Married to service
Alumni Daniel and Beth Patton have made a lifelong commitment to one another—and to serving people in need
By Alexandra Jonker
Beginning at freshman orientation, Ramblers learn how to be men and women for others. Beth (Hougas) Patton (BA ’10) and her husband Daniel Patton (BA ’09) are prime examples of those who have followed that call to serve.
Drawing from a childhood of frequent relocation—her father was a physician in the Air Force—Beth found her service-orientated niche early. She served as a First Year Companion in freshman residence halls for three years. “It was a great outlet for my extroverted personality,” she says. “I grew up moving around, and Companions helped me discover how much it mattered to me that people who were new to the school felt welcome.”
It was through this avenue—and after she started leading those students to volunteer at the St. Thomas of Canterbury Soup Kitchen—that Beth discovered her vocation as a social worker. “I felt more fulfilled and engaged in my time spent talking to guests than by my studies,” she says. “Companions revealed to me that my career would need to be centered on serving people on the margins of society.”
Daniel also credits the First Year Companion program as one of the most influential parts of his college years, and not only because that’s where he met his wife. Like Beth, his Loyola experience prepared him with the right skillset to lead a life for others.
“It was everything that an undergraduate experience should be,” Daniel says. “It helped me understand who I was as a person and how I fit into the broader world.”
Post-graduation, Beth and Daniel decided to take their relationship long-distance. For two years they both pursued opportunities to serve others; Daniel at Nazareth Farm in rural West Virginia, and Beth in Detroit, working with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Eventually Daniel decided to move to Detroit to be with Beth, and the couple was engaged soon after.
Upon arriving in Detroit, Daniel also went to work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where he would spend two years traveling throughout the Midwest, sleeping on couches and taking advantage of Jesuit hospitality wherever possible. Beth obtained her master’s in social work from the University of Michigan in 2012—the same year she and Daniel got married—and has since worked at a community mental health agency in their Detroit neighborhood.
“We help build support systems so that people get the care they need where they need it,” she says. “The work can be hard, but I find deep meaning in what I do.”
For Daniel, after spending five years in the nonprofit sector he recently decided to also get his master’s from the University of Michigan. He’s now looking at ways the for-profit business world can make a positive social and environmental impact. “We are often told that if we want to make an impact we should work in the nonprofit sector and if we want to make money we should look to the for-profit world,” he says. “I think that distinction is deeply flawed.”
Meanwhile, Beth has found peace in using her inherent talents and the skills that she has learned as a vehicle to serve others and as an advocate for societal change. “God calls us all to a life of service,” she says. “Loyola made sure we knew it.”