Shyam Patel, Undergraduate, Department of Chemistry

Shyam Patel

“The best volunteering experience I’ve done is the Great Exhibition Road Festival – I’ve signed up again this year” 

I am a third year Chemistry student here at Imperial. Chemistry was always my biggest passion, and it was an easy choice when deciding what degree program to do, and what better place to do it than Imperial?  

Chemistry is vast, scary, and beautiful all at the same time. It incorporates so many aspects of modern-day life – from medicine to agriculture – and it isn’t just limited to “chemicals”. It can be used in things like fireworks, cosmetics and cooking, and it’s that diversity that is so appealing to me.   

Currently, I am on the committee of the Chemistry Society and as the first-year representative I work to help ease the first years into university life. I am also on the SwiftSoc committee (I couldn’t write a piece on myself and not mention Taylor Swift…), where a bunch of us swifties come together and just talk about the biggest artist of our generation. I am also part of Outreach, where I try to inspire younger students to get into STEM careers.  

Volunteering has always been a big part of my life – I find it fun, fulfilling and enthralling all at once. Since secondary school, I have been a keen volunteer, whether it was for open days, events being held at the school or just helping people out when they need it. This has carried through to university, where I have done a countless number of volunteering jobs for either the Department of Chemistry or Imperial itself, including every single Imperial Lates this year!  

However, the best volunteering experience I have done is the Great Exhibition Road Festival last year, which is why I have signed up for it again this year. The greatest thing about it is interacting with the public and seeing the looks on their faces when they are informed that they have this whole event in front of them for free. I would advise any students who can volunteer to do it, as it is such a satisfying experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Outside university and when I am not listening to Taylor Swift (which is not often), I am a Chemistry tutor. I always think, why should I keep the knowledge and skills that I have learnt if not to share them with the future generation? This also ties into my future plans. I am hoping to actually teach Chemistry sometime in the future as I love teaching in general, but that is a long way away yet.  

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