Drake State Technical & Community College has emerged as an incubator of skilled talent and a crucial hub for workforce development. It is through the vision and determination of the institution’s leader, Dr. Patricia Sims, that the school has solidified its position as a vital contributor to economic growth in North Alabama.
Sims holds an impressive background as an educator and academic administrator. However, her resume and professional biography don’t tell her full story. An untold number of students have benefited from Sims’ work and her belief that investing in the individual can catapult them to reach their full potential.
Dr. Sims has transformed Drake State through strategic initiatives and targeted efforts which focus on serving students, strengthening student success, curriculum development, innovation and expanding resources.
Throughout her illustrious career of service to students and causes across the state, Sims has made it her life’s work to empower others to reach their goals and obtain success.
With over 20 years of serving in leadership capacities in higher education, she has brought about positive change by fostering a culture of innovation. Whether it’s by partaking in community outreach, seeking new funding avenues, or leading new projects and managing critical programs, her institutional influence is that of a leader determined to build a strong foundation of growth and sustainability.
She holds a doctorate in organizational leadership and development from Vanderbilt University. Sims also has a master’s in education and secondary education from Alabama A&M and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of West Alabama.
Sims is a certified graduate of Harvard University Institute for Higher Education Leadership Development Program, American Council on Education (ACE) National Women’s Leadership Academy, American Association of State Colleges and Universities Provost Academy, and Federal Bureau of Investigations Citizens Academy. She is also a graduate of Leadership Alabama and Leadership Huntsville/Madison County.
Sims has deservingly earned widespread praise and recognition for her successes as an institutional leader. In 2019, she was recognized as one of the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders. She is an honoree of the 2019 Class of Women Who Shape the state of Alabama. She’s also received the Excellence in Education Award from the Union Chapel Christian Academy Foundation. The Ivy Center Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County recognized her as a Making a Difference in Education honoree. The list of honors for Sims is seemingly endless as her impact has been widely felt everywhere that has been blessed by her presence.
The leadership roles Sims has taken on across the state are bountiful. The list includes Alabama Community College Reserve Fund Advisory Council, International Women’s Forum of Alabama, Alabama State Port Authority, Alabama United’s Education Committee and Higher Education and Economic Development Committee, along with numerous other prominent and influential boards.
Sims pours her heart into instilling knowledge into others by doing everything in her power to ensure they realize their true potential, as she believes education is the key which can unlock the door to future success.
“Education can transform the lives of people,” says Sims. “I believe in public education – I was educated in public schools. So, it is important that I am a part of the process of using public education to help empower people and to help prepare them for their next step. I just believe in that work. I consider myself a lifelong educator.”
For Sims, the role Drake State plays in contributing to the abundance of growth North Alabama is currently experiencing is paramount. No matter how old or where individuals find themselves in life, it is her mission to place them on a path to prosperity.
“With all the growth that’s happening in North Alabama, I feel so passionate everyday now about trying to make sure that all of our citizens in North Alabama have the opportunity to participate in this economic growth and the development,” she outlines. “The way that I can do that, my contribution I see through Drake State is preparing folks for jobs through workforce training, industry certification, adult education – wherever they are – trying to put them on a path so that they can participate in this great economic boom that’s happening in our area.”
There is rising prevalence in the interest of the research and work conducted at Alabama’s HBCUs and their significant economic contributions. Sims holds an unyielding commitment to preparing students by instilling them with the tools to succeed in building stronger families, churches, businesses, civic organizations and communities as a whole.
Sims noted that while Drake State is an HBCU, her institution’s strength is due to its diversity.
“I’m very proud that I have the most diverse faculty, staff and student body in the community college system,” she states. “That’s something I’m very proud of. Diversity is important to have in age, ability, economic level and racially. It is a very diverse campus and I think that makes for a rich experience for students.”
The many recognitions, awards, titles and honors bestowed upon Sims is a true testament of her devotion to enhancing the conditions of those around her — to strengthening communities by enacting positive change. Her greatest gratification, however, is when students share with her the impact she has personally had in their lives.
The old adage “knowledge is power” is not just classroom poster material for Sims. To her, it is an expression of universal truth that holds unwavering significance. She believes that one’s capabilities can be unleashed by championing the individual’s inner desire to succeed.
Upon understanding what motivates Sims, it is evident that her resolute commitment to empowering others is above all. For this and her selfless ambition to bettering the lives of others, her impact story is one that is truly inspirational.
Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Patricia Sims a 2020 Woman of Impact.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL