By Lena Hast
Niki Patel is glad she followed her brother’s advice.
“It was my brother’s idea that I start taking general education courses at Lincoln Land Community College in Jacksonville the summer of my sophomore year (at Jacksonville High School),” said Patel.
Her brother Dhiren began attending LLCC-J in the fall semester of 2012 after graduating from JHS, and he was very happy with his experience. Knowing Niki would attend a four-year college in a few years, Dhiren encouraged her to get a jump start at LLCC.
“My plan was simply to take as many classes as possible over the summers so I could transfer the credits,” said Patel. “I started by taking two classes the first summer, three the following summer, and I am taking two this summer.”
In addition to the LLCC classes, Patel also earned advanced placement biology credit and will begin her first year at Loyola University in Chicago with a total of 26 hours of college credit. She plans to pursue a degree in medicine.
“I really like the educational atmosphere at LLCC as well as the one-on-one experience that the students have with professors. At Loyola, I sensed a similar type of feeling because everyone is willing to help there. Although it is much larger than LLCC, I am looking forward to the new experience.”
Dhiren chose to earn an associate in arts degree from LLCC-J “to get one-on-one attention from my professors, and because it is affordable and small.” He graduated with honors in May 2014 and easily transferred to Illinois College, where he is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in finance, with a minor in economics. He is grateful for the knowledge and experience he gained as a member of IC’s Investment Club, under the direction of Harmon Deal and TJ Devine.
This summer, he is acquiring more experience in his field working as a consumer products analyst through an internship program at H.D. Smith in Springfield. Dhiren also returned to LLCC to take managerial accounting this summer, another class that will transfer to the University of Illinois – Springfield, where he has been accepted in the MBA and master’s in entrepreneurship programs.
The Patel siblings also like to keep busy outside of school; Dhiren enjoys playing baseball and cricket and spending time with his family. Niki’s hobbies include writing poetry, playing tennis and taking walks in the evening.
Even with their busy schedules, they are able to enjoy their interests and accomplish their academic goals by planning carefully and taking advantage of educational opportunities available in Jacksonville.