CFCC English instructor inspires students through creative writing passion
Perhaps growing up in a suburb of the nation’s capital inspired CFCC English Instructor Dylan Patterson to consider studying law. However, working at a corporate law firm in D.C. convinced him that law was not for him. So, with a bachelor’s degree in English under his belt, Patterson joined his parents in Wilmington to figure out his next step.
“I was unsure what I wanted to do, and I even considered going to medical school because my dad is a doctor,” shared Patterson. “I was grasping at straws at that point. So, I started writing and making short films which led me to pursue a master’s degree in creative writing.”
After earning his master’s degree from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Patterson returned to Wilmington. He had fallen in love with the community and knew he wanted to work in the area. He discovered that he could pursue his passion and inspire others by teaching composition, creative writing, and literature at CFCC.
Hannah Miller found that inspiration. A University Transfer student, Miller took Patterson’s American Literature class to fulfill the Associate of Arts degree requirements. But, after reading several important early-American texts, Miller finished the course inspired to pursue African and Native American studies.
“Mr. Patterson challenges his students to become better writers through critical thinking and analyzing pieces of literature while also being understanding and patient as students learn through their mistakes,” Miller shared. “His discussion-based teaching, detailed feedback, and the purposefully chosen texts covered within the course helped foster my personal and academic growth. I can confidently say that I left his class as a better writer and critical thinker.”
Approaching 20 years of positive impact on the lives of CFCC students, Patterson has no regrets that he didn’t give a career in law a fair shake. Instead, he found a career suited to him. And he considers that a gift.
Explore Your Options
Patterson recognizes that students may not be ready to decide their entire future at the age of 18. “Some students don’t know who they are yet,” Patterson said. “They may not know what they love or care about yet. I didn’t know those things either. I sampled a career and took classes to discover what my passion is.”
That’s one thing he appreciates about the community college option. At CFCC, students can explore career options and discover their passions.
“The idea that a 4-year degree is for everybody is ridiculous, and it’s not a matter of raw intelligence,” explains Patterson. “It’s a matter of their interests, strengths, and passions. CFCC helps them identify that.”
Hobbies of Passion
Patterson also looks for hobbies that fit his passion. He enjoys expanding his creative energies in various directions. Along with surfing and palling around with his rescue dog, Kit, he enjoys writing and volunteering.
In his spare time, Patterson works on his novel. During a 10-day silent meditation retreat, he came up with an idea for a book. However, he was not allowed to use any pen or paper at the retreat. As soon as the retreat was over, he scrambled to write down as many details as he could remember. Since then, he has been developing the story and seeking a publisher.
For a shorter creative exercise, Patterson is a regular contributor to The Men’s Room . Every other month, Wilma Magazine features his essays in their column. The stories are brief glimpses into relatable life experiences from a man’s perspective.
A passion project in Patterson’s life is volunteering with Theatre for All (TFA) , which he co-founded and currently serves on the board as president. TFA, a nonprofit organization, provides theatre education and opportunities for people with disabilities.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Whether enrolled as a university transfer student or in a vocational program, Patterson encourages students to find what they love. He recommends talking to fellow students, instructors, and industry insiders to discover the realities of an occupation. “Don’t be afraid to sample those options,” Patterson noted.