Scholarship honors student’s commitment to lifelong learning

Over the past four years, Patricia Rena Barnes has served as a special inspiration to library staff, who have created a scholarship to honor her legacy after she graduates this spring. 

Library faculty have established a new scholarship to honor Patricia Rena Barnes, a student in the Applied Behavioral Sciences program. She has spent countless hours in the library demonstrating her enthusiasm for learning during her four years at Seattle Central. Now that she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in June, library staff hope the new scholarship will encourage future recipients to engage in similar lifelong learning.

“Patricia embodies an ideal learner. She knows that the process of learning happens outside of the classroom, and recognizes the gaps in her own knowledge. She sees the library as her place to fill in those gaps,” library faculty member Katy Dichter said.

Patricia, who returned to school in her 50s, started at Seattle Vocational Institute, where she earned two certificates. She then transferred to the Social and Human Services program at Seattle Central, earning an associate degree. According to library faculty, Patricia spends several hours per day in the library absorbing information from her classes. She sits in the same place near the reference desk, and never hesitates to ask questions of librarians or connect with fellow students to share knowledge.

Patricia has also been active in student leadership. Working with her peers, she has participated in several projects, including an initiative to raise funds for the library to purchase new chairs. She also works on the Outreach Services team where her excitement about the college and higher education radiates to prospective students and the community.

“It’s my legacy to give back. I pour a lot of energy into trying to motivate others. I’ve had to learn to work hard to get where I’m going and I want to encourage others to do the same,” Patricia said.

Patricia was recently accepted into a graduate program at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. She aspires to eventually work as a Family Advocate Outreach Specialist. She attended college without out-of-pocket costs thanks to scholarships from the Seattle Central Foundation and work study positions. The scholarship in her name will provide African-American single parents like herself with financial support to continue their education.