Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

University honors Ana Patiño’s legacy with scholarships, more

By Luanne Williams

“I remember clearly what I felt after receiving my first scholarship in 2016. My world completely changed when I knew someone other than myself believed in my dream of attending college in the United States. After receiving the scholarship, I started thinking, how could I make someone else feel this way?”

Immigrant, first-generation college student and two-time Wingate graduate Ana Patiño wrote those words in 2019, three years before her death at age 24. Passionate about helping others achieve their dreams, Patiño would be glad to know of multiple ongoing efforts at Wingate to honor her legacy.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Patiño came to the U.S. at age 17. She attended Central Piedmont Community College and transferred to Wingate to earn her bachelor’s degree in finance. She worked for the University as an outreach and support coordinator while earning her master of accounting (MAC) degree and took a post at Bank of America as a financial analyst.

Following her death in February, the University agreed to match funding for a Latin Americans Working for Achievement scholarship named in Patiño’s memory. Richard Cook, who taught Patiño in the Porter B. Byrum School of Business, has funded a MAC scholarship that bears her name. And Sergio Castello, dean of the School of Business, has set aside funding to send ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America) student leaders to the group’s national convention each year, also in memory of Patiño. Further, one of Patiño’s co-laborer’s in the Wayfind program handed out an award in her memory at the organization’s spring banquet.

Ever aware of the importance of mentors in her own life, Patiño became a mentor for many of her Wingate peers, cheering on their academic pursuits and helping them learn the ins and outs of networking and the benefits of polishing their resumes and professional portfolios. She founded Wingate’s chapter of ALPFA and was the Goldman Sachs scholarship recipient at the national ALPFA convention in 2018.

Stephanie Magallanes, a junior biology major and president of Wingate’s ALPFA chapter, says she and five of her peers are truly grateful for the opportunity to attend the national convention, held last month in Orlando, Florida. 

“All six of us were able to make multiple connections that will benefit our job and/or internship search,” Magallanes wrote in a thank-you letter to Castello. She said one student landed a job on the third day of the event and three others had successful interviews.

“Even members who are majoring outside of the business school, such as myself, were able to network and connect with science companies that had several internship opportunities available in medical research,” she wrote. 

Castello says that while Patiño was at Wingate, she went out of her way to help ALPFA members fundraise and find sponsors so they could attend the convention, even if they couldn’t afford to do so on their own.

“To honor her legacy, I made the commitment that I would pay for ALPFA board members to go to the national convention as long as I am dean of the school of business,” Castello says, adding that the ALPFA Charlotte chapter president has also been instrumental in making sure students can go without having to pay out of pocket.

“Ana was an inspiration to all of us. She always had encouraging words for everyone she encountered. She made people believe they could do anything with hard work and dedication,” Castello says. “She always had a smile when greeting someone. She was a ray of sunshine to the world.”

Anthony McDaniel, a 2021 Wingate graduate with a degree in educational studies, echoed the sentiment based on his three years of working alongside Patiño nurturing Wayfind scholars (area high school students tapped for the college access program operated as a partnership between the University and Union County Public Schools). 

“Her constant ambition to better everyone around her, made everything in life seem so much better. Whether you had personal things occurring in your life or you just needed a boost to get you through a meeting, Ana made sure you felt joy radiate from her kind heart,” McDaniel says. He said Patino taught him what it means to be a mentor and that she helped make Wayfind a “home away from home” for scholars and mentors. When given the opportunity to hand out an award to one of his mentees during Wayfind’s spring banquet, McDaniel named the award in Patino’s memory and asked for a moment of silence to remember her at the event.

“We will never forget the impact Ana Patiño had on Wayfind,” McDaniel said as he presented the award to Forest Hills High senior Celina Tovar Castro.

Although Cook taught Patiño in just one class in the MAC program, he said he quickly realized that she was an impressive young lady. Like he has with many students, he spent some time with her one-on-one, helping her with her resume. 

“I was mentoring her, some, like she was mentoring the undergraduates who were following in her footsteps,” Cook says.

As a way to pay forward the scholarship help he received in graduate school, he decided to set up a scholarship for students pursuing a path that mirrors Patiño’s. Each year for five years, he’ll provide $1,000 to an incoming MAC student who is Latinx or from another underrepresented minority and who demonstrates financial need.

Starting his third year of teaching in Wingate’s master of accounting program, Cook is a believer that the degree, which can be completed in one year by full-time students, can be a career game-changer. He was especially glad to be able to inform Wingate alumnus Osvaldo Barcenas-Oviedo, who earned his undergraduate degree in accounting (magna cum laude) in May, that he was the scholarship’s first recipient.

The LAWA scholarship, which Wingate has agreed to match up to $5,000, will help the organization continue to provide support for Latinx students in the Charlotte region who are pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

“Ana was a beacon of hope and a trailblazer in so many ways,” reads LAWA’s website tribute to Patiño. “She was known and loved by so many for her dedication, work ethic, charming spirit, and loving soul. She had a way of connecting with others, making everyone feel special.”

Learn more about LAWA’s Ana Maria Patiño Scholarship Fund

Learn more about the MAC program at Wingate. For details on how to apply for the Ana Patiño Memorial Scholarship, email Cook. You may also contribute to the fund via Wingate.edu (Designate your gift as “other” and type in “Ana Patiño Scholarship”).

Sept. 1, 2022