A little over a year ago, Danielle Patterson graduated with honors from OSU Institute of Technology after taking part in the workforce training program M-Power, also based on the OSUIT campus.
Now a student at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College taking online courses in health care administration, Patterson was recently recognized as the Workforce Adult Alumni Award winner for the eastern district at the 2017 Oklahoma Works Annual Alumni Celebration.
“I try to work hard and do my best at everything I do, but that’s what I try to do every day. I don’t see it as going above and beyond,” said Patterson, who added she was really shocked when she learned she was chosen. “I said ‘Wait, what?’ I had no idea what it was. I can’t believe that actually happened.”
The event took place Nov. 16 at Rose State College in Oklahoma City.
At the ceremony, Patterson addressed the audience which included Fran Colombin and Judy Black, instructors in the M-Power program under OSUIT’s Workforce and Economic Development division.
She talked about the importance of the people around you and the support they give you, like that of Colombin and Black.
“It was amazing. I’m not a big public speaker. Looking at them while talking and thanking them for their support, it made me feel a lot more comfortable,” she said. “You realize there are other people out there who want you to succeed.”
Black said seeing Patterson and the other winners recognized was phenomenal and brought tears to her eyes.
“As I listened to her talk about her challenges of having a difficult life, being almost homeless and struggling to find a way to make a life for her and her son, it just broke my heart,” she said. “Danielle didn’t have much confidence or a hope for the future back then, but she reached inside herself to reach out for help.”
Patterson started in the M-Power program to help her improve her life skills and job skills. She gained the confidence to go back to college so she enrolled in OSUIT’s business program in the School of Arts & Sciences. In August 2016, she graduated summa cum laude, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and was named the Outstanding Business Student in her graduating class.
Her next goal is to graduate in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree. While taking classes online, Patterson is also working at the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce after completing an internship at the Deep Fork Community Action Center.
“You learn so much about the community and the people. I want to work with the community and give back because they helped me so much,” she said, but it hasn’t been easy. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be a single parent and full-time student and work. I’m just taking one class at a time or one test at a time.”
And she still turns to those who have cheered her on during her journey.
“I talk to Judy or Fran or I talk with my boss, and they say ‘We know you’ve got this.’ That’s that support system I was talking about,” she said.
Black said she is so proud of Patterson and watching her grow and succeed has been such a pleasure and makes her work worthwhile.
“We knew Danielle had great potential. We knew she was very capable of being a success even when she didn’t know or believe it herself. Danielle became the professional and personal success she dreamed she could be,” Black said. “She continues to grow, to succeed and to reach for the next challenge. I cannot wait to see what she continues to do in her life. She is an inspiration and shining example for others to follow.”