By Lauren Jeu
Image Above: Source
On March 16, President Donald Trump announced his blueprint plans to make America great again. His plan included budget cuts on the EPA, NIH, and NASA, which, as you can imagine, made those in the science community very unhappy and afraid for the future. In response to this upset, a nonpartisan group formed the March For Science which celebrates science and its role in everyday lives. On April 22, 610 cities across the world participated in the March For Science and Memphis got in on the action.
Memphis’s March was held at the Calvary Episcopal Church downtown where hundreds of Memphians, scientists and non-scientists alike, gathered together to discuss the importance of science, why we need it, and why we love it. The day was filled with activities for young kids, such as science themed face painting and fun experiments, in order to get children more excited about STEM programs. The March also encouraged citizens to register to vote so that they can have a say in future government decisions, participated in the 1,000 Can Challenge to raise food for the Mid-South Food Bank, and held a book drive for children K-12.
Of course, the March also included speakers from a variety of backgrounds such as the importance of STEM education, the impact of science on the quality of life, and leveraging the power of diversity and collaboration. However, there is one scientist speaker who has a special connection to us here at Christian Brothers University. Nirali Patel, a graduating senior studying Biology and Behavioral Science here at CBU, was one of two student speakers at Memphis’s March. Nirali is the Co-Vice President of Tri-Beta, the biological honor society that focuses on engaging in health and scientific opportunities here in Memphis and in Uganda. She is an active member of both Tri-Beta and the Memphis community by volunteering at numerous health fairs. Nirali was also an intern at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital where she participated in GrizzFit and conducted research for the Pediatric Obesity Program. She also assisted in conducting research on the characterization of a recent Zika isolate at University of Tennessee Health Science Center this past year. It was through this research that Nirali was approached to give a speech at this important Memphis event.
“I became involved with the march for science Memphis rally after my mentor at UT had asked me to attend a volunteer meeting. The committee wanted to have speakers on various topics and when learning about my experience and interest in population health, they contacted me to be one of two student speakers. As a Biology major, working towards a career in healthcare and volunteering in a lab for almost a year, I felt that I needed to get involved. Volunteering and being out in the community as a student is just as important as being a public health professional to me. A year ago, I started volunteering with the Shelby County health department in health assessments at local health fairs. If I didn’t have those experiences with the community outreach programs, I wouldn’t have seen how important being engaged in the community was in educating people about health and the resources that are available to them.”
After graduation, Nirali will be working at Church Health as a Scholar in the primary care department. She plans to become a physician’s assistant.
Lauren Jeu is a senior Natural Science major at Christian Brothers University. She is also one of Nirali Patel’s best friends.