Living the dream, sharing success

UC alum Patrice Barnes creates scholarship

two people in UC clothes

Patrice Barnes, A&S '11, and Anndrea Moore, LCB '10.

Patrice Barnes, A&S ‘11, smiles wide on a virtual call, New York City’s iconic Plaza Hotel behind her, honking cars providing background music.

“I’m living the life of my dreams,” she says. “I’m living in the coolest city in the world. My message to students is, ‘It might not happen when you think it is going to happen, but it is going to, don’t give up.’”

Barnes says she’s having a full-circle moment. She recently established the Patrice N. Barnes Legacy Scholarship Fund for University of Cincinnati College of Arts & Sciences students. Preference is given to first-generation students with a financial need, students with a history of overcoming adversity and those involved with campus organizations, including the African American Alumni Affiliate, the African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC), Sisters Impacting Sisters program and the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program.

Her dream life includes taking the train home to Brooklyn each night from her role as an engineering recruiter at Bloomberg, where she focuses on diversity and inclusion and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Overcoming obstacles

two people

Barnes and her sister, Janae, around 1999 at a UC College of Medicine camp.

Barnes says she is far from the cold day she walked out of UC’s Enrollment Services with tears streaming down her face. Unable to pay her tuition balance, she withdrew after exploring every possible option.

“I felt like a failure because this felt like my chance,” she shares. “I was afraid because my parents didn’t graduate, and I know other people who start college, and something happens, and they never make it.”

Barnes had arrived at UC feeling at home. Since the fifth grade, she had grown up attending enrichment programs on campus. Withdrawing from her academic career was heartbreaking.

“I thought to myself, ‘If I ever make it back here, and if I make it in life, I’m going to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else,’” she says.

With what she describes as grit and resilience, she worked two jobs to pay off her debt. She re-enrolled, working three jobs to remain in school. She slept on an air mattress with a hole in it.

There is beauty and power in asking for help.

Patrice Barnes, A&S '11

Barnes returned to campus and found support. “I can tell you that I would not have graduated without the staff at the AACRC, Ethnic Programs & Services, Student Affairs and Carol Tonge Mack.”

“There is beauty and power in asking for help,” she adds. “We don’t go at it alone.”

Mack, assistant dean, student success and enrollment management, and Barnes remain close.

“Patrice is a gem and shines brightly,” Mack says. “Each time I see her in person or on social media, I think of a woman who is an advocate for those in the margins, a fierce woman of faith, loves her close friends like family, and a warrior for social change and justice. Patrice goes full speed ahead after her dreams and will utilize every resource available to achieve her goals.”

Remembering a promise

group of people

Barnes and Lindner College of Business Honor Students at Bloomberg.

During a trip back to campus for Homecoming, Barnes recalled her promise to help others. Seeing her friends begin their philanthropic and leadership journeys at UC made her pause.

“I just felt a pull that it is time for me to roll up my sleeves and contribute,” she says. “I thought about all the students who perhaps had similar situations to mine and thought, ‘Oh, the time is now. I made it. I did it.’”

In addition to creating a scholarship, Barnes recently hosted UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business students and Dean Marianne Lewis at Bloomberg.

“It is important to me to make the time to invest in the university that gave so much to me,” she says of the visit.

This investment in others is a value Barnes has applied to her life and career, which, she points out, has not been linear. She worked for UC in Student Affairs, the Gen-1 Program, and the AACRC. She attended graduate school. She took time off to care for her mother during an illness. She was a nonprofit recruiter.

What’s remained constant is her ability and talent to identify gaps and create strategies and programming to fill those gaps. That’s what she’s doing now in her work at Bloomberg.

“I like to think that my background of being a first-generation student and from a lower economic background enables me to be empathetic and provide guidance,” she says. “For some of the candidates I work with, it is their first job. It is helpful for them to hear, ‘You belong here.’ My work is making sure that a talented candidate has equitable access.”

Creating a scholarship reflects her gratitude and her focus on lifting others.

“I want to be that bridge for someone who has a dream and just needs a little help to make that happen,” she says before she heads home to Brooklyn and the life of her dreams.

Featured image at top: UC's Mainstreet. Photo: UC Marketing + Brand.

Next, Now

With its focus on innovation and impact, Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati is where ambition meets action. At the University of Cincinnati and UC Health, we’re driven by next; thinking bolder and dreaming bigger to create the tomorrow we envision, today. Learn more at

Related Stories


Living the dream, sharing success

June 20, 2023

Patrice Barnes, A&S ‘11, smiles wide on a virtual call, New York City’s iconic Plaza Hotel behind her, honking cars providing background music.


UC Serves 2023 underscores university's commitment to Cincinnati community

April 27, 2023

This year, the university is celebrating the return of UC Serves – a day for staff and faculty to share the experience of intentional, focused service to the communities surrounding the University of Cincinnati campuses and beyond. The day of service helps connect UC with community neighbors and build stronger connections among university employees. UC Serves brings staff and faculty to the front lines in supporting UC’s institutional commitment to service and community impact in support of our local non-profit partners.