Patrick Desmarattes personifies hard work, determination and enthusiasm.
He's the older of two boys born in Brooklyn, N.Y. "My parents are from Haiti and we still have family there."
He understands French Creole and traveled to Haiti as a child.
"We had family visiting us in New York when the earthquake hit," Desmarattes said. "They returned to find their house was gone." An uncle living in Rock Hill encouraged the family to visit, which they did several times.
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"We used to go to Heritage USA when I was a kid. It was fun," he said. When Desmarattes was 12, he was robbed on his way home from school. He was wearing his brother's new Nautica jacket, and was riding the city bus. "I got off the bus and two men in their 30s followed me. I tried to fight them and they said they'd stab me if I didn't give them the jacket," said Desmarattes.
His brother had gotten mugged around that same time. The two events pushed his parents to move the family to a safer place. They chose Rock Hill.
Since both parents were nurses, they were able to quickly find jobs.
Desmarattes attended Sullivan Middle School, then Northwestern High School.
"It was a culture shock at first. Everyone was so nice.
"In my old neighborhood, you didn't look people in the eye as you walked past," Desmarattes said.
The family loved their adopted city and thrived. Desmarattes attended South Carolina State University then joined the U.S. Navy, going to Great Lakes Naval Academy.
He soon became the top in his class at Data Processing School and was then stationed in Pearl Harbor as part of a tech group, eventually working on a Marine base in Honolulu.
After his stint in the service, Desmarattes, 36, moved to Charlotte and took more computer programming classes at King's College.
He now lives in the Steele Creek area and first worked for IKOS Technologies.
"It was like programming boot camp," Desmarattes said. "I learned a lot."
His current job is with Honeywell as a software engineer.
"My passion is that I've always wanted to write and direct movies," he says.
Desmarattes has written, produced and directed "Inara the Jungle Girl" from his company, Red Valkyrie Studios.
"Christian Simpson from 'Down Home Studios' has helped me so much. We wouldn't be where we are today without Christian," Desmarattes said
The movie premiered at the EpiCentre theatre in Charlotte on Jan. 27.
You can learn more about the movie at www.junglegirlmovie.com.