Patel - Hersh

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C Scholars Class of 2011

Hersh Patel

Hometown/State: Cary, North Carolina

Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2008

Scholarship(s) Awarded: Dowdy Student Stores EC Scholars Award; Benn D. and Ruby Ennis Maynard EC Scholars Award

Major/Intended Major: Biology

Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?

Of the many schools I applied to, East Carolina presented several unique opportunities for me. Though ECU offered a winning football tradition and (in my not so humble opinion) the most passionate fans in the state; alas, I could not base my decision on those criteria alone. The invitation to be part of a group of scholars who would consistently challenge and motivate me, both in my academic and personal development, was paramount to my decision. Perhaps the most unique prospect of attending East Carolina University was the Early Assurance Program. Having a seat reserved for me at the Brody School of Medicine is tremendously beneficial to my career goals and thus a particularly substantive factor in my decision to attend East Carolina.

What has your scholarship enabled you to do?

This scholarship has provided me with many benefits beyond the obvious financial resources. Without this scholarship I would have missed out on the chance to take EC Scholar exclusive courses during my freshman year. In spite of the fact that these courses were among the most difficult I have taken thus far, the experience of learning about various significant issues both from and with some of the brightest students at East Carolina is not one I would be willing to exchange for easier courses.

In enhancing my academic experience, the EC Scholars program is not limited to conferring its benefits in Greenville alone. I am uncertain as to whether I would have considered studying abroad if my scholarship did not require it; however, having returned from one of the most incredible experiences of my life, let alone my time as an undergraduate, I am extraordinarily grateful I did and cannot imagine graduating without such an experience. Thanks to the study abroad stipend included in my EC Scholars Award, I was able to take six hours of religious studies credits while traveling in India. In addition to beholding awe-inspiring structures, discovering the nation's natural beauty, and exploring its vibrant cultures, one of the most striking aspects of India was the abundant poverty. As a part of our study abroad experience, our professor, in conjunction with the non-profit organization Tong Len, organized days of service in which we were able to provide the children of a slum in Dharamsala with a picnic and make repairs to the slum's tent school. Though I learned a great deal about the religions and cultures of India, I am most grateful for the opportunity to serve those children and the amount I learned about myself as a result.

What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at the university?

As an undergraduate biology major, I have benefited enormously from the proximity of The Brody School of Medicine. I am currently in my second year of participating in research under Dr. Shaw Akula in Brody's Department of Microbiology. Having completed a review paper last semester, I am currently in the process of designing an original research proposal and may build my senior thesis on this research.

What are your career plans/aspirations?

After graduation I plan to enroll in medical school. I am currently undecided in regards to which branch of medicine I would like to pursue.

How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?

East Carolina University has positively impacted me in several significant ways. I can only hope that at the conclusion of my time as an undergraduate I will have been able to make a significant positive impact to the university as well. One of the areas in which I am making an impact is the academic performance of my peers. At the Pirate Tutoring Center, I have been tutoring freshman level chemistry courses for the past two years. With several other volunteer tutors covering various subject areas, our work at the PTC provides valuable support for our fellow students. As an ECU student and as an EC Scholar, my success is directly connected with the success of this institution and its students; therefore, the academic success of the students I have the privilege of tutoring is something I am immensely proud of.