Jeremy Patterson, 36, moved to the Berkshires with his wife, Rebecca, and three children in 2007 from Oakhill, Florida. Jeremy worked as a satellite systems installer by day, and made bullet resistant doors at his second job, where he worked the third shift.
After living in the Berkshires for five years, Jeremy and Rebecca began trying to figure how to advance their lives. Their hope was to someday buy a home.
"I had an 8th grade education and my wife a 10th grade education," said Patterson. "After talking, we decided we would both get degrees so we could do more with our lives and lead our children by example. I continued to work and contribute with the house duties while my wife got her GED (general education development) and then a nursing degree from BCC."
After Rebecca finished school, she became a hospice nurse for Berkshire Heath Systems. Following that, Jeremy decided to step away from his job to become the primary caregiver of his children as well as his disabled father-in-law.
At that point, the only thing I knew how to do was tile and work on cars.
Patterson went on to earn his GED and planned to enroll at BCC. The placement test revealed that his math skills were below college level.
"So, I taught myself algebra over the summer," Patterson said grinning. "It wasn't that bad, actually. I'm good with procedure and I like doing things in a set series of steps."
During his time at BCC, Patterson went on to earn the Falconers Award, the Networking Award, and high honors for every semester. He is currently a Systems Administrator for a local bank and, this spring, he will earn an associate's degree in computer information systems networking.
After BCC, Patterson plans to attend MCLA to study computer science. His long-term goal is to earn a bachelor's degree in education and then a master's degree in computer science.
I would love to be a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teacher and work with under-privileged children someday.
Earning a GPA of 3.985, Patterson was selected as BCC's 2017 valedictorian and will provide remarks at the college's 57th commencement exercises on Friday, June 2. At 4:30 PM at Tanglewood in Lenox.
"Jeremy dared to take a risk and anchor, commit, and denounce doubt. Fulfilling his dream and the dreams of his family through education," said Maura Delaney, interim vice president for academic affairs. "His journey is both admirable and exemplary."
"It's not that I'm super-smart, I just work really hard. There were many nights were I was up until 3 AM working on programming code – C++ and Java. I really needed to work at it," Patterson remembers. "But, because of all our hard work, my wife and I purchased our first home last April and now our kids will never have to worry about moving again."
Jeremy says that his children are proud of their parent's educational accomplishments and they now see college as part of their future.
"My oldest daughter is 16 and is planning to attend BCC for psychology."