Meet senior Jay Patel and junior Jay Patel: One name, two faces


Jacob Maguire

Senior and Junior Patel stand side by side.


Shortly after junior Jay Patel began his freshman year at NKHS in the fall of 2013, he found out that another student, who is now a senior, shares the same first and last name with himself. Not only did this similarity surprise both boys at the time, but it has since confused myriads of other students and teachers.

In addition to having the same name, junior Jay Patel and senior Jay Patel are similar in several other ways. Both boys share an Indian heritage, both boys take similar courses at NKHS, and both boys’ parents own local liquor stores.

Despite the multiple parallels that exist between the lives of these two students, various differences in background, interests, and extracurricular activities distinguish them from one another.

For example, junior Jay Patel immigrated to the U.S. from India with his parents, his older sister, and his extended relatives when he was two years old. When they first arrived in the U.S. back in 2001, junior Jay Patel’s parents and extended relatives pooled their money together to purchase a convenience store in an effort to achieve the “American Dream.” Eventually, Patel’s parents acquired two other convenience stores and three liquor stores, including Colonial Wine & Spirits on Post Rd. in North Kingstown.

“My parents have worked extremely hard for everything they have,” junior Jay Patel said. “With the help of our relatives, they [managed to build] all of these businesses.”

Unlike junior Jay Patel, senior Jay Patel has spent his entire life in the U.S. Senior Jay Patel’s mother and father, who had an arranged marriage, immigrated to the U.S. before he was born. They now own a liquor store in Jamestown.

Even though senior Jay Patel’s parents had an arranged marriage, Patel said that they still get along well and “were the right fit for each other.” In addition, Patel said that his parents will not force him or his two older siblings, Roma and Romil, to marry someone against their will.

“We can marry whomever we want,” senior Jay Patel said. “All of that has changed in our culture.”

Although junior Jay Patel’s parents did not have an arranged marriage, Patel and his family still practice the same religion as senior Jay Patel and his family. Like the majority of the population in India and Nepal, both students and their families actively practice Hinduism. Because the nearest Hindu temple is located in eastern Massachusetts, however, the two students and their families are unable to attend church on a regular basis.

Even so, senior Jay Patel and junior Jay Patel have both made sacrifices on account of their religious beliefs. Both are vegetarians, and junior Jay Patel even abstains from food, or “fasts,” every Wednesday alongside his parents. Senior Jay Patel rarely refrains from eating, but his parents do so on a regular basis.

Just as senior Jay Patel’s and junior Jay Patel’s parents have brought their religious beliefs with them from India, they have also retained their native languages and taught such languages to their children. As a result of their parents’ efforts to teach them their own native languages, senior Jay Patel and junior Jay Patel both speak Gujarati fluently, which is a language spoken in various parts of western India. In addition, both boys have a limited understanding of India’s most common language, Hindi.

Despite the benefits of being bilingual, such as an improved cultural understanding, junior Jay Patel recognizes the drawbacks of knowing two languages. “Even though I am glad to understand Gujarati and I use it to communicate with my parents regularly, it has made English class tough for me,” he said. “English has always been my most difficult subject in school. I definitely prefer math, science, and business classes.”

In fact, junior Jay Patel plans to study business in college, with a focus on international business and marketing. He will likely manage his parents’ chain of businesses when he gets older. Junior Jay Patel does not yet know where he would like to attend college, but he still has nearly one more year to decide.

On the contrary, senior Jay Patel intends to become a pharmacist. He will pursue his Doctor of Pharmacy, which will take him six years, in URI’s Pharmacy program. After taking Honors Chemistry in his sophomore year, Patel enrolled in AP Chemistry as a junior. “I really like the subject of chemistry and I’d like to pursue a career that relates to it,” he said.

Much like their future plans, senior Jay Patel’s and junior Jay Patel’s extracurricular interests help to distinguish them from each other. While senior Jay Patel plays tennis and serves as a volunteer firefighter in Jamestown, junior Jay Patel has a passion for the martial arts. He takes both karate and kickboxing classes. Senior Jay Patel is also an active member of the Robotics Club and the Business Club.

In spite of the fact that several differences in background, future plans, and activities set junior Jay Patel and senior Jay Patel apart from each other, their Indian heritage ultimately connects them.

In addition to the common name, language, and religion that the two boys have, they also share several cultural traditions. Junior Jay Patel and senior Jay Patel regularly eat various Indian foods, which they highly enjoy. Likewise, both students celebrate “Holi” with their families, a spring holiday in India and Nepal that emphasizes love, Hinduism, and community.

“Although some of the foods that I eat and traditions that I have are difficult to describe in English because I have only talked about them in Gujarati, I value my heritage highly,” junior Jay Patel said. “I am definitely proud to be Indian.”