By Hannah Bateman
Despite his best efforts to stretch out his time in Starkville, Mississippi, Patrick Westmoreland graduated from Mississippi State University in 2000 with his B.A. in communication.
“My time at State was incredible and went by in the blink of an eye,” said Westmoreland. “Mississippi State has remained a part of my personal and professional life. I remain in close contact with numerous fraternity brothers, fellow students, organizations, staff, and instructors from my time at State. Each time we speak it is as if no time has passed and we're still there on campus talking on the Drill Field or in the cafeteria over lunch.”
Game days, walking across the Drill Field, laughing with friends after leaving class, and meeting in the dining hall are what made Westmoreland’s experience at MSU the best of his life.
“I found my experiences at MSU to be some of the best in my life. I am still friends and speak daily with many of the contacts I made while attending State, nearly 20 years later. I grew up at State, I became a Bulldog and have traveled the world several times over spreading the good word about State,” said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland has been able to travel the world because of his service in the United States Army as a major and senior pilot. He received his master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2010 where he now is an associate assistant professor in the College of Aeronautics. Westmoreland is qualified in five different airframes with 1,000 flight hours as Pilot-in-Command.
“Since graduating from State, I've literally been around the world several times thanks to the military. My service began in May of 2000 and continues to this day. [My family and I] have lived in various states, and I have served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Westmoreland.
Although, Westmoreland considers his military career to be a major accomplishment, he says his greatest success is graduating from MSU. “I look back on that diploma and the achievement that it symbolizes. It was a turning point in my life, and it represents time well spent in Starkville. It displays academic achievement; it proves I became a capable thinker who was ready to begin giving back to my society,” said Westmoreland.
The people and skills in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Communication continue to have an impact on Westmoreland. “I learned a lot about communicating and how to use my communication [skills] to improve my team and my career,” said Westmoreland. “I've briefed the Secretary of the Navy down to weekly briefings with students. I use my skills and knowledge from State when I am teaching as an assistant professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as well.”
When offering advice to students, Westmoreland stresses the importance of “doing what you love.” He also states how important it is to get involved at MSU.
“Get out and support your school; be a roadrunner, join a campus organization, play intramurals, try out for a club sport, etc. The more you put into it, the more you'll get out,” said Westmoreland. “Being involved can have long-term impacts as well; your commitment and efforts also show future employers a lot about you. Overall, being involved at State will make MSU, and you, both better.”
A favorite tradition of Westmoreland’s is the cowbell. He still remembers sneaking his cowbell into the 1998 SEC championship game between MSU and the University of Tennessee. He hopes that his children will continue the family legacy by attending MSU and ringing cowbells of their own.
“I get goose bumps when I run into people on the street everywhere I go and we exchange ‘Hail State!’ Going to Mississippi State was life changing, and it forever made me a part of a family. It is a family tradition, and I look forward to my own children ringing their cowbells at a game,” said Westmoreland.
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