After graduating GHC in 2017, Kushagra Patel attended the University of California San Diego (UCSD) where he studied physiology and neuroscience. He went onto medical school at Rosalind Franklin University. He often felt overwhelmed by constant pressure to achieve during his education. To help others combat these feelings, he co-founded an online integrative education platform called Holistic Learning. His program offers high school students tools for personal, academic, and professional growth through 1-on-1 tutoring as well as meditation and wellness courses.
Were you involved in any school activities throughout your four years?
“I immigrated from India and attended GHCHS for my junior and senior years. During those two years, I was part of a club that packed boxes containing essential items to support active duty army officers. I made some great friends through that club who helped me transition into a new school curriculum. To pay it forward, I would often provide free tutoring after school to students struggling in STEM classes. Once a month, I also attended a pre-health club meeting which was my initial exposure to the field of medicine.”
What is your favorite memory of high school?
“If I had to pick one, it would probably be my Senior Day where we spent the day at an outdoor picnic. My two favorite memories that I reminisce about are rock climbing and inflatable bumper balls. Loving a good challenge, my friends and I would race to see who could climb the fastest and who could be the last person standing in the bumper ball game. Seeing friends flying three feet in the air after being hit by another person in a bumper ball made my stomach hurt from laughing too hard. Apart from this event, I had a lot of fond memories of playing chess and basketball with friends during lunch breaks and after school.”
What was your biggest challenge in high school? How did you overcome it?
“My biggest challenge in high school was overcoming stage fright. It was so bad that I preferred taking a written test rather than talking in front of the class. To feel less nervous, I would over-prepare and make sure I knew the material inside out. Working with optimistic and energetic group members who helped me made me feel confident. Taking baby steps through these small group projects gave me the confidence to be able to do my individual senior project presentation in front of the class for 10 minutes. For those who are facing a similar problem, just know that it gets easier with every presentation you give.”
Who was your favorite teacher or staff member? Why?
“Mr. Bracho, my US history teacher, was by far my favorite. He had a big impact on both my personal and professional lives. His passion for U.S. history and politics made paying attention in class very easy. He would always ask intriguing questions about the past and current political issues which led to a lot of insightful conversations with my peers. Above all, he had a very warm and friendly demeanor which often resulted in us chatting after class about life and general college advice.”
What is your business and how did your high school experiences impact its creation?
“I co-founded a high school education start-up that focuses on preparing students for college, jobs, and all of the challenges life may throw at them. At Holistic Learning, we provide students with a wide range of services including 1-on-1 tutoring, meditation & wellness courses, college & career counseling, and learning strategies. The pandemic made me realize how the education system primarily focuses on improving test-taking proficiency with little emphasis on teaching essential life skills to students. Having always been passionate about education, I tried to tackle this issue myself and came up with resources that I wished I had access to in high school such as having better study habits, controlling anxiety through meditation, learning about the different career options, and many more. If this is something you are interested in learning more about, check us out at HolisticLearning.co.”
How have the skills (academic or social) that you learned in high school helped you as an adult?
“Attending a school with so many students from diverse backgrounds definitely helped me improve my conversation skills and general awareness. Having new unfamiliar faces in every class seemed daunting at first, but in hindsight, it helped me become a lot more social. Because of my experience in GHCHS, I had no problem starting a conversation with new people in college lecture halls that had more than 400 students in attendance. Furthermore, from talking to some of my friends in college who found the transition more difficult to navigate, I realized that GHCHS’s rigorous classes and difficult grading made college courses much more manageable. Not only did I know a lot of the material covered in introductory college classes, but I also had a much easier time studying and doing well on exams. The work ethic that was instilled in me from taking high school AP classes currently helps me tremendously in medical school where I find myself studying for long periods every day.”
What advice would you give to students in high school now?
“As someone highly passionate about education and medicine, I advise high school students to develop good study habits early on and focus on their well-being. I knew a lot of high school students who would procrastinate the entire week and then pull all-nighters before exams. Those students often seemed stressed and generally more miserable, which only seemed to get worse for them in college when faced with a bigger workload. If this sounds like you right now, don’t worry! It’s easiest to change and build better habits now, in high school. I just want to encourage you to develop regular study habits and to prioritize your sleep every night. If I can get eight hours of sleep in high school, college, and medical school, then so can you!”