Loyd Patton '21
Veteran proves it's never too late to finish degree
Loyd Patton '21 has made a handful of decisions in his life that he considers to be great. Among them are accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, joining the Air Force, and asking his wife of 40 years to marry him. Also on the list: attending Whitworth University.
A retired Master Sergeant and former Air Force Junior ROTC teacher at Spokane's Rogers High School, Patton will achieve his dream of earning a bachelor's degree in December. He names several motivations, including "to finish something I started a long, long time ago" and "to send a message to my former students (as well as my own kids) that it's never too late to go back and get your college degree."
Patton first attempted to earn a college degree in 1974, when he enrolled in a university in Louisiana on a tuba scholarship. "I was an OK tuba player, but a much better tuba player than a student and ended up getting an academic suspension," he says.
He joined the Air Force as a Morse intercept operator and spent 25 years on active duty, retiring as the Chief of Command Control Inspections for the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General Team. Between constantly moving for the military and then being busy with teaching and raising teenagers, a bachelor's degree was always out of reach. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. In all, Patton attended 12 community colleges and universities between his first and final attempts and earned two associate degrees.
After Patton stopped teaching because of health reasons, the perfect opportunity to enroll in the Whitworth School of Continuing Studies and finish his degree arrived. "Medical issues didn't stop the gray matter between the ears from working," he says. "Being a student has given me an opportunity to continue to exercise that."