May 12, 2010 — Nikki Renee Patterson, an electrician in the University of Virginia's Division of Facilities Management, died May 7 in Albemarle County as the result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. She was 38.
A memorial service will be held on May 18 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the University Chapel.
Patterson began work at Facilities Management in July 1996 as an electrician apprentice. She graduated from her apprenticeship in August 2001 and most recently oversaw the University's 44 emergency generators. She earned an "Extraordinary Contributor" award in 2007 for her work during an emergency power failure.
After completing the apprenticeship program, Patterson took advantage of training opportunities and welcomed the chance to learn. She completed maintenance, operating and inspection procedure training on the equipment she managed.
Patterson was an enthusiastic supporter of other women who aspired to trades careers in Facilities Management. At the April 23 Apprentice Job Fair, held at Newcomb Hall, she promoted the University's apprentice program and talked with prospective applicants.
Although Patterson had earned her basic contractor license from Piedmont Virginia Community College and could have started her own business, she had no plans to leave the University, she said in a December 2005 article in Inside UVA Online. "It would be like leaving my entire family," she said.
When the Facilities Management Human Resources and Training office asked the female apprentice graduates for quotes or anecdotes for a "Women in the Trades" brochure being planned, Patterson submitted these lines from Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," because she said they inspired her and described her experience at U.Va.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."