Looks, some say, can be deceiving.
But the last thing Patricia Burns wants to do is try to fool anyone. She’s not from around here, if Middle Tennessee is the point of reference. She was born in the Philippines, moved to California, and now is out to enrich the world, thanks to Tennessee Technology Center at McMinnville.
The Technology Center’s outstanding student of the year is fluent in the language of technical education, responsibility, and even globalization.
“I was born and raised in a country filled with tremendous beauty and natural resources,” said Burns. “Unfortunately, another characteristic of my home land is a poverty rate that is high in rural places and even in metropolitan areas. You can see people suffering from hunger or illnesses that are left untreated.”
Adversity arrived at an early age. “The first turning point in my life came when my mother died when I was 11 years old,” she recalls. “I was the one in my family who took interest in caring for family members who had scratches and bruises. I accepted the responsibility and thought of myself as the nurse of the family.”
Shortly afterward, with hopes of giving his family a brighter and better future, her father decided the family should migrate to the United States.
The Pernito family moved to California where she met Charles Burns, who would become her husband. Patricia Burns and her new husband moved to Tennessee and she learned to call the United States her home.
“The opportunities for success opened before me. I took a solid job with good benefits in retail. I started in store support putting merchandise on the selling floor, advanced to a sales associate, and got promoted as a cosmetic line counter manager,” said Patricia. “But I realized soon that it wasn’t my calling and continuing with that job for the rest of my life wasn’t going to bring me any real satisfaction even if it did come with a certain level of stability and comfort. I began to feel like my work days were not accomplishing anything truly good and lasting. So in an effort to give my days more meaning, I decided to find a new learning path that would lead me to a rewarding career.”
The words of her father left a lasting impression. “My dad, as a nurse, would always say, ‘Education is the one thing nobody can take away from you.’”
Faced with a challenge, Patricia took a logical approach. I did my research and found out that Tennessee Technology Center offers a wide spectrum of career-ready programs that provide training for in-demand careers within fields related to technology, allied health and business,” she said. “Students master specific trades like industrial maintenance, computer information and automotive technology, which increase students’ marketability and prepare students for entry level employment in the career of their choice as quickly as possible.
“I was really impressed. I took another leap of faith, resigned from my job, and applied for practical nursing. My years in the workforce taught me responsibility, compassion and gratitude for every learning opportunity that comes my way.”
Her practical nursing instructors are Suzanne Parsley and Lisa Patton.
Patricia soon convinced her husband TTC McMinnville was the place for him. Charles Burns currently is completing his third trimester in machine tool technology.
As outstanding student of the year, Ms. Burns is asked to tell her story and the benefits of technical education. “It is my honor to speak about how the TTC has provided me with so many opportunities and life lessons,” she said. “Not only has it taught me the important of perseverance and consistency, but it also has pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to make a difference. I owe countless gratitude for my school teachers and administrators of TTC because it has made me a better person and provided my first step with a better and rewarding career.”