After his grandmother died during a family trip to a rural region of the Himalayas, where medical care was hard to come by, biochemistry major Sanat Patel ’15 decided to make a difference. He realized he wanted to pursue medicine as a way of bringing care to underserved communities.
Enrolling at Stony Brook looked like the best way to get to where he wanted to be. His brother, Jaymin ’13, also a biochemistry major, was already attending. While still in high school, Sanat came to stay with him on campus. The brothers shared two years at Stony Brook before Jaymin went on to attend the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.
“Stony Brook had a great sense of community and I enjoyed auditing some of my brother’s classes. Then there was the proximity to New York City and it was a pretty easy decision. It just felt like the right fit.”
It didn’t take long for Sanat to get caught up in the color of campus life, whether it was cheering on the men’s basketball team, participating in the University’s top traditions such as Wolfstock, Roth Regatta and the Strawberry Festival, or traveling with his fellow Alternative Spring Break Outreach (ASBO) members to help communities that had been devastated by environmental catastrophe.
“Stony Brook helped push me to try new things and become a better leader and person,” Sanat said.
Sanat, a University Scholar, was recognized for his academic prowess and leadership abilities when received the SUNY Chancellor Award for Student Excellence in 2015.
In an effort to broaden his academic perspective, Sanat decided to also major in philosophy.
“It allowed me to practice seeing things in a different way, understand multiple viewpoints, learn various ethical ideologies, all of which can be applicable to my future career as a physician and a scientist,” he said.
While at Stony Brook, Sanat has refined his skills in the laboratory of Adrianus van der Velden, in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, observing changes in the behavior of T cells, which are produced by the thymus gland and aid in the body’s immune system. That research will help scientists better understand the mammalian immune system and how Salmonella and other bacteria suppress T cells.
Some of Sanat’s Stony Brook highlights have taken place outside the confines of the laboratory setting, however.
For example, he has enjoyed sharing the Stony Brook story with prospective students during campus tours while serving as a student ambassador. And as a member of the Student Life Advisory Council, he has explored ways of improving campus life in areas such as campus dining and transportation.
In addition, for the past two years Sanat has participated in the federally funded AmeriCorps Education Award Program, volunteering hundreds of hours to community service for projects such as MLK Day, Clean My Park Day and Sandy Relief.
Sanat is probably proudest of his tenure with ASBO, through which he participated in the Head Start Program in New Orleans, Louisiana, coming to the aid of youth in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also traveled to Estes Park, Colorado, to assist with flood relief efforts there and helped to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in an underserved community in Fort Meyers, Florida.
As he envisions his future in medicine, Sanat makes certain that the lessons of a young boy who prematurely lost his grandmother remain uppermost in his mind.
— Glenn Jochum