Augusta University’s Palak Patel has already made school history. Patel, who is planning to attend the Dental College of Georgia, is the first recipient of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship‘s Fellowship for Enhancing Equity and Diversity.
The fellowship was designed for students to examine past and current issues that impact diversity and equality. For Patel, this fellowship was the right fit, as her honors thesis was on racial segregation and COVID-19 outcomes in Georgia. Patel is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Services in the College of Allied Health Sciences.
“I know around the world, it’s a big topic, so I did want to look into it more,” said Patel. She hopes her work, and the work of others who study health equity, can lead to changes in public policy.
Medcalfe encouraged her to apply for the National Collegiate Honors Conference, and as a surprise to her, she was accepted.
“At first, I was very hesitant about applying because I did not know what to expect. Dr. Medcalfe was very supportive and to my surprise, I was accepted,” said Patel
This is the first year CURS has offered fellowships, which include the Community Impact Fellowship, Fellowship for Enhancing Equity and Diversity and International Research Fellowship.
“The neat part of the whole thing is we are trying to encourage people from any college to apply. If it’s community impact, it can be our health, it could be poetry. As long as you make the case and you can justify it as to how this is improving our mental well-being or physical community, I’ll listen,” said Dr. Quentin Davis, CURS director.
Patel and Katlin Pugh, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology in the College of Science and Mathematics, are the first recipients of fellowships, as Pugh received the inaugural Community Impact Fellowship. The International Research Fellowship has yet to be awarded this year, but Davis said as COVID-19 restrictions start being lifted, she’s hoping that will change.
“The International Research Fellowship could be a variety of things. It might be a student who’s on a study aboard trip already,” said Davis. “We could tack on research to the class they’re taking.”
Building these fellowships is Davis’ immediate vision, but in the future, CURS wants to increase the number of fellowships, name them and find a sustainable funding source for them.
For more, read the latest “CURS Connection” newsletter.