“Personally, I am an Economics major that hails from an interesting background, as I was born in India and only moved to America around four years ago. In fact, my mom is still in India and my dad lives in Delaware. I moved in with my aunt junior year of high school in Dallas, Texas and the rest is history. In terms of things I like to do, I love to dance, do outdoorsy things, have openminded conversations, meet new people, read, meditate, paint and write. I really like a lot of things, and my list can go on and on. To further speak of my identity aside from my hobbies; however, is difficult, as I do not like to put a pin on my identity since I am always evolving, changing and growing. So, I do not like to identify myself at all since who I am today can be different from who I am tomorrow or the day after. Ethnically, though, I identify myself as Indian as that has been a huge influence, but it has not limited me as my experiences are different from every Indian. In terms of on campus, I just like to call myself an Aggie.
In terms of attaining success, I see a lot of students use the wrong way to achieve their goals and take more impersonal leadership roles. There are three things that are golden in making a path to reach success. First, you need to be involved, then you need to find lots of mentors and third you need to reflect. In further detail, you need to be involved as it gives you connections, teaches you life experiences, gives you different perspectives, forces you to empathize and opens your eyes to being engaged civically. So, be involved whether it is a dance team, acapella team, sorority and/or so many others. It helps you build character. Moving on, finding mentors helps to structure and craft goals. Mentors keep you accountable. I have so many mentors including, Diana, a program advisor for the Department of Multicultural Services, Kelly at the Academic Success Center, and so many more. Furthermore, there is also a lot of students I have learned from. The last step I mentioned was reflection. All I can say is reflect, reflect and reflect! Reflect in your past and ask yourself what happened and how and why did it make an impact on you. I am not kidding when I say this but whenever I talk to someone and they say, for example, that they are having a bad day, I use the three golden rules. First, I ask, “what happened”, then I ask, “how did that happen” and finally, “why do you feel this way.” You can take these golden rules into any situations whether it is for you or for someone else’s reflection. To summarize, being involved helps expose you to these experiences, mentors direct you and reflection help you find purpose and understand more about your identity and your priorities.
Now for reflecting on my decisions in being involved, it was so that I could fit in and what I found were friends and a community. I was able to really find my place and I also realized my strengths. In connection to today, I wanted to be a leader to use those strengths and make an impact on other freshmen, so I am involved in mentoring as the Director of Mentorship at IDEAAL. I see our influence at IDEAAL as a domino effect because the mentees we mentor take the advice they are given to the outside world and make beautiful changes to society. The cycle never ends as they also mentor others and that’s how we as a group foster positive enlightenment. Aside from being a mentor, I just really like to listen to others’ stories especially since in the Asian community emotions are so taboo which is so unfortunate. If people are feeling sad or angry they keep it in and stress only builds up from there. The pressure of grades, pressure of marriage and so many other stresses seem to be a norm amongst Asians and not being able to have your voice heard is just torture. In my experience, everyone has a story whether it is one of adoption, sexual orientation or religion, and every person’s needs are different in getting comforted and being given advice.
One of the changes I want to see in the Asian community to combat staying a hidden population is to take part in more civic engagement because you are forced to face your community and go out of your box. Going out of your comfort zone means not going with what your parents and friends say. Another change I want to see is people taking better care of their mental health. I have seen progress in that category over the course of my time in A&M, so I want people to take ownership of mental health and finally, ownership for their lives. People need to also be able to do what they want. I understand speaking up and doing what you want It is a lifelong struggle, but if you are not being who you are, then what are you? For me, I went to China this summer and a month before I was going I told my family that I was going, and they were surprised. But, I realized no one can stop me because I know what I want. There is never a trap that is unbreakable if you have an end goal in mind. From my personal efforts, I want to leave a legacy in terms of my work. I worked hard to build IDEAAL. I want people to be able to see the value behind it and because our organization has changed so drastically I want them to see improvement.
I would like to end this interview with a quote. “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck” (Dalai Lama). This quote has helped me through a lot of hard times whether it is boys, organizations or grades. The times you feel most powerless you look back and realize you grow. I could not afford to come to A&M, but I pulled some strings and at that time I felt so powerless, but now I look back at it and realize that was all me and I am here because of no one else.”
-Meera Patel, Class of 2020