LAS student receives Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award
Shivaliben “Shivali” Bhargavkumar Patel wins one of state's highest honors for helping those in need
Shivaliben “Shivali” Bhargavkumar Patel, a double-major in global studies and molecular and cellular biology, was the only student from U of I’s Urbana-Champaign campus to win the award this year. This is the 42nd year the Lincoln Academy has celebrated students’ excellence in Illinois.
A ceremony took place earlier this month at Old State Capitol in Springfield.
“The students chosen to receive this honor have exemplified the principles and ideals of the greatest Illinoisan through their hard work and dedication to their schools and communities,” said Governor Bruce Rauner. The Lincoln Academy was established in 1964 to honor citizens with the state’s highest award, the Order of Lincoln.
Patel lived in India until she was 12, when she moved to Urbana-Champaign. She said the transition to her new home fostered her connection with the community and the University of Illinois.
“It wasn’t until I settled in to Urbana-Champaign that I found my first home,” Patel said.
Patel has worked with Sola Gratia Farm, a community-based farm enterprise devoted to providing locally grown food to people in need. In addition to educating others and advocating for food security, Patel did her research on food access and assessments of community needs.
She has volunteered at Presence Hospital, and served as an intern for Interfaith, the Office of Global Studies, and Champaign Urbana Public Health District Outreach. She is president of Illinois Spiritual Science, a Global Studies Leader, and an Alumni Ambassador. Patel has also received the YMCA Fred S. Bailey Leadership Award, an Illini “Make a Difference Award,” and the James Scholar Preble Research Award.
Patel has volunteered locally in hospitals and with children, and she has engaged in community service projects in Peru and India.
Her double major allowed her to use her time in class to focus on what she wanted to do as a career, which lead to her decision to go to medical school. Patel said she has received support from everyone around her, from her family and friends to mentors and professors.
“The moment I committed all of my time to the things I love, all of these opportunities presented themselves,” Patel said.
She was nominated by Amanda Purnell, associate director of LAS Honors, and Melissa Schoeplein, career development specialist in LAS.
“I definitely feel like she is a good example of somebody who has made the most of her time here as a student in LAS at U of I. She’s really done a great job of connecting her academic experiences with her outside of the classroom experiences,” Schoeplien said.
Patel will study abroad in Ecuador next semester to conduct a public health internship with physicians in rural communities. This focus on community is something that Patel thinks every student should try.
“This is your home for the next four years, and just as if you were at home, you have to give back,” Patel said.
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