Patricia Graham was born in Saluda, South Carolina in 1949. She grew up in Philadelphia and then moved to New Jersey during high school. Dr. Graham graduated from West Side High School in Newark in 1966. She attended Essex County Community College and then Rutgers-Newark, before transferring to Livingston College at Rutgers-New Brunswick. During college, Dr. Graham participated in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program. Majoring in urban studies and secondary education, Dr. Graham graduated from Livingston College in 1972. She went on to earn her Master's degree in education at Antioch College and Ed.D. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From 1977 to 2013, Dr. Graham served in various positions at East Stroudsburg University, where she is now a professor emeritus.