uAspire First One – Gov. Deval Patrick

By: Chris Loney | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finances are the #1 barrier that keeps high-potential students across our country from continuing their education and earning a degree. As part of the uAspire First One Awards, uAspire will be featuring stories of individuals who are first-generation college graduates. Despite many challenges – often because of the high costs of college – they persevered and earned their college degree. Their stories show why it’s so important that education remains an affordable option to all, and how uAspire is committed to this effort.

The following story is about Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts who worked his way from poverty in Chicago to earning degrees from Harvard. Governor Patrick is a recipient of the uAspire First One Award.

Governor Deval Patrick’s story as a first-generation college graduate shows how access to education can change lives. Growing up in a single-family home on the South Side of Chicago, the Governor would then earn degrees from Harvard on his way to the Massachusetts State House.

Patrick came to Massachusetts in 1970 at the age of 14.  A motivated student despite the difficult circumstances of poor and sometimes violent Chicago schools, he was awarded a scholarship to Milton Academy through A Better Chance, a Boston-based organization.  From that time forward, it has been Massachusetts people, schools, and institutions that have given Governor Patrick the opportunity to excel.

Governor Patrick is a graduate of Harvard College, the first in his family to attend college, and of Harvard Law School.  After clerking for a federal judge, he led a successful career in the private sector as an attorney and business executive, rising to senior executive positions at Texaco and Coca-Cola.  In 1994, President Clinton appointed Patrick as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the nation’s top civil rights post.

First elected in 2006 on a platform of hope and change, Governor Patrick entered office propelled by an unprecedented grassroots campaign. He sees his service as governor as pay-back for the opportunities the Commonwealth has given him. He has made an unprecedented commitment to public education in Massachusetts, and closing the achievement gap – so that every child has the opportunity to succeed, no matter what neighborhood they grow up in. He knows that opportunity is the great American hope: the idea that in this country, in our lives, we will all have a fair chance to do a little better than our parents. He knows we need to leave things a little better for our children – to realize our full potential.

Governor Patrick is funding education at the highest levels in our state’s history.  Through funding and a targeted focus, he is working to ensure that all students reach their potential. Through his Administration’s historic 10-year Higher Education Bond Bill, Massachusetts has invested $2.2 billion in state colleges and universities to give all families access to affordable, world class higher education.

Governor Patrick’s story underscores how there are many youth today with incredible talent – no matter which neighborhood they were born into. And his story also shows that, by providing pathways to afford higher education, youth can fully realize their potential and lift themselves out of poverty.



AB, English and American Literature, Harvard College (1978)

JD, Harvard Law School (1982)

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