Two summers ago, Roshan Patel (’08) spent seven weeks in Kenya during the summer. He went there to teach the Maasai children (a nomadic group) the basics of digital photography. The Kenyan ecosystem is amost untouched and incredibly biodiverse. Patel was hoping that the Maasai children would continue to document their rich homeland on film. This experience was funded in part by the College’s Charles Center which awarded Patel a $3000. international summer research grant.
Patel taught younger children how to take landscape pictures while he taught older children how to record locations of wildlife sightings using global positioning systems. Patel himself, in his free time, was able to capture on film everything from elephants to cheetahs to goshawks. He also worked with elephant researchers, shadowing them in the Kenyan countryside.
This opportunity allowed Patel to utilize his love for the academic study of biology and his personal passion for photography. What I love about this story is that it illustrates all the wonderful qualities of William & Mary: 1) William & Mary is full of wonderfully intellectual and creative students, 2) William & Mary doesn’t offer academic courses in photography but Patel was still able to find an intellectual outlet for his passion, 3) Patel was helped by Professor Dan Cristol which only goes to show how receptive William & Mary faculty are to working with students, and 4) the College finds ways to make students’ dreams come true.
– Wendy Livingston