Jemin Patel (Class of 2018): A journey of hard work, passion and striving for excellence | Aga Khan Academies

Jemin Patel (Class of 2018): A journey of hard work, passion and striving for excellence

Jemin Patel’s journey to where he is now is the result of hard work and passion, values he picked up during his time at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad. Yet his story started sometime before this, when he was selected to attend the large, 100-acre Academy through a full scholarship.  

Growing up, Jemin’s access to quality education was very limited. The Class of 2018’s alumnus grew up in the small town of Madhapur, Kutch and attended a government school with limited resources and poor quality of education. However, in 2013, Jemin was selected to join the Academy through its Talent Identification Programme, which provides exceptional students with an international-standard education and leadership opportunities, regardless of their ability to pay. This would prove to be an exciting journey for Jemin; however, it also came with its challenges.  

Starting in the Academy as a Grade 8 student, Jemin felt all the nervousness of moving to a new place and starting at a new school. He felt out of place, not knowing whether he would succeed. Although he knew this would be difficult, he embraced the notion of working hard, instead of working smarter.  

“I’ve learnt that hard work always wins,” he said. “People say, ‘work smart, not hard’. I could not disagree more. Working smart makes you efficient, whereas working hard with a focused mindset makes you a high performer.”  

During his time at the Academy, Jemin focused on fulfilling one of his biggest goals: speaking and thinking in fluent English. He used several shows including, Shark Tank, Friends and How I Met Your Mother to pick up phrases, expressions and the flow of language. He also discovered a love of music through listening to Taylor Swift, Troye Sivan, Vance Joy, Imagine Dragons and many more. Alongside fulfilling goals and self-discovery, the Academy became a second home for Jemin, who still recalls the “heated but harmless” debates he had with his friends during meals – one of his favourite moments at the Academy. Another fond memory for Jemin was finding out he had received a scholarship to the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada through the support he got from the Academy’s university counselling department. He remembers collapsing in tears, hugging every person he saw including teachers, students and guards.  

After accepting the scholarship, Jemin started his new life in Canada, which consisted of new friends, classes, environments and much more. However, in this life, Jemin was also able to own his queer identity. Deciding to keep this private at the Academy, he started to embrace his authentic self while at university, which led him to create several foundations for LGBTQ+ students at Schulich. From a student-led club called Schulich Pride Alliance to a nationwide pride conference with over 33 corporate sponsors and 100+ delegates, Jemin successfully created a space to support other queer students as he did not want anyone else to struggle finding their place. Now, the nationwide pride conference – known as SPECTRUM – takes place every year, which Jemin is proud to call his legacy.  

Although it has been five years since he graduated, Jemin continues to visit the Academy to coach and interact with students. He expressed how he felt like a big brother passing on the torch and imparting wisdom he would have loved to have during his time at the Academy. During his most recent visit, Jemin met the founder of the newly formed SAGE (Sexuality and Gender Expression) club at the Academy and felt so proud of the students. 

Now, working at one of Canada’s top accounting and consulting firms, Ernst & Young, specialising in audit and assurance services, Jemin still stands by the notion, “hard work always wins.” 

“It’s not about perfection, it’s about striving for excellence,” he said. “Putting in a focused and genuine effort into everything you do is all that matters.” 

Interview conducted by DP2 student Samhitha Paruchuri from the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad.