February 17, 2017

CARTERVILLE — Ryan Patrick found his voice, so to speak, at John A. Logan College.

The longtime Southern Illinois radio personality is now being honored for his success chosen as the College’s 2017 “Alumnus of the Year.”

Patrick enrolled at John A. Logan College after graduating from Carterville High School in 1993. During the next two years  — before graduating from John A. Logan College in 1995 with an associate of arts degree — the curtain on Patrick’s life was lifted.

It began in the College’s Theatre Department where Patrick began to spend much of his time practicing for plays and getting to know other aspiring actors like himself. It would be, in fact, where he would get to know many of his current friends, business partner, and wife.

“From a career standpoint, from a friendship standpoint, and from a marriage standpoint, my life started right here at John A. Logan College,” Patrick said.

Patrick explained, “At John A. Logan College, I felt accepted and I was encouraged. I met a lot of like-minded students and faculty. And when I wasn’t in the classroom learning, I was in the theatre performing. This is what my life needed and this is where I began to excel.”

Patrick noted that “I didn’t come from a wealthy family. They couldn’t afford to send me to a four-year university, but I went to work and worked my way through John A. Logan College.”

Patrick worked as a waiter, and when he wasn’t working, he was on campus where he loved both his classes and the stage.

“Every time I walked on stage, I got a little better at what I did,” Patrick said. “I don’t think I could have pursued a career in communications without that experience. I don’t believe there is any other way I would have gotten comfortable on a microphone and felt comfortable communicating with Southern Illinois if I hadn’t walked out on that stage and performed in front of Southern Illinois the way John A. Logan College allowed me to.”

In December of 1996, Patrick went to work for Z100 radio where he worked for the next 15 years, leaving in May of 2011 to work for a marketing company created by his best friend, Tim Miles. He met Miles in the theatre department at John A. Logan College.

Patrick would also meet his future wife, Julie, in the theatre department. The couple married in 2000.

Patrick points to three instructors at John A. Logan College who had the most influence on his success at the College: Steve Falcone, Barb James, and Stan Hale. “Steve and Stan had a tremendous influence on me and encouraged me. No one could bring English to life like Barb could.”

There were two plays at the College that Patrick enjoyed most: In 1995, “Noises Off!” and “Fiddler on the Roof” in 2005.

“During ‘Noises Off!’ I had never heard laughter from the crowd like I heard during that show,” Patrick said. “In ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ I played Tevye.” Tevye was a pious Jewish milkman with six troublesome daughters.

In real life, Patrick and his wife have a son and a daughter. Both children have suffered difficult health issues, issues that have brought the family closer together as they have battled together to overcome these obstacles.

These issues, too, have motivated Patrick to continue to raise money for St. Jude’s Research Hospital, something he has done since he got his start in radio.

“Raising money for St. Jude is something I feel so strongly about,” Patrick said. “I’ve seen sick children and I’ve seen how much this hospital means to the families who need it.”

Last year, River Radio’s New County Z100 raised $280,000 for St. Jude’s.

“Even though I don’t work for the radio station any longer, I asked them if I could continue to help raise money,” Patrick said. “I will do so as long as they will allow me.”

Ryan said he also continues to volunteer time in the College’s theatre department, even performing in plays and musicals when he can.

“There is no question about it. John A. Logan College is where I found my voice,” Patrick said. “Whether it’s in the theatre department or any other department at John A. Logan College, I’m certain thousands of others who have studied at John A. Logan College can say the same.”

Ryan will speak at his year’s spring graduation ceremonies. In order to accommodate the family and friends of all graduates, there will be two graduation ceremonies this year, Thursday, May 11, and Friday, May 12. Both ceremonies will take place in the Donald L. Brewer Gymnasium and Convocation Center.