Nate: Evansville University, Class of 2017

Nate, by his own account, had a tough childhood. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and his difficulties connecting socially and emotionally with peers meant that he was bullied frequently – and badly.

"I tried to stand up for myself," Nate said of those rough years. It wasn’t until high school that the bullying subsided thanks to the school’s staff and many years of therapy and hard work in improving social skills.

With the school’s support, Nate’s activities took off – from math club to Special Olympics to volunteering more than 2,000 hours at his local food pantry. His academic drive paid off, too: he graduated valedictorian of his class.

Nate’s dream is to become a computer engineer, and he knew he’d need a college degree to pursue it. He also knew that scholarships would be critical to making his academic aspirations a reality. Thanks to the Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars Community Volunteer Service Award, Nate is currently attending the University of Evansville.

As a first-generation college student, he encourages future students to attend college to pursue their own dreams, including those who may be bullied like he was. "Definitely try to hang in there," Nate said. "A lot of times, you’ll realize how strong you are, even when you don’t feel like it."