A Runner at Heart: Meet Alumnus Nicholas Modlin

Hailing from Chicago, Nicholas Modlin holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Judson University, Illinois, and a B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Entrepreneurship for Social Innovation from JCU. During his studies, Nicholas founded a small contractor business, coaching local high school runners, and developing his university’s first math tutoring center.

Nicholas Modlin
Nicholas Modlin

What made you decide to transfer to JCU?
I discovered very quickly that, despite having studied math and education, I actually yearned for a more entrepreneurial career. This led me to co-develop a small business in artisanal coffee and ice cream – a business that I ran for three years. Since I did not have any formal business training, I naturally developed a desire to return to school. Between this goal, an early appreciation for Italian culture (sparked by a few Italian courses in high school), and a respect for the faculty listing at JCU’s Frank J. Guarini School of Business, I made the jump to come study in Rome.

You hold a B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Entrepreneurship for Social Innovation. What made you decide to combine these two disciplines? 
Spending three years running a small business taught me the value of being flexible, innovative, and entrepreneurial. I came to JCU with the intention of developing these skills further. Behind every passion, however, lies a deeper mission. My mission for many years has been to share with the people of the world the benefits of nutritious food – a passion that developed from my pursuits as an athlete. 

What JCU classes and/or professors impacted you the most and why?
Creativity, trial and error, and openness to ideas are a few of the skills that I found to be the most useful in my classes at JCU. The greatest lesson at JCU was to leverage this type of skillset as a means of applying the more technical aspects of business. One example of this approach was taught in Professor Signorini’s Fundraising and Social Marketing course, where we learned how to design concrete approaches to the open-ended challenges of fundraising. Another memorable example of this came from Professor Pulino’s Entrepreneurial Finance. Instead of focusing on strictly theoretical concepts and number-crunching, this course opened my eyes to the many possibilities and creative approaches to financing a business. These lessons and many more will remain with me for the rest of my life and future career. 

While at JCU, you founded the Run Club.  How did this experience enrich you? 
For as long as I can remember, running has been the backbone of my life.  In my early schooling as much as during my years working, the practice of running has been a central habit that has provided both relaxation and challenging goals. I don’t know if I would have achieved the same success in life without the discipline of running to center me. Sharing this with my fellow students at JCU was one of my greatest pleasures. My hope and belief in starting this club at JCU was that others would find the opportunity to center themselves through running as much as I had, perhaps even developing a mindset that would aid them outside of the sport.

What are your plans for the future?
I aim to contribute to the future of sustainable food through entrepreneurial means. Right now, while living in Rome and working with the Athletics department at JCU, I have started a project representing a consortium of indigenous peoples in West Africa. The mission of this organization is to develop local economies, protect agricultural ecosystems, and empower local community members. There will always be food systems around the world in need of assistance. The drive to empower these systems through entrepreneurial means is what brought me to Rome, it is what attracted me to this consortium, and it is what will continue to push me forward throughout the rest of my career.