Carla Byram Patterson, who graduated from JSU with a BA in communication in 1989 and an MA in English in 1999, is currently teaching part-time as a retired professor of English from Georgia Highlands College. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys playing roles in film and tv productions as a stand-in, photo double, or background actress. For example, the photo above is a headshot taken from the movie Respect, an Aretha Franklin biopic with Jennifer Hudson. Patterson can also be found at nearly every home JSU football game and most alumni functions.
Patterson is an active alumna, giving “back some of what JSU gave and continues to give me.” The JSU faculty and staff’s investment in fostering her academic and personal growth helped her gain confidence. During her time at JSU, she was given many opportunities, and she says those opportunities “helped me develop a foundation for a ‘big picture’ worldview, among a community of supportive peers, faculty, and staff.” Some of those opportunities came from her involvement in the inaugural group of Orientation Peer Counselors, the Delta Zeta sorority, Campus Life Editor of The Chanticleer, and the news team at WLJS.
Throughout her post-graduation time, Patterson has received several notable recognitions and achievements, including being the first female recipient of the Turner Award for Most Outstanding Communication Graduate and being selected Georgia Highlands College’s 2018 Faculty Member of the Year by her fellow faculty. Additionally, as GHC’s Director of Extended Learning for seven years, she managed the college’s 24/7 cable tv station while producing 2,500 hours of original academic productions via fifty-three telecourses and seventeen regularly scheduled programs.
For current JSU students, Patterson advises to focus on academics as well as become involved in the variety of extracurricular organizations offered by JSU. Take “full advantage of the cultural enrichment opportunities,” and “invest yourself in the broad campus community.”