Accomplished author visits NSU campus

Author Denise Lewis Patrick says her career has been anything but “straightforward.” After earning a degree in journalism from NSU in 1977, Patrick moved to New York City where she has held several different jobs.

Patrick will present a lecture in Magale Recital Hall March 8 at 7 p.m. She will be available an hour before the talk in Orville J. Hanchey Gallery for a reception and book signing. NSU students are encouraged to attend.

Before moving to New York, Patrick said she had never traveled far from home or been on an airplane. Her first job in the city was as an intern at Essence magazine. Though she didn’t get to write much there, she was immediately offered a job after completing her internship.

New York’s “high stress environment,” was a culture shock for Patrick at first, and she was fired from her first job after a few months. Determined not to move back home, Patrick applied at the New York Times where she was hired and worked for roughly a year. After leaving the New York Times, Patrick went on to work for other companies, such as Scholastic.

“The experience of being fired was jarring,” she said. “It caused me to think maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. But I realized over time, after I had gone on to work at Scholastic, Inc., that I was just as skilled as any of my coworkers, some of which had gone to Ivy League schools or had higher degrees.”

A Natchitoches native and NSU graduate, Patrick went on to earn a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of New Orleans.

Patrick has written reports for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, created New York City travel guides and written several books, including two series for American Girl.

She is now an adjunct professor of writing at Montclair State University.

These are only a few of her accomplishments, as Patrick is a believer in “never standing still.”

During her time in Natchitoches this week, Patrick has visited several NSU communications classes. Many of the students in these classes are aspiring writers as well.

Her advice to these students:

“Don’t do anything the way I did,” Patrick laughs. “Find your own way, and never give up. In this field, you have to love what you’re doing, because the money isn’t always great. Keep practicing, gain confidence, and always be open to learning more.”

More information on Patrick can be found online.

Holly Jenkins

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