Courtney P. here, your Southwest Youth of the Year and I’m excited to share a little peek into how The Club has impacted me in the fields of Arts and STEM!
The Club offers a wide variety of programs to all Club members. My fascination with art and technology developed during the early stages of my Club Experience. For my eighth birthday I received a customized birthday card from my Club family that had been digitally altered to picture my face along with a famous diva I admired, Mariah Carey. The card ignited a wave of emotions and ideas inside my mind. I wanted to wield the power to replicate the same feelings over again for others. Not long after that, a professional photographer from the local newspaper held a photography and journalism class one day after school, and I was mesmerized by the story each one of his award winning photographs told. Intrigued, I volunteered to take pictures at our Boys & Girls Club Fashion Show in 2007. I happily stood at the end of the runway, and rapidly fired fast shots at each model, as if I was professional photographer myself. I was far from a professional, but I had my start. By 2009 I had saved up enough money to buy my first camera. I started my own photography business at the age of 13. I named my first business “Initially Courtney Patterson,” and some of my first models were my best friends from the Club. I was a young amateur, but I wanted my pictures to hang with the pros.
I also took a big interest in our computer program at my Club. What started out as simple computer interactions resulted in my acceptance into the pre-engineering program at my local technical college as a high school junior. I gained over 13 hours of college credit in digital electronics and programming before I ever graduated high school. I had an upper hand on all the STEM programs based on my early and quick mastering of the computers at my Club. As a sophomore, I served as the chief editor of my high school yearbook based on my skills with photography and computers. I did all this while managing a full photography website and creating portfolios for a wide array of clients. I even taught the occasional photography class. I quickly began to master my craft and was accepted for an internship at nonprofit dedicated to preservation of endangered Asian elephants. I served as the digital media manager for Endangered Ark Foundation the last half of my high school career. In this position, I Built a brand new website, tour interface and interactive social media experience.
Wanting to further my interest in this field, I decided to combine my two passions into one, and pursue graphic design. In the fall of 2015, I began attending the University of Central Oklahoma to finally combine two of my passions into one. Yet, I was unaware of a new gift that developed during my Youth of the Year experience; my passion for public speaking and service. I loved communicating and telling stories, but I also really enjoyed taking pictures and working with computers. Now that I’m in college, I’m venturing into the marketing and communications side of media and business. I have the Club to thank for my early experiences with the art and technology and for giving me the desire pursue the path I’m taking. I am very grateful.