Educated Woman of the Week- Eve Patterson (Miller)

Eve Patterson (Miller)
Director of Research,
Franklin Covey

Eve Miller is the director of research for FranklinCovey Education and an adjunct instructor at the University of Utah. Eve has a PhD. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Utah and did most of her academic research on the environmental factors that play a role in cognitive performance. In her decade of research experience, Eve has worked with many diverse populations from Alzheimer’s disease patients, homeless families, fighter pilots, and educators. She is trained in a variety of research methods from brain imaging to behavioral assessment. Eve’s real research passion is in education as she is humbled and inspired by the daily work of teachers and wants to provide them with the best tools and knowledge. She believes that when a teacher is empowered with effective paradigms and practices she/he will be a force for good in the lives of her/his students.

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I am a single mom to one six year-old girl. Our favorite things to do together are ride our tandem bike, play Legos, and go on hikes (as long as we call them “walking” and as long as I bring lots of snacks). When I’m not hanging with my little lady I am often traveling for work, playing with my friends, running, or tackling some new craft idea in my head.

Are there any books or other resources that have particularly helped you reach this level of awesomeness?
There are two books that have changed the trajectory of my life–the first is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the second is The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Through the 7 Habits I was able to identify what I want most out of my life by understanding what is most personally significant. It sounds so simple and yet I think so many of us struggle to prioritize our time and make big choices because we are not firmly centered on a larger passion–a larger goal. The 4 Disciplines of Execution book is the engine to the “wildly important” goals I’ve developed through the skills learned in the 7 Habits. The book offers simple, but powerful steps that help me set the right goals and take the most effective actions to reach them.

What do you think matters more in college: grades or networking?
Neither. Experience is what matters most–the application of content. As a person who now hires people coming out of college, I look for people who have done what I need them to do in the position I’m hiring them for. Grades don’t tell me about experience. Grades simply tell me you know how to take a test. While they are important, I think experience is more important. So,  when you know what your career passion is, get any experience you can in it. Do not be afraid to ask! You will be surprised how many people will accept free labor from passionate people. As for networking, the kind of networking you need at the start of your career is often gained by working with people, not attending social gatherings. Know more people in your field of study by working with them. And perhaps as an obvious aside—when you get experiences to work in your desired field, give it your everything as this is your proving ground and the foundation you will begin to build your career–be reliable, be eager, be respectful and you will go far.

How did you know your path or decide your current path?
When I moved from Georgia to Utah I went from a high-performing, middle-income school to one of the lowest-performing, poorest elementary schools in the the state. As a child, I remember the stark contrast between these schools was quite alarming, but I accepted it as a difference in states and not a difference in SES. It was only after high school that I learned other public school students in Utah had a far different experience than I. They had resources that prepared them for college and life, while I had courses on preventing gang violence and reporting drug use. As a result, college was a big struggle at first because I had not developed good study skills, nor did I have a larger vision for my life–just to be in college felt like a privilege!

Several years later as I was writing my dissertation, I also worked as an intern for Intermountain Healthcare where I had the opportunity to work with homeless and low-income populations. Through this work I learned that education was a most critical factor in breaking intergenerational poverty. The quality of my education at the public schools on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley should not have differed from the east side to a degree that it would continue to perpetuate a cycle of poverty. My desire to continue in academia ended with this realization as I felt passionately that the skills I had developed in graduate school must be dedicated to changing the outcomes for low-income students through quality, accessible education.

Now as the director of research for FranklinCovey Education, I have found my place. As the person charged with measuring the impacts of our whole-school transformational process, I am able to see the good it is doing for students of all SES and demographic backgrounds. Every single day I feel thankful that I took the risk to follow my passion.

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