GROW Program Helps Launch Youth on a New Career Path

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
September 8, 2015

Leadership Grow members learn a lot about their community and themselves.

Neeraj Patel knows that well.

A graduate of GROW, he recently spoke to our new Class of 2016 about his experiences in the program – and how it helped launch him on a career that he never anticipated.

He even created a website devoted to his new interest.

 

By Neeraj Patel

My initial decision to do Youth Leadership (GROW) mostly stemmed from my intrigue of Palm Beach. My life has mainly been limited to a single suburban region of the massive and diverse county. Honestly, I had no idea how exploring the region would help me grow as a person or what it would teach me; I just knew that it would somehow do both.

Although I ended up learning many lifelong lessons, one stands out in particular. Almost every science-related business or organization that we visited—from a medical center to a mental health association to an environmental water treatment site—had something in common.  Scientists and leaders at all of these places were extremely exasperated by a lack of communication between science and government. These frustrated faces showed me that one of the biggest problems that our society faces, and one of the biggest detriments to those in need, is that there is a severe lack of people who are experts in both science and public policy. In essence, my ongoing struggle to decide between a career in science and a career in public policy didn’t have to be a choice—I could do both.

My experiences at Youth Leadership, along with experiences that I gained from an environmental fellowship, have inspired me to launch a nonpartisan website called greentank.org that, among other things, features articles from local environmental experts who want to communicate with the public and increase the political importance of certain issues. In the future, wherever life takes me, I will always remember the faces and struggles of the dozens of people that I met through Youth Leadership—the people that make Palm Beach County what it is.

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