Grateful mom pays it forward with donation to UH Hilo outreach center

The positive educational experiences at UH Hilo of both her sons inspired Sandra Patton to make a donation to the North Hawai’i Education and Research Center Scholarship Fund.

By Lara Hughes.

Corey Patton stands with his parents at graduation.
Corey Patton with his parents, Eric and Sandie Patton, at Corey’s June 2015 graduation from Seattle University. Courtesy photo from the Patton family.

Sandra Patton, mother of two Parker School graduates who continued their education at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, made a recent donation to the university to pay forward the opportunities made possible at UH Hilo for her two sons. Her older son, Corey Patton, 22, attended UH Hilo for two years before transferring to Seattle University, WA, where he is now studying law. Her younger son, Christian Patton, 17, is a current student at UH Hilo, highly interested in technology fields, but not yet sure of his major.

Sandra Patton, a UH Mānoa alumna, is executive director at the Mauna Lani Resort Association and a Hawai’i Island resident since 1990.

While at UH Hilo, older son, Corey, was enrolled as an English major. He participated in theater and also had two papers published in Hohonu, a journal of academic writing published for and by the students of the university. He also was a member of the UH Hilo Model United Nations Team in 2013 when the team placed in the top 15 percent at the national competition in New York City.

Corey transferred to Seattle University and graduated in the spring of 2015 with a bachelor of arts in English. He is now in his first year at Seattle University School of Law, where he was the recipient of the Dean’s Diversity Scholarship. He is pursuing a juris doctorate degree and plans on staying in Seattle and practicing law.

Sandra Patton believes that UH Hilo really helped him develop academically and personally and helped law school become a viable option for him.

“I feel that the UH system is highly underrated,” says Sandra Patton. “My older son had such a good experience at UH Hilo, my younger son decided to follow that successful track.”

Christian Patton and group of students in the field.
Christian Patton, at left, takes a selfie during an anthropology field trip to Waipio Valley during his fall 2015 semester. Courtesy photo.

Younger son, Christian, did not have a driver’s license when he graduated from Parker School, a private school located up north in Waimea, but he still wanted to attend UH Hilo. When he went to register for classes at the Hilo campus, he found out about classes offered through UH Hilo’s satellite center in Honoka‘a—the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center—located about 40 miles north of the main campus and closer to his family’s home. He enrolled in anthropology, art, biology, and business classes in addition to an orientation class for first-year students.

The North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center helps provide access to higher education to the people of Hāmākua and North Hawai‘i.

“This option is available to students who are geographically separated from the main UH Hilo campus,” says Sandra Patton. “It’s a great transition environment, especially if (students are) coming from a smaller private school environment.” The class size at the outreach center is small, and she feels students get a lot of special attention that way.

“He’s having a very meaningful college experience,” the proud mom says. “That’s the great thing about having our kids stay in Hawai‘i until they figure out what it is that they are interested and proficient in. UH Hilo has a broad offering of courses so they can hone in on their true long-term aspirations.”

A grateful mom makes a donation

The positive educational experiences of both her sons inspired Sandra Patton to make an on-line donation to the North Hawai’i Education and Research Center Scholarship Fund. The satellite site offers scholarship opportunities for both Running Start and undergraduate UH Hilo students who are enrolled in credit courses offered at the center.

Patton says she hopes Hawai‘i’s students will consider the UH System and the outreach center when exploring college options.

“I would urge others to explore the breadth of opportunities that the UH school system has to offer,” she says.

She hopes more people in the community will be inspired to support the UH System.


About the author of this story: Lara Hughes is a junior at UH Hilo majoring in business administration. She is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor. 

-UH Hilo Stories

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