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Finding Community and Sharing Cultures: Shivangi Patel

by Web on December 3, 2018

Shivangi Patel made certain Diwali 2018 was a magical evening at Millsaps College.

As president of Millsaps Masala, Patel devoted many hours of her free time to planning the group's celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

"I began planning in the summer," said Patel, a junior who is from Collins, Mississippi. "I started putting songs for the dances together and began choreographing steps. After school started, a lot of people wanted to be part of Diwali, which made my work easier because the more people, the easier the workload became."

To make Diwali 2018 different, Patel decided to create new decorations, use videos to explain Diwali, and serve an entire dinner instead of just finger food.

"Overall, I was pretty impressed with the turnout we had," Patel said. "It would not have been possible without my amazing team members and the students who took part in the show."

Experiences such as being in charge of Diwali have helped her mature, Patel said.

"Millsaps is a place where I didn't just grow as a student, but I also grew as a person," she said. "Millsaps allowed me to view the world from a different perspective by providing me the opportunity to meet and learn from people from all different walks of life. Learning is not just limited to my professors because I have made friends from many countries who practice different religions and come from different cultures. Meeting such people and getting to know them has exposed my mind to new ideas and experiences."

After visiting her cousin, who attended Millsaps, numerous times, Patel said she knew she wanted to attend the College.

"Every time I visited, I felt as if this was my home," said Patel, who is a presidential ambassador in the Office of Admissions at Millsaps. "Academically, Millsaps is a fantastic school with a great reputation. Beyond that, from what I had seen and learned about Millsaps, I always felt that coming here would help me grow into the person I wanted to be.

"I always wanted to attend a small school where I could build meaningful relationships with fellow students and my professors, and Millsaps has given me the opportunity to do just that. Being able to get involved in so many organizations and events has been good for me because I love trying new things."

Patel, who is majoring in neuroscience, has conducted research during the fall 2018 semester alongside Dr. Tim Ward, professor of chemistry, in the W.M. Keck Center for Instrumental and Biochemical Comparative Archaeology on campus.

The research involves using sophisticated equipment to test a teacup for cacao residue. The teacup came from Jornada Mogollon villages in the Southwest from the El Paso phase (A.D. 1200 and 1400) and from a Doña Ana phase (A.D. 1100 and 1200). "The purpose of this research was to see if there was any type of trade involved because cacao was not grown in the Southwestern United States back in the day," she said.

Patel participates in the Medical Mentoring Program and shadows Dr. Rodney A. French, dentist, and Jennifer Harper, dental hygienist, at Castlewoods Dental Clinic in Flowood.

"Shadowing has helped me to realize that I do want to be a dentist in the future," she said. "I get to see many exciting things in the clinic, such as tooth extractions, different teeth conditions, screaming kids who are scared of the dentist, and other interesting things. I hope that gaining this experience now will help me in my education and my career as a dentist."

Patel names Dr. Kristina Stensaas, professor of chemistry, as one of her favorite professors.

"She has been a great mentor to me and a great professor. She really cares for her students and wishes the best for them and their future," she said. "Dr. Stensaas is always there when you need her for advice, and she is always willing to help."

Patel is a member of Beta Beta Beta honorary for the biological sciences, Student Affiliates of American Chemical Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-health honorary.