Changemaker Scholarship to honor Penn State student who died from COVID-19

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives in some way. Earlier this year, Penn State Schreyer Honors College student Neil Patel lost his battle against COVID-19 after 115 days of fighting.

Now, his family and the Penn State community are coming together to honor his legacy and support future, like-minded students with the Neil C. Patel Memorial Changemaker Honors Scholarship.

Neil was 20-years-old, working two part-time jobs to save for a study abroad trip, when he was exposed to COVID-19. He was just one day away from receiving his vaccine before he became sick.

“Unfortunately, for somebody who had a great life and who was very lucky throughout most of his life, he became very unlucky with his COVID experience,” said Chetan Petal, Neil’s father.

Neil was a musician, baseball player, performing artist, and class president of his Pennsylvania high school.

“Talented, but extremely humble,” said Chetan.

He was determined to leave a positive legacy and lift up those around him. After his passing, his family and Penn State are continuing what he couldn’t.

The Changemaker Honors Scholarship will give back to Penn State students who mirror Neil’s commitment to family, community, education, and opportunity.

“Each year, students can be nominated or can self-nominate under the proposal that they make an impact on others around them,” said Patrick Mather, Dean of the Penn State Schreyer Honors College.

Alumni, friends, and community members are encouraged donate to the scholarship to support future generations of changemakers.

In addition to the scholarship, Neil Patel’s family have established the “NEILSTRONG Foundation” to further the projects he was so passionate about.

“We hope that young students that want to create this kind of positive change and advocate for positive change in the world are helped out,” said Chetan.

The first Neil C. Patel Memorial Changemaker Honors Scholarship(s) will be awarded in the Spring of 2022.

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