Darshan Patel

Darshan PatelRocky Mount Academy’s (RMA) Darshan Patel didn’t always know what he wanted to do with his life.

“I held on to the belief that I could become a professional tennis player or a video game designer,” Patel said. “The former takes incredible time and money … and I am not good enough at art for the latter.”

With college nearing, his parents encouraged him to find a direction — that support led him to East Carolina University and the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program.

The 18-year-old will join Brinkley-Lane Scholars — the most prestigious undergraduate award program offered at ECU — this fall with a plan to pursue a major in exercise physiology and minors in psychology and nutritional sciences. The four-year merit scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients receive a fully funded education, covering the cost of tuition, fees, room and board for both in-state and out-of-state students and unique high impact experiences, as well as the ability to explore the world with a $5,000 study abroad stipend. Scholars benefit from access to an array of leadership opportunities, research with award-winning faculty and a robust alumni network.

With his mind set on becoming an orthopedic surgeon, Patel believes his future career path combines what he loves about sports with serving others. He’s following in his family’s footsteps; his father, Jinesh, is a dentist and his mother, Dimpal, is a chiropractor.

“I figured I could go in the sports medicine direction because I love tennis, the gym and observing the body mechanics behind them and because my parents are both in the medical field,” Patel said.

“I went to a sports medicine institute at Wake Forest University last summer where many professionals in the field gave lectures and spoke about their jobs. The orthopedic surgeon caught my attention the most.”

Patel has held leadership positions as part of RMA’s student government association, honor council, Beta Club and Key Club. He also shadowed current ECU Honors student Alex Fisher last summer, which played a role in his decision to become a Pirate.

“The ECU Honors College played a huge role in my decision to attend ECU,” Patel said. “… the most important part to me is the support from both the faculty and fellow students. Everyone is so approachable and kind, rather than dismissive and intimidating.

“The aid for study abroad is also awesome because I enjoy international traveling a lot,” he said. “… the open opportunities for activities such as research are basically handed to me in the Honors College, whereas at other universities I would have to struggle to find them myself and have a lower chance at seizing the opportunity also.”

Patel is still planning his grand goals at ECU, but he’s excited to explore what the university has to offer.

“One thing is that I do not want to remain a stagnant member in any of the clubs or activities I pursue,” Patel said. “In all aspects, I want my cohort to push me to be the best version of myself possible, and I want to do the same for them. I want to involve myself wherever possible and rise the ranks to have more influence in these clubs of interest.”

“In all aspects, I want my cohort to push me to be the best version of myself possible, and I want to do the same for them.”

High school: Rocky Mount Academy

Intended major: Exercise physiology

Hometown: Rocky Mount

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