Hometown: Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, QC
Languages: English, French, Gujarati and Hindi
Occupation: Certified Low Vision Specialist
Neelam Patel was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, and had the privilege of growing up fluent in English and French. She is of Indian descent on both sides and her parents have always encouraged her to be compassionate, well-rounded and hardworking. Neelam looks at life with eyes wide open, and is eager to embark on new opportunities and to make the most out of her day. She is currently working two jobs but, she still makes time to work on her fitness and maintain social relationships.
Education has always been the primary focus of Neelam’s upbringing. She graduated from the IBO program in secondary school with the Principal’s list award. This distinction was given to 7 students out of the whole graduating class that maintained an average of 85% or higher during all 5 years of high school. Then, she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science degree from McGill University while majoring in Pharmacology. In pursuit of higher education, Neelam completed her Masters of Science degree at Université de Montréal in Vision Rehabilitation Science with a 4.0 GPA. During this time, she also initiated a research project to determine the depressive symptoms screening and management procedure for visually impaired elderly people in Quebec’s vision rehabilitation centers. She hopes that this project will help create a province-wide screening protocol, not only to help identify visually impaired people who have depressive symptoms but, to also help provide treatment.
After completing her studies, Neelam became a certified Low Vision Specialist and is currently working full time for Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada. She helps visually impaired individuals adjust to their vision loss by introducing optical and non-optical devices, and teaching adaptive techniques. Furthermore, Neelam educates the public on vision-related disabilities and explains the rehabilitation services that are offered. Neelam is currently on the Health and Wellness committee at work and is trying to improve the overall employee satisfaction and create a positive working environment for her colleagues. She is extremely passionate about vision care that she also works at a local optometry clinic aside from her full-time job.
By joining extra-curricular activities, Neelam learned early on how to be well organized and disciplined. She began swimming lessons when she was 6 years old and then joined the synchronized swimming team. She competitively played badminton in high school for 3 years. Although she is not currently playing any sports, Neelam maintains her physical health by going to the gym, training with a personal trainer, swimming leisurely and taking various fitness classes such as Zumba and kickboxing. Aside from fitness, Neelam took piano lessons for a year and played the alto saxophone for 4 years. Learning a new instrument required a lot of patience and practice but Neelam was highly motivated to learn.
Giving back to the community is of great importance to Neelam. Although she’s volunteered at multiple different occasions, her greatest involvement was with the Montreal Children’s hospital where she volunteered over 100 hours. During this time, Neelam was helping the nurses feed babies and spending time with the children who were very sick. Since families couldn’t always stay at the hospital, many children were alone during the day. Neelam and other volunteers would bring games and activities to help the children feel comfortable. Neelam also volunteered to judge the Montreal regional science fair projects. She gave them constructive feedback on their projects and was especially enthusiastic about inspiring the younger generations to pursue a career in science.
The Miss Universe Canada is a title that carries significant prestige and has the ability to create positive change. Neelam wants to use her platform, Vision2020, to help raise awareness on eyecare and advocate for people with visual disabilities. She wants to educate the country that even if you don’t have 20/20 vision, 2020 is the year to prioritize your vision.