Milton Hershey School Everyday Hero: Unique Patterson
MHS Everyday Hero: A campaign acknowledging employees at MHS who are often found behind the scenes and show up every day to make a difference in the lives of our students.
Unique Patterson, MHS Higher Education Support Specialist
“Unique truly exhibits all of the MHS Sacred Values and is a key member of the Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division. I would describe Unique as thoughtful, motivated, optimistic, a mentor, and a leader. She always has our graduates’ best interests at heart and is not afraid to have difficult life-learning conversations. We are extremely appreciative of Unique’s hard work and the support she provides to our MHS graduates on a daily basis.”—Keri Ambrocik, MHS Manager of College and Career Readiness and Support
What brought you to MHS?
I heard about the MHS Higher Education Support Specialist position through a friend, read the details, and applied right away. Supporting young adults as they pursue their college and career goals has always been important to me. I served as a college advisor for first-generation students in a previous position and as a first-gen student myself, I appreciate the guidance that my advisors and counselors provided me. Serving in this role allows me to provide the same support I once benefited from to our students here at MHS.
How has COVID-19 impacted your role here?
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our GPS Division greatly. In our role, we are typically traveling to meet with our MHS graduates on their college campuses. Instead, we quickly moved to setting up virtual meetings through Zoom. We’ve done a lot of research and problem solving to assist students as decisions were being quickly made on college campuses. With our graduates attending over 150 different institutions, we had to stay up-to-date about what’s happening on their campuses to better support them.
How have you stepped up this school year to help your department or MHS as a whole?
This year, I’ve been able to do a lot more collaborating within our department – specifically among the higher education support specialists, college and career counselors, and seminar teachers. We’ve worked together on several of our senior seminar presentations. This has allowed us to get to know the Class of 2021 and their anticipated postsecondary goals.
GPS also hosts the Postsecondary Fair which takes place in the fall and spring. Although we couldn’t have this event in-person this year, we provided a virtual experience. I coordinated the Virtual Postsecondary Fair logistics for our seniors and juniors in the fall and our sophomore students in the spring. Our students had the opportunity to meet with representatives from various institutions and organizations via Zoom. Coordinating an entire event—virtually—was intimidating at first, but the GPS team worked collectively to make it successful.
What is your favorite memory at MHS?
My favorite memory, so far, at MHS was the Class of 2020 Commencement Weekend. From the Virtual Commencement Ceremony speakers to the Senior Celebration Car Processional—I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Class of 2020 graduate and celebrate their accomplishments.
Tell us something about your job that few people know?
There are so many ways to connect with MHS graduates—phone, email, Zoom calls, etc. We currently use a texting platform to get quick reminders out to graduates and provide some touch points. In a typical year, about 45,000 text messages are sent to MHS graduates.
Are you an Everyday Hero? Do you know someone who is deserving of this title? Email us their name and title at Milton Hershey School.