By the end of her freshman year of college at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Indian American Kyra Patel had lost her roommate to suicide and knowing that she wanted to help others all her life, especially college students, she started her annual Suicide Remembrance Night in 2014 to help students cope with mental illness.
After watching her campus come together for that event, Patel told the University of Kentucky that she “felt like I could do anything, and I wanted to share that feeling with others” and from that point on, all she wanted to do was work on a college campus.
Patel then graduated from the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health in May 2018, with a master’s in public health and a graduate certificate in biostatistics.
While attending the University of Kentucky, Patel was the treasurer of the Student Public Health Association, an ambassador for the College of Public Health and a graduate assistant in the Student Financial Wellness Center.
As a graduate assistant at the Financial Wellness Center, Patel learned a lot about working in higher education as well as the nature of wellness.
“I had never heard of financial wellness before UK but the work I got to do as part of that team, really allowed me to develop as a professional and solidified my goal of working in higher education,” she told the University of Kentucky.
Today, while she is still early on in her career, Patel is working as the coordinator of student social wellness at Appalachian State University and spends her time learning about evidence-based wellness initiatives as she advises peer educators and develops relationships with student leaders across the campus.
Patel loves working in higher education and is thinking of possibly pursing a doctoral degree sometime in the future.
“I love working in student affairs, because I get to see a change in students’ behaviors and actions,” she said. “It’s empowering when you see them understand a part of wellness and then get really excited about it and share the knowledge they’ve gained,” she added.