2022 David Livingston White Award Recipient: Patrick Ellett
Emily Pendleton, Assistant Director of Operations & Strategy
In 2011, at the age of 73, David Livingston White earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona after a grueling 20-year battle with cancer. After David’s passing, the White family chose to honor their beloved brother by creating an endowment to support SALT Center programming and award a graduating senior who exemplifies the quality of perseverance with a class ring each year.
Every year we have the arduous task of selecting a winner from the outstanding students who get nominated in recognition of the obstacles they have overcome or persevered through. In all honesty, all students with learning challenges have already endured so much in their lives and demonstrate great perseverance. That said, the degree to which this year’s winner demonstrates determination, perseverance, and persistence made him truly stand out as deserving of this recognition.
Patrick Ellett’s Specialist, Jennifer Hansen, wrote this when she nominated him for the award:
"Patrick started his undergraduate career in the Fall of 2012. Over the course of the next several years he underwent family turmoil, failed out of college, became homeless and considered ending his life. Patrick spent a couple of years at Pima Community College and transferred to the University of Arizona in 2020. Patrick has experienced food insecurity when money has been tight. He knows resourcefulness as he has had to make a sliver of soap last for weeks. Most cannot relate to this type of situation, but Patrick’s determination has been nothing short of marvelous. This amazing young man is graduating 10 years after the goal began! His life plans do not end here. Patrick has scored in one of the highest percentiles on the LSAT and plans to attend law school. His future is very bright. He exemplifies the David Livingston White spirit of determination and never giving up!"
When Patrick’s life got tough, he was convinced that it was only up to him to push for the best outcome possible. With his many struggles, furthering his education became exactly what he needed to improve his life and to bring it greater meaning and purpose. While dealing with ADHD, he realized that his future could be bright, and that he could no longer live paycheck to paycheck. Instead, he was going to provide a better life for himself. Patrick explains, “While I know my story is relatively unique, there are still a lot of students, even here at the University of Arizona, who are going through a lot of those same struggles and who have had a lot of issues like that in their life, and I want to make sure that my story is out there to show them that they’re not alone.”
Patrick believes that the support and guidance that his Student Support Specialist and other staff members provided him during his journey were vital to his success. Being selected for the David Livingston White class ring represents the end of an era for Patrick and a testament to, in his words, “my ability to push through the hardships that I’ve suffered and the hardship I’ve gone through my life, and, you know, to be able to say that I have put those behind me, I have persevered, and I have gone through, I have moved on.”