Finding a home away from home

Meet Jada Patterson, 2022 Fall Commencement graduate with a major in communications (double emphasis in sports and social media) and minor in psychology. Originally from Milwaukee, Jada wanted to attend college in a place that was close enough to drive home, but with enough distance to be able to spread her wings.

At the college fair at her high school, she was immediately impressed with the people she met from UW-Green Bay. “They were fantastic, and made me feel very welcome,” said Patterson. She decided to attend without a tour and says once she arrived, “I fell in love the moment I stepped foot on campus.”

And now five years later, she’s ready for her next adventure.

But Jada didn’t start college that first fall out of high school. She wasn’t able to sign up for housing in time and opted to stay home that fall. When she began her first semester in the spring of 2018, halfway through everyone else’s “typical” freshman year, she was concerned about finding friends. “I wanted to get as involved as possible because of the timing. I knew it would be a challenge and I give all the credit to MESA (Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs) and the Black Student Union,” she says. “They reeled me in and exposed me to other experiences on campus.”

Enter Covid, and everything stopped. Her excitement about new friends and new experiences and challenges was suddenly halted. Once through the challenges of establishing a “new normal,” Patterson tore her Achilles during a pick-up basketball game. “I realized that I would be spending my senior year on a scooter (after surgery,) and thought of all of the obstacles I’d face. Plus being a student and all the things that were going on in society at that moment, it was challenging.”

In addition to being part of the Black Student Union’s executive committee her freshman through junior years, Jada later became a student ambassador and was promoted to a student ambassador co-director her senior year. In fact, she has since learned that a fear of finding friends is something that most freshman experience. “I ended up having a different experience and found it easy to meet people with similar backgrounds,” said Patterson. She mentions again how welcoming everyone is on campus; the students, faculty and staff. “Green Bay has that energy that ‘we are here to help’ even if I don’t know you, I can find resources and help you as much as I can.”

When asked what advice she would give to someone deciding whether or not to attend college, she immediately advises to “Go at your own pace. I enjoy having control over when and how I would take classes, and when my injury happened, I took my future into my own hands knowing I didn’t want my senior year to include an injury.” And while every day is different at UW-Green Bay, the one consistent piece? “There is always someone who will welcome you and help out.”

That definitely sounds like home!

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