Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you study?
My name is Viviek Patel and I grew up in Jackson, MS. I am a senior International student. Until I reached high school, I wanted to be a physician; however, this changed after starting my high school debate career where I debated various topics such as nuclear proliferation, reparation for African Americans, and public spending on public infrastructure vs. means tested welfare. Through my research and participation in debate, my interest in different international and domestic issues blossomed and led me to a few national tournaments. My success in high school debate led me to change what I decided to study in college from science to International Studies.
Tell us about your time at the University of Mississippi.
The University of Mississippi has provided me so many amazing opportunities to understand myself and grow. From working as a Luckyday Peerleader for two years to becoming Vice President of the university's chapter of the NAACP, I have found many places on campus to not only try and improve and pour into others’ University experience, but also sharpen my skills and better my leadership and academic capacities as a citizen and scholar of the university.
One of most important aspects of my time at the university has been my involvement with the Croft Institute for International Studies. Croft has allowed me to study intensive Japanese for a semester in Kyoto, Japan, which led to an internship at a startup marketing company in Tokyo as a content creator this summer.
Tell us about growing up. What were some things that your family instilled in you?
From a young age, my mother instilled the value of education and the importance of service for others. Though I didn't really have much knowledge of Greek life before arriving to the university, Phi Beta Sigma changed that not long after I got here. I didn't know it at first, but the fraternity's principles (brotherhood, scholarship, and service) were my principles; and its motto (culture for service, service for humanity) mine.
Why made you want to join a fraternity? Why Phi Beta Sigma?
For me, pledging Sigma was not about the popularity or parties, it was about continuing a culture of service and the notable history of Phi Beta Sigma. From Huey Newton to George Washington Carver, Sigmas have always pushed the bar higher on how one can serve their communities. Whether it was to defend and improve Black communities or using science to help poor farmers’, Sigmas have a large imprint in American and World history that cannot go unnoticed.
What drew you to the Eta Beta Chapter?
Throughout my time in college, Eta Beta has consistently proved to be against the stereotypical fraternity. “Greek Life” is extremely exclusive; however, during my time at the University of Mississippi, Eta Beta has always been inclusive and friendly. Every time I met a Sigma on campus, they were students, friends, people, not just someone in a fraternity, but genuine people. They are like everyone’s cool brother. As a kid that grew up without brothers, brotherhood was foreign to me. Joining the Eta Beta chapter meant that I would have life-long brothers bonded by the same philosophies as me. I crossed into the fraternity with eight other men, but being in the fraternity means that my brothers are legion—not just those 8 but so many fraternity brothers across the nation and world. That is my favorite part of being in this chapter. Three years ago, I never would have imagined going from 0 to 8 brothers that I talk to everyday, joke with, commit to service with, and live this journey called life with. These are people I would never trade for anyone else because of the bond we share.
What goals do you have for yourself moving forward?
Moving forward, my biggest goal is to earn my Bachelor’s degree. This long-term goal has become a short term goal only possible by my mom and other people who have committed to my success throughout my life. Secondly, I want to be accepted into a Graduate school that fully funds my Master’s degree in Film Production or Marketing. Pursuing a Master’s Degree is not just for me, but also for my mom, family, friends, and my fraternity as these have all been forces that have committed their time, energy, and money to ensure my success. For the future, I am interested in marketing and film production and I want to work for a large corporation that can create positive impacts from an economic, environmental, and social standpoint.
What do you want to see for/in the chapter moving forward?
To ensure everyone’s success in the chapter, I want to establish more accessible networks and resources for careers and graduate schools so that brothers are able to have a clear pathway after undergrad. The goal is not to stop at the degree; instead, the goal is to use the degree that all my brothers will earn to create pathways for themselves and others so that we can all be successful. Also, I want to continue Eta Beta’s inclusive legacy by hosting events with the International community on campus where different cultural can be displayed and interact with each other as well as Black Greek life culture on campus. Often times, many international students never experience or come in contact with Greek organizations because other countries do not have fraternities and sororities like the United States. I want these students to also know that American Greek life culture is not just partying and social events, but an intricate network of people that have enhanced our college experience through service.