ST. PETERSBURG — Marika Patterson epitomizes strength, tenacity and unwavering self-discipline. The 2009 Gibbs High School graduate is living proof of mind over matter. When she made up her mind to proceed further with her education, obstacles and challenges didn’t matter! They merely became hurdles that lie in the path of success, waiting to be leaped over and cleared.
“Although my school grades were not necessarily a priority for me growing up, I always received good grades. I love learning new things and reading books,” Patterson said, admitting to being a social butterfly and focusing on her friends and having fun.
It was not until after graduation that she realized she wanted more.
“Why settle for just a high school diploma when I have the potential to do better,” she asked herself. Patterson didn’t want to be mediocre but admits she had no idea what career path she wanted to pursue.
In 2010, she enrolled at St. Petersburg College, initially focusing on being a veterinarian technician. Patterson quickly found the demands of college to be tremendous. Diagnosed as a child with sickle cell disease, she recalled how school demands would thrust her into a crisis, or severe attack.
“I found myself often sick from the overall stress of trying to keep up with my courses,” she said, revealing that she felt like giving up.
Her once solid grades begin to decline.
“It seemed there were so many odds against me.”
Patterson’s family and friends supported her in ways that words could never give justice.
“It was challenging, but I was determined to stay in college and remained focused and confident, all while living with sickle cell,” she exclaimed!
Patterson would later change her major to business and cut her class schedule in half. Bit by bit, one course at a time, she was reaching her goal. In 2015, she graduated with an associate’s degree in business. But that wasn’t the end.
Her academic flow was now in full throttle, and last month, Patterson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational leadership.
“My sister has taught me to never give up on anything that I want to do. I couldn’t be more proud of her,” exclaimed Aiyana Patterson.
Patterson attributes her success to staying positive and persevering through all the stressful situations and circumstances.
“The only competition you have in life is with yourself,” she said. “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about being confident. Love yourself.”
Patterson would eventually like to live abroad in perhaps Spain or the United Kingdom. Where ever her endeavors take her next, her mother, Judy Patterson, reminds us: “Marika is determined and driven. I know that she is destined for greatness.”