As the son of a dentist Keshav Patel, [a member of Pi Lambda Phi], U Sciences ’22, witnessed the inequity of dental care in lower income neighborhoods and the long term health issues this causes. It was one of the reasons he followed in his father’s footsteps to pursue dentistry. At college, he met like-minded students and became a founder of Students for Universal Oral Health (SUOH), a volunteer organization dedicated to providing resources, information, and access to dental care for underprivileged communities.
Helping underserved communities in Philadelphia
The group started by assembling dental care kits (toothbrush, floss, toothpaste) with instructions on oral hygiene that were distributed by homeless shelters. As the group got more attention they expanded, making partnerships with organizations that could help deliver these kits, such as: Project Home, Children First, and the Bethesda Project.
Their mission was well-received by the community and the university. Keshav said, “We were able to grow the charity so much that our university wrote an article about us and students reached out to get involved.”
The group hosts Saturday morning booths at Clark Park farmer’s market, and they are partnering with local public school to provide best practices for oral health so they start young.
Keshav said of his commitment to this cause, “It was not an easy process starting a charity from scratch while also managing school and life, but when you believe in it you make time.”
He’s been volunteering since high school in a neighborhood soup kitchen. Giving back is part of his DNA. He added that Pilam’s dedication to philanthropy emboldened his personal mission to help others.
Juggling school, fraternity and charity
While his docket was full with classes and charity, Keshav felt very drawn to Pilam because of its diversity and inclusion. He immediately found common ground with the brothers.
In addition to the bonds of brotherhood, he found PiLam to be an unexpected and welcome source of financial support. In 2021, he was the recipient of the EPA Phi Sigma endowed scholarship and the Stanley Klunder Leadership Scholarship.