Web header of headshot of Devon Patel
Serving, Healing, Growing
Pre-med student called to save and improve lives

Devon Patel ’21, a neuroscience major from Las Vegas, Nevada, knew he wanted to be a physician before coming to Trinity.

At Trinity, Devon discovered that his “why”—why he wanted to be a physician—was the fuel he needed to get through some tough times.

“At a lot of schools, you might see pre-meds who aren’t really into it. They’re just doing [pre-med] because their parents told them to or it is expected of them,” says Devon, now in medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in Ohio. “But when you know who you are, and why you’re doing what you’re doing, that’s what’s really helpful when times get hard and it enables you to persevere.”

Devon keeps his “why” on a small sticky note above his desk. It reads, simply: ‘To make a positive difference.’

At Trinity, Devon had access to the University’s pre-health professions program, a collaborative liberal arts curriculum, and strong faculty support, all of which helped him maintain sight of that motivation.

There were plenty of moments of doubt for Devon. “I remember pretty much failing my first Organic Chemistry II test,” he says, “and being on the phone crying with my mom, asking, ‘How am I going to be a doctor if I can’t do this and pass these tests?’”

But for each one of these moments, Devon found new sources of support at Trinity. As an underclassman, he connected with the Health Professions Advising Committee, which matches pre-med students with mentors and partners to explore healthcare professions, offer invaluable advice about managing undergraduate course loads, and help participants connect with opportunities for service, clinical shadowing, and networking.

Devon then became interested in neuroscience, enjoying classes with professors such as Kah-Chung Leong, who became Devon’s research principal investigator. In Leong’s lab, Devon worked to understand the neural mechanisms involved in issues of addiction. Devon also discovered interests outside of STEM, taking an Asian religions course with Randall Nadeau that he says helped him reconnect with a bit of his family heritage.

Even as a global pandemic disrupted Devon’s world, he emerged from his time at Trinity all the more ready to make an impact. “Seeing the immense burden that has been put on the healthcare system recently and all of the people that do need help, it’s actually re-invigorating,” Devon says. “I’m (going into medicine) so I can go out there and help people.”

In Toledo, Devon is already getting the chance to volunteer with other students in his program at the city’s system of CommunityCare Clinics, one of the largest student-run free health clinics in the nation. “It is amazing to be a part of, especially now that I know all the work these clinics are doing during the pandemic,” he says.

Devon urges future Trinity students to find their “whys,” too.

“When you’re struggling, you naturally ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Devon says. “And in that moment, I remember it’s because I want to help people. I want to engage in the scientific community and work to improve the human condition. Something I experienced at Trinity is that there are always going to be tough times. No matter what. It is important to persevere and constantly return back to your why.”

Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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