Hometown Heroes: Anika Patel

By Joan Frances –

Anika Patel.

The definition of a hero is, “A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model.” A hero can be any gender, any nationality and any age. Only a freshman in the Math and Science Academy at Dulles High School, Anika Patel is the epitome of our Hometown Hero.

It began as an idea. Anika heard about the impact and devastation that Hurricane Harvey made on the community, and it truly stunned her. “Upon driving to and from school, I heard on the radio about how shelters were crowded with people and that the money from large donation drives was going mostly to Harris County but not much was trickling down to the affected residents in Fort Bend County,” Anika shared. “I made the decision to have a fundraiser where 100% of the money raised would go to the Fort Bend Forward Harvey Recovery Fund. I decided to have a Science Night fundraiser because it was an opportunity for me to raise money for Harvey victims and share the fun side of science with the community. Once I received the confirmation to host it at Dulles High School (DHS), I had overwhelming support and guidance from both adults and students that helped me stay on track with my timeline for the event scheduled for December 1st.”

Anika Patel.

The fundraiser was held mainly in the DHS Commons. The planetarium was set up in the mall, and featured engaging guest speakers in the classrooms. “There were astronomers with telescopes set up at the football field, and more than 180 tickets were sold.”

The event included speakers from various organizations, such as The Fort Bend Astronomy Club (FBAC), The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), The Fort Bend Photography Club (FBPC), Native Plant Society of Texas and the Wildlife Center of Texas. “NASA physicist Don Cooper was the youngest – and now the only one living – in the team of physicists who were behind the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. He gave a talk with a power point presentation and a model rocket, and his audience was mesmerized. He spoke about the story of the calculations behind the launch and how they worked with computers in those days.”

Anika learned so much from this experience. “I felt joy! Relief! Belief in myself and others. When I was told that we collected almost $2,000, I felt overwhelmed and drained at the same time. Planning this event taught me something every step of the way, not all things directly related to the fundraiser. Most importantly, I learned that giving up is not an option. Being organized, planning and prioritizing makes the experience more manageable. I learned to plan ahead for every task required for this fundraiser, including making Power Point presentations to recruit speakers, listing  things to discuss for my meetings with Mr. Tucker, Dulles High School Math and Science Academy Coordinator, or making a spreadsheet to designate tasks to volunteers. I also learned early on that for the event to be successful, I must communicate and work together with many different members of the community and people of all ages. Many members went out of their way to encourage and advise me. We have a great community at Dulles High School, in Fort Bend, and the Houston area as a whole!”

In addition to her unprecedented volunteer hours for the residents of Fort Bend, Anika is an award-winning photographer. Thank you Anika for your devotion to helping your fellow man. We look forward to watching you continue to achieve great things as a role model in our community.