Before he heads off to college, Aakash Patel will spend a week working at the U.S. Surgeon General’s office.
The South Forsyth High School senior is one of just six aspiring health professionals selected for the internship through the Health Occupations Students of America, or HOSA.
Since 1976, the career and technical organization has worked to promote opportunities and enhance the delivery of quality health care.
Patel has attended every state and national conference of HOSA since he became a member of the organization his freshman year.
For several years prior to that, he had accompanied his older brother to the group's state conferences.
But he became part of the organization because of his interest in neuroscience and psychology.
“I’ve been really interested in how the brain controls the behavior of the body,” he said. “Being involved in psychology and neuroscience ... you can potentially have the ability to find cures for certain mental illnesses that many people suffer from.”
The HOSA internship was open to all 150,000 members of the organization.
Patel said he submitted four essay questions, two letters of recommendation, a resume and project idea.
“I was surprised because only six of us were selected,” he said.
During their week at the office, Patel and the other interns will be shadowing staff and sitting in on meetings.
The group will also be working in teams on projects. Patel said his project idea focuses heavily on the Medical Reserve Corps.
The group is made up of local volunteers who raise awareness of health care issues, promote preventative measures and help during times of natural disasters and other emergencies.
His project includes encouraging HOSA to train its members to be part of the corps and help them transition into networks within their local communities.
“I’m really excited about conducting a project that will benefit both HOSA and public health service,” he said.
Though he is still deciding between colleges, Patel plans to major in neuroscience or public health, making this internship even more valuable.
“I think it will definitely give me a great outlook as to how public health runs at the national level,” he said. “It will help me understand the infrastructure of the government and how they react to public emergencies, as well as how they promote preventative health care.
“I’m really interested in how these fine details are developed.”