Olivet College is woven into Priscilla Dhanapal Mohl’s lifelong journey, just as her passions for helping others and doing good. Mohl first came to Olivet College from India in the 1970s as a sociology major and French and English minor. She later returned to earn her secondary teaching certificate in 1986. Mohl’s career has been shaped around working with children, most notably founding a home for orphaned children in South India.
I came to Olivet College with the goal of returning to India to be of help to children in need. I made this commitment in grade 10, and throughout high school I spent weekends and vacations visiting orphanages and schools for visually and hearing impaired children.
During high school, I asked my friend, Louise, where she was planning to apply to college, and she told me she wanted to join her sister at Olivet College. This casual conversation before French class would have results beyond my imagination in the months to come. I was accepted to Olivet and earned the International Student Scholarship from the Kodaikanal International School where I attended.
I experienced my first plane ride and my first time away from home, but Olivet College students and faculty and the Congregational Church welcomed me. I never looked back or felt sadness being halfway around the world from my home in the hills of South India. I came to Olivet as a teenager and left as a woman, having learned many of life’s lessons, gaining knowledge and making friends for a lifetime. Student Volunteers, the Sigma Beta sorority and the International Club were all groups where I had the chance to be president and a member of the team. I also played on the JV volleyball team, sang in Concert Choir and played intramural volleyball. Olivet Congregational Church was “my church” during my college days. Members of the church invited me to their homes and always made me feel welcome.
After college, I experienced married life, motherhood, community work and my own employment. I worked as a teacher at Kodaikanal International School, my alma mater, for 20 years, and I spent another five years teaching at a Canadian international school in India. For the past five years, I have been teaching piano and cultural Tamil at the Kodaikanal International School.
My mother and I co-founded a home for orphaned and destitute children. Initially, our family and close friends started this home called “Bethania,” which is Bethany in the Tamil translation of the Bible. We started from scratch, developed eight acres of land, dug wells, planted 1,000 trees and constructed a chapel and living quarters. After 28 years, we transferred the home to an organization called Bethania Kids. I am still in touch with our former children.
I am grateful for my education at Olivet. The academics and the life experiences I had there influenced who I have been and am today. “Pro Christo et Humanitate, For Christ and Humanity,” have remained my guiding words to this day.