My name is Prathmesh Patel and I am a Senior at Duke University studying Computer Science with a minor in Finance and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It’s been quite a journey to get to this point in my life. I was raised by two Indian immigrant parents in the small town of Burlington, NC. From elementary to early high school, I was the only Indian kid in my grade. It would have been easy at any point to venture away from the path I ended up on. My family was always there to push me to challenge myself in everything I did and to think about how my habits and small actions can shape a bigger and brighter future for myself. I’ve always been inspired by my father as well, who came to America seemingly uneducated but ended up earning a degree and eventually started his own small business. I ended up applying and getting into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics where I was able to push the boundaries of what I thought I could learn and ended up finding a community of Asian and Indian-Americans that I had never experienced before. You could say the subject I was most involved in was Chemistry and I ended up conducting a research project with a lab at Duke University during high school, but after taking a course in Applications in Entrepreneurship I realized I had found another passion. This passion forced me into an interdisciplinary mindset. My research, personal development, and interdisciplinary goals led me to Duke University.
After some deliberate introspection once I got accepted to Duke, I understood that I wanted to find a field of study that dealt with problem solving that could also be tied into real business applications that could lead me to, one day, start my own business. The inspiration for this came from my father. As I was growing up, my father would always tell me what it was like to be independent and self-employed, where he
was able to influence countless lives on a day-to-day basis while pursuing a venture that he loved. I fell in love with Computer Science in my first few courses. Nothing could beat the satisfaction of problem solving to build something from nothing. The thrill of staying up all weekend during a hackathon to work with a team to build a software solution for a problem we wanted to solve was like none other. But, I knew I also needed to know how to bring that software solution to market one day. To do that, I needed a background in Finance as well as knowledge on how to start my own venture someday. This influenced my decision to also pursue a minor in Finance and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
My career plan at the moment is to become a Software Engineer. Eventually, I would like to transition to a managerial role. After this, I hope to start my own venture. This past summer, I worked as a Software Engineering Intern at Google in New York on the Search Civics team. Civics is a social-impact focused Search Super Vertical team whose mission is to: Enable user exploration, foster a civic data and web ecosystem, and drive democratic participation, by building a platform for electoral, governmental, and civic information on Google. There, my project was able to improve search results pages for legislation queries by fixing the duplication of legislation entities in Knowledge Graph by reconciling them with existing Wikipedia entities using MapReduce technology. The summer prior, I worked as a Software Development Intern at a startup in Durham called Bright Wolf. There, I built out an IoT industrial genset (diesel/NG generator) reference system used for the monitoring and management of gensets. What was special about Bright Wolf was that not only did I get substantial software experience, but the CTO made an extra effort so that I could learn as much as I could about how the startup operated. He let me sit-in on important market qualifying calls and C-level business calls, as well as giving me an in-depth look into how they priced their contracts. I continued to work for Bright Wolf part-time during junior year and continue to do so in my senior year.
Outside of my career efforts, I always find time to dance. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been attached to the folk dances of my culture, but this interest has blossomed into me joining and leading a multicultural dance group called Defining Movement. I’m able to learn urban dance as well as perform a variety of styles like jazz, contemporary and bhangra. Dance is a natural stress reliever for me and one of the biggest things that brings me joy at Duke. I’m more than what meets the eye. You wouldn’t know that I’m deathly afraid of heights, but I’m also an adrenaline junkie who has skydived and ridden the world’s tallest roller coasters. One day, I hope to surprise the world by bringing about a product that drastically changes everyone’s lives. However, I’ll also change the world in more subtle ways. I want to raise my children so that they will treat others equally while seeing the world as their sandbox, waiting for them to build their own castles. Maybe they’ll also do something that will amaze the world, looking up to their father as a role model.