Making Connections: Poole Alumna Uses Language to Bridge Cultural Barriers Across the Globe
Language is powerful. It’s that realization that led Poole College graduate Jeyashree Haridoss, to found Sol, a platform that instantly connects immigrants and refugees with interpreters. After recognizing that these communities often lack access to people who have the language skills and cultural knowledge to help them, Haridoss got to work creating an app that closes the gap.
“I have always loved the idea of using business as a force for good,” Haridoss says. “Through entrepreneurship, I can compound my impact on communities that need help in a sustainable way.”
This passion for entrepreneurship, coupled with her interest in global cultures, first led Haridoss to NC State. “NC State has a great dual degree program – the Hamilton Scholars Program – that allowed me to earn two degrees in four years while also giving me the opportunity to study abroad,” Haridoss says.
She graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship from the Poole College of Management and in international studies with a concentration in global sustainability and development from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She also earned a minor in Spanish.
Born in Chennai, India, Haridoss moved to Cary, N.C. at the age of three. She grew up speaking both English and Tamil, and often served as an interpreter for her grandparents when they visited the United States. However, her experience translating didn’t end there – while studying abroad during her junior year in Argentina and Spain, Haridoss had opportunities to use her Spanish language skills to help others.
“I was surrounded by other study abroad students who couldn’t speak Spanish,” Haridoss says. “I was able to help them order at restaurants, pay their cell phone bills, get metro tickets and even get haircuts. The role of language in connecting people began to inspire me.”
After returning to the United States, Haridoss’ eyes were opened to the need for translators among immigrant and refugee populations seeking resources – and Sol was born. The web app, which functions similarly to Uber, allows people in new places to enter the language they need help with and the amount of time they might need one. Within 60 seconds, the app connects a user with an interpreter who can help.
“These communities already face so many obstacles and we don’t want to put another one in their way,” Haridoss explains. For this reason, Sol aims to partner with refugee resettlement agencies who can allocate resources for this service.
In the future, Haridoss hopes to turn the web app into a mobile app, and sees how it could provide help to international students, study abroad students and tourists alike. “I see a lot of potential for future markets and I hope to serve as many people with the app as possible,” Haridoss says. “But for right now, we’re focused on serving domestic immigrant and refugee communities.”
While Sol was greatly influenced by Haridoss’ real-world experiences, she also points to her internships at SAS and Poole College for shaping her as an entrepreneur.
“NC State ranked 10th in the nation for undergraduate entrepreneurship,” Haridoss says. “It offers amazing opportunities for students to pitch their ideas, get feedback, receive money and learn from others.”
As an undergraduate, Haridoss took advantage of various opportunities offered by NC State, including Entrepalooza, Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Entrepreneurship Clinic (eClinic) where clinicians can learn from startup founders in the local community and connect with future mentors. She also served as an intern for Poole Diversity and Inclusion, and as a member of the NC State Entrepreneurship Ambassador program.
Above all, Haridoss recognizes that the relationships she formed with others through Poole have contributed to her success.
“I built great connections and friendships with students who have amazing talents. One of them is now the developer contractor for Sol’s beta app,” Haridoss says. “Plus, the professors and partnerships we have in the community are incredible. They’re willing to go above and beyond, be a resource at any point in time, grab a cup of coffee and listen.”
Haridoss points especially to Lewis Sheats, assistant vice provost for entrepreneurship and executive director of the Entrepreneurship Clinic, as a mentor who shaped her.
“He is one of the best mentors I’ve ever had,” Haridoss says. “Because entrepreneurship is counter-intuitive in many ways, having someone guide you is invaluable.”
Haridoss also expressed gratitude for the ways in which Poole is seeking to make every student feel welcome through Poole Diversity and Inclusion, led by director Tayah Butler. “Her work ensures that students – who may otherwise not find community and focused resources – now have an entire team working to make sure they have access to resources and professional development,” Haridoss says. “That really defined the Poole experience for me.”