Patty and I were paired in 2016, just as she was beginning her freshman year in high school. We got to know each other during one of the first HFS events of that year: a trip to the Shedd Aquarium. At first, we talked mostly about school. I had just graduated college and started working at my first job, so I resonated with the nerves she was feeling about starting a new part of her life. But I also immediately admired her determination and focus. Already she had identified her interest in a career in medicine. I was impressed that she was thinking about what she wanted to do after high school, having barely begun her freshman year. Both a little shy, we warmed up to each other once we found our common interests outside of academics: our shared passion for athletics. While Patty was soft spoken about some things, she’d light up when soccer came up. She played as the goalie for her high school soccer team.

From the moment in the Shedd Aquarium when Patty told me that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, I knew she was incredibly smart and driven. From that point on, I admired her discipline in what appeared to be a full-time job juggling school, college applications, and soccer, among her other social and familial commitments. Patty welcomed my added support as I got involved in her college application process, by attending various workshops, connecting with her mom and sister, and learning about her daily joys and challenges. High school is tough for most people, but it had been particularly rough for Patty after having lost several close relatives unexpectedly. She expressed tremendous gratitude for the help of HFS, who offered more than academic guidance, but also the emotional support she and her family needed during that time. At this point in our relationship, she and I had become much closer; I was grateful that she also welcomed my added support.

I have had the pleasure of watching Patty grow into the confident woman she is now. And I feel so lucky to have gotten to know Patty as an insightful, warm, and generous friend. It comes as no surprise to me that she achieved exactly what she said she would when I first met her: Patty will begin her first year at Trinity Christian College where she will study nursing and play soccer for their team. When I asked her what her motivations were for pursuing this career path, she reflected back on the difficulty of losing loved ones, but how comforting nurses can be during those times: “They help make a good experience in a bad situation. And I want to do the same.”