“Trad” Student Nina Patel Enjoys the BRUIN Experience
Why does a student choose a college?
For Nina Patel, a 2019 graduate of Stanton High School in Iowa, her choice of Bellevue University boiled down to small class sizes and a strong science program – reasons that traditionally have been very important in the college selection process.
However, Patel is breaking a few norms with her college choice. While Bellevue University is often the school of choice for adult learners, members of the military, and other “non-traditional” students, the University’s population of traditional students coming straight out of high school is relatively small. As of this fall, just under 7% of the University’s nearly 10,000-person student body were classified as traditional, or “trads.”
That small segment has grown over the last few years, as Bellevue University has added student housing and on-campus activities to more closely align with the traditional campus experience for those who seek it.
An endorsement from a former Stanton student helped put Bellevue University on Patel’s radar. She looked at other schools as well, but the more she looked, the more she liked Bellevue University – the small class sizes, the new science labs. And while mom and dad were back in Stanton, grandma and grandpa were just up the road in Omaha.
“I visited campus my senior year in September. My first impression of the campus was very positive. There was a lot of green space,” she said. “It’s relatively small and classes are all in the same area, so you don’t have to go walking through a bunch of different buildings.”
Patel’s ultimate goal is to become a pediatrician, so the renovated science labs were a strong selling point.
“The science labs are definitely different from other schools that I’ve seen. This is more high-tech and they actually let you do stuff,” she said. “You get hands-on experience, but the small class size means professors are also available to help you out.”
Once Patel made the decision that Bellevue University was the right place for her, move-in day loomed large. She would be living in student housing on Betz Road, away from home for the first time and with people she did not know. Saturday, Aug. 17 was the big day when she packed up her car and headed west. Her mother and father, Rakesh and Asha Patel, made the hour-long trip from southwest Iowa to help Nina move in along with her aunt and uncle, Hemali and Devin Patel, and Nina’s young cousins, Hanna and Liam.
Patel spent the day unpacking and meeting her new roommates. Katlyn Kinman, a senior; Emily Mendick, a junior; and fellow freshman Catherine Kempf.
“It was kind of overwhelming moving in with strangers. You're creating new friends,” Patel said. “You're living with different people. We sat talking about where we all came from. We just got to know each other.”
BRUIN Week, which coincides with the first week of classes in the fall, also helps students get to get to know one another outside of the classroom. This year’s BRUIN week included activities such as bingo, a casino night, and a block party at the end of the week. Patel soaked it all in.
“I really enjoyed Casino Night. It was pretty fun winning prizes and raffles,” she said. Prizes included common items a college student might need, such as cleaning supplies, and easy-to-make food items. Patel and her roommates ended up taking home enough macaroni and cheese to tide them over for quite a while.
Off to Class
Now with a few weeks of classes under her belt, Patel is getting used to the rhythm of college life. A Biology class along with an accompanying lab has emerged as a favorite class for the aspiring doctor.
“Just yesterday we went out to the Missouri River and went exploring around the area,” Patel said. “Me and my friends caught a toad, so we’re taking care of the toad. Some of the other people saw some new plants, someone caught a frog, so it was pretty fun.”
The toad, named Sam, has taken up residence in the biology lab,
Patel praised her professor, Dr. Tyler Moore, and lab assistant Johnny Farnen for making the class fun and entertaining, as well as educational.
“They’re really nice and very helpful. We had some questions about a quiz awhile back and they helped us through it,” she said. “They’re just fun to be around. We don’t just sit around taking notes. We’re actually doing stuff.”
Moore said Patel has hit the ground running as a student worker.
“She’s really been great to work with. She’s got a great base of knowledge already and has an inquisitive mind,” he said. “It’s great to have a new group of students coming in this fall and diving right in.”
“Doing stuff” is really what college life is all about and Patel is getting a taste of that from all avenues in her first few weeks at Bellevue University.