Photography by Martin Harris, BritSnap
Sahil Patel Large
Senior, St. James; 17 years old
• Qualified for the National Debate Tournament as a novice
• Attended boarding school in India from 6th-9th grade; returned for high school opportunities in United States.
“I see how my cousins [all currently in med school] approach their schooling and it makes me want to be better. It’s pushed me to want to be successful.”
Senior Sahil Patel joined the debate team at St. James after a successful first year on the team at his old school, which was slightly different than St. James, mainly because it was a boarding school in India. “I decided to try debate at my boarding school in India and won the mini-tournament there, so when I came back to Alabama in 10th grade, I joined the team here,” Sahil said. His main reason for returning was to be with his family and apply to U.S. colleges.
That same year, while in 10th grade, Sahil experienced one of his proudest moments. He attended the district competition for speech and debate and qualified for nationals as a novice. “That was one of the happiest times of my life,” he said.
working for a better world Sahil hopes to attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or University of South Alabama and to become a cardiologist.
PG (parental guidance) rating “My parents help motivate me and make sure I’m on top of things. When I’m trying to achieve a goal and start to get lazy or procrastinate, they’ll make it noticeable to me. They’re like my alarm that keeps going off and reminding me.”
Mukesh and Sunita Patel wouldn’t have a problem convincing anyone how amazing Sahil is simply based on the awards and honors he’s received over the years. But that’s not what they’re most proud of. “He comes home with trophies and awards, but I’m more proud of the person he’s become,” Sunita said.
His father Mukesh says it’s evident that people look up to him as well, two people in particular—his 10-year-old twin brothers. As a stay-at-home mom, Sunita could take the twins to school, but Sahil chooses to wake up a half-hour early every morning just so he can take them. “Sahil could tell his little brothers the sky is green and the grass is blue, and they’d believe it,” Sunita joked. “But what we tell them holds true, that when given a chance to influence someone, you can have a positive or negative impact, so which one will it be?”
parent to parent
Mukesh and Sunita note the importance of helping your kids stay focused and encouraging them to work hard.