Ashlie Patnode lives in the Cayce Place public housing development, has no contact with her parents or siblings, and is the mother of two young children.
No doubt, Patnode’s current walk through life bypasses Easy Street, as the 26-year-old seemingly would represent the societal stereotype of a young woman doomed to a future of WIC, woes and welfare.
But doom is no part of this story. Rather, optimism. Patnode has written Still Hope?, which contains a personal narrative and a collection of poems. The book is the young woman’s way of confronting tough circumstances with an unbending determination.
“Writing it didn’t take long, but getting the money to self-publish took about a year and a half,” Patnode said.
To date, Patnode has sold about 120 copies of Still Hope? and has participated in three book signings.
“I want people to know that good things do come from people in low-income family environments,” she said.
Patnode said she “came from nothing,” adding her parents basically said she would never amount to anything.
“I’ve been on my own since I was 13,” she said. “I got my GED in 2005. I was pregnant with my son, and he was kicking the testing table.”
With Tupac, Edgar Allan Poe and Maya Angelou as wordsmith role models, the former Wisconsin and Minnesota resident has always enjoyed reading and writing.
Today, Patnode is a student at Tennessee State University, studying psychology and nonprofit management. She wants to have her Ph.D. by 2016. Patnode said most Cayce Homes residents are honorable people, and many support her effort to better herself. She calls the complex “God’s Battleground,” a place in which it is tough raising her children, ages 5 and 2, but that builds character.
Years ago, Patnode sold magazines door to door, a job that brought her to Nashville.
“I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face,” she said.
Despite those rejections, Ashlie Patnode has remained determined.
“I want to show young women they can become something,” she said.