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Jasmine Patel: Skulls & Trophies — Meet BC (Brooklyn College)

September 1, 2009 | General

NewsThe following interview is available as a “Meet BC” profile on the Brooklyn College website.
What’s your background?
My parents are from India, but I was born here.
When are you graduating?
Next June.
And after that?
I’m planning to go to medical school and may try to get a master’s in business administration.
An M.D. with an M.B.A?
Physicians need leadership skills, and a business degree can help in all the aspects of our career.
What will you specialize in?
I want to do surgery. I did a neurosurgery internship at the Lutheran Medical Center as part of my requirements to get into SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. I also did one with Dr. Chandranath Sen, the chairman of neurosurgery at St. Luke’s Hospital.
What appeals to you about neurosurgery?
It goes all the way back to high school. We were dissecting a pig and I got to cut the pig’s skull open, and I liked it. I also took a neuroscience class when I was at the Columbia program for high school students.
What brought you to Brooklyn College?
The medical program. It is very selective. I’m also part of the B.A.-M.D. program and the Macaulay Honors College.
You also did an internship at the Museum of Natural History. How was that?
I am part of a research project there, studying the effect of freezing on teeth. I was able to use a saw to cut coyote skulls. It was very exciting.
We’re starting to see a fascination with skulls here. But you also like the business side of the medical career.
I like business administration and brain health. They are not exclusive. You’re going to need those skills whether you work for a hospital or if you have your own clinic-that’s the beauty of having a business degree and a medical degree.
Any other activities?
I’m the treasurer of the Speech and Debate team, which is funded by the Student Activity Fee, and I was the president until last semester. Few people know about it, although it’s been around since 1993. We had 18 awards in 2008. We don’t have a coach, but we’re actively looking for one.
You have to do community work, too, don’t you?
Last year I did community work as a high school tutor at the Council of Peoples Organization on Coney Island Avenue. I also volunteer at the Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition on Flatbush and Church avenues. I was part of Hands on New York Day last spring, cleaning up Canarsie Park, weeding and painting benches.
Sounds busy. Why so much volunteer work?
I like to get involved, even here on campus. I like to facilitate, moderate and help student affairs as much as I can.
Is that how you got involved with the Brooklyn College Health Clinic?
I was attending a meeting for referendums because our debate team needed to get more funding. I found out that the Health Clinic was facing financial straits. This is an issue I feel passionate about. I’ve used their services, and students use the clinic whether they have insurance or not. The clinic needed the funding to keep the services they have been providing, especially with the swine flu crisis. So some other students and I formed the Students for Health Clinic Support Committee in order to get a raise in student fees by $10 per semester to help the clinic. It was approved.
What do you think about the health care debate taking place across the country?
Our system has to change because we are paying too much per person and we’re not getting too much in return. If medical costs continue to climb, people won’t be able to afford it. I don’t know if you can transplant the insurance system from other nations to ours, but medical coverage is important for everyone.

NOTE: Jasmine Patel was selected to be a 2010 CUNY Leadership Academy Fellow.
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