Jana Lynn Patterson: an invaluable mentor and confidante

Despite a busy schedule, the assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students, who always makes time for others, is the recipient of the 2013 Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award.

Jana Lynn Patterson has left a huge impression on the students who have crossed her path.

In the 27 years she’s worked at Elon, the assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students is often thought of as a constant source of support, a mentor and confidante.

“She always sees the best in her students and expects nothing short of excellence, and they rise to the occasion,” a former student says. “I only hope that I can continue to support and mentor young people to the level she has in my career. I am so grateful to have a mentor in my life that supports my dreams, celebrates my successes and challenges me to follow the passion of my heart and make a difference in the world.”

Patterson serves as the adviser for the Student Government Association as well as for the sororities, Sigma Kappa and the Omicron Epsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

“Jana Lynn Patterson has been extremely influential in the success of the Omicron Epsilon chapter,” a former chapter president says. “Only she knows how many letters of recommendation that she has written, how many events and programs she has signed off on and how many conversations she has had with members.”

As SGA adviser, she devotes countless hours to weekly senate meetings and retreats. She encourages and supports new students, fostering lifelong relationships.

“She has played the role of SGA adviser, professional mentor, life coach and even personal confidante,” a former student says. “She has, with little exaggeration, become a second mother to me, and there is no one else whose opinions and advice I give more weight in my decision making than hers.”

For many years, Patterson has taught Elon 101 classes. In this role, she has advised students about selecting classes and assisted them and their parents with the transition into the college environment.

She writes recommendation letters, offers career advice, listens and asks engaging questions so students can make sound decisions on their own.

“Current students agree that despite Dr. Patterson’s busy schedule and multiple commitments, she always makes times for the students she advises, making them feel like they are most important in the moment,” a colleague says.

She is praised for her ability to work with anyone, regardless of interests, background or what they want out of life. Patterson’s focus is helping students reach their potential.

“I now realize that Dean Patterson’s ability to work with students with such diverse goals and aspirations comes from her propensity to mentor in a way I’ve never seen before,” a former student says. “Namely, she doesn’t hold her mentees to her standard but rather figures out what her mentees’ standards are and then holds them to the internal expectations they set for themselves.”

There are times, given her position, Patterson also is called upon to offer support and guidance during difficult times.

“When I made poor decisions as a maturing college student, Dean P took the time to talk with me through the situation and how I can learn from my mistakes,” a former student says. “Never one to chastise, she instead challenged me to realize the impact of my decisions on others and helped facilitate my own discovery of ways to grow and mature.”

Patterson’s sage advice and influence sticks with students long after they graduate.

“I am extremely proud of my relationship with Dean Patterson and grateful to call her a friend and mentor,” a former student says. “She embodies the spirit of Elon University, fostering both personal and academic growth for students each year. Staff members such as Dean Patterson are the reason I choose to give my time and financial resources to the university each year. When I speak to others about the qualities of an Elon education, Dean Patterson is a frequent part of the conversation.”

Patterson is the sixth recipient of the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award, which honors a faculty for staff member who demonstrates a commitment to Elon undergraduates through outstanding mentoring. The award was established by Tom and Beth Ward P ’05, ’08, ’14, their sons, A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase ’14, and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward GP ’05, ’08, ’14.

Coming up next week: a profile on Jean Rattigan-Rohr, winner of this year’s Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility.