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Jan 9 2016

Driven to Lead: Meet Brett Leigh Patterson

What “drives” you?

I get a lot of joy and motivation out of helping others succeed. Last year, I traveled the country as a Leadership Consultant for my sorority. I worked with several groups of women at universities who struggled recruiting new members for their organization. It was always so rewarding for me to work with them throughout the week of recruitment as they put the puzzle pieces together. So many times, I was not the “fixer” nor did I have all of the solutions, but I got to be the cheerleader. The simplest advice or suggestion would make the light bulb switch on and the group would start heading in the right direction. I know I played a very small role in many of the successes of these women, but I feel so honored and blessed to have been a part of the success stories.

More recently, I have been able to help some of my classmates as a tutor for some of our classes. I enjoy helping my classmates not only feel more comfortable about course material, but also helping them have the confidence they need going into a quiz or exam. Everyone learns in a different way so I enjoy the challenge of testing my own understanding as I try different approaches to explaining a type of problem. Normally, there are no great breakthroughs or miraculous advice given, but it is so exciting when I can see that something that used to seem like a foreign language is starting to make a little sense. It is even more fun when a classmate comes up to me excited to tell me about the good grade they received. This excitement is so contagious and consistently reminds me to continue working hard in my own studies so that I can better study and work with my classmates or serve as an academic role model.

What is your dream job?

I am a self-proclaimed foodie and would love to be a Kashi Food Finder. I would love to scour the planet and find healthy food options for the masses.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My parents both have given me advice that I adhere to. My Mom told me “Don’t make plans around a boy unless a ring is involved!” She first told me this as encouragement after a breakup and I think it has a lot of relevance in the lives of young women today. It is important to know that we can achieve our own success in life through our careers, volunteer work, etc. and that success doesn’t have to be defined by milestones in one’s love life.

My Dad has always encouraged me to “Make good decisions!” As a teenager, I was annoyed that I couldn’t leave the house without my dad’s usual goodbye followed by “make good decisions.” As I got older it became a little bit of a joke in our household that whenever someone left the house we would sing those three little words. I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but as I matured, I came to admire this parenting philosophy. Knowing my parents had confidence in me made making those good decisions a whole lot easier. I know that if I can be confident in myself to make those good decisions, I can hold myself to a higher standard and know that I did the right thing no matter what the outcome.

What is your favorite quote?

“Leadership requires confidence tempered with humility and courage blended with tolerance” – Caralee Strock Stanard

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am very proud of myself for my academic success throughout college. When I was in high school I was set on coming to Wake Forest and was absolutely devastated when I was wait-listed. I attended a different university my freshman year, but submitted my application to transfer early in the fall. I worked hard to perform in all my classes and was ecstatic when I found out that I had been accepted. I was also determined to show the admissions committee that they really had made the right choice by accepting me. When I got to Wake, I fully immersed myself in my studies, but also became a well-rounded leader in many campus organizations and activities. Three years later, I walked across the stage at graduation with a big smile on my face. I had graduated summa cum laude and had been recognized for my involvement. I am most proud of this accomplishment because of my determination, not only to get into Wake Forest, but also to truly use the opportunity to its fullest extent. I feel like I seized every chance I was given to learn, grow and enjoy Wake Forest and I am so glad I considered the first “no” as merely a temporary answer and a challenge to prove myself.

What is something many people may not know about you?

I wrote a cookbook based on recipes from a farmer’s market and I am a world traveler having been to England, France, Italy (two times), Spain (three times), Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico (two times), Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Canada, and Portugal. I love combining my love of travel and food by collecting cookbooks of the native cuisine in the native language of every country I go to.

Where do you see yourself in 25 years?

I would love to be a professor one day! I love learning and want to eventually get back into an academic setting after I have had some substantial real world business experience. I really enjoy working with students, particularly college students. I learned so many things both inside and outside of the classroom from my teachers and professors in the past and hope that I can someday inspire a group of students to share in my passion for learning.