Our people: Starting young

Jeshal Patel moved from Los Angeles to Clovis in January 2011 to attend Eastern New Mexico University and help his parents Raj and Mina, manage Motel 7 on Mabry Drive. Patel, who also goes by Jeh, attended boarding school in India from age 9 to 18. He now studies electrical engineering at ENMU. His expected graduation date is May 2014. He wants to focus on environmental projects at some point during his career. When Patel is not studying advanced physics or calculus or managing the Motel 7, he enjoys a variety of hobbies or occasionally goofing off with a friend.

Alisa Boswell: CMI staff photo
Jeh Patel, middle left, listens to a lecture in his semiconductor devices II class at Eastern New Mexico University.

Benna Sayyed: CMI staff photo
Motel 7 manager Jeh Patel, left, inspects a room for cleanliness with head housekeeper, Geraldine Dodgin, at Motel 7 in Clovis.

What inspired you to study electrical engineering? I've always had a passion for it since I was a kid but I got more determined when I was older and realized that my father graduated from MIT with a dual master's degree in electrical and mechanical engineering. His first job was in San Francisco. His first job was to design the Bay Area Rapid Transit System. When my Xbox was broken I opened it up. I realized that it needed to be soldered and I fixed it. I once had to get a video cassette that was stuck inside a TV-VCR combo. In order to do that I had to take it apart. I had to open screws and pop a couple things out. I was young and really interested when I was doing this by myself. I was really interested in the contents inside. I was like "Oh my God, this is awesome. I really want to know what's going on (laughing)."

What do you want to do after graduating from ENMU? I want to work for Lockheed Martin, a very large international reputable company. I want to get a job at Cannon Air Force Base. It is going to be extremely difficult to get the job but it would be a dream come true. I know their focus is not specifically on environmental projects, which I want to focus on, but as an electrical engineer working for them I could gain a lot of experience.

What brought you to Clovis? I had my family's house to myself in LA when I turned 22. I was living alone and having too much fun, wasting time. I turned 25 and realized I still had two years to graduate when I could have graduated two years before. I realized I needed to get away from LA if I wanted to graduate because I wasn't focused there. Also, my parents were not in good health and they were here working. When I got here it was culture shock and there was nothing to do. But I thought that would be a good thing for me. I thought "If there's no nightlife, nothing to do, I won't have a reason to go out. I'll hate it but I've done this for 9 years in a boarding school in India. I'm sure I can survive." Life is slow here. There's no point to go fast here. I still catch myself trying to speed and ask myself why.

Describe your job at the motel? Also, how do you balance your motel duties with your school studies? I take care of customers and supervise the housekeeping staff. I inspect the rooms after they're cleaned. I go around and see how the customers are doing and talk to the maintenance man and see if anything needs to be fixed. A lot of the time I watch him fix things so I can learn. I water the plants in the front. I take care of accounting at the front desk. I'm taking 15 hours at Eastern this semester. After class I come back to work and do my homework. I usually have at least five or six hours of homework everyday. Picture this. I'm in my room in the middle of cracking a huge problem and "Bam," the front desk bell rings. My train of thought goes down the drain and I go to the window. It's like I'm a robot (laughing). It takes me about 10 minutes to get that train of thought back.

How did attending the boarding school in India as a teenager shape your perspective on life today. I see things differently. Poverty in India is very bad. I got to see everything. I felt real bad and it really hurt my heart. I dealt with a lot of conniving people and saw a lot of bullying in the boarding school. I hated every single day in there and I still do (laughing). The experience made me stronger though.

What hobbies keep you busy besides work and school? I like to play video games. I love to read adventure novels; I love that the most. Adventure novels, adventure movies, adventure games; anything dealing with adventure I love. I love to go on long drives through beautiful scenic routes. I like to grow roses. My father has a green thumb, so do I. My favorite plant is jade. It only blooms in the winter time and it's beautiful. I like to play basketball. I like to listen to all types of music except country. I'm sorry, I just can't do country.

What is the most random thing you've ever done? Wake up in the morning and go to Vegas (laughing). When I was 25 I woke up in the morning and my friend called me and said "Come to my house right now." I'm like dude, it's seven in the morning. What the (expletive) do you want? He's like "It's my birthday, brush your teeth, grab a red bull and come to my house right now." I'm like fine, it's his birthday, I have to go. I got to his house and he's like "Dude, it's my birthday, we're going to Vegas right now. We took whatever we needed for the night and the next morning and without a plan we headed to Vegas. That was crazy.

— Compiled by CMI staff writer Benna Sayyed


• Name: Jeshal Patel

• Age: 26

• Hometown: Los Angeles

• Occupation: Eastern New Mexico University junior and local business owner

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