BELOIT - Beloit Memorial High School's Deep Patel credits his favorite teachers and hard-working parents for helping him win a national scholarship from The Horatio Alger Program for $25,000. Only 106 students nationwide have been awarded this scholarship, and Patel is the first student from Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) to be awarded the honor.
Patel said he was surprised with the news. Someone had been calling his cell phone repeatedly, but he had assumed it was a sales call.
"I asked her if this was a joke," Patel said.
Patel said national scholarship competitions can be a bit like the lottery, and he was shocked to win.
"I never thought my application would be the one picked," he said.
Patel, the son of Sam and Meena Patel, grew up watching his parents working almost all of the time in the hospitality industry while trying to impart good values to their children.
"I look at them as role models. No matter what, they find a way," Patel said.
Patel said he wrote his essay about some of the adversity his family had to overcome when working long hours, and sometimes overnight, in their industry. His parents, who were born in India, came to the United States in 1984.
Patel attended Robinson Elementary School where he found one of his favorite teachers in third grade, Sheryl Horvath.
He especially enjoyed Horvath's many crafts and hands-on projects.
"We would take nature walks and fields trips. It was a really fun time in third grade," he said. "She also was such an outgoing teacher and loved what she did. Class was never boring. Everyone was engaged because she made it interesting."
After Aldrich Middle School he entered BMHS. He became involved in Key Club, National Honor Society, Environmental Club, Student Senate and was on the volleyball and swim teams in his freshman and sophomore years.
"Deep is the hardest worker I've ever met. He's the hardest working person at this school," said Patel's friend since seventh grade, Kate Gianvecchio.
He said his math teacher, Kati McQueen, was a strong supporter especially when it came to applying to colleges.
Patel said he's enjoyed his days at BMHS and appreciates being able to select one's own level of classes and all of the advanced placement offerings.
Patel has two sisters who are also BMHS graduates, Rushita Patel, a mental health professional, and Twinkle Patel, a financial auditor for an information technology company.
Patel plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee in pre-biomedical sciences major. He wants to become a dentist.
As one of the nation's largest college financial aid programs in the country, the Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program is one of the major scholarship programs nationally that specifically assists high school students who have faced and overcome great obstacles in their young lives. The scholarships are funded by Horatio Alger Members who, like the Scholars, have experienced challenges but ultimately overcame them to become successful business and civic leaders, according to the Horatio Alger Association website: https://scholars.horatioalger.org/
National Scholars receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., during the spring of their senior year to participate in the National Scholars Conference.