Patrick Nkongoro, a junior at Battle High School, could be considered a modern Renaissance kid, one who credits his accomplishments to his faith.
He is a baseball player, a member of the school newspaper staff, a podcast host and active in several mission communities.
Although he has a wide variety of interests, Patrick remains humble about his accomplishments.
“You don’t have to try to be perfect,” he said. “You don’t have to aim for perfection.”
He started playing baseball in the fourth grade and now covers center field for his club team, the U.S. Nationals, and right field for the Battle Spartans.
He was introduced to baseball when a woman teaching his father to speak English approached him at church. The Nkongoro family had moved to Columbia after they immigrated to Florida from Africa, and the woman had children around Patrick’s age.
“She asked if I wanted to play baseball with her sons, and I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Patrick said.
Baseball has not only provided joy and structure in his life, he said, but it has taught him how to work hard and develop mental toughness.
“Baseball is really mental, and you have to be mentally strong, so I think it’s taught me that,” he said.
Patrick not only excels on the field, but he writes for the school newspaper and hosts a podcast called “National News,” a monthly roundup that targets topics that interest him. Patrick and his friend AJ do the podcast segment together.
“The other day I did a new segment called ‘Animal Facts with Pat,’ and I just talked about specific animals,” he said. “This episode I talked about mountain lions and some facts about them.”
His interest developed after he listened to a podcast called, “Becoming Something,” a program that ties news to Christianity.
“I just thought the idea was really cool, and I was like man, I could do this for myself if I wanted to,” he said.
Christianity has become a driving force in his life. Patrick said he grew up going to church with his family, but the pandemic was the catalyst for his passion after his freshman year in high school upended some of his plans.
Originally, he wanted to play football at Hickman High School, but a family move prompted a transfer to Battle where he had to catch up. This was during the pandemic when school was online, but Patrick ended up getting COVID and losing his taste and smell.
“That really scared me,” he said. “The only thing that really helped me was my religious background and falling into Jesus.”
After he was baptized in March 2021, he embarked on a study of Christianity with the help of Karis Church members and his older brother, Bukuru Dieudone. Patrick turned to his brother when he began learning more about faith and religion.
“My brother at the time was a strong Christian, and during that time I talked to him a lot,” Patrick said, adding that his brother also invited him to a Bible study class.
Dieudone is also a reason Patrick joined Karis Church in September and became involved in mission work.
“We just get to walk life together, recognizing that we are brothers and that we’re like close friends,” Dieudone said. “I’m 24 and he’s only 17, but he’s so mature and he hangs out with me and my friends, so we share a lot with each other.”
Dieudone said he is proud of how far his brother has come in his spirituality, his character and his academics. Patrick is very determined and not fazed by the status of other people, which he admires.
“Those are just very unique characteristics that he has that I’ve noticed about him,” his brother said. “He’s very committed and very driven, not by the status of a person, but just by getting to know someone and by loving them and welcoming people.”
He said he has also seen Patrick grow in what he values over the past few years.
“I think he has realized the importance of community and the importance of walking life with people,” Dieudone said.
Patrick said he is looking at journalism for his future, although he doesn’t know which path he will follow.
Other than remaining academically driven and hopefully becoming a journalist, his main goal in life is to be an authentic person driven by faith who is real with his experiences in life.
He believes religion has helped him learn how to do that.
“I think that my religion has made me OK with who I am and made me embrace who I am more,” Patrick said. “Religion is what defines me and what has made me the person that I am today.”