Shanique PattersonShanique before being styled by Monica "Queen" Carruthers of U R Curly. CHANGE IMAGE

NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself! Where are you from?

Shanique Patterson: My name is Shanique Patterson and I am a senior at the University of South Florida in Tampa majoring in Biomedical Science. I am from a small town called Fort Pierce, Florida.

NC: Tell us a little about your hair story, please!

SP: My hair started to become terribly weak from relaxers. It was always dry and shedding all the time. With each relaxer, my hair would get weaker and weaker and thinner and thinner. So I decided that I was not going to relax anymore. I wanted my hair to get to be as healthy as possible, and all the shedding caused me to worry a lot. I decided to be natural so that I could stop the damage it was doing to my hair. My last relaxer was September 25, 2011. I tried to transition for awhile, but dealing with the two textures was difficult for me. I had relaxed damaged ends that were shedding alot and thick dry natural hair that was coming in. I decided to cut it so that I could get rid of all the damage and devote my time and energy to the new natural hair that was coming in. I did my big chop on December 20, 2011, and I have been rocking my natural afro every since.

NC: Tell us about your experience as a VIC at the NaturallyCurly Pool Party! What was your experience like? Any highlights?

SP: I really enjoyed being a VIC , and I really enjoyed having my hair styled by Monica Queen from U R CURLY. We discussed my hair type, and she gave me great tips on styling my hair and ways to keep it healthy. The goody bags that we got were great. They were very heavy and filled with several styling products and styling tools from brands that I have always wanted to try. I enjoyed meeting so many new people from the different product lines. A highlight for me was being able to take the before and after pictures. I loved my hair, so I am excited to see how the pictures came out.

NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls, or have you always enjoyed and embraced your curls?

SP: I started to embrace my curls after my big chop in December.

Read More: Real Texture Talk: VIC Cathy Bryant

Shanique PattersonShanique after being styled by Monica "Queen" Carruthers of U R Curly. CHANGE IMAGE

NC: What is your current routine or regimen?

SR: My current regimen consists of co-washing 3-4 times a week. I clarify at least once a week. I apply a leave in such as Kinky Curly Knot Today or Oyin Handmade Hair Dew. Then I seal with a mix I made of 50 percent Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and 50 percent Carol's Daughter Hair Elixir. I leave it in an afro puff with a head band or put it in some braids.

NC: What are your favorite hair styles to wear with your curls?

SP: My hair is still fairly short so I still enjoy wearing an afro. I love to shingle my hair to define my curls and I love having my hair braided into a Mohawk with the middle curly.

NC: What are your must-have products and tools?

SP: My must haves are my Kinky Curly Knot Today, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Argan Oil Eco Styler Gel and my heat cap for deep conditioning treatments.

NC: What is the best thing about being curly?

SP: Being free — not being restricted from doing fun things like swimming because of your hair. Not "needing" to get a relaxer because your new growth is growing in with a different texture than your chemically treated hair, and being able to love your hair as it is and not how others want or expect it to be.

NC: What impact has going natural had on your life?

SP: It has not impacted my everyday life much, because it has made me more confident and happier.

NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?

SP: I would tell them that being natural is a wonderful thing. Textured hair is beautiful and should be celebrated.

NC: Tell us about your life and what you are up to!

SP: I am just starting my senior year in college. I'm looking forward to graduating in the spring and my plan is to attend medical school.

Read More: Community in the World of Natural Curls