Kanuja Patel “20 years from now? To be honest, there were three professors at SMC who really influenced me. So maybe I’ll come back with a Ph.D. some day.”

Kanuja Patel, a self-confessed “kid at heart,” had a great summer internship at UCLA’s Children’s Hospital. “It was totally neat and I just thoroughly enjoyed it all,” she says. “I held three separate positions but they were all on the same ward, so I was with the same children all week. I was in physical and occupational therapy and then I was part of the Childlife program,” she reports. “I learned a lot in my internship, but in Childlife I had to deal with some kids who were very physically impaired. I played with them and made them feel comfortable about being in the hospital,” Kanuja says. “And one thing I learned is that they don’t want sympathy or pity at all. And I’m very good at avoiding prejudice, so I just treated everyone normally and we always found something to laugh about.”

Kanuja, whose family is from India, says that, “I’m one of those people who feel the whole world is waiting for me, and I can’t wait to jump in.” She had planned to apply to Stanford for their International Relations program. “But once I started this internship, I was positive I wanted to go into medicine. I may go into physical therapy or go all the way through med school,” she continues. “But my whole family is a very educated bunch of people and I know they’ll support me, whatever I decide. It’s just the way my family works.”

Kanuja listens to a lot of classical music, both European and Indian, in her time off. She continued as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital even when her internship was over. “And I’ll give you a typical ‘Miss America’ answer about why I’ve chosen medicine,” she says with a laugh before turning serious. “I just really like helping people.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.