March 23, 2013

Citizen of the Week: Darshan Patel

The Daily Citizen

— Academic leaders at Dalton State College knew sophomore Darshan Patel would make a great supplemental instructor for a biology class he aced earlier in his studies.

They just didn’t know he would offer to lead it for free after he failed to qualify for a need-based Federal Work Study program that would have paid him for his efforts.

Supplemental instructors are students who sit in on a class in which they have previously made an A and lead sessions at least weekly for students who need additional help. Academic Resources Director Linda Wheeler said it’s extremely rare for a student to volunteer as an instructor without pay.

“But not Darshan,” she said. “He was all about, ‘I want to do this.’”

The Chatsworth resident leads three or four sessions a week so that students who can’t make the one session he is required to provide can come at their convenience. Supplemental instructors must have at least a 3.0 grade point average, although Patel’s is far higher, and they must go through training for their post and be evaluated by students, professors and Wheeler.

Wheeler said Patel has scored high on all of those evaluations and was also nominated for other awards at the college, including Student Employee of the Year and a Rising Star award.

As president of the Environmental Club beginning in fall 2012, a member of the Pre-Health Club and a student who is attempting 16 hours of course work that includes the demanding subjects of biochemistry and organic chemistry, it would be easy for Patel to say he has too much on his plate to provide tutoring for free.

Instead, he chose to share his knowledge and skills with others around him for the pure love of doing it. Wheeler said that while Patel initially wanted to transfer out to study pharmacy, he is now considering a career as a college instructor.

“Each student Darshan has worked with has stated that his help not only helped them succeed in the class, but also contributed to staying at Dalton State,” Wheeler said. “If those two things are not positive contributions to the college, I don’t know what are.”

They’re positive contributions to the community, too, as future leaders can’t get where they’re going without support. For sharing his passion without demanding pay, The Daily Citizen names Darshan Patel Citizen of the Week.