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Phoebe Lytle / Senior Staff Photographer

Anthony "Ace" Patterson, also known as Tha Pyro, has stepped into one of the biggest spotlights at Columbia—opening for Snoop Dogg as a member of CUSH. But despite Patterson's accomplishments with the Columbia University Society of Hip-Hop, not many people know his full story. He describes applying to Columbia on a whim, not knowing much about colleges but being enticed by the promise of a substantial financial aid package. In his college admissions essay, Patterson wrote about his stay in a homeless shelter, watching cartoons, and making friends with those characters. When he got to Columbia, his essay was the first one to be read at an orientation event. But life at Columbia wasn't always easy for Patterson, who admitted that he did not want to stay at the University in the beginning. "I didn't know what college was about, but I got in," Patterson says. "The experiences I got and understanding the significance of being here and my family allowed me to stay. I realized that I'm not living for myself. This is way beyond me." And Patterson did hit his stride. When asked about his achievements during his four years, Patterson chuckles and humbly proceeds to give a laundry list of his accomplishments, from being chosen as the featured essay writer for the Black Students Organization in 2007 to one of his raps being published in the 2011 edition of the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of Anthropology. "I also got a graduation cord from the office of multicultural affairs for my contributions to the community," Patterson said. "I've been wearing it all day," he laughs. Those closest to Patterson say his humility and compassion has resonated with them most. "Ace is one of the friendliest people on campus," Tabia Santos, BC '13, says. "One of my favorite things to do when its warm outside is hang outside with him on the stoop. I appreciate his company because we actually have conversations. He talks back, and it's rare." Ace's last roommate Chikezie Ohayia, CC '12, said that his distinctive laugh made a difference. "Sometimes it was a long laugh, sometimes it was short-pitched. For me, being his roommate, that made my life. Just to hear him laugh and hear everything was going well got me through the things I was going through. Finding hilarity in a tough situation is what I value about him the most," Ohayia says. Although he isn't sure what his future holds, Patterson says he isn't stressed, and is looking into graduate school and pursuing his talent for music and music production. "I just believe that you are never too old to learn, and never too old to be a nice person," Patterson said.

Senior profile commencement 2011 Ace Patterson