As a freshman biology major, Nidhi Patel began her KU journey with a path in mind. What she didn’t anticipate, however, was that she would find a perfectly complementary second major in English. Now, having recently been accepted into KU’s School of Medicine, she’s making her dreams a reality by continuing her education, and applying lessons learned with the goal of making the world a better place. Meet Nidhi and discover how her combination of majors, studies abroad, and support from KU mentors shaped her outlook and prepared her for a bright future.
Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?
I am from Overland Park, KS. I was undecided between KU and a couple of other schools for a while, but when I came to visit for an Honors Reception, I noticed how the environment was supportive rather than competitive. Many of the students talked about how they all helped each other in their classes, and it was then I knew that KU would be the right choice for me. I wanted that encouraging environment that would provide various opportunities, and KU offered that.
Why did you choose your majors? And how do they complement each other? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?
I started out as a biology major at KU, thinking that it would satisfy my pre-medical requirements, and my fellow pre-medicine friends would also be with me in my courses. I actually decided to add English as a major when I took the English course “Ways of Seeing” taught by Dr. Mary Klayder. After a class discussion about Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead, I realized that I wanted to continue doing that by taking more English classes. I was walking back to my dorm when I told my roommate, “I think I want to add an English major.” After I talked to Dr. Klayder and figured out a plan to finish both majors in four years, I haven’t looked back.
What is the most exciting part of your majors? What do you think is most valuable about your experiences in these programs?
I get to go from a lecture-style class, learning about neurobiology, to a small discussion-based class every day, and that’s what excites me the most: the variety in the education that I am receiving. Biology always amazes me in terms of advancements in the field like the CRISPR/Cas-9 gene editing. With English literature, I get the opportunity to read different authors and do more critical analysis. The most valuable aspect about my experience is learning from my professors in both subjects, as I strive to have the same passion that they have in the specific fields.
Is there a particular professor or mentor you’d like to give a shout out?
There are so many people that have brought me to this point in my college career, but I would not have even considered adding English as a major without Dr. Mary Klayder, who has always been supportive of my endeavors.
What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?
We have so much to learn from one another, and ultimately, it makes us more well-rounded individuals. I have gained a better understanding of the world through my peers that come from different backgrounds, and I hope to apply these understandings in my future career.
What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?
My favorite class at KU was my Global Scholar Seminar, which was on Collective Memory in History. It was one of the first courses that I took outside of English and Biology, and I got to interact with my fellow Global Scholars, all in different majors and from unique backgrounds. We were able to learn from each other and share viewpoints that I would have not previously considered. I still reference back to that class when I have conversations with people because both the material and the people had a large impact on me.
Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or have you been involved in any KU organizations that you’d like to share?
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad twice. I did the British Summer Institute with Dr. Mary Klayder the summer after my freshman year, studying British Literature and Art History. I spent a month in the United Kingdom, traveling from London to Bath to Edinburgh. My second study abroad was Microbiology in Western Europe the summer after my sophomore year, visiting France, Germany, and Switzerland. Both study abroad experiences were enriching and helped me grow as a person. Outside of my study abroad programs, I have been involved in Phi Delta Epsilon, Honors Community Advocates, and a Bollywood dance group. Additionally, I do research in the Medicinal Chemistry department.
What would you tell your freshman self?
I would say to not be so anxious about the future and enjoy my time in Lawrence and not just at Anschutz.
What can you tell us about being selected as a 2018-2019 Hall Center Scholar, and also as a KU Global Scholar in 2016? What opportunities or interesting experiences have you had as a result?
I am truly honored to be selected as a Hall Scholar and a Global Scholar. The Hall Center for the Humanities provides opportunities to attend the Humanities Lecture Series and often meet with the guest speakers. It was an incredible experience to listen to author Neil Gaiman and to discuss with journalist Maria Hinojosa about reporting on Latino issues in the United States. As I previously mentioned, Global Scholars provided the opportunity to take an incredible seminar, as well as provide funding for a study abroad program.
I also get to conduct a research project with a global focus, which I will present at the Global Scholars Research Symposium this upcoming April. The research project focuses on healthcare disparities in indigenous populations in New Zealand and the United States, and I would not have had the opportunity to work on this project without the Global Scholars program.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I have been accepted to and will be attending University of Kansas School of Medicine next fall.
What motivates you?
My parents immigrated here in the early nineties, and they have worked tremendously hard in order for my siblings and I to get the education that they were not able to receive. With their support in all of my endeavors, I remain motivated to learn and continue to succeed.
Be like Nidhi. Seek out experiences that will take you where you want to go. For more, check out Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, the Department of English, the University Honors Program, Study Abroad, the Hall Center for the Humanities, the KU School of Medicine, University Global Scholars, and Phi Delta Epsilon at the University of Kansas.