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Alumni Spotlight: Shivam Patel Is Part of a Growing Trend: Recent Grads in the Workplace Creating Scholarships for Deserving Students

By Keith Morelli

Luis Duque and Shivam Patel

TAMPA (August 10, 2017) -- How many 20-somethings can say they work as an investment analyst, are members of the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business Junior Advisory Council – and helped a once-homeless student pay for school?

Count Shivam Patel as one of those special people, though he is not entirely alone. He is part of a growing trend of young successful alumni – all under 30 – who are establishing scholarships within just a few years of graduating to help students pay the costs of their business education.

Last year, a group of recent accounting graduates Fadwa Hilili, Puja Patel, Anna Morra and Giselle Lara, got together and created the $5,000 Forward Scholarship for Women of Excellence to benefit young women studying accounting who have a financial need. The recipients, in turn, are encouraged to give back once they are out on their own.

Ashley Washington last year became the youngest alumna to fully fund a business scholarship on her own. It began as a $5,000 gift by Washington – the first in her family to attend college – but has quickly blossomed. Her employer matched the donation, as did the state, through the First Generation Scholarship program, enhancing the scholarship's value to $20,000.

Patel is following the same path.

For the second year in a row, Patel has donated money to fund a scholarship that benefits business students who are the first in their families to attend a university.

Patel's first scholarship was awarded last year to Luis Duque, who is now a social media analyst with the Bank of America, after graduating earlier this year from the business analytics and information systems program. He has not had an easy road in his young life. A couple of years ago, he found himself taking college courses while homeless and sleeping in his car.

Duque was accepted into the Corporate Mentor Program and was chosen as a 25 Under 25 honoree. He graduated this spring with a 3.57 grade-point average.

"I am very grateful that Shivam awarded me a scholarship during my senior year at USF," Duque said. "His generous donation allowed me to focus on my studies by helping me with tuition costs and a transportation issue that would have set me back significantly.

"Since our first meeting, Shivam has continuously made himself available to me with guidance and support. The fact that he is only slightly older than I am, but has had such a great impact on my life, speaks volumes about the person he is.

"I have learned much from him, and I know others could as well," Duque said. "Striving to help others succeed by providing guidance and financial assistance is admirable and I hope that such acts inspire others to do the same."

Patel said creating the scholarship was about paying it forward.

"I was fortunate to be chosen as a scholarship recipient for three out of the four years that I was at USF," he said, "and those gifts made a world of difference to me.

"The generosity of each of those donors resonated with me throughout my time at the Muma College of Business and after I graduated," he said. "It not only kept me rooted to the college, but motivated me to create something of my own. Additionally, I wanted to use the scholarship as a vehicle to mentor the recipient and provide value from a young professional's perspective."

Patel said he wanted to show students and young alumni that making a difference at a young age is possible.

"You don't have to be a millionaire to start a scholarship," he said, "and you don't need 30-plus years of work experience to be a good professional mentor or make an impact in somebody else's life."

He has given a total of $3,250 over the past two years to support the Shivam Patel First Generation Scholarship, which is awarded to underclassmen who plan to major in finance and have aspirations of pursuing a career in the financial services sector. Each dollar he donates is matched 100 percent by the state. His scholarship money ends up with students who exemplify values that include academic excellence, community service and professional development and who are enrolled in the Corporate Mentor Program, which supports first generation undergraduates.

Patel, who also has made some donations to USF Athletics, works as an alternative investments analyst at Raymond James Financial. Prior to joining the investment firm in 2015, he interned as a summer analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York City. He graduated summa cum laude from the Muma College of Business in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance.

While an undergraduate, he was a 25 Under 25 honoree and made the dean's list each semester over three consecutive years. He was in the Business Honors Program and the Bulls Business Community and graduated with a 3.94 grade-point average.

His well-rounded experience at USF was enhanced by his involvement with the community and student organizations such as the Corporate Mentor Program. He also cofounded the Noble Guides, a Business Honors Program volunteer service, as a freshman project in 2010. During his busy time here, he also traveled abroad to study for a semester in the Netherlands.

Outside of work, Patel is involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization of Tampa Bay and the Academy of Finance program at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg. He also is a member of the Muma College of Business Junior Advisory Council.

The budding philanthropist is proud of his alma mater, but wants to see the college's profile blossom and this is his way of making that happen.

"Overall, I think in order for us to continue raising the profile of our school, we have to prioritize the opportunities that we provide to students and focus on mentorship and development," he said. "I think that's how we're going to build tradition.

"USF was kind of that blank canvas that I could leave a mark on and impact in a positive way," he said. "The scholarship is another way for me to do just that while, hopefully, motivating a new generation of students to do the same."