Born and raised on the edges of Birmingham, Alabama, Patrick Talley determined early in his life that a college degree was not optional; it was a requirement. He noted the career differences between his college-educated mother and his father, who only has a high school diploma. Patrick sat near his mother as she spent hours at her studies to earn her college degrees, setting a tone for the importance of education.
“When you see someone doing it, you see what it takes to earn a degree – staying up all night to study and sacrificing a personal life to meet your goals,” Patrick said.
Patrick was in high school when a family friend suggested he consider the McNair Scholars Program, submitting a letter of recommendation on his behalf. Named for Dr. Ronald E. McNair after his death in the 1986 Challenger catastrophe, the McNair Scholars Program encourages low-income, first-generation or under-represented minority college students to engage in research toward the pursuit of a doctoral degree.
“I joined the McNair Scholars, because it’s where the smart kids are, and I knew I wanted to go to college. This was my vehicle to get there,” stated Patrick.
Choosing to stay close to home but not at home, Patrick pursued his bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of Montevallo, discovering a community of McNair Scholars that provided support and accountability. Patrick’s hard work quickly turned to success through the program, presenting his work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Ithaca, New York.
Ready to press on to his career after graduation, Patrick went to work building an impressive portfolio with car makers, nonprofits and building material manufacturers. He stayed in touch with the rest of his McNair Scholars community, watching their graduations and career goals come to fruition as they reached their terminal degrees. It was this community that continued to keep Patrick accountable to the purpose of their program – achieve that terminal degree.
Patrick assessed where he was in his career and which degree program would pull him back to his ultimate goals and assist his new ones. Reaching back to his alma mater for direction, they connected Patrick with Lesley Campbell at The University of Alabama, who worked with him for over a year to find the program that was the ultimate fit. Once they figured it out together, Patrick was ready to enroll in the Manderson Graduate School of Business’ Executive MBA program.
The EMBA, an accelerated program at the University, provides a path for working professionals to achieve an advanced degree while continuing their careers. Courses are a hybrid of online and in-person, meeting one weekend each month over the two years of the program. It culminates in a two-week international trip for experiential learning of global markets, cultures and business practices.
Patrick stated, “I chose this program, because its core is working professionals. I knew I would be in class with people at the same point in life as me and with people who I can aspire to be. And I knew I would have quality professors who were practitioners in their fields.”
Serving as vice president of his cohort, Patrick graduated in the Class of May 2020. As for what he’ll do from here, Patrick has a purposeful vision.
“Businesses are the most powerful entities in the world in terms of resources, influence and reach. They have an obligation to give back to society. I want to be a conscious business leader in order to give back, and for me, that means giving back to McNair, to be a professor who looks like me for my students.”
What’s your purpose you’re waiting to fulfill? For more information about The University of Alabama Graduate School, visit graduate.ua.edu/prospective-students.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.