He is the first from South Dakota State University to get the honor.
Indian American Viraj Patel has been named an American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA NIET) All-American. He is the first from South Dakota State University to get the honor.
“I was petrified. I was terrible. I hadn’t done an impromptu or extemporaneous speech before; I was a hot mess,” Patel told SDSU Collegian, recalling his experience at the competition when he took part for the first time.
“Ironically, I had those same feelings when I got the All-American honor. It was, ‘Oh my God, what did I get myself into?’ I cried but knew this was something I’d chosen to do and now I have to be good at it,” Patel added.
All-Americans are selected based on scholastic achievement, AFA-NIET forensic participation and community service.
Patel was interested in film studies when he arrived at South Dakota State from Mumbai, India. But later he came across the Jackrabbits Forensics program and he became a speech communication major with plans to attend graduate school in the field.
“Speech taught me to stand up on my own two feet, and defend not only my opinions, but also the opinions of other people who may not be able to defend it well,” he said. “Through forensics, I found my true passion.”
“If I didn’t stumble upon Jackrabbits Forensics, I would not be able to have my dream of working in US politics. It definitely impacted my career at SDSU but it has also changed my life, gave me my passion. Jackrabbits Forensics has the tagline of ‘speak your passion.’ That truly has stuck with me,” Patel added.
“Viraj’s honor is reflective of his dedication to excellence in all aspects of his college career,” said SDSU coach Andrea Carlile. “As the first SDSU student to receive this honor, it highlights the growth of the forensics program to rise to renewed heights of national success.”
“I am going to be a Jackrabbit for the rest of my life. That is not going to change at all, but being actively involved in campus activities , impacting real change on this campus as a student is what I will miss a lot,” Patel said.
Patel serves as a senator of the College of Arts and Sciences, where he was named Senator of the Year. He is also involved with the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College.