From Hiram Hill to Today

Image: Mollie Patterson

Alumni Guest Column by Mollie Patterson ’10

As a high school senior, I thought that I had a clear idea of what my time in college would look like and where I would be 10-plus years after graduation. As I reflect on those days now, I’m grateful to say life couldn’t be more different than I planned. Halfway through my first semester of college, I was miserable, overwhelmed, and didn’t feel like myself. I was juggling soccer at a Division II university with classes that I didn’t enjoy, surrounded by students I didn’t quite fit in with, and unsupported by professors who saw me as another face in the classroom.

Knowing that I needed to make a change, I thought back to my visit to Hiram College. I remembered the overnight experience that I had with members of the women’s soccer team and how much I loved the campus, so I decided to transfer to Hiram after my first semester. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I found life-long friends, continued to play soccer, felt comfortable enough to change my major to something I was passionate about, and was really seen by my professors.

The professors at Hiram care about each student as a person, not just as a face in a classroom. I can recall my dad telling me about phone calls he had with two professors that settled his concerns right before I transferred. For the next three and a half years, those same professors would ask about my family. It showed they truly cared about fostering positive connections with me. It’s difficult to fully describe just how at home I felt.

Outside of soccer, I involved myself in numerous extracurricular activities, including time as a student ambassador and serving as a member of the community council. As a member of the Garfield Center for Public Leadership, I quickly realized that I could take on more leadership roles than I ever thought possible, and by my senior year, I had the confidence that I needed to apply to law school.

I attended the University of Baltimore School of Law, and upon graduation, I worked as a law clerk in the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas for Judge James Ross and Judge Deborah Kunselman, who is now a judge for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Wanting to make the next step from law clerk to practicing attorney, I opened my own private practice, the Law Office of Mollie K. Patterson, in fall 2015. I also continued to work part-time and as a contractor to gain experience in multiple disciplines. Since opening a private practice, I have worked in many fields including criminal law, family law, adoptions, protection from abuse, guardianships, and dependency.

I also joined the Beaver County Bar Association and became highly involved in the Young Lawyer Division. To this day, I serve as a member of numerous committees, as assistant secretary of the Association, and as a member of the board of governors. My leadership positions compelled me to become involved with the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which led me to serve as a member of the strategic planning committee.

While it may seem like work and work-related committees have taken over my life, I have still found time to give back to my alma mater. I applied and was selected to be part of the College’s Alumni Executive Board (AEB) in July 2020 and this past spring I was elected to serve as secretary of the Board.

I have dedicated my practice to serving the most vulnerable members of my community, and every day I fight for and represent the best interests of children who have been through turmoil. I bring a level of compassion, grit, and determination that I certainly developed during my time at Hiram. For me, a liberal arts education was important and relevant. The path my life and career have taken post-Hiram is a perfect example of that.

Hiram gave me the ability to be a big fish in a little pond, as I’ve heard so many other alumni say. The only reason I am where I am today is because of the confidence I found while at Hiram. Throughout my career, I have taken chances, uncertain of the outcome–exactly how I felt when I applied to be a member of the Garfield Scholars.

Mollie Patterson