The fellowship was created to help train future leaders in public service. Fellows spend nine months focusing on civic engagement within various organizations, and develop a final independent project in cooperation with an agency of their choice.
Patterson, who majored in women, gender, and sexuality studies and took both pre-med and pre-law classes at Fordham, said she plans to use the fellowship to learn cross-sector approaches to eradicating health disparities in New York City.
Growing up as a Jamaican immigrant in Mount Vernon, New York, Patterson saw many of these injustices firsthand. At Fordham, she dedicated much of her time outside the classroom to fighting or bringing awareness to these inequities. As a senior she was president of ASILI—Fordham’s black student alliance—and she participated in several Global Outreach projects. She credits her Fordham Fund Scholarship with allowing her to immerse herself in the full Fordham experience.
Patterson became especially passionate about issues of racial injustice through her work with Urban Plunge, an optional pre-orientation program run by Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning.
Over a three-day period at the beginning of her first year at Fordham, Patterson participated in one of several community-enriching programs offered throughout the Bronx and Manhattan. She loved the program so much that she became an Urban Plunge assistant for the next three years.
“It was a transformative experience that I think … planted the seeds in my mind for all of this,” she said. “It allowed me to become more social justice oriented as I was looking into a career in the health profession. I started to understand the racial inequality and health disparities within our current system.”
Patterson wrote her thesis on the relationship between African American women and the American health care system. “My Fordham education has helped guide my decision-making,” she said. “Fordham allowed me to follow my passions and has challenged me to become my best self.”
Now through the Coro Fellowship, Patterson is working with the executive vice president for strategy and innovation at the New York City Housing Authority, more commonly known by its acronym, NYCHA.
“Coro is providing me with inquiry tools, leadership training, and exposure through hands-on learning that I don’t think I would have gained elsewhere,” Patterson said. Next, she plans to apply to law school or pursue a master’s in public health.
“With this fellowship, I do feel like I am closer to achieving my goal,” she said.