anthony in high school because I was loud about my views on feminism and female power, sure enough people caught up to my views- all is well)”

6. What qualities should an exceptional leader possess?

“My father taught me this: a great leader has the ability to make others feel like they are and can be leaders too.”

7. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

“I live with five incredible women and no one sleeps in. I usually wake up to the sound of them talking and laughing and since I can’t stand to miss out on what could be the funniest joke or the most interesting point yet; I pretty much run out of my room every morning so I can participate. Hangout with people who make you feel like that. They are the first people I share my business ideas with and the first people I consult before making any big decisions. I feel very lucky to have so much humor, love, and intelligence in my life everyday.”

8. What’s your favorite quote?

‘If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’ — William Blake

9. What’s something you want to get better at?

“I am learning more about jazz piano, I’d like to get better at playing the blues.”

10. What kind of impact do you wish to have on the world after graduating?

“I want to create things that compel people to be positive leaders, to venture outside and improve the world. I want to be more empathetic, with each new friend and colleague I gain, I learn how to be better, but it is a constant journey and I am still learning. This is why things like failure, heartbreak, and change are okay, they give you the chance to access the experiences of so many before you and those to come. I think with improved empathy, your impact ripples outward ten-fold. I want to build organizations that help people help themselves and products that improve our interactions with one another.”

11. What’s your charge for women?

“Psychology shows us that people do not change their preconceived notions or biases without example. For example, a man took the IAT exam (gauges your sentiments towards certain objects or groups of people, it is often called the “racism test” because it can identify biases for and against certain racial groups) every single day. Everyday, the test deemed him to be racist against African American individuals (pretty normal, most people are pretty partial toward their own.) One day, he received a different score, shocked by the change he recounted everything he did that day that might have impacted his score. He realized that he had watched the Olympics that day and had witnessed several black athletes accomplish incredible feats.

To women everywhere, commenting on our injustices and bringing them to light is half the battle, the other half is simply promoting the successes of women you hear about and have around you, examples of women leading and doing great things are what will change people’s interpretations of what women of capable of.

They will begin to think “oh that makes sense, I’ve seen that before” or “if she could do it, I can too”.