“I have no doubt that one day I am going to be buying something you designed or built,” Patrick said after a group of engineering students talked about designing and building podiums last spring for a future conference room, and STEM Club members showed her the unassisted aerial vehicle (UAV) they built through the Kashmir World Foundation’s Da Vinci Challenge.
“She is so cool,” said one student. “I like that she talked about the people who had helped her and that it wasn’t just about her,” said another. “She asked us a lot of questions and really listened to us,” added a third.
Indeed, throughout the visit, Patrick seemed as interested in the School and the girls -- who gave her a huge “Foxcroft welcome” when she arrived -- as they were in her. She asked each of the STEM students what they learned or what they were going to do after Foxcroft. At one point, Patrick peppered Board member Nan Stuart ’71, who was instrumental in arranging the visit, with questions about some of the School's traditions.
The visit started in the library, which was packed to the gills with students, faculty, parents and press. After Student Head of School Lexie W. '16 introduced her and Patrick said a few words, seniors Serena H. and Natalie H. moderated a Q&A comprised entirely of girls’ questions. Many of them centered on Patrick’s experience in a male-dominated career.
“At times it has been a challenge getting people to believe in what I can do and getting what I need to run with the big boys,” she allowed, noting that occasionally guys at the track have made cracks about her being a woman -- and sharing some good comeback lines with the girls.
“But I have always believed, I was brought up to try to be the best at whatever I am doing -- not just the best girl,” she added. “I don’t mind being unique and standing out. . . But I don’t think I’m really different from the other drivers. We all want to win.”
Commitment was a recurrent theme. “There’s never a perfect way to get to the top, there’s no set plan. You just have to figure out what you want to do, what you want to be, and get going,” she said. “I changed my whole life when I was in high school to work harder and get better as a driver. And if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“There's not always going to be the perfect scenario but I tell you what -- from anything and everything you do that is headed towards your goal, you will learn, absolutely learn. You'll learn something from the experience and be better for it,” continued a woman who has had plenty of ups and downs on the way to becoming the best female race car driver in history.
"If you could do anything in your life, what would you do. Answer that question. Think about that tonight. If you could be anything you wanted to be or do anything you wanted to do, what would it be? There's no dream too big."
Having covered boys (men) and barrier-breaking, Patrick really hit a chord with the girls when she answered a question about her most memorable experience ever.
“Being in a music video with Jay-Z and Dale Earnhardt Jr, and having lunch with Beyoncé,” she said, sharing details of the shoot in Monaco. “That was really cool.”
And so was Patrick!