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Spotlight: Patricia Chui, Volunteer and Donor

Executive Director Lela Hilton
Patricia Chui

Though Clemente is now an international movement with more than 30 courses spread across the globe, it all started with a single classroom. When the first Clemente Course was coming to life in NYC's East Village, Patricia Chui was an editorial assistant at W.W. Norton, working closely with editor-in-chief Starling Lawrence. As Star and Patricia worked with Earl Shorris on the book that would become Riches for the Poor, Patricia became passionate about the Clemente mission and offered her services to Earl as a volunteer writing tutor.

Patricia was paired with a student named Samantha, and quickly got to work helping Samantha learn how to strengthen her arguments and express herself on paper. "By the end of our time together," says Patricia, "not only was she a stronger writer, but she also had more confidence in herself and a better understanding of who she could become and what she could accomplish. I wish I could take credit for her growth, but naturally it was the Clemente Course that gave her the tools she needed to take a huge leap forward in her life." Since that initial experience, Patricia has stayed involved with Clemente's work as a donor and advocate. Get to know Patricia with our quick Q&A!

What makes Clemente and the study of the humanities special to you? When I was a kid, I didn't play sports or join clubs. I read books...constantly. I was that cliche of the kid with a book and a flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. I majored in English in college and, aside from a few required science classes, I only took courses in the humanities, because that's what interested me. It wasn't until I started working with Earl Shorris and the Clemente Course that I began to understand how crucial the study of the humanities is to being able to think critically and engage with society — and how a lack of access to this type of education can create systemic barriers to academic and economic progress. It really is revolutionary to think that studying the humanities can be not just enlightening but empowering, and that's something that I hope I'll never take for granted again.

Please share a favorite Clemente memory, or a favorite "fact" about the program that makes you proud to share your time and support!

My favorite Clemente memory consists of every single conversation I had with Earl Shorris, as he explained how transformative the humanities could be for low-income adults who had never studied them. I was an English major and, to be honest, had always taken the humanities somewhat for granted. Earl was so passionate and persuasive about his mission that I became an advocate for it, too. I'll never stop being awed by the way he took his vision and turned it into a reality, in the process changing so many lives. What I'm proud of is that I was able to play a very small part in helping him do that.

What do you do outside of the Clemente universe--for work and for play? I've worked as an editor in both book publishing and digital media, and am now executive director of partnership strategy at Insider, working within their branded content division.

For play? I'm a big TV and movies fan, so I'm usually watching something (some current and recent favorites: Ted Lasso, Starstruck, Hacks, For All Mankind). As a former book editor, I'll always have a book on my nightstand. And I enjoy eating out at restaurants, cooking, traveling, seeing live music, and going to Broadway shows — all of which, of course, I look forward to doing more of once we get through the pandemic. Except for the cooking. I've already done a LOT of that over the last year and a half.

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