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Alumni Spotlight–Five Questions with IPS Alums: Patrice Stokes Discusses How District Made a Difference in Her Life

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is proud of our graduates and their diverse, inspiring journeys. We have created the IPS Alumni Spotlight to celebrate our former students and showcase their experiences, accomplishments, and personal interests. Every graduate has a unique path, and we can all learn from their journeys.

IPS recently asked Patrice Stokes, a 2000 graduate of Arsenal Technical High School, about her journey. After graduating from high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 2004 and a master’s degree from Indiana University in 2019.

In the years since, Stokes has been a company founder and chief executive officer, licensed therapist, motivational speaker, poet, and photographer. Her education also allowed her to become an educator and then to become a missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ, specifically with a ministry called The Impact Movement. She traveled the country for more than 10 years talking to college students, specifically students of African descent, about faith and purpose as they discovered their career and calling in college.

Since 2017, Stokes has operated Inspired On Purpose, LLC, which was created to inspire people to see themselves through a different lens to discover healing and God-given purpose using therapy and photography. With her husband, Lamont Stokes, she also started a non-profit organization in 2021 called Spoken Word Elevated, bringing awareness to mental health issues and developing equity to bring communities together. 

Q–How did your experiences at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) shape your educational foundation and career aspirations?

A–Graduating from Tech offered me many leadership opportunities. While in high school I had the opportunity to travel to (Washington) D.C. to explain to congressmen about my being a mediator in the community. My poetry was also selected to be published nationally for a writing contest. Plus, my faith was developed in high school being an athlete and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and helped lead Bible studies among my peers after school. A few years ago I was awarded at Martin University a Congressional Educators Award, for being recognized as a leader in our community. Each of these opportunities in high school has developed my servant leadership skills, faith, and entrepreneurial qualities to do the work I’m doing locally and globally today.  

Q–Can you share memorable moments or teachers who had a significant impact on your time at IPS?

A–The two teachers who had the greatest impact on my life in high school were my English teacher, Mr. Huggins, and my Spanish teacher, Señora Karen Beck. Both teachers would have some of the best stories that they would share with me to make me smile and inspire me in and out of the classroom. Their care for me and other students made the classroom engaging and helped us think outside of the box to prepare us for the real world. I can think of many memories of Mr. Huggins inspiring me to continue to write and use my voice to help change the world. To this day I see him and Señora Beck in the community and we still have similar conversations that bring back fond memories from my high school experience.

Q–What specific skills or knowledge gained at IPS have proven most valuable in your current life or career?

A–My ability to always remain a student, learning from people from all walks of life and experiences, which has helped me become a licensed therapist, photographer, motivational speaker, poet, and business owner to start my own practice and non-profit organization in helping people see themselves through a different lens to creatively discover healing and their God-given purpose. This has given me my passion, and love for learning and understanding people, and serving them where they are and need it most, as well as providing people creative outlets and spaces to help them understand themselves and find healing. Also, my tenacity in how I see and handle life and my ability to enjoy change even when it’s difficult, finding good in every situation. These are valuable skills and knowledge that I’ve gained over many years that I have acquired from being a product of IPS schools. 

Q–In what ways have you stayed connected with the IPS community, and what advice would you offer current IPS students for a successful future?

A–I have stayed connected to the IPS community through mentorship opportunities with high school students, including opportunities to help young Creatives let their voice be heard through our nonprofit organization, Spoken Word Elevated, and continuing to work in our community with young people on various occasions, including providing my expertise as a License therapist to work with individuals from all ethnic and cultural, backgrounds and experiences, including those looking for an African-American female therapist, and/or photographer. These are the skills I use every day in the community to serve others. I’ve also spoken at conferences in the community and various events, such as at Martin University, as a Motivational Speaker, Poet, and Program Emcee to inspire people and motivate them to live out their God-given purpose. 

Q–What challenges did you face during your time at IPS, and how did overcoming them contribute to your personal growth?

A–I did not grow up in Indiana. My mother was in the military, and we moved to Indianapolis where I started high school at Tech. One of the challenges I initially faced as a high school student was coming from a different upbringing being a child of a military person and creating new friendships in a different space where I did not grow up with those I went to high school with. One of the challenges in this was discovering new friend groups. One of the ways that I was able to overcome this was by utilizing my adaptability to change and finding Ways to connect with others who had a different experience in their upbringing and outlook on life. Some of the people that I have created friendships with to this day have come from my experience being in IPS. These are some of the qualities that I encourage young people to have today in overcoming challenges. This includes being able to find joy in being different and not like anyone else, seeing this as a positive attribute, and not being overlooked or apologetic. When I share my experiences growing up as a child, where I moved from different states due to my mother being in the Army,  I share with young people today the importance of being able to see the world to be well rounded in understanding people from different backgrounds to make connections and help serve others.