Alumni Business - Loreal Patterson
Founder | Shea Butter & Intuition
2011 | Communication
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
I decided to attend UW-Parkside after going on a college tour and being inspired by everything I never knew existed in a college setting. I saw attending college as an opportunity and a way to improve my circumstances. While I didn’t have any friends or family members who attended college, I saw it as my primary way to gain access to a better life. Additionally, with it being close to home, it was cost-effective. I come from a single-parent household and honestly, I had no idea how to take advantage of scholarships or get money to support my education outside of applying to FAFSA. While Parkside is not far from Milwaukee, it still gave me a new environment and a chance to shape my identity.
How do you feel that your time at UW-Parkside prepared you for your career today?
As a Communication major, my time at UWP has taught me how to speak confidently and articulate my speech in various ways to connect with my audience. I am aware of my cadence and charisma to make others feel welcomed, while still being knowledgeable enough to deliver important data.
Favorite UW-Parkside memory?
My favorite memory is hanging out in the cafe with my friends. It was there that we were able to become a community, share vulnerability, laugh until our stomachs ached, cry when things got tough, learn about what was happening on campus, study for exams, and meet new people. The cafe was always a safe space.
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
I believe my experience at UW-Parkside prepared me for the world after college. I studied the field of Communication and I use it in my professional and personal life every day. My communication skills allow me to connect with different audiences and speak in ways where I can meet them where they are. Additionally, I had multiple jobs while being an undergraduate student. They prepared me to work hard, be organized, stay disciplined, and have ambition. Additionally, college also challenged everything that I thought I knew about myself. While yes – learning took place within the classroom, my most valuable lessons were learned outside the class space where I had the opportunity to decide who I wanted to be, how I wanted to show up in those spaces, and what those decisions meant for me moving forward. In essence, I was learning to fly.
How have you been involved with UW-Parkside post-graduation?
I have attended a couple of alumni events when I was living closer to home. Also, I try to keep up with any newsletters that I receive.
Professional and Personal Insights
Who has had the biggest influence on your life or your career and why?
Honestly, there have been so many different influences throughout my life and career. I have been so grateful that the universe knows exactly what I need, when I need it, and provides me with that. In regards to my time at Parkside, I honestly can’t say there was one single influence. From the time I got to campus, my orientation leader took me under his wing. When it came to moving on campus, the RA's were so helpful and made me feel included. Not to mention, the Residential Life staff who provided me with my first job behind the front desk. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing instructors in my program who opened my mind and connected my love for communication to theory and practice.
Advice for current UW-Parkside students?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, you have to know your “why” and remind yourself of that every single day. You have to want it on your great days, as well as on the days when sales are slow. You also have to figure out what entrepreneurship looks like for you. So many people on social media share the fun parts but don’t share the real hard work that goes into it and seeing those short clips can make you question everything. However, you have to continually give yourself grace and always celebrate the small wins. Also, listen to your body. When it says, “take a break” – listen! The work will always be there. Taking care of yourself has to be just as important as every other aspect of being an entrepreneur – don’t feel guilty for this. Additionally, find a community of people who can support you and share resources. This is not a journey you will want to do alone and they will always remind you of your “why”. Lastly, if possible – find grants and other ways to help you pay for your business. This is especially important if you don’t already have more than one stream of income.