Humanitarian & Trailblazer Dr. Joi Patterson

Dr Joi Patterson

When you meet a true “Trailblazer” in a field, or a true Humanitarian, we all should stop and take notice; & recognize the uniqueness / greatness of one’s natural “God given” abilities.

Today I bring to you that person, who in her own way has made a “difference”; in her community & region. Dr. Joi Patterson is a highly qualified educator, who always had a vision of helping the less fortunate; or as society would call them “At Risk Student”.

Dr. Joi Patterson believes education is for “Everybody”, especially for the ones who GPA’s are way below the required 2.5 to enter into college these days.

Dr. Patterson of Calumet College of Saint Joseph is the Vice President of Academic Affairs, & Chief Operating Officer in Whiting Indiana. The college is the oldest college in the region, but don’t let their small size fool you; because CCSJ is making moves among some of the larger schools in the area. As she once stated to me, “There is so much work here to be done, in Northwest Indiana”.

Dr. Patterson & her staff have created a program / syllabus, for them same “At Risk Students”; to attend their private Catholic College. Selling the program wasn’t easy, but her determination to see every young person have an opportunity to go to college and obtain a degree; was her driving force.

Also the numbers show that certain ethnic groups (a few years ago), were suffering more than others; in the region. The President of CCSJ bought into the new program (“African Male Initiative”), because “Education should be available to all our young adults” period…

Dr. Joi Patterson who have taught around the country, refuse to sit back & lets these numbers remain this way (status quo); without trying to do something about it (personally).

As a woman whose first love was nursing growing up, fell in love with the field of Science. Dr. Joi Patterson has a few Bachelor degrees, in Biology & Chemistry, from Sam Houston State University in 1989. She worked as a Research “Microscopist”, while working towards her Master of Science, from Governors State University in 1993; in Environmental Biology.

Dr. Patterson still longing to be in a service related field, then pursued a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Walden University in 1996. Dr. Patterson was at it once again, getting another Master of Art in Education Administration; from Chicago State University in 1998. She followed that up with a Teaching License, from DePaul University in 1998.

As you can see Dr. Patterson loves to learn, and believes in investing herself in it totally; she also believes in working hard to achieve her goals.

“What a better living example, for our young people to follow / model themselves after today”…

At the present time, Calumet College of Saint Joseph is the ONLY college; with this type of program for High School Seniors who are classified “at risk students”. Some colleges have looked the other way (in my opinion), & are under serving their respective communities; but not CCSJ.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph has developed a partnership with a local HS; to help these “At Risk Students”. By allowing some students to get “Dual Credits” while working to obtain their GED; but still being successful in passing classes in a college setting. These students’ self-esteem & the taste of some success, motivates them to be even more successful in this unique program; that has been around a little over a year now. Numbers don’t lie, the evidence is there!

So you ask yourself, why haven’t other colleges (locally); created a program similar to this one at their institution?

I know Colleges have to keep up with retaining students, & their graduation rates is all fine & good; but a large number of African-Americans / Hispanic-Americans are being left out…

Calumet College of Saint Joseph truly understands the dynamics of not being educated; in today’s global world. The world is constantly changing, & CCSJ is changing with it; which also reflects the region business attitude. Yes industrial companies line the surrounding areas in Northwest Indiana, but just graduating from High School is not good enough anymore; to work in the areas Steel & Automobile Plants.

The technology of today’s plants, require higher educational skills; than ever before.  To make a decent living in the region, you must go to college, or go to an advance “Trade School”.

Dr. Joi Patterson school’s unique “African-American Male Initiative”, has really help improve the overall grades / GPA of the men basketball team here at the school (which is predominantly black); because their grades started to slip badly. She believes in “Accountability”, & eliminating transparent excuses from her students; which slows down the learning process for them. She also likes making the student parents be a part of the learning experience (so that one can re-enforce the other, & work in conjunction with one another)…

“I personally feel that the Male Initiative Program that is presently in place is so important at CCSJ; for the survival of our young minority men”….

If you can show up to support your child in sporting events, you can surely show up to support their education efforts; please never confuse the two. I personally feel the parents of these students, should never be left out of the process. To see how much CCSJ really go out of their way, to help their student reach their ultimate goal; is a “Beautiful Thing”…

Me being one of those so call “At Risk” students of my day; really allowed me to connect with this story.. I feel so obligated & privileged, to bring this amazing story forward. I wondered why other colleges haven’t really addressed this growing problem; of this generation is the real question to me…

The biggest / added plus that I see, about the “African Male Initiative” program is; the young men can openly sharing their fears & concerns in an open forum among one another; with an outside mentor (not a part of the CCSJ Staff).. In today’s society “we all have a story”, but these men can affectively change (in a positive way); the ending of their stories through education together / support one another.

The smaller classroom settings and the availability of the Professor to the student ratio at CCSJ allows the Mentoring Program to give the students a positive learning experience. The Professors & Administrative Staff at CCSJ want to see all of their students be successful; but do understand the “ultimate” responsibility for this to happen is the student themselves…

“You may start at CCSJ as a young student, but you will leave CCSJ as a young educated / responsible adult”…

Seeing Dr. Patterson smile while speaking of the accomplishments of the school’s newest program, was a “Joy” for me to see; because of her commitment / passion for seeing this through..

Her background as a teacher in Arizona, & as an Assistant Principal in Chicago, led her to believe the problem must be seriously addressed; at the middle school level. Along with making parents aware & informed of the process, especially in the area of GPA vs Grades etc. It’s more than just making a passing grade in HS, but some parents don’t know the difference between the two. Maybe this is due to not totally understanding the process, in reference to attending college….

A sad statistic of this area is, there are more black males in prison between the ages of 18-25; than are actually in college in the region..

A lot of the “At Risk Students” maybe up to 2-3 years behind (for whatever reason), from where they should be; but Dr. Patterson truly feels CCSJ can turn these negative numbers around. “This is a win-win situation, for our communities in Northwest Indiana.

“We must succeed in this area, because look at the alternative; Success Breeds Success”…

Dr. Patterson has seen the numbers change (for the better), in the area of minority males attending college; but her biggest concern is them completing college. Our young ladies seem to be doing better in this area, but we have discussed openly why?

I feel there is a constant battle for our young males, to have this persona of “Invincibility”; that comes from the streets of most inner cities. Some of these young men have lost their way; & now has “Devalued” their life (without really knowing it). There is a false sense of hope, that this crap they call “Street Cred” can give them; but to me it’s like “Fools Gold”. Being uneducated leads to more senseless crime and more young people being incarcerated etc.

CCSJ & their staff help their students believe in education, & it’s ok to go to work every day; to obtain a decent paycheck to take care of your family. CCSJ   help their students believe, it’s ok to “Dream & Achieve”; it’s ok to live the “American Dream” etc.

The word “Hope” is a very strong word, and everything ever achieved in life, all originated from this most simple word; with of course some kind of action.

Dr. Patterson your 11 years as the Department Chair, and 3 years as the Vice President of Academic Affairs / Chief Operating Officer; has served you well..

Dr. Patterson & Calumet College of Saint Joseph (of Whiting Indiana), I salute you both; for putting the “Hope” back into our young people lives. Your “Outstanding” work does not go unnoticed, & for me doing this article has been so encouraging to me. To see & know our young people future, in Northwest Indiana is bright once again; thanks to you all.

Please acknowledge & give a heartfelt “Thank You”, to all of our educators out there on the frontlines; fighting the battle to save our children / and give them a future…
“Stay Encouraged & Blessed always”…

Coach Tony Branch

Share Button