USF College of Public Health graduate Amit Patel began his undergraduate education in business before finding his passion for public health.
Patel was first introduced to public health during his first semester at USF in a contemporary health class taught by Todd Wells, COPH alumnus and former director of the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.
After changing his major from business to public health, Elizabeth Dunn, adjunct faculty in the Department of Global Health, introduced Patel to homeland security and emergency management which is the field that Patel wants to follow in his post-grad career.
“I am most interested in the preventative care side of public health. It is such a diverse field that you can go into, from family health to emergency management,” he said.
During his time as a student, Patel was a member of the multicultural fraternity, Sigma Beta Rho; Disaster Action Team (DAT) led by American Red Cross; and USF’s Global Public Health Brigades chapter.
Patel’s favorite memory of the COPH took place while on a week-long trip to Nicaragua with the Global Public Health Brigades.
“Hands-down it was the best memory! It was a very different experience. You are away from modern technology. You’re in a third world country helping out those less fortunate than you are and you start to realize all the things that you take things for granted here in the United States,” Patel said.
Patel was also given the opportunity to volunteer with Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster recovery nonprofit that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. After Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, he went out and helped responders with Operation Loggerhead in Palm Coast, Fla.
“It was a very eye opening experience,” he said. “It enlightened the passion in our military veterans, even after returning from the service.”
Patel said that he enjoyed his time at the COPH and said that the professors always had his back.
“I absolutely loved the COPH! The professors are great. They’re always there for you and actually help you find opportunities. For example, last June one of my classes went to a FEMA Higher Education Symposium where I met so many contacts, many of them I’m still in contact,” he said. “They helped me build up my resume; and helped with career advancement, such as internships and networking. Networking is a major tool especially with the public health field.”
After completing an internship with the City of Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security during his last semester, Patel is hoping to secure a post-grad job with FEMA Corps, where he is currently interviewing, or work on global health outreach with the U.S. Department of State.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: American Red Cross, Amit Patel, Department of Global Health, Disaster Action Team, Elizabeth Dunn, emergency management, FEMA, Global Public Health Brigades, homeland security, preventative care, Sigma Beta Rho, Team Rubicon, Todd Wells, undergraduate, undergraduate education, Veterans