Commencement Spotlight: Patty Lynn West
Nov. 22, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins
Each semester, the Commencement Spotlight series highlights graduating Bearkats with a “can-do” spirit through challenge and service.
Patty Lynn West
Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with a Major in Applied Science and a Minor in Management
Fifty and Finally Finished.
This is a fitting motto for Sam Houston State University first-generation graduate Patty Lynn West, who will proudly cross the stage in December and receive her diploma at the age of 50. West is completing a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with a major in applied science and a minor in management, all online, while working as an inspector for the oil and gas industry.
When asked about the challenges she faced on the road to earning her degree, she simply answered, “Life in general.”
“We are sometimes referred to as nomads, bouncing from project to project,” West said of her profession, which takes her all over the U.S. but is currently based in the Permian Basin. “Finishing school just seemed like it was an impossible thing to do, and I quit going for a couple of years.”
West originally began the pursuit of her degree in 2014 before having to take certain semesters off or take a very light workload due to her busy work schedule as well as finances.
“I was told I did not qualify for any type of financial aid, so I paid for all of my education out of my own pocket, aside from receiving one grant in my last semester,” West said. “I completed my degree by taking online classes only.”
After landing a desired job in her field, West broke her foot last summer while on vacation and was sidelined during her long recovery.
“I don’t really watch TV, so I was a little bored,” West said. “So, I decided to finish a goal that had gotten pushed aside. I reached out to my advisor at SHSU who welcomed me back.”
West has completed the 17 remaining hours required for her to earn her degree and will officially graduate on Dec. 10.
“I had so much determination to finish and to finish strong,” West said. “People have asked me why I am worried about school. Well, that piece of paper is something that no one can ever take away from me. It’s mine and I worked hard to get it.”
Along with earning her degree, West will realize a long-term dream of graduating from SHSU. Years ago, she attended Alvin Community College with aspirations of transferring to SHSU but her career took her different directions. The commitment to the process and a fierce work ethic ultimately saw her through.
While she feels like she may have missed out on part of the experience by only coming to campus a handful of times, she is extremely grateful for SHSU participating in online classes and making it possible for her to complete her journey as a Bearkat.
In addition to her already jam-packed schedule, West has served as a judge for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Ag Mechanics Show the last three years and is proud to help promote Texas FFA and 4-H students. West is a member of The Pipeliners Association of Houston and participates in the Fall Classic Sporting Clays Tournament to help raise money for scholarships. She is also a .22 Benchrest Competition Shooter.
While West is content in her current position, she has aspiration of using her degree to take her to new heights.
“My specialty is construction management,” West said. “Hopefully, I can continue to advance my career with my knowledge and skills. I love my job, but being on the road can be challenging.”
Regardless of her future plans, she will display her diploma with honor.
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