Now a sophomore majoring in neuroscience and an active member in the Women in STEM LLC, Patel is grateful for her decision to join this tight-knit community devoted to not only providing housing for IU women in STEM majors, but also providing networking and community service opportunities, paid research experiences, and career development workshops. From informatics to engineering majors, this diverse group of women has made a significant impact on Patel. With only two years of living in the residency and being involved with the Women in STEM LLC, Patel has already gained so much.
"I think one of the perks of living here is that it's just a small group of women, which is unique for a really big campus like Indiana University. It provides a support system for you, and you get a lot of benefits," Patel said. There is an abundance of opportunities within the LLC. Every Sunday, brunch is provided to residents to prepare them for a day of studying. Tutors are available on-hand for extra help on homework and finding internships or research opportunities. Special events, such as resumé workshops, are provided and organized by Women in STEM Director, Melissa Blunck.
I think one of the perks of living here is that it's just a small group of women, which is unique for a really big campus like Indiana University.
This past summer, Patel took advantage of the Women in STEM LLC’s many programs and received an undergraduate research scholarship, where she worked in Dr. W.D Tracey’s lab and expanded her educational experience. Within Patel’s research she used the Drosophila fly model system to find the role of two RNA pseudouridine synthases, and is now currently using CRISPR technology to create a double mutant. Conducting this research, she will be able to reveal the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying roles of RNA pseudouridylation in the nociception process.
Patel also participated in an exclusive event offered only to Women in STEM LLC residents and had breakfast with Mae Jemison, who was the first African American woman to travel in space and who also made an appearance in Star Trek. One of Patel’s favorite memories was visiting Chicago for a weekend with her Women in STEM peers. She was able to get an inside look of the big pharmaceutical companies, an opportunity not many students have readily available during their undergraduate years.
As of right now, Patel’s future plans after graduating from Indiana University with a neuroscience degree is to attend medical school to become a neurosurgeon. "To an extent, I get rather annoyed. Why are women just expected to be nurses? Why can't we also be doctors?" Patel hopes to attend John Hopkins School of Medicine, her dream school, which would guide her toward her aspiring goals of becoming a physician and continuing to break those stereotypical clichés.
Patel urges other IU women that have an interest or major in science, technology, engineering, or math to look into joining and living with the Women in STEM, which is located in the Agnes E. Wells Quadrangle. The program not only provides women with housing, but opens up a window of possibilities with access to paid summer research experiences, tours of the campus labs, visits to STEM companies, workshops to assist cultivating career paths, and options for community volunteer work. Indiana University students wanting to join the Women in STEM LLC should include or update their housing application with that preference, and enroll in a one-credit seminar course introducing STEM careers and improve skills affiliated with them.
"It's a bunch of girls that have the same passion and endeavors in life as you," said Patel. "Also, the Women in STEM LLC gives us opportunities to help us in those endeavors."