Agatha Patterson, Class 2
High School: St. Paul’s School
Undergraduate: Pomona College
Graduate (MBA): University of Virginia Darden School of Business
Occupation: Enterprise Account Executive, Microsoft)
TEAK Next Generation Board Member
Agatha Patterson, Class 2 alumna, spoke to our Class of 2019 College graduates in June at our College Graduation Celebration. She shared the ups and downs of her journey and the importance of her TEAK family.
Good evening, everyone. First of all, congratulations to all of you for graduating from college and officially joining the TEAK alumni network. That is a huge milestone and I can guarantee that the best is yet to come. For those of you don’t know me, my name is Agatha Patterson and I am a member of TEAK’s second class, the Angels. A few weeks ago, Vanessa asked if I would say a few words to you all about why I still give back to TEAK and it was honestly a no brainer for me.
I don’t exaggerate when I say that TEAK changed my life – when I was in 7th grade at RFK, I was lucky enough to be recommended for the program and eventually admitted. Before TEAK, the ceiling for what was possible for me was limited to what I was exposed to as a Ghanaian immigrant living and going to school in a low-income community in East New York. Don’t get me wrong, I had big dreams but I didn’t know that my dreams could be even bigger. TEAK showed me that there was more.
Because of TEAK, I was able to have my first international experience (outside of Ghana) living and volunteering in Brazil for five weeks through the Experiment in International Living, I got my first real job at the Museum of Natural History, one of the most prestigious museums in the world, I was able to attend Broadway shows, network with leaders from a range of industries, and on and on. TEAK supported me to get into and succeed at St. Paul’s, and helped me tremendously through the college application process so that I would get into one of my top schools – Pomona College – and again, do well.
Last year, I graduated with an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Though I was a seasoned TEAK alum by the time I decided to pursue an MBA, TEAK staff supported me wholeheartedly through that application process, reviewing my essays, writing recommendations, and helping me to negotiate a better scholarship offer. I now work at Microsoft supporting enterprise clients to envision and build a technology roadmap that can support their business objectives and I know I wouldn’t be where I am personally and professionally without the guidance from all the members of the TEAK family throughout the years.
Now, I pause to give a bit of a reality check. As I put together this story, it occurred to me that I sound pretty awesome. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in the country and now work at one of the top tech companies in the world. But believe me when I tell you the journey to get here was not as smooth. I graduated from college in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis and couldn’t find a job. I had to take a position through the Americorps VISTA program that paid me $12,000 a year. Soon after that year long position, I got another job that laid me off because they could no longer afford to pay me.
In those moments, I felt like an utter failure especially as I compared myself to peers who seemed to have it all together. TEAK was right there in those moments too, helping me think through my options, reassuring me these challenges were temporary and helping me navigate these bumps on the road to my next big thing. When you have those same moments as you navigate life post college, I encourage you to not think how I did. Those moments steal you against even bigger challenges and prepare you to be ready for major opportunities. I also encourage you to remember that you are part of an incredible community in TEAK. Give back to this community whenever you’re able, and know that it will be there for you as you navigate life’s challenges. Thank you.