Angelie Patel

Angelie Patel
Rutgers University and Douglass Residential College, Class of 2016

 

 

What are some of the ways you are involved on campus?
I’ve been involved all over Rutgers University, but there are three things I always come back to and can never get enough of:
I’m an intern for the Department of Leadership and Experiential Learning at Rutgers University. The purpose of this department is to give students hands-on opportunities to develop skills outside of the classroom. I’ve been a part of this department for three years now, and there are so many facets and levels to the programs we provide that I never run out of things to do! I was introduced to the department when I attended one of their signature events, the Mark Conference. I fell in love with the enthusiasm and energy, so I applied to help plan the next conference. I’ve been involved for the past three years, and I’ve also branched out to other programs such as Camp UKnight, a summer orientation supplement for first year and transfer students. I’m currently working on the “From Backpack to Briefcase” Workshop Series, a collection of events catered to upperclassmen for helping to develop professional skills that they will need when they graduate.

I’m a Red Pine Ambassador for Douglass Residential College within Rutgers University. I’ve loved being a Douglass woman since they welcomed me on campus a few days before my first classes. It’s such a welcoming and inspiring group of passionate and intelligent women who always strive to be even more amazing. As a Red Pine Ambassador, I conduct tours for prospective new students and represent Douglass Residential College as a panelist or spokesperson at events. It allows me to share my experiences with women who deserve to have these resources but didn’t know they existed. I feel safe and supported here, and I want to invite women of different backgrounds, majors, and interests to join the community so they can feel the same way.

I’m a Resident Coordinator at the Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center. There’s no better place for a people person than a hotel. I meet so many incredible people every day; anyone from politicians to visiting professors to alumni could walk in to stay the night or speak at a conference we’re housing. I also really enjoy making people feel welcome in New Brunswick by giving directions or restaurant recommendations to make their stay really comfortable. I represent Rutgers University wherever I go, and it’s definitely obvious how much I love it here whenever I talk to a guest.

Which of your commitments do you think has shaped you the most as a person, and how so?
Being a Camp UKnight leader for the past two years has shaped me in so many ways, both personally and professionally. I’ve learned how to be a flexible leader by adapting to changing circumstances and to the needs of students from different backgrounds or with different personalities. I’ve expanded my comfort zone because I’m so much more eager to try new things. I’m not much of an outdoorsy person, but I wore my sneakers with pride and held a tree frog for the first time this year! The program is also very intentionally designed to help students better understand diversity, so I feel like a more aware and educated person because of those exercises and activities. Overall, though, I’ve become a more empathetic person who is also willing to ask for help when she needs it. I helped shoulder some of the pain of students and fellow leaders who confided in me about the things that hold them back and burden them. At the same time, I was willing to be vulnerable enough to let people help me. I was always worried opening up to people would lead to rejection or even more pain, but for the past two years, the two dozen or so team members I’ve worked with have shown me endless love and support. I’ve learned it’s OK to lean on people, but it was important to find the right ones.

Where is your favorite spot to go on campus to relax?
For almost any meal, you will find me at Henry’s Diner on Livingston Campus. I’m obsessed! Breakfast food is my favorite, and anywhere that serves it all day is heaven-sent to me. Not only is the food amazing (and my new extra pounds are proof), but the staff is so welcoming that I feel like I’m having dinner at home with my family. Also, the décor is such an awesome mix of modern and retro styles that I feel energized just by looking around. I’ll spend hours at a time there or eat there multiple times a week (or even in one day!).

What do you wish you had known as a freshman?
There is more than one way to be a doctor that helps people! I grew up in a community that had a lot of high school students who were really focused on going to medical school, but I never felt that medical school was for me. When I got to college, I discovered the PhD and PsyD programs that would allow me to feel academically fulfilled in the ways I think I can best help people. Sure, I might not be the doctor they ask for on an in-flight intercom, but my life would be filled with opportunities to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I could develop new ways to conduct meaningful therapy sessions or research how neuron interactions mimic economic theories. There’s more to the world than the careers we learn about in grade school, and I’ve never been happier or more excited to get out there.

What are you most excited for in the upcoming semester?
I’ve accepted the opportunity to be a student, Ignite-style speaker at the Mark Conference in March 2016. This is bittersweet because I’m honored that I’m able to “make my mark” in this way, especially considering how far I’ve come from being an attendee three years ago, but the topic is tough to stomach. I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after being sexually assaulted two years ago. I’m in therapy, in medical treatment, and doing whatever I can to make my triggers less triggering, but I’m still in constant physical and emotional pain. My biggest fears are that my mental health will render me useless in my career or that I’ll lose the support of my friends and family when I open up about how much I’m suffering. I hate that I still feel so uncomfortable talking about my mental health, but sexual assault is taboo enough for some people that the conversation derails before I can even mention the issues I face each day. The safe route would be to quit my involvement, dropout of school, and focus only on my mental health, but I refuse to let this trauma destroy the things that make me the person I’m proud to be. I’m still writing and refining my speech, but I hope that I can “make my mark” by addressing the stigmas around mental health. I think it’s time to start showing people that it’s possible to be a successful leader in your community despite the struggles that come with depression, anxiety, and more, but it would be so much easier if people like me felt safe confiding in the people around us. This might be a drop in the bucket, but I hope it inspires other people to speak up or be more receptive in the future.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when finals are over?
I was going to say “sleep,” but I’ve been doing better with sleeping a healthy amount each day no matter how stressed out I am. I think I’m doing better on my finals because I’m eating and sleeping regularly. The odd thing is that I’m practically craving a few hours of bowling! I haven’t gone bowling in a few years, and all of a sudden, I’m fixated on trying to get a group of friends to go with me. I wear high heels almost everyday, so maybe those ridiculous shoes will be a refreshing break before I take on the new challenges of next semester.