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Graduate Spotlight: Charlotte White-Patrick

05/06/2021

Charlotte White-Patrick, professionally known as CW Patrick, will represent the HCC graduating Class of 2021 as the student commencement speaker at this year’s virtual ceremony, to be held Friday, May 7. 

She graduates from HCC with a 4.0 GPA and an AA degree in mass communications and will transfer to the University of Central Florida to pursue a bachelor's degree in technical communication. 

Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, she and her family have only called Florida home for the past five years. 

As a military spouse and mother to three children, she has always prioritized her family. 

When asked why she made the decision to pursue her education at a later point in life, CW said, “Granted, my life wasn't bad, but I didn’t have any real sense of accomplishment or goals for myself outside of my family. As a military spouse, I think sometimes you lose yourself as you go through the motions of following along on someone else’s journey. I was in a tough spot where I felt I had nothing to look forward to. 

Over the years, I’ve done everything from freelance photography and graphic design to working as a professional makeup artist. But those are all things I did as hobbies to keep myself busy while raising my children and traveling from home to home with my husband.

But it slowly started to feel like the right time for me. The right time to finally focus on my education and finish a degree.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and when I started doing it more seriously, I began to feel like it was actually something I was meant to do. After researching communications programs, I knew I wanted to set myself up for success by getting my feet wet in many facets of the field.”

In January 2020, she enrolled at the HCC SouthShore Campus, only a few months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and the College’s transition to online instruction. 

Despite the circumstances, she didn’t let those factors deter her education. 

“When the school went virtual, I was really nervous. I’m much more of an in-person learner and like a classroom setting surrounded by my peers and the accessibility to the professors. 

On top of that, my husband was now working from home, my daughter was two years old at the time and my other two children were now receiving homeschooling as an effect of the pandemic. All of a sudden, my home was a tornado full of chaos. My main concern was my own personal commitment to my education. 

Frankly, it drove me crazy. But a huge lesson I learned is that if you are struggling, you have to communicate. I’m grateful for the flexibility of my professors during that time and without their advice and feedback, I don’t think I would have finished that first semester. 

They gave me the confidence to keep pushing and after many deep breaths, I realized I could do it. Even if it was after my kids went to sleep, I just needed to find the time.”

“There are so many people from HCC I could thank for helping me on my journey, but at the top of the list is Professor Todd Huffman. 

He was the first person, besides my husband, who truly believed in me professionally. He reassured me I was on the right path and even presented me with the Academic Excellence Award in speech. I was floored afterwards; I had never won any awards, let alone had someone show confidence in me without any real reason. Because of him I know I can be successful with enough practice and polish. 

Even after being chosen as the student commencement speaker, he’s been like a personal cheerleader, giving me advice and reassuring me throughout the entire process.”

CW also extends her thanks to Professor Theresa Scott, Professor Anthony Sardone, Dr. Shawn McKinney and Professor Marilyn Carrasquillo.

Looking towards the future, she says, “I’m still in the beginning stages of my career and figuring out ‘my brand,’ but my goal as a professional speaker is to be a voice for people who don't feel like they have one. 

From a very young age, I’ve had a very complex and interesting life. I think a lot of people in a certain sense feel like they are alone, and they can’t be successful with the hand that they have been dealt. Myself and so many others have worked to turn their life around, regardless of the obstacles, financial burdens or tumultuous pasts.

I’m 41 years old and despite everything, here I am, working on my education. You’re responsible for your own life, and I’ll admit I was scared for a long time. Don’t let the fear of failure or risk stop you from accomplishing your goals. I hope a story like mine can serve as an inspiration for you to finally bite the bullet.” 

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