Patricia's Introduction Blog
Hello, I am the new Promotion and Prevention Specialist for the Community Engagement Institute Prevention Initiative. It is with excitement that I sit at my desk and share with you a little about me and the journey it took me to get here from 25th and Hillside in Wichita Kansas. My love affair with Wichita State University began as a little girl and having the “Hillside High” as a large neighbor. I have fond memories of enjoying family and neighborhood friends as we walked over to watch the annual fireworks on the 4th of July, or hearing the cheers of the football game floating into my open bedroom window on warm fall days, and the laughter as we slid on trash can lids on the hills in the snow now flattened by progress.
It served as a constant neighborhood landmark and reminder of my college life goal as I rode past it almost daily on a school bus, in the family’s cool blue station wagon with the wood grain panels or my first car, not so cool, white pinto station wagon. To say that it all work out well would be true but just like any journey there were detours and bumps in the road.
Graduation done it begin with my first semester at WSU which was a huge crash and burn, I know, not me right. Seeing me now and then you wouldn’t have never guessed that I wouldn’t have aced my first year of college. I was an almost straight A student who graduated a year early (right on time for me because they held me back because of my late birthday, I showed them), and seem to have my head on straight (I was a good girl). Here is where looks can be deceiving I was crazy about a musician, I am sure I don’t need to say any more. You can just imagine the detour my life took. But looking back I would probably change some timelines and avoided some situations but the worst help me to grow, the good help me to keep going and I became better for it all.
After a couple of years of life happening, I found myself going to Butler County Community College were it took me ten years to get my two year degree because during this time I had a musician husband, three boys and a full time job at Boeing but I was determined. After receiving my Associates of Science in 2002 and being laid off from Boeing, I stepped back onto the campus of Wichita State University armed with a plan to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Business in two years.
Success was mine! Now I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Wichita State University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Baker University. I get a great sense of accomplishment as I look on my office wall and see the sum of what I have done in those four diplomas from High School to the MBA. They have open doors and provided me with a confidence that only education and the achievement of completing can and I am grateful.
Being laid off from Boeing for the third time my goal of making lots of money and working my way up the management’s ladder became a crazy scheme. They wouldn’t let me be great. So, I volunteered and did some community work with a few non-profits and found that I was good at it and I enjoyed contributing that that I had learned academically and through my life experience to impact others’ lives in a positive way.
Hail to WSU Career Center who helped me craft a resume that would help transition me from the manufacturing field into social services and land a great job with the City of Wichita as a Program Specialist responsible for providing community education to the northeast community of Wichita. In this position I excelled and had increase program attendance from a few hundred a year to the thousands with programming for youth, collaborative round table discussions center around issues and focused on solutions, resource and employment fairs, computer classes for seniors, and much more.
As the City of Wichita went through vision changes with new leadership for their Neighborhood Services division my position was phased out reinforcing in me that your best work is only as good as the timing of the opportunity to do it and tomorrow is not a given. From there I briefly worked for the Housing Services Department in the welfare to work program.
Not satisfied it was time for another leap of faith and stretch. Applying for a job that I knew I would be good at but did not have the right education they were requiring. My introduction letter was a convincing argument as to why they should hire a business graduated and not a social worker for this position. They hired me as the Region Director for the $4 million dollar federally funded Healthy Relationships Grant administered through Catholic Charities of Wichita. Within a year I became the State-Wide Director for the program overseeing sites in Kansas City, Topeka, Salina, Manhattan, Dodge City, Garden City, Pittsburg and Wichita. We achieved a level of success with our service delivery and data collecting that allowed us to be requested to present during the federal conferences and impact their changes in collecting data from their other grantees. By the way, I had been married for over 25 years to that musician so I knew a few things about healthy relationships which didn’t hurt.
So you and I know by now changes are inevitable and with the dissolving of that program after five years I found myself again rolling with the wave right into working with children to help them read on grade level by the 3rd grade for the Kansas Reading Roadmap as a Program Manager over seeing several sites. During this time the invite to become an “as needed” program associate with the Community Engagement Institute’s (CEI) Center for Organizational Development & Collaboration was extended and I accepted. This allowed me an opportunity to be a part of the great work and get a glimpse of the inner workings of an organization I had admired and had opportunities from time to time to work with in my other roles.
Now here I am, a sum of all that I have learned, experienced and absorbed and all though the circle is nowhere near complete I am once again immersed in the black and gold and ready to experience, learn and give all that I have to the wonderful work of Prevention and CEI. I am still married to the musician, children grown with children of their own and I continue to love Wichita State University.