Student overcomes adversity following early life struggles

Patrick Casino took an alternate route to get to where he is today studying electrical...
Patrick Casino took an alternate route to get to where he is today studying electrical engineering at Washington State Community College.(WSCC)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 11:37 PM EDT
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Patrick Casino is a first semester engineering student at Washington State.

Originally from North Carolina, Casino has been on his own since he was about 16 years old. After graduating high school he wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford it.

He then began traveling the country selling magazines and books, making stops in 30 states over two years.

“We just walked around and knocked on doors and sold how much we could sell,” Casino said. “Occasionally we got to meet really famous people who were amazing, but sometimes it was the flip side and then sometimes the opposite side of the street, the trailer park, was actually the best place to go because even though they don’t have much, most times they were willing to give you something.”

He faced numerous challenges along the way, but one stuck out to him the most.

“Being know when you’re homeless it’s easy to do the wrong thing, and it’s hard to do the right thing,” Casino said. “You definitely struggle a little harder in that aspect. I try not to let it wear on me, you know what I mean. Stay a positive person and move forward and know that one day that I would find my whole.”

Casino did move from California back to North Carolina to follow a near lifelong interest to become a chef. An Emeril Lagasse cookbook sparked a passion in him to serve people and led him to culinary school at the age of 26.

“I was really driven to the service industry because I like to see smiles on people’s faces and even though cooking wasn’t necessarily I didn’t get to see the smiles, I knew they were there because I know the quality of work I provided wherever I worked,” Casino said.

He met his current wife online and moved up to Marietta to be with her. After having their son, Casino realized he wouldn’t be able to support his family working in the restaurant industry. This led to another career path.

“I saw that there’s just a lot of lack and innovation in certain areas especially around our homes. I just really felt like electrical engineering would really give me what I needed and was missing to be able to create the things that I had been thinking about for actually really long periods of time.”

Casino said being an adult learner hasn’t really been all that bad and has been able to focus on his school work throughout the pandemic. He said it’s his wife and son that truly keep him going.

“I know that at the end of the day that I am going to do the best that I can for them and set forth an example for my son that he can live by because I didn’t have that in any aspect of my life,” Casino said “I want to make sure that he has at least the mentality to go out there and do it for himself when he needs to.”

Casino will graduate next fall with an associate degree in electrical engineering technology with plans to continue his education and earn a bachelor’s degree.

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