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OJC Press Release ID: 2673

Monday, June 5, 2017

Alum reflects on OJC impact

By: Patrice (Henson) Ravenscroft, (AA) 2005

No matter what you remember from this story, I hope you at least take away that being an OJC graduate has given me, hands down, the most useful skill set I could have in my career and life: the freedom and courage to dare to dream. 

When I was growing up, sports were a central focus of my life as well as writing. You could find my twin brother Maurice Henson (also an OJC alum) and me involved in some sport year-round. Sports, education and writing - those were my heart’s passions.

Unlike Maurice, my hard work always surpassed my talent. He was an all-American at every sport. While I was skilled, I depended on practice and my work ethic - a lot. I never assumed I would go to college, but our parents made it a priority.

We were both scouted for track and field, and Maurice had several Division I offers. We had never spent more than one day apart, so we were always going to go to school together. Otero ended up being the blessing that we never saw coming. When the OJC coach pulled me aside after the state championship game at the Denver Coliseum my senior year I was confused at why they wanted me. An official visit, a signing party and we were Rattlers!

Although I had a passion for writing, I wasn’t quite sure where my education would lead. Sports allowed me to stay focused and gave me a challenge I’d never faced. I was a starter on the basketball team and Coach [Tim] Moser saw my role as being one of the leaders. Never having been noticed or leading a team on the court I failed a lot as a player. All the while Maurice was leading his team as a player and scorer.

Looking back, I understand that sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Humility is a very hard lesson when you are standing next to excellence and not achieving it in your own life. Sometimes we are given roles that we think might be above us. If we work hard enough and show up, it will pay off.  More than likely, you will not only fit but outgrow the role and exceed your expectations. Otero saw something in me that no other school did. Although I failed many times, the lessons were great and lasting. When someone offers you an opportunity, try not to miss it. Take something from the mistakes you make.

Through all great trials there are shining lights. In addition to my mother, my father and my faith, I was fortunate to have many others at Otero. My main shining light was my amazing teacher, Jean Armstrong, who took me under her wing and gave me a safe space to be me.

I remember when the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004 and my heart was broken for the people whose lives were destroyed. I had a huge yearning to help in some way. I ended up creating a benefit show called, “Dare to Dream” with entertainment (OJC sports team hidden talent). The auditorium was packed. So many locals, teachers, coaches and students came to support. I think that was a huge moment in my life that cultivated my heart for giving and putting that into action.

Mrs. Armstrong helped me put together my speaking points and presentation. We rehearsed my opening speech over and over. I still use those speaking tools and best practices today, as I speak regularly.

Mr. Rizzuto, who was on board the whole time always rooted for me. Being able to have meetings in his office to talk about my future and how the school could play a role changed the trajectory of my outlook.

Almabeth Kaess was another light. She encouraged me throughout my time at Otero. It takes a village isn’t a cliché in my eyes. It is what makes us as individuals thrive. I am fortunate these people were a part of my village during that season in my life.

I was fortunate to be allowed to join the volleyball team and stay an extra year at OJC. This gave me an amazing outlook on my life after struggling personally with depression and simply struggling as a student my first years. My success was a direct effect of all those on the staff who took time to go above and beyond for me.

Graduation was a huge accomplishment in our family and in my life. It gave me a springboard to move on to an incredible four-year college. At Chadron, I played volleyball and picked back up with track and field, and was an all-American student athlete. My passion for giving, speaking and building relationships helped me decide on Communications and Public Relations as my major.

After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I worked in event management, for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Today I am married with an amazing almost three-year-old daughter. I am a poet, spoken word artist, motivational speaker and active community representative.

I serve as the Director of Development for a local Colorado Springs nonprofit called Reach Pikes Peak. We serve over 12,000 individuals and families and provide over 7,000 services each year to low-income individuals and families. We help these families become self-sufficient and financially independent through our four programs.

I’m a better executive professional because of my education and activities at Otero. I can quickly think outside of the box, be creative and build personal relationships, which is key to my success.

Because of my experiences at Otero, I know that it is okay to struggle as long as you don’t quit. We must lean on each other to get through our hard times. This has been my experience. It has helped me connect with and relate to other people, see the world differently, expand my imagination, and become more open minded and empathetic.

I’d like to think that OJC has not only helped me in my career, but it’s also prepared me to be a better human being who can Dare to Dream - Anything is possible.

Press Release Photo
OJC Alumna Patrice (Henson) Ravenscroft with husband Lex and daughter at the OJC alumni event with the Colorado Rapids on May 13.

Press Release Photo
Ravenscroft at Reach Pikes Peak.