Eagle Returns to Nest to Complete 40-Year Academic Journey 

Posted December 01, 2022, 9:28AM

When Patricia Whitfield began her academic journey at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in the fall of 1979, she was excited to join a legacy of changemaking Eagles, which included her favorite high school English teacher, Linda Farmer. She encouraged her to apply to NCCU. 

Unfortunately, her journey at the Nest was suddenly disrupted during her senior year. 

She learned that her loving, adopted parents, Rev. and Mrs. General Taft Whitfield Jr., whom she describes as “the best parents in the world,” were experiencing health issues. Her mom suffered from chronic arthritis and kidney problems while her father suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure.  

“My sense of family duty surpassed the importance of my studies and I decided to leave NCCU and care for my parents with one year left to complete my degree,” said Whitfield.  

With her life uprooted, she continued to press forward, finding comfort in spending quality time with her nieces and nephews. However, North Carolina and NCCU always remained in her heart.  

Following the passing of her parents in 1993, she returned to North Carolina where she served at O'Berry Neurological Center for 15 years. However, her return to the 'First in Flight' state would be greeted by health issues, including diabetes, kidney failure and pancreatitis. Whitfield would need a kidney and pancreas transplant, and her prayers for new organs were delivered in February 2020.   

With her health back on track, Whitfield began contemplating the completion of her NCCU degree and one year later, a silver lining made an entrance. She received a letter regarding NCCU’s EndZone Initiative, an interdisciplinary degree program for individuals with college credits who have not yet earned their degree. 

Upon applying, she was immediately accepted and on Dec. 10, 2022, Whitfield’s 40-year journey to becoming an NCCU graduate will be complete.   

“Following graduation, I plan to enroll into divinity school,” said Whitfield. “I have my father who was a pastor and my personal health testimonies to thank for the inspiration.”  

Whitfield is also thankful for the support of her church - Goldsboro Chapel Freewill Baptist Church - for providing the monumental motivation and love that she aims to share with everyone around her.  

Her advice for current and future Eagles?  

“Participate in workshops, seminars, and tons of research to get ahead. Also, ask yourself, what would you love to get up every morning and do? Whatever your answer, that is your passion. Once you find your passion, you find your purpose. Go forth and do well!" 

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