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Neelam Patel


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Hello, my name is Neelam Patel and I am a freshman at Virginia Tech! My father and mother immigrated to America in the 80s from Bardoli, India and Jamaica respectively. They have been the greatest inspiration to me and push me to work hard every single day. I have always been interested in why people think the way that they do. I hope to gain a better understanding while in pursuit of my bachelor's degree in psychology. I then plan to go on to further my education by obtaining a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. I desire to one day become a professor so that I may never cease to learn. I currently tutor students with learning handicaps. I plan to use my degree to help others understand their own thinking and find ways to make them better suited for supplemental learning. I have longed to understand people's thoughts since my childhood. I have always been an observer. I tended to be a mediator throughout my entire adolescence. Whether that be in my household or my friend group, I was always the one people would come to lend an ear to hear. Financial burdens would occasionally coincide with tears from my mother's eyes. In all those situations, even if I was too young to truly understand them, I was there to support her emotionally. Now that I am old enough to understand the immense amount of financial pressure one's schooling can put on a parent, I am working hard and consistently trying my hardest to support my parents as they have supported me. I hope to be able to use my degree to help others and live up to what I desire to become.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Psychology, General
  • Minors:
    • Biology, General
  • GPA:

Eagle Ridge Christian School

High School
2019 - 2023
  • GPA:


  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology
    • Psychology, General
    • Human Development, Family Studies, and Related Services
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Test scores:

    • 31


    • Dream career field:

      Higher Education

    • Dream career goals:

      To never cease learning



      2017 – Present7 years


      • MCSAA Second Team All-State Award Girls Soccer
      • MCSAA First Team All-State Award Girls Soccer

      Track & Field

      2021 – 2021


      • N/A


      2019 – 20201 year


      • N/A


      2019 – 2019


      • N/A

      Public services

      • Volunteering

        Eagle Ridge Christian School — Math and English Special Education Tutor
        2022 – 2023
      • Volunteering

        Eagle Ridge Athletic Association — Boy's Varsity Soccer Team Manager
        2020 – 2023
      • Volunteering

        One City Cape Girardeau — Decorator and Organizer
        2021 – 2021
      • Volunteering

        Rock of Cape Church Vacation Bible School — Head Team Leader for a group of ~25 children
        2021 – 2021

      Future Interests



      Francis “Slip” Madigan Scholarship
      My father has always told me his greatest goal for himself was to be sure he was so successful in America that he would be able to help all of his children through college. Neither my father nor my mother finished college. The two started and both tried but neither succeeded to earn even their bachelor’s degree due to financial and familial struggles. My mother faced the struggle of teen pregnancy and because of the difficulty of finding affordable childcare and the struggle to submit assignments in a timely manner with a newborn, she was forced to abandon her degree. My father felt ashamed he could not have done more. It was at that point they decided their children would never have to endure the same hardships. Out of their high school education and hard work they built a business that has provided me with what I bear today, opportunity. My parents have tirelessly worked the entirety of their lives to help my siblings and me in everything we do. We all did some sort of after-school activity whether that be soccer, choir, basketball, band, or even science club so that we would be diversified students. They worked so hard that they barely had time to eat; however, they always ensured my siblings and I were fed. I have watched all of my older siblings grow and fail to truly appreciate this opportunity our parents have provided us. My siblings all tended to be adamant socialites, and because of this, they all took longer than four years to finish their bachelor’s degrees, taking advantage of my parents’ gift. I, however, have worked hard to ensure that I will be able to graduate from college early so that my parents may worry about me that much less. My mother and father have always drilled the importance of education into my and my siblings’ minds starting from a very young age. My mother would often take me to work with her because, as with my eldest sister’s childhood, she struggled once again to find childcare while the rest of my siblings were in school. Although enrolling me in a preschool was impossible due to the monetary difficulties caused by the recession, my mother was sure to give me the best education she could before I entered elementary school. She had my father speak to me in both Hindi and Gujarati at all times, she would read me flashcards while she was cooking, and she would even have me help chop up vegetables to improve my fine motor skills. My mother merged life skills and educational needs so that I would be able to still have a boost despite not getting the same education as the other children who would be in attendance at my elementary school. I would like to be the least of my parents’ monetary worries so they may retire sooner. As I am the youngest by many years, my parents are far less youthful than they were when my older siblings went to college. I would like them to be rewarded for their tireless efforts, for the years, the money, the care, the time, and the love they spent pouring themselves completely into their children, neglecting their own wishes so that we may have free aim to success. I will make the most out of their sacrifice and utilize the opportunities they have bestowed upon me to pave my own path to college.
      Sikora Drake STEM Scholarship
      Growing up, my family’s small home was always full of noise. Sometimes this was good commotion other times, it was shouting, arguing, and door slamming. Most of this noise erupted from my sister and father. They would either be faring so well with each other he would check her out of school for an off-campus lunch, or so terribly that her bedroom door would be nearly falling off its hinges with how frequently it was being slammed. Shoes would have to be worn in the kitchen because she would often break dishes to show her frustration. Although I was only seven years old, I can still recall the week the house finally went quiet. My father and sister started to be in harmony with one another and continue to now, ten years later. My mother decided enough was enough and sent them both to therapy. I suppose she had decided paying for treatment was less expensive than constantly having to pay for new hinges and dishes. At that moment, under the quiet, I decided to strive to obtain the best understanding of others’ mentalities I could. I flourished through constantly caring for my friends’ disputes and being the middleman between my older siblings’ arguments; I loved feeling needed in that sense and being able to show the people around me that I cared about them. As a child of two Asian immigrant parents, I grew up knowing that drawing attention to one’s mental health is considered culturally taboo. Many of my relatives believe that one’s mental struggles are the result of their wrongdoings. Subsequently, a person should not seek help for mood disorders such as depression because it is their fault; they must endure this hardship rather than seek professional service regarding the issue. One can imagine my parents’ dismay when I told them I wanted to be that professional that people could come to. According to an article by the American Psychology Association, a study performed by Jennifer Abe-Kim in 2007 found that about 8.6% of Asian Americans pursued aid for their mental health issues. To put that into perspective, nearly 18% of the general U.S. population sought help for their mental health problems. The Asian stigma to live up to the standard of being the “model minority” causes many parents of first-generation students to excessively pressure their children to the detriment of their mental health. Although psychology is a female-dominated field, according to only 1% of all psychologists are Asian American. I strongly believe that representation for patients helps them feel better connected to the person supporting them, whether that link is race, financial status, sexuality, gender identity, or mental health struggles. I previously had numerous complications regarding my mental health including attention deficit issues and eating disorder struggles. These conflicts in my youth have allowed me to bond with the young people I tutor and mentor. I work with adolescents ranging from 10 to 16 years old who have behavioral, concentration, and processing issues, and connect with them by teaching them core subjects such as math and English centered around their way of thinking rather than that of a typical classroom setting. I believe this relationship allows for a greater understanding of one another and provides a deeper insight into their lives, which helps me to teach them more effectively. I hope that by being that link for kids and other future individuals, they will know that, despite their mental struggles, they will be cared for, and there will be quiet once again.
      Seeley Swan Pharmacy STEM Scholarship
      “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”- William James, Harvard. Psychology is the study of the mind and how factors influencing the mind affect a person’s behavior. Human function requires psychological occurrences, but improved human function requires psychological discipline. All actions, all of our enjoyments, all of our strifes, have psychological applications. Everything a person does stems from their deep-rooted psychology. I have always held a curiosity about the purpose of the mind; why humans become conditioned to think the way they do. My personal background with numerous experiences in understanding different behaviorism and my curiosity to learn more have led me to pursue a STEM degree in psychology. In recent times, I have been put into a position in which I tutor students who have difficulty learning in the classical sense. These students struggle to sit still, listen to a slideshow presentation, and comprehend lessons without certain aids. Some students with auditory processing disorders and ADHD process discourses in different ways. I believe this does not handicap them; however, it changes the way they look at the world and its life lessons. Although before this position I was already predisposed to earning a psychology degree, working with these students has further encouraged me and helped me to determine what path I would like to take in psychology. They have enabled me to find my true direction. I plan to change the world of learning with my degree in psychology. I find great joy in research; understanding how different methods of learning are necessary for different students with varying mentalities is, to me, of extreme importance. Perception is a key value that those who plan to work with children must maintain. Children are like blank canvases; they first gain specks of color from their parents. These adults then pour into a child’s life, painting the emptiness. Whether that painting they become as an adult is a masterpiece or a catastrophe is all dependent on the background the parent paints at the beginning of their life. Using this metaphor, a child’s mind develops according to the environment in which they are placed, the background of their painting. I would like the opportunity to become an influential person in the lives of children and parents alike. My personal background in psychological development and my interest in having a greater understanding have led me to pursue a psychology career. The children I have worked alongside have encouraged me to become someone with a greater understanding of them. These children inspire me to show other neurotypical people that facilitating learning for all is not so difficult a task. The foundation for learning we give children greatly influences their mental development and their futures. We should, as a whole, instill in them a great attitude of mind.
      No You Did Not Win An Emi, But You Did Win This Scholarship
      "Your name is the most important thing you own. Don't ever do anything to disgrace or cheapen it.”— Ben Hogan. My mother feared my entering American kindergarten as she was unsure if I would recognize my name upon its inevitable mispronunciation. My parents wanted a name that was elegant, classic, and linked back to my father’s Indian heritage. Hence, she chose for me a name with resilience and vehemence which to her displayed strong meaning, importance, and power: my name is Neelam Patel. The name Neelam has a Sanskrit and Islamic origin both meaning “blue diamond” or “blue sapphire”. True diamonds are sharp and strong, but sapphires maintain all those qualities while maintaining more class, rarity, and intensity. Although being somewhat common in India, there are almost no people who share my name in America. Based on the Social Security Administration’s baby name database there are an estimated 283 people named “Neelam” in the United States making my name a true rarity in North America. The name “Neelam” is very important to my mother. She is a woman who strongly believes names hold authority and that a person should become a reflection of his or her name. My mother named me after a young girl my older sister once knew. She was smart, beautiful, and kind; my mother wanted me to become just like her. Being held to such a standard compels me to want to work harder, be stronger, and form the facets of the diamond my mother desires me to be. She has always wanted me to be the best: the brightest, the strongest, the most intricate. This pressure drives me to toil through challenges and work towards tasks others may deem measly. I have lived in a predominantly white, republican, rural, Christian area for the majority of my childhood. Because of the lack of diversity in my hometown, they had never witnessed someone who looked like me or with a name like mine previous to my arrival. When I would tell people I had a Hindi or Muslim name, it always would seem to frighten them. I have come to understand many are fearful of what they do not know. I have worked not to change my name, but to make the power of my name speak through my actions. My mother selected a name for me that depicted strong purpose, significance, and authority filled with high expectations. She chose to name me after someone she greatly admired and set for me a standard to which I am held to the utmost criterion to fulfill. I have faced issues such as discrimination and teasing in regard to my name; however, these acts never disheartened me. Just as pressure forms a diamond in the rough, I am strengthened by my strifes. I will never let the commonalities' words cheapen the importance of my meaning.