News from Ohio State University

Ohio State grad taking public health research gap year

Shivani Patel has been interested in public health and health care for years, long before she enrolled at The Ohio State University.

“In high school, I had done a lot of advocacy work related to vaccines and vaccine hesitancy,” she said. 

Earlier this month, Patel was one of more than 12,000 students who graduated from Ohio State. She leaves with a bachelor’s degree in public health. She won’t be going far, though. 

Patel plans to apply to medical school, but not before she takes a gap year as a clinical research assistant in otolaryngology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“I’ve had to practice the name a few times,” Patel admitted. “When I’d go for training, I’d sit in my car and say it to myself.”

Patel is taking a gap year to gain more experience for her medical school applications. Shivani Patel

“I wanted a gap year for the clinical research component,” she said. “I had participated in research throughout undergrad so I know I like it. I had a couple of different experiences, so I know which components of research I like: I like interacting with patients. I like participating in research that will improve people’s health.”

Before she begins her research position, though, Patel is spending her summer as an intern for the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board’s Tribal Health Experiential Student Internship Seminar, which is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “It’s my dream to work for the CDC in some capacity.”

The eight-week program provides students and recent graduates with public health mentors who guide them through coursework and research, both of which focus on Native American health. At the end of the seminar, students present their research at the CDC Showcase in Atlanta.

“As an Ohio State student, my public health education really prepared me,” she said. “I’ve also had a lot of opportunities to grow as a person. I was a resident adviser; I’ve worked in the Office of Student Life since I was a sophomore. I feel like all those extra components, that may not seem like they’re related to my degree, they really helped me, too.”

Those opportunities are what Patel suggests incoming Buckeyes pursue, even if they are unsure.

“Try everything you feel OK about trying, even if you’re not in love with it,” she said. “See what sticks and what doesn’t. I didn’t pigeonhole myself into one activity. I did a lot of random things, but it all came together in the end. Try everything.”

Through trying different activities, Patel developed friendships across campus. She’ll miss those the most, she said.

Another thing she’ll miss about Ohio State? The school spirit. When Patel was younger, she knew she wanted to study at Ohio State because of how passionate the community is, she said.

“I was a big school spirit person in high school,” she said. “That’s why Ohio State appealed to me so much, that focus on students and school pride and excitement. That whole vibe was something I was really attracted to. I just wanted to go to Ohio State.”


May 6-10 is In-Demand Jobs Week, an annual statewide celebration of the jobs, industries and skills that are in demand in Ohio. Ohio State News highlights students as they transition from graduation into the workforce.