Last Call: Rakesh Patel

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Then + Now

Until the class of 2013 grows up and leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things the class has been up to. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here.

People might know me as…
The funny guy who studies math and says “dude” and “bro” and “sick” way too much.

In my time at Brown, I am most proud of…
Coming out of my shell, and learning how to relax and enjoy life. I’m still trying to figure out the right way to measure success, but I definitely got it wrong my first two years here. I was afraid to try new things, to meet new people, and to focus on anything other than schoolwork.

My friends taught me to balance work with fun, step out of my comfort zone, and smile a little more (a lot more). They keep me grounded!

If I had to be more specific, I’m most proud to be an editor of the Brown Journal of World Affairs. At the beginning of junior year, my friend Mustafa Safdar ’12, then the editor-in-chief, encouraged me to try something totally different and join the staff. I’m glad I did. They’re a dedicated group of people, and I enjoy hanging out with them and telling (bad) jokes about politics at our dinners and social events. (The whole editing articles part is fun, too. Especially the endnotes.)

Two generous friends deserve a special mention. Dylan Field entrusted me with the leadership of the Computer Science DUG (now Hackers at Brown); and Isha Gulati made me a part of the Matched Advising Program for Sophomores this year. Both experiences have been incredibly rewarding.

On a Friday night, you might find yourself…
It depends. I’ve spent many Friday nights alone reading a good book or thinking about the big questions. That’s how I recharge. Otherwise I’m enjoying a delicious meal and fine wine with my friends, hanging out, and having fun!

The best class/professor at Brown is…
This is tough, but a few classes and professors do stand out.

I took two statistics classes with Matt Harrison in the Applied Mathematics department. He walked us through difficult statistical concepts with intuitive visuals, clear language, and enthusiasm.

Melani Cammett’s Middle East Politics course was a real eye-opener for me. I think that class was the reason I began subscribing to Foreign Affairs. (Subscribing, not reading, being the operative word there. One day.)

My two favorite classes at Brown made me appreciate how complex ideas arise from very simple ones. In Armen Vagharshakyan’s class Real Analysis (MATH1010), we started with the numbers 1, 2, 3,…, and derived all of calculus from there. I guess the fundamental theorem of calculus wasn’t so fundamental after all. Pascal van Hentenryck opened Introduction to Computer Systems (CS 31) with a discussion on 0s and 1s. By the end of the semester we knew how to get from there to modern computers.

All of these professors did so much more than teach. They brought energy to the classroom. They told stories. They made us ask, “what if?” They cared. And they made us care.

Favorite building at Brown? Why?
The CIT. Just kidding! Definitely Faunce. I haven’t found another building on campus with great food, pool tables, and so many beautiful and serene study/hang out spaces all under one roof.

If you haven’t yet, go check out the room on the 3rd floor with the buckets of paint!

Three things you wish you knew freshman year…
1) Brown is the most accepting and tolerant community we will ever be a part of. Had I known or appreciated that when I first got here, I would have let my guard down and embraced my own vulnerability sooner.

2) It’s okay to be funny, but you have to take some things seriously. Earning people’s trust is much harder, but much more rewarding, than making them laugh.

3) If you want to feel like a boss every day, dress up for no reason. Everybody loves the guy in the tie and blazer, no joke. By the way, Nick Mazza, I’m not running for Congress! That’s all you, bro.

What is the most underrated thing at Brown?
The SciLi. I don’t know why people hate on it so much. Maybe it’s because they associate it with bad memories or something? I love the atmosphere of the lobby and the Mezzanine. The view is just an added bonus.

Ratty vs. V-Dub…
Blue Room! (Until I run out of points. Awkward.)

One thing you wish you had done…
I wish I had walked a little more slowly. We’re always packing our schedules with so many activities and running around campus trying to get to all of them. And that’s natural. We’re all ambitious people. But we’re denying ourselves so many opportunities to connect. To contemplate. To laugh. To inspire and to be inspired.

My time at Brown was, in a word, serendipitous. It might have been even more so if I wasn’t always in such a hurry.

After graduation, you plan to…
I’ll be working for Google in NYC as a product manager.

Alice’s Question: What would be a better motor for my skyline – a gallo 12 or gallo 24?
I didn’t know pizza places made motors! (That’s a reference to the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. Alice and I share a love of fast cars.)

Who would you like to tag next? Why?
Nestor Bedoya. We met in Perkins and played many games of chess thereafter (I lost most of them). He is studious, thoughtful, and genuinely kind. I want to hear what he has to say!

What question would you like to ask him?
Which year at Brown do you consider to be your best or most memorable, and why?

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing, Rakesh! Some really good thoughts here.

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