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Lisa Patterson

Lisa Patterson

KCTCS Success Story- Lisa Patterson          


Faculty and staff of EKU’s School of Justice Studies Regional Campuses and Sites Criminal Justice Program are very proud of Middlesboro student Lisa Patterson and her pursuit and completion of her Bachelor’s degree. Lisa has been great student and is completing all of her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice course requirements at home with EKU after first successfully completing her Associate’s degree through SKCTC. More on how a degree with RC&S at any of EKU’s Regional locations can be found at

A couple of years ago, Lisa found herself at a crossroads. Her three children John, Taylor, and Joseph were now grown and self-sufficient, and she needed to find a fresh purpose. ‚Äč"One of my friends said, 'Well, you're smart. Why don't you go back to school?'" says Patterson. She discussed the idea with her family and found the support she needed to go. Ultimately, her children inspired her most. "I wanted to show my kids that I could do it," she says. Although more than 20 years had passed since she earned her GED, she enrolled in classes at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC.)

Patterson admits that in the early days, she was nervous of the unknown. "I was scared. I didn't think older people went to school until I got here," she says. Her outgoing personality served her well, and she found that she enjoyed meeting new people. Also, she says that Southeast helped her brush up on her writing and study skills. "The college gave me the encouragement to finish what I started and the classes taught me what I needed to know."

All was well until the beginning of the 2016 spring semester when Lisa lost her father to a rapidly-growing form of carcinoma. If that were not devastating enough, two weeks later Lisa received the same diagnosis. "I had carcinoma cancer on my face, specifically my nose," she says. Lisa underwent surgery at UK Medical Center and while it successfully removed the cancer, it also removed most of the cartilage in her nose. Just recently, she suffered from a collapsed nasal passage and was forced to undergo a second surgery, re-breaking her nose to straighten the airway and rebuilding the structure. Now, she says, she feels better than she has in years.

In May 2018, Lisa graduated from Southeast with an associate of arts degree, and she is currently enrolled in the EKU Criminal Justice program on the Middlesboro Campus. "The EKU classes are pretty challenging," she says, "but I love it." She also says that SKCTC prepared her well for the challenge. "At Southeast, we had that one-on-one interaction with faculty. That level of support gave me the confidence I needed. My teachers helped me understand what I was doing, and if I needed help, someone was always there."

When asked what advice she would give to others who consider going back to college, Lisa says, "You give 110% and don't have it in your head that you're going to fail. Don't quit. If someone tells you that you can't, you go ahead and do it. As sick as I've been— I've dragged through these halls—if I can do it, anybody can." Lisa will graduate with a bachelor's degree and continue towards her Master's. After that, she aspires to work in a federal prison. "The benefits and pay are attractive," she says. "I feel like a teenager over in class thinking about my goals."

Lisa hopes to inspire her grandchildren, six-year-old twins Baylee and Brylee and four-year-old Jackson, to one day pursue their dreams. (She also has another granddaughter due in December.) "It just makes you feel better about yourself," says Patterson. "Once you graduate, it feels like you've run that big marathon."

Want to become the next success story? Call about enrolling in any EKU Criminal Justice Regional Campuses and Sites at 1-844-EKU-CJRC.

Published on February 06, 2019

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