Software engineering graduate becomes one of the youngest endowed scholarship donors in college history

Published: Mar 29, 2023 2:00 PM

By Bethany Deuel

For most young college graduates, the first few post-graduate years are time to focus on career ambitions and getting settled as a young professional. But Raj Patel, ’22 software engineering, couldn’t wait to give back to his alma mater.

Patel, a native of Madison, came to Auburn as a first-generation college student. Without the guidance of a family member who had experienced college before him, his first years were an adjustment as he navigated the brand-new world of college.

“As a first-generation college student, it is a big toll,’” Patel said. “Everyone tells you to ‘just go get a degree’ but they don’t tell you that it’s a big deal, being on your own every day.”

Then, just as he became involved on campus, the COVID pandemic hit, sending him back home.

After returning to campus for his junior year, Patel took a part-time job working with Auburn IT and resumed his position in Cupola Ambassadors, giving tours to prospective Auburn Engineering students – all while continuing to excel in his studies.

“It was a running joke that I was constantly in Brown-Kopel and if you ever needed me, to find me there,” he said.  

Through his internship, he learned about the consulting aspect of a software engineering degree and, as a people-oriented person, felt it would be a good fit for him.

Through an engineering career fair, Patel was introduced to consulting firm Capgemini and, before long, was accepting a job in Nashville. Now serving there as a business analyst, he is able to apply the curriculum knowledge he gained at Auburn as well as the professional skills.

“Yes, I did get prepared, yes, I did learn the knowledge and material I needed to learn,” he said. “But I was really looking out for those soft skills. I made it a goal of mine to pick up on as many soft skills as possible. That’s what I carried into this field.”

Less than a year after his graduation, Patel can remember what it felt like to struggle as he adjusted to university. This is what led him to establish an endowed scholarship in the College of Engineering, making himself one of the youngest alumni to ever do so. 

“I can understand what these students are going through. My first year I wondered, ‘is school really for me?’ That process goes through every student’s head.

“The thing that always brought me back was remembering ‘I got scholarships. I don’t want to waste them. Someone is investing in me,’” Patel said.

In recognition of this investment, Patel has chosen to honor his roots at Auburn, and at home, by naming the scholarship after his father and grandfather. Through his scholarship, he believes he can continue the ‘domino effect’ of investment at Auburn. 

“Auburn itself is an investment,” he said. “It’s people investing in you and in your future. It’s the people who built you. I believe you shouldn’t forget where your roots came from. No matter how successful you become, remember where you came from and what it took for you to get there.”

Media Contact: Bethany Deuel,, 334.844.5519
Raj Patel

Raj Patel

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