Seek Your Passion – Mark Modica ’82

Seek Your Passion – Mark Modica ’82

Interviewed by Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: What have you done since leaving Trinity? It could be related to work, family, anything you’d like to share with us.

MM: One of the reasons I went into political science was to go into law. I had internships in the state house in Connecticut and in Washington D.C. with Joe Biden and Ronald Reagan. That is what inspired me to pivot from being a lawyer to go into this business. I went to Northeastern for grad school, and went on to spend twenty-five years in business. After that, I started in venture capital, which has turned out to be my passion and my mission outside of my family. I enjoy helping entrepreneurs get funded. I’ve worked with some of the best start-ups in the world. I liked that, as a liberal arts major, I had the freedom to fully explore and not get pigeonholed into a certain career. My mentor was Clyde McKee and he encouraged me to explore. At Trinity, you were not just getting that freedom. You were also inspired to seek your passion and do something great. You might make money, of course, but also find things of interest to you. I was lucky enough to have started the first venture capital firm in the country (sort of like Shark Tank) in 1999. It’s been incredible to be able to work with the founders who are mission-driven people, to experience interesting technology here in Silicon Valley, and to be inspired every day to help people.

SG: It sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot since graduating from Trinity. Is there anything that you learned at Trinity, either through your political science classes or in general, that you found useful in growing your career?

MM: Yes, I got to pick classes that I thought were really interesting. Philosophy of law really helped me go beyond what the law says and understand the will of the people. My freshman orientation class was amazing, and combined the technical with learning how to speak. I’ve spent my career coaching people on how to speak, and that course gave me the foundation for that. One of the most important aspects of my job is being able to understand what’s going on behind all the data and to help entrepreneurs explain and sell their idea. Trinity’s liberal arts education helped get me out of the “traditional learning” frame of mind, and helped look deeper at things. In my junior year, I was a TA and a social chairman, in addition to my courses and personal life. It was too much responsibility, so much so that I wasn’t doing well and thought about dropping out. Thankfully, I had a great support system at Trinity and was able to manage things with the help of the Dean. Trinity was equally supportive when I went to Washington, which turned out to be the greatest six months of my life. I was there in Washington when Regan was shot, the shuttle launched, and the hostages came home from Iran. I think Trinity promotes that kind of opportunity. They promote you going away and getting views outside the class. It’s not traditional education, but forefront of advanced learning in liberal arts.