A deployment to Iraq in fall 2008 threatened to cut short 1st Lt. Timothy Patterson’s quest for an advanced degree in public administration at Columbus State University.
But thanks to the university’s recent move to make its Master of Public Administration degree programs accessible online and to Patterson’s commitment to education, the Army reservist was able to complete his final six courses from his barracks in northern Iraq.
He joined his wife, Rosa Patterson, Tuesday night as they graduated during CSU’s fall commencement at the Columbus Civic Center. A total of 512 students received their undergraduate and graduate degrees during the ceremony, said Greg Muraski with CSU’s public affairs office.
Rosa Patterson, a Carver High School graduate who recently completed her master’s degree in middle grades education, is a teacher at Blackmon Road Middle School.
Upon his return to the U.S. in October, Timothy Patterson resumed his career as a Columbus police officer.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” said Patterson of the 158th Support Maintenance Company. “It’s an achievement of a lifetime, especially during such adversity in Iraq because I had to prioritize studying between missions, administrative work and leading troops.”
As for graduating on the same day as his wife, Patterson said that part of their story is not a fluke, but a goal they worked hard to achieve.
“My kids get to look at mom and dad and say, ‘You know what? My mom and dad graduated with their master’s degrees on the same day. So that means that we have to step up to the plate and be able to achieve greater.’ So it’s a big thing for my wife and I, and it’s a big thing because I think it’s a great example for our children.”
While overseas, Patterson commanded 188 personnel in combat recovery missions. Now home from Mosul, he works as a full-time police patrol officer.
Patterson said his desire to return to school was fueled by his drive to set a positive example for Columbus’ youth and his professional ambitions.
“I’m always striving for the highest in all that I do,” Patterson said.
A Hardaway High School graduate, he has been a member of the Army reserves for a decade and a member of the Columbus Police Department for more than seven years.
With his new degree, he hopes to advance in his career and plans to eventually pursue a doctorate in the field of public administration.