Alumna, staff at North Central Independent Living Services, Inc.
Shyla Patera may perceive herself as an ordinary individual, but she is truly extraordinary when it comes to perseverance and overcoming obstacles. At an early age, Patera endured four surgeries in hopes that she would one day walk. She was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy and accepted that she would never walk. She remained focused on her dream to go to college even when others said it would be impossible, and her determination to achieve her goals never wavered. In 1993, Patera graduated from Montana State University. Words cannot begin to describe her fortitude when helping others despite significant limitations. After graduation, Patera spent a summer in Bulgaria exchanging ideas with other disabled citizens as communism was coming to an end. She worked in Florida at a Center for Independent Living, and lived in Philadelphia for 13 years where she was an aide at Philadelphia Differed Schools and a Vista volunteer. Patera eventually returned to Montana where she presently works at North Central Independent Living Services Inc. in Black Eagle. She remains a constant citizens’ advocate and has spoken before the legislature in advocacy for others. Patera knows the challenges facing the future, but remains undaunted in her enthusiasm to continue making a difference in the lives of others.
Shyla Patera knows the challenges facing the future, but remains undaunted in her enthusiasm to continue helping and making a difference in the lives of others.