nisha_patelNisha Patel
Year: 4th year
Hometown: Fremont, CA
Major: NPB (Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior)

On-campus leadership roles/positions/organizations:
Event Chair of Relay For Life
Co-President of Colleges Against Cancer
Mental Wellness Student Coordinator for Health Education and Promotion (HEP)

Why do you choose to be involved as a student leader?
I chose to be involved as a student leader on campus because my leadership roles allow me the opportunity to apply my interests. I am passionate about all the roles I hold and enjoy having an outlet outside of my academics. UC Davis does a wonderful job of fostering community and encouraging students to find their community, so I am grateful to have found mine through Relay For Life and Health Education and Promotion.
Regarding Relay For Life, I have been an avid Relay-er for the last 10 years, and chose to continue my participation as soon as I found out there was a campus Relay here! This organization is powerful in connecting students, faculty, staff and Davis community members who have been affected by cancer as a survivor, caregiver, or health professional by providing an outlet for them to take action and find support.
As a mental health advocate with Health Education and Promotion, I wanted to be more responsible for projects related to promotion of healthy sleep and napping efforts, happiness and gratitude, as well as increasing the reach of resources for mental health issues such as anxiety, suicide prevention, and depression to eliminate the existing stigmas.

What have you learned about leadership through your work with others on campus?
With Relay For Life, I have been able to meet and interact with diverse individuals and student groups who have experienced similar cancer stories. I am continuously surprised by the number of caregivers and survivors on our campus and the strength we find in each other. At Health Education and Promotion, I have learned the importance of ensuring equitable access to resources and being respectful of student populations from diverse backgrounds without making assumptions.
Moreover, I have learned the importance of utilizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and providing recognition to others where it is deserved. Leadership is a continuous work in progress, and it is the people we lead who enable us to be better leaders. I have definitely learned to lead from my peers by providing a space for them to contribute. I was not born a leader, so I attribute my leadership skills to the people around me, my experiences, and my mentors.

What is your most memorable experience at UC, Davis?
Relay For Life 2016 was undoubtedly by most memorable experience at UC Davis. This was our organization’s first year moving the event outdoors to Russell Field from the ARC Pavilion, so we had limited knowledge on what would and would not be successful. Being able to plan the event from start to finish, working with over twenty campus departments and local businesses, fundraising over $44,400 for the American Cancer Society, and seeing the support that pervaded the field among 82 teams, 31 survivors, and 800+ attendees was beyond rewarding. I always enjoy being on the “backstage” of events because I am aware of the amount of time, numbers of volunteers, and countless emails that have been exchanged to make it successful. During every Relay’s 24 hours, I continue to remind myself that if cancer doesn’t sleep, neither will we.

What is your favorite UC Davis tradition?
Take a picture with Gunrock. You can always find me chasing down Gunrock at sports games and campus events for a goofy picture!

What advice would you give to a student thinking about getting involved?
I encourage everyone to have an open mind because you will surprise yourself! People on this campus are incredibly friendly and willing to engage in conversations, so take some chances and step outside your comfort zone. Find ways to apply your interests in non-academic activities, because although you are at UC Davis for school, you also came here to explore your interests and find communities of people you connect with! Also realize that what you once thought was your space and interesting, may not be the current case, so it is okay to move on and keep exploring because you will surely find it.

How does getting involved complement your studies?
My extensive involvement has required skillful time management to be able to juggle between my responsibilities as a student as well as to the groups I lead. I mentally note every task I take on with a priority label and add it to my to-do list so that nothing goes under the radar. Every Sunday evening, I plan out my week to the half-hour to ensure that I am allotting time to being in class, at office hours, or with my study groups, before scheduling my meetings for work and Relay For Life. I am grateful that my involvement with Relay For Life and Health Education and Promotion has introduced me to other students who are in my classes and are excited about community service related to health and wellness. Most of all, my involvement and academics have together proved the power of effective and efficient communication with my colleagues and peers.

Future plans?
After graduation, I plan to apply to Masters in Nursing programs to serve as an advanced practice nurse practitioner in a specialty of my choosing.

Fun Facts?
- Role Model: Michelle Obama Ellen DeGeneres,
- Quote: “Just like there is a sky full of stars above, you have a head full of dreams.” –Chris Martin (Coldplay)
- Hobbies: Dancing, hiking, Pinterest-inspired crafting, experimenting in the kitchen.