From something as small as giving out candy apples at homecoming to raising money for families in need, student senator Sarah Patterson loves finding new ways to brighten the lives of others as the Cultural Affairs Committee Chair.
Patterson participated in student government back in high school but was disappointed by how ineffective the system was.
“I wasn’t too satisfied with the kind of set up that they had,” she said. “We didn’t really have much of a voice.” During her first semester at the University of Rhode Island, she attended the first Senate meeting she could and fell in love with the organization. “I saw it was very structured and that [student senators] had a say in everything that happened on campus, so I was really intrigued,” she said. “I wanted to really make a difference like they seemed to be doing.”
Today, Patterson’s favorite part of the job is interacting with the multitude of people that she meets both through committee-sponsored events and at her meetings. The Cultural Affairs Committee’s role is to create and sustain university traditions and to promote multiculturalism. As a result, Patterson often works with the Multicultural Center and meets many different types of people that inspire the events she plans. “I work with a lot of people that I’m not sure I would have met had it not been for [the committee],” she said.
Uniquely, the Cultural Affairs Committee is one of the few committees that allow non-senate members to vote on committee matters. Patterson urges all students who care about the events and traditions on-campus to attend meetings and make their voices heard.
Patterson also makes a point of attending any and all events related to the other senate committees, as well as those the senate co-sponsors.
“If Campus Affairs is putting on an event, I’ll try and go because my friends are there and I get to meet new people,” she said. “It’s kind of a way to get out of my comfort zone and not just hang out with the same people.”
Apart from senate, Patterson keeps busy on-campus with work as a resident advisor in Bressler Hall and as a student admission representative. She also enjoys singing and during her less hectic semesters, has performed as part of the University Chorus. Patterson will also be one of the founding members of the URI chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national leadership and service fraternity.
As a supply chain management major, Patterson is planning to go into a career in business, but she hopes to incorporate all that she’s learned as a student senator into her plans for the future.
“It’s really important to me that I end up working at a company that does value diversity and philanthropy, since those are two things that we work really closely with on the committee,” she said. “Through my experiences with Student Senate, I have higher value in those things and it’s kind of narrowed down my ideas for what I want to do in the future. I do want to be surrounded by a community like this again.”
Patterson has a hard time pinpointing exactly what the best thing about URI is. Â “I literally love everything about URI,” she said. “If you ever see me walking around campus, there’s a 95 percent chance I’m looking around and smiling.” She does admit however that the people are probably the most memorable, due to the effect they’ve had on her life. “So many opportunities have been opened for me here,” Patterson said. “I’m really forever grateful to everyone on this campus for giving me these opportunities and helping me along the way.