A young Pat Ryan lost both parents by the time she was 17 but managed to put herself through school at Fullerton Junior College by working as a driver, a pharmacy manager, a telephone operator, and a typist. Living in New York for a few years, she earned a living as an X-ray technician and a secretary before returning to the Los Angeles area to attend the University of Southern California's merchandising program. There, she worked part-time jobs on campus, taught shorthand at a high school, and earned additional income as a film extra. Graduating cum laude from USC, she obtained her teaching credentials and got a job teaching high school in Whittier, CA. A Duke University Law School graduate named Richard Nixon became smitten with her, and she eventually married him in 1940. While he was overseas serving in the Navy during World War II, Pat worked as a government economist in San Francisco.
Source: National Archives