Patel helps high school student prepare for future

Pay it Forward


Pratik Patel

Analyst, Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc.

Nonprofits served: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee

Service: Volunteer in organization’s mentor2.0 program.

Lila Aryan Photography

Students face a series of big decisions in high school – which classes to take, which activities to join, which career track to pursue.

Around that time in his life, Pratik Patel had the advantage of teachers and informal mentors helping guide him through the process. A first-generation college student, he went on to become an Evans Scholar at Northwestern University.

Now an analyst at Milwaukee-based investment management firm Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc., Patel gives of his time in hopes of doing the same for Veritas High School sophomore Jonathan Barojas.

Patel and Barojas work together through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee’s mentor2.0 program.

“Reflecting over time on the opportunity and experiences I’ve had has shown me how important it is to have mentors,” Patel said. “That is one of the things that has drawn me to working with Jonathan, to devote time to something I’ve benefitted from and am appreciative of.”

The program pairs college-educated mentors with high school youth for monthly in-person mentoring at Veritas High on Milwaukee’s south side, and weekly check-ins using online college readiness-focused curriculum.

Patel, who also serves on the organization’s board, has been working with Barojas since the beginning of his freshman year.

Patel and Barojas spent that first year focused on getting to know each other and building trust.

“I felt a huge difference late in his freshman year, and now in his sophomore year in terms of the strength of the relationship,” Patel said. “It’s exceeded my expectations in terms of ease.”

Recently, they have worked on drafting Barojas’ first resume and discussing his summer job opportunities. Next year, they plan to focus on ACT preparation and other post-secondary readiness skills.

The pair will continue the mentorship through Barojas’ first year of college.

A Chicago transplant, Patel said the experience has helped him get outside of the areas of Milwaukee he frequents – Shorewood, where he lives, and downtown, where he works – and meet people outside of his ordinary circles.

“As with Chicago, it’s a very segregated city that we live in,” Patel said. “So this allows me to see people outside of the community I live in, and not just from the student perspective, but even the volunteers are from all over the city. It’s really allowed me to see the fabric of the community.”

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