Freshman communication studies major Ajay Patel has wasted no time in laying the foundation for his future. In his first semester he has already made connections with industry leaders that he hopes will lead to internships and more opportunities in Philadelphia's vibrant sports broadcasting industry. With plans to enroll in the new Sports Media Certificate Program and minor in either advertising or business, Patel has already grown his professional development by lightyears within his first semester at Klein College of Media and Communications.

After completing a high school internship with 302 Sports in Delaware doing play-by-play announcing and color commentary, Patel knew his dream was a career in sports broadcasting. With supportive parents who always encouraged him to plan ahead and pursue his dreams, he knew that he was ready to hit the ground running when he arrived at Klein.

"Ajay arrived on a campus like an explosion," said Communication Studies Program Director Scott Gratson. "Within days of the term starting, he was already networking with professors, administrators and professionals. His outgoing and amicable personality serves him well, but more, his drive is endless. He simply throws himself into everything that he does."

So far, Patel has thrown himself into two shows on WHIP Radio: Stadium Talks on Thursdays at 1 p.m. and Around the American on Fridays at 10 a.m. He has also written an article, produced a sports brief and anchored for OwlSports Update, and looks forward to getting even more involved with them next semester. For now, their shooting schedule interferes with Dr. Gratson's class.

Outside of Klein, Patel has also begun networking with industry professionals such as USA Badminton's Board Chair Ken Wong, Emmy-winning legacy sports anchor Lou Tilley, officials at the Philadelphia Sports Congress and the minds behind an upcoming sports broadcast channel that will be starting on Roku streaming services.

With so much time on his hands as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting travel and in-person activities, Patel believes that now was the perfect time to jumpstart his career. "I'm a really competitive guy; I played baseball growing up," he said. "So I just wanted to get out there and get ahead of the curve, and I've loved everything I've done so far."

Now, Patel is not only planning for future internships and jobs, but also carefully selecting his academic courses to meet his career and intellectual needs. He is particularly energized about Klein's new Certificate in Sports Media, and plans to also add a minor in either advertising or business and possibly even pursue a master's or 4+1 degree. He says that selecting the Contemporary Media Environments track within communication studies was crucial to helping him select the right courses and pursue his goals.

"I picked communication [studies] because of the flexibility within the course structure," he said. "And I see myself as potentially getting a master's in journalism."

Though this sort of achievement for someone so new to the college experience is scarce — especially for a freshman who is studying remotely — it is abundantly clear that Patel already exhibits the drive and work ethic that has been characteristic of Klein students for decades.

"For a first year student who just arrived at college a few months ago to achieve that level of engagement is exceptionally rare," Gratson says. "Simply, he is a phenomenon."