Alumna’s memorable undergraduate experience guides her toward pursuing a master’s degree

June 06, 2023

Headshot of Priyal Patel

To follow up on her exceptional undergraduate experience, Priyal Patel ’23, intends to apply to Quinnipiac’s School of Health Sciences to earn her master’s in health science as a Physician’s Assistant (PA).

Becoming a physician assistant is a healthcare profession Patel said she couldn’t pursue had she remained in her native country, India.

“In India, there are only doctors and nurses; PA is not a profession as it is in some other countries, as well as around the world,” said Patel, who emigrated to the U.S. six years ago. “When I came here, I found out about the PA profession and I found it very interesting."

Patel gained exposure to patient-centered health care as a certified nurse’s assistant and an emergency medical technician. Because Patel also wanted to pursue her interests in science and research, she chose to major in biology as a Quinnipiac undergraduate.

Patel’s bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, cum laude, is distinguished with honors in biology and minors in chemistry, psychology and biomedical sciences. Based on her educational experience at Quinnipiac, Patel is excited about the prospect of returning as a graduate student.

“I got to learn a lot from this experience at Quinnipiac," she said. "Quinnipiac has the finest faculty and professors. Working with some of these awesome professors in their field and talking to them about their journey and what they have done in their work, has been so inspiring and so motivating. Besides my hard work and my achievements at Quinnipiac, the biggest thing, for me, was the professors I met, the people I met, the connections I made and the perspectives I gained. My four years of college have been so fruitful and efficient because of that reason.”

For her academic accomplishments, Patel has been inducted into the Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society. She also gave back to her academic peers, serving with Quinnipiac’s biology peer mentoring program and by signing up as a mentor for the scientific society, Sigma Xi.

In her research work, Patel volunteered with biology professor Sarah Lawson for a summer study focused on pollinator health and nutrition in native bee populations and worked with biological sciences professor Lisa Kaplan's team in her environmental toxicology research laboratory.

Patel helped present the results of a year’s work on the Fundulus heteroclitus gut flora project; finding impacts of harmful chemical compounds in plastics consumed by fish can alter the microbes and shift the diversity in gut flora. Presentations were given at the Eastern Colleges Sciences Conference, as well as Quinnipiac conferences including Sigma Xi 12th Annual Students Research Conference and Diversity in Science and Diversity of Science New England Interdisciplinary Science Conference.

While undertaking her undergraduate studies, mentoring peers and participating in research, Patel also carved out time to volunteer, helping to support programs of the Red Cross, American Heart Association and the American Society of Microbiology. She is also a member of each group. As part of her ambition to become a PA, she has signed on with the American Association of Physicians Assistants and has initiated becoming a future mentor for the Virginia Association of Minority Physician Assistants.

“When I first came to this country, I did not know how big of an impact volunteering has on the individual – not just the community, but also the person who does it. As I learned more and more about how people volunteer, and how much they learn and get from it, I really wanted to volunteer and serve the community in that way,” said Patel.

Along those lines, Patel also undertook a summer internship with Quinnipiac’s Albert Schweitzer Institute, helping to address issues pertaining to food and the environment by assisting the local Hamden community. Through the institute, Patel helped manage a community garden in the Town of Hamden which provides produce to the local food bank.

Patel said she’s very glad she chose to attend Quinnipiac as an undergraduate and hopes to continue her academic path with graduate studies at the University.

“I feel really proud of myself for my decision to choose Quinnipiac because the amount of hard work I put in is the same as I got from my faculty, from the professors, from the environment; and that is the reason why I could make the best out of it," said Patel. "It was a great experience. I’m really ready for the real-world experience and also for my graduate school,” said Patel.

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