Ravi Patel was born in a Sampad, a small agricultural village in Gujarat—India’s westernmost state. A few months after Ravi’s birth, his father immigrated to the United States, seeking a better life for he and his family. Meanwhile, Ravi and members of his family continued to live as they long had: in Sampad, no more than an arm’s reach away from those they loved and knew.
Naturally, Ravi remembers very little of these days. After all, he was only three when his mother and he packed up to join his father in the United States. Nevertheless, through his return trips, Ravi has come to understand his birthplace for its tight-knit culture, familiarity, and kinship. For him, Sampad family, and home are inextricably bound.
After coming to America, Ravi spent his next five years in Schaumburg, Illinois, a northwestern suburb of Chicago. In 2001, his sister and only sibling (Arti), was born here. At age eight, his family moved south and west along Interstate 88, settling in DeKalb, Illinois, where he has since called home.
Today, Ravi still thinks of his original hometown often. Sampad reminds him of his aunt and uncle, who were his primary caregivers for his first three years of life. More, this village reminds Ravi of how far his family has come over the past two decades—no doubt, due to his family’s and his own fastidiousness, hard work ethic, grit, savvy, privilege, and good fortune.
Filled with energy and curiosity from a young age, Ravi enjoys learning new hobbies and ideas. As a youth, he learned how to juggle, solve a Rubik’s Cube, write with both hands, and even to ride a bicycle backwards! Eventually, after rising through the ranks of his high school, Ravi attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. There, he studied biochemistry, chemistry, and pre-medicine, while also taking part in more student groups, and leading more campus committees, than he can probably remember. While there, he also built an abundance of lasting and meaningful relationships, meanwhile positively shaping the lives of those he befriended and interacted with. In times of need, Ravi has been there to support me through all times of the day and night. No doubt, he has done the same for others as well.
At the moment, Ravi is nearing the end of his second year of a two-year Master’s program in biomedical sciences at Rush University in Chicago. Currently discerning between business and medicine, Ravi remains unsure of where his future will guide him. Despite his uncertainty, though, he feels excited for all the potential his future holds. He yearns to positively shape the lives of others through whatever course his professional aspirations lead him.
Somedays too, he cannot help but wonder how life has led him so far—how he has been so blessed—over just the past 24 years.
Q & A: The [Not So] Serious
BB: If you were stuck in a giant vat filled with a substance—either chia seeds, peanut butter, or Jell- O—which substance would you choose? And how would you escape?
RP: Jell-O, I’d eat it all, what else is there to do? Haha! Plus, I feel like you wouldn’t sink in it. I saw a YouTube video about a guy that filled his pool with it and he got out of it pretty easily. With chia seeds, I feel like you’d sink to the bottom and peanut butter is too gooey I feel like you’d never be able to move!
BB: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about you?
RP: I’m really goal oriented. I love making goals for myself and meeting them and once I set my mind to something it’s really hard to stop me. It might take some time to get what I want, but I’m usually pretty good at reaching it.
BB: In what important ways do you see that you have grown since graduating college and starting graduate school?
RP: I think I really got my study habits down and learned to study a little bit at a time. In college, I would teach myself everything I needed to know before a test a day or two before the test. I would pull all-nighters regularly, it was a terrible habit and I’m glad I’ve grown past that. I’ve also learned to take care of myself. I try to meditate, read, wake up early and workout every day and I think those small things have made me not just a better student but also a better person.
BB: Imagine you and three famous people (dead or alive) are walled up in a Trans-Siberian Express sleeper car for the eight-day journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. What three people would you pick? How would you pass the time?
- Nikola Tesla. The man is out of this world insane, but he’s probably one of the greatest minds in all of human history. He didn’t get a lot of credit for his work but some of his inventions shaped the world we live in today.
- Bill Gates. After watching his documentary and learning about who he is and what he cares about, I’ve found a lot of respect for him. He’s extremely well read, he cares about our planet, he’s working with communities in need and using his money to do really good things for humanity.
- Teddy Roosevelt. Everything I’ve learned about him just sounds so interesting—everything from his upbringing, how he worked with people, and about how he went through life. Even in his early life, he had so many challenges to overcome, primarily his health. It’s really inspirational how he did not let life hold him back.
We’d pass the time playing cards, drinking, and talking about anything and everything under the sun. I feel like I’d learn a lot with these three. Aside from Tesla, he’s a little coo-coo, but brilliant nonetheless.
BB: Tell about a recent moment when you felt proud to be you. Why do you think you felt this way? And what does this moment say about you?
RP: This year, I’ve led Rush’s volunteer service program. We’ve planned dozens of large scale events that have helped people on the west end of Chicago. My proudest moment was leading our back-to-school fair. While there, we gave hundreds of families free immunizations, free health checkups, free supplies for school, and more. The coordinator for it literally gave me a target gift card that had $4000 loaded onto it and asked me to buy out every single backpack at target, it was really cool walking out of target with literally over a hundred back packs that we gave away for free.
BB: Ravi, you are known for the tagline: “Wanna grab food?” So tell me, what food are you currently craving?
RP: Haha. I’m not really craving anything right now, but I’ll never say no to sushi, T-Bell, or any sort of Italian food. I’ve only recently understood this, but home-cooked meals from my mom sounds pretty good too, I really took them for granted growing up.
BB: I understand that you have a heart for adventure. What is your favorite travel story?
RP: Uh…climbing Mt. Fuji, sky diving in Hawaii, getting lost in Tokyo (Like, actually lost…drunk by myself…while trying to find T-Bell at around 2am). I also accidentally stayed at one of Florida’s most haunted hotels for a week. So, take your pick.
BB: If you could give one piece of advice to anyone, what would it be?
RP: Make a goal, figure out how to get there and do it. It doesn’t have to be anything major like a job or a future career. It could be something smaller, like learning to become more confident or learning to speak in public. I think that setting small achievable goals are what truly help you reach the bigger ones.
BB: Was the dress blue or gold?
BB: Whether through your vocation, your relationships, or your passion projects, how would you like to change the world in the foreseeable future?
RP: That’s a really tough question, and there’s a lot of changes I’d for sure like to see before I die. But, I think one thing I really enjoy is when the people around me are happy. I love when my friends are having a good time and enjoying what they’re doing. I’d love to be surrounded by happy, easy-going people 24/7. Obviously, that’s not a small change by any means, but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Author’s Note: All responses are found as they were written, except in the few cases when rewriting improved narrative flow.