Our NU Scholars

Scholars represent the diversity of National University’s degree programs, pathways, and career plans.

To learn more about the student experience from NU Scholars, feel free to read the NU Scholars' blog. By students, for students.

NU Scholar Giselle Barrera

Giselle Barrera

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

“It has been an honor to attend National University. I am grateful for the professors, advisors, and faculty who have assisted me through my journey here. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I recently applied and was admitted into the Scholars Program. I am excited to be a Scholar and am determined to learn as much as possible.

The Scholars Program allows me to network with academic professionals, and serve as an ambassador for this great university. I also have the privilege of assisting other veteran students in the Veterans Center. Essentially, I strive to serve as a role model for the students at National University.”

NU Scholar Jeremiah Chambers

Jeremiah Chambers

Bachelor of Science, Healthcare Administration
Military Veteran

"My journey as a student at National University, and now as a selected Scholar, has been deeply fulfilling.

From the hybrid class formats that have allowed me to continue in my professional and personal pursuits, to the amazing faculty and students that I have joined along the way, this journey, although rigorous, has illustrated National University’s pursuit of sowing the future minds of our world.

The same minds that National University has imparted in its ethos – learning through living – is exemplified in the spirit and determination of my fellow Scholars. These are some of the brightest minds that represent the rich student body found at National, and we support each other’s future successes.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunities the Scholar Program has afforded me."

NU Scholar Emily Ducote

Emily Ducote

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

“My journey with National University began about three-and-a-half years ago, as I was searching desperately for a nursing program that worked with my schedule. I spoke with an admissions advisor and felt immediate relief after learning about the set-up of the program. I decided to finish my last few prerequisites at National University to get a feel for the class set up and my grades and GPA instantly improved.

I realized that the one course per month format allowed me to focus solely on one subject and, in turn, my grades were better than ever. Because of this, I was able to get into the nursing program and, four months in, I am excelling in the program.”

NU Scholar Wendy Going

Wendy Going

Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education, Integrated Credential Program

"I am the mother to four fantastic kids. My oldest son was diagnosed with Autism many years ago and, unfortunately, my marriage recently ended in divorce. I never expected to be starting life over as a single mother at 40, but here I am.

I am thankful that I found a school that offers me the support and flexibility to start this new chapter in my life. I am inspired by the quote, ‘New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings’ by Lao Tzu.”

NU Scholar Katrine Khan

Katrine Khan

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

"My journey at National University has been unlike any other experience I’ve had. There's a sense of both diversity and community at National University. Most of all, I love the people I've met throughout my journey. I've found lifetime friends here, and I also found a fountain of inspirations here. Being an NU ambassador as well as a new NU Scholar is my way of giving back to the university. I can say, loud and proud, that I'm glad I'm a student here."

NU Scholar Roberto Gonzalez

Roberto Gonzalez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

“I started my journey at NU in April 2016 to start pre-requisite classes for nursing school. Before then, I had obtained my GED after dropping out of high school at the start of my senior year. But now, I'm on my way to earning my bachelor's degree in nursing! Thanks to NU, I've been able to take and complete classes at an accelerated pace, all while still being able to work full time to pay rent/bills.

I hope that with the school's assistance, and my guidance as an ambassador, future students will have the positive experiences that I've had. Thanks to the school, staff, and co-students/classmates, my time at NU thus far has been great. I'm very much looking forward to lending my hand, knowledge, and experiences to help guide others in making their dream a reality.”

NU Scholar Alejandro Vargas

Alejandro Vargas

Master of Arts, Education

“National University is, and has always been, a place of promise and opportunity. Being employed full time, a single father, and actively involved in my community, the idea of achieving my educational goals seemed difficult and out of reach. Also, the idea of returning to school in my 40s was overwhelming and intimidating. From the moment I began my National University experience, however, I found all of my fears and concerns were unwarranted.

National University is a special place; here, we can reinvent who we are and move towards a better future for ourselves and our families. I have had many great experiences during my time at NU, but perhaps the most humbling has been the honor of representing the university as a participant in the NU Scholars Program. Being admitted into the Scholars Program is both a point of pride and appreciation.

In the NU Scholars Program, one can find many unique opportunities, such as participating in specialized individual programs, a study abroad experience, and taking part in leadership trainings. I cannot express how overwhelmingly grateful I am for the opportunities I have been privileged to and how this program has positively impacted so many aspects of my personal and professional life."

NU Scholar Jordan Marshall

Jordan Marshall

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

“I am currently a nursing student at the Fresno campus. I attended National University after graduating high school, determined to become a nurse. I have been a student of National University for about a year and a half, and I will finish the nursing program in about another year and a half. I am so honored and excited to be a part of the NU Scholars Program. I have so much passion for National University and truly believe in what we stand for as a school. The NU Scholars Program allows me to express my passion for National University through leadership, community involvement, student relationships, and personal growth such as research and travel opportunities. I am excited for what the future holds for the NU Scholars!"

NU Scholar Claudia Garcia

Claudia Garcia

Program: Master of Family Therapy

“I am a graduate student at National University seeking a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at the Kearny Mesa campus in San Diego. I also received my bachelor’s degree in psychology from National University. My education and training at National University have prepared me for the field, and I now have five years of experience providing services to the San Diego community.

As part of the NU Scholars Program, I am excited and motivated to continue developing my skills to better serve my community. As an NU Scholar, I am committed to grow as a student and a professional, and to positively impacting the student community at National University.”

Bethany Rickman

Master of Education w/ Single Subject Credential, English - Fresno

“I live in Hanford, CA with my husband Eddie, a retired Navy veteran; two step-children, Andrew and McKenzie, ages 12 and 9; and my daughter Stella, age 5. I currently attend National University as an online student, where I am working on my single subject credential in English, as well as my master's in education.

I had always planned to earn a graduate degree and become a teacher, but I ended up taking a little longer than I anticipated to get to where I am today. In 2008, I earned my bachelor's degree in Art with an emphasis in Art History from Fresno State. My original hopes were to move out of California, earn a master's and PhD in Art History, and teach at the college level. However, debt and a divorce made these plans less than feasible, and I put my college career on hold. A short time later, I met my wonderful husband and his two amazing children, and we became a family. About a year after that, we welcomed our daughter, Stella. It was very important to me to spend time with my children while they were young. So, I continued to postpone school and, instead, focused on being a mom and working part-time. Although this was what was best for my family at the time, the thought of returning to school was always in the back of my mind.

As time passed, my confidence in my ability to be successful in my college and career goals faded; I questioned whether I could juggle all of these responsibilities, or if it was worth the cost. However, even though motherhood was a major factor in delaying my plans for higher education, it was also what ultimately inspired me to go back. First and foremost, I wanted to be an example to my children that it it’s never too late to achieve your goals. In addition, as I watched them learn and grow, I began to reminisce about influential teachers from my own childhood. I particularly remembered my middle and high school English teachers inspiring and engaging me. I know, without a doubt, that my success in earning my bachelor’s degree directly correlated to the lessons that these incredible teachers taught me. As I considered how much of a difference these women made in my life, I realized that I too could be an influential English teacher. So with my youngest about to turn five and start school herself, I decided that it was time to stop doubting myself and to finally pursue my dream of earning a graduate degree and beginning a fulfilling teaching career.

When I called National University and spoke with one of the credential advisors, she took an hour out of her day to explain the program in detail, address all of my concerns, and reassure me that not only could I do it, but that it would absolutely be worth it. As dramatic as it sounds, that phone call changed my life. Here I am, less than a year later, with a 4.0 GPA, a full scholarship, and a teaching internship that will give me the opportunity to inspire students of my own. Not only have I been able to exceed my own expectations and rebuild my confidence, but I have been able to do it while being a wife and mother and working part time. This has definitely required some hard work and sacrifice, but thanks to National’s flexible online program and plethora of resources, my goals are within reach. If I can do it, anyone can!"

NU Scholar Branson Hutchens

Branson Hutchens

Bachelor of Science, Cybersecurity - Texas. U.S. Veteran, Army

"As a former soldier in the United States Army, I swore an oath to protect my country. National University has allowed me to carry out that oath after my service by equipping me with the knowledge and tools that I need to fight against a new type of enemy on a new battlefront: cyberwarfare. Currently, I am working towards my bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and have obtained multiple certifications along the way.

My professional role in the security industry has been enhanced significantly since I joined the National University community. I have become more efficient at my current position and have helped to expand my company’s sources of revenue. I will use the tools taught by the NU Scholars Program to further my career and to give back to my community.

I am a loving husband and the father of three wonderful children. Part of my drive comes from what I know I am teaching my children through furthering my education. I want them to believe that they can do great things, but that great things take hard work and dedication. National University has made it possible for me to pursue my dreams while being a full-time student, employee, and father.

As cybersecurity is now tied in to every facet of our lives, it is my role to ensure my children’s privacy and security in a digital age. I will be working with the NU Scholars Program to develop awareness programs and offer workshops at local schools to teach cyber-security to children and their parents, and to show them easy ways to protect their data."

Cecilia Martinez

Master of Education in Inspiring Teaching with a Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential - San Diego

“I am very interested in bilingual education and English Language Learners in the United States because I come from a Mexican community, and I know firsthand how difficult the process of enculturation and assimilation of a new culture can be for immigrant students. I was born in a small town near México City, in a patriarchal society where women were relegated to domestic chores and child rearing and were not supposed to achieve higher degrees. Growing up, I decided that this was not the lifestyle that I wanted for myself. Since an early age, I heard the call to become a teacher, and realized that higher education was the key to being able to make my own decisions and achieve a better way of life. To do this, I had to overcome economic barriers and limiting gender roles. After I graduated from high school, I spent all my spare time and money to attend college. It was not easy to balance work with attending school full time but my determination and inner desire to make a difference in my life led me to graduate with honors in a Bachelor of Science in Education Administration. I worked for two years as an elementary school teacher in my hometown, moving to the United States to learn English and to advance in my academic career.

Living in this country is challenging. While many individuals from all backgrounds need to work hard to find a way to make ends meet every month, immigrants must work especially hard, as many are insecure or lack the English skills they need to move up the economic ladder. After arriving in this country I attended English classes for a year and a half, until my first daughter, Danna, was born. My life turned into a nightmare, as Danna’s multiple severe health issues required me to be a year-round 24-hour-a-day caregiver. I was no longer able to attend my English classes and I thought that pursuing my career was more impossible than ever. In 2009 my younger daughter, Fiorella, was born, and I devoted all my time to taking care of my daughters and to helping Danna became more independent – I am so thankful that she has finally overcome her major health issues. In 2013, I started attending classes at Southwestern College, and I graduated with honors with an associate degree in child development in 2014. I have been working as a special education aide and as substitute preschool teacher at the Lemon Grove School District since then.

As my confidence in my English skills grew I decided that it was the right time to pursue my master’s degree. After I compared different schools, I chose National University because the flexibility of taking classes online helps me balance my family life and school life. I also chose National University because I appreciate the guidance of knowledgeable teachers and that this school provides students with real-world field experiences. I am truly thankful that National University is an institution that celebrates diversity and welcomes differences. National University has given me many opportunities to accomplish my career goals, and has supported me in so many ways, from career services to financial help. It is an honor to be part of the NU Scholars Program, and I see this as a great opportunity to be a role model not only for my daughters, family, and friends, but for other immigrants who might think that the language barrier will prevent them from succeeding. Now, I can say with confidence that language barriers are not enough to stop immigrants from making their dreams come true."

Christopher Flood

Bachelor of Science, Information Systems - San Diego

“Growing up in rural Maine, I was presented with few employment options after high school. I dealt with this harsh reality as many young people have done for generations, by joining the military. After a fulfilling 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, I realized that the time had come to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. While enlisted, I had the opportunity to try my hand at many different roles, from stocking shelves as a storekeeper to maintaining radios as an electronics technician. I hadn’t really found my niche until I was trained to work with information systems. Looking back, one of the highlights of my career was teaching system administration for various information systems to young IT sailors.

My wife began attending National University shortly before I completed my naval career. By the time she graduated from the nursing program and earned her BSN, I was already familiar with National University’s campus, structure, and policies. I was very impressed with the nontraditional approach to learning that paralleled many of the navy schools that I had experienced both as a student and as an instructor. This made my transition from career sailor to college student a smooth and painless one. It’s easy to see why National University is so alluring to the 4500 active duty military and veterans who are enrolled.

Since I had transferred my GI Bill benefits to my wife so she could become a nurse, I am extremely thankful to be selected as an NU Scholar. This scholarship allows me to continue my education so that I can join her and thousands more in the ranks of National University Alumni.”

Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers

Master of Healthcare Administration - San Diego

"I am originally from Kenya, East Africa, which holds a very special place in my heart. My seeds of optimism, diligence, and triumph were sown in our home, thanks to my parents. Growing up in an underserved community had its own adventures, as well as intense struggles. While living in Kenya, I served extensively in resource-limited squatter settlements, assisting medical teams in providing home health care and counseling to HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. Additionally, I visited the largest refugee camp in Kenya, which instilled in me a strong desire to continue serving the less fortunate in our society; climbed Mt. Kenya, which transformed my way of thinking from “I cannot do it” to “I am capable of overcoming my challenges”; and dedicated a few months to teaching English as a Second Language to preschoolers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My alma mater, Daystar University in Kenya, taught me how to be a servant leader.

I have come to appreciate that every situation in life is a learning opportunity. My family has been a strong pillar of hope and a constant source of inspiration that has motivated me to aim higher in life.

I can truly say that I made the right decision in pursuing an education at National University. As a graduate student, I highly appreciate and celebrate the faculty, advisors, and staff who have contributed towards my achievement. They have been incredibly supportive, have created wonderful opportunities to help me learn and grow my skills, and have constantly cheered me on to be the best I can be.

Last year was very significant for me: Not only did I earn a Master of Public Health degree at National University, but I also gave birth a few months later. I am honored to be back at National University for the healthcare administration program and to represent my school as an ambassador. As an adult learner who takes all her classes through the online format, I have a myriad of responsibilities to handle. Not only am I in school, but I am currently raising young children while juggling global health research work in partnership with Dr. Tara Rava Zolnikov, an Associate Professor at National University.

I grew up knowing and believing that there is a greater plan and purpose for my life, which gave me great hope in the future. The challenges and experiences that I have gone through in life have instilled in me great perseverance, resilience, optimism, and the passion to pursue my career goals. The long journey towards completing school can be rough but every moment is so worth it. I am thrilled to be part of the NU Scholars Program, which is already creating professional and educational opportunities that are useful in achieving my set goals.

I anticipate representing National University in various capacities, engaging in community service, enhancing my skills, collaborating with other students and professionals, and traveling, as well as encouraging other adult learners who may lack the motivation to seek higher education. Learning never ends and I rejoice in knowing that National University and the amazing NU Scholars Program will give me so many opportunities to learn, grow, and serve others."

NU Scholar Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson

Master of Education with Integrated Multiple Subject Credential - Sacramento

“My name is Elizabeth Johnson and I am honored to be a member of the National University Scholar’s Program! Living in the Sacramento area of California—I currently live in Rancho Cordova with my husband, Mark, and our kitty, Leo—I am so looking forward to attending events and working with our local National University campus. I have lived in Sacramento most of my life and it has been a wonderful place to grow up.

I left Sacramento for a few years to earn my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Upon graduating, I spent about three years in the private sector as a human resources manager. While I enjoyed working in an office, I always knew that I wanted to work with children and to give back to my community. I have also spent many years working with Early Head Start and K-12 age children as a substitute teacher, which has been very fulfilling. Through my work with children and my experience teaching in a wide range of settings, I discovered that what I wanted more than anything else was to be an elementary school teacher in a public school.

I enrolled at National University and am currently earning my multiple subject teaching credential and my master’s degree in Education. I am on track to graduate in May 2019 and am excited to start the school year as a first-year teacher that fall. Returning back to school after being out of the academic world for many years was intimidating, but working with National University-- and now being a part of this Scholars program-- has given me so many opportunities to work in schools and to prepare me for my career as an educator. I am excited to see what wonderful opportunities these next two years will bring!”

James (Trey) George

Bachelor of Science, Digital Media Design - San Diego

"Originally from a small town in Georgia, I found myself following a blueprint for life that many in my hometown mirrored, but I never quite felt satisfied with where that future would lead. Within the first four years after my high school graduation, I became a supervisor for the bank where I was employed, bought two cars, and purchased my first home. These successes led me to take a hiatus from college—a 10-year hiatus to be exact. Thankfully, an opportunity to move to San Diego was presented to me, and that sparked a resurrection of inspiration in me to live life outside of my hometown blueprint; ultimately, this relocation resulted in me enrolling at National University to obtain my bachelor’s degree in digital media design.

Growing up as an introverted LGBTQ+ individual, I found solace in the art of drawing and escaping reality through video games, but I noticed the lack of diversity in the games I enjoyed playing the most. This shaped my desire to provide more visibility for underrepresented demographics in the games I play, as well as to support more diversity in those who work in this industry.Properly depicting underrepresented groups in the video game industry will positively impact both consumers and employees, and is something that I wish had been there for me during the most vulnerable years of my life.

National University understands and supports my mission, and has awarded me the honor of joining the NU Scholars Program. This will provide me with the skills and education that I need to have a successful career in the video game industry, and has reinvigorated my motivation to create games that prominently and accurately feature underrepresented races, genders, ages, LGBTQ+ community individuals, and those that live with physical or cognitive disabilities.

In addition to offering the NU Scholars Program, National University has pioneered a unique way for students to further their education through their accelerated four-week classes. This class schedule grants each and every student the opportunity to fashion a schedule that is suitable for their own personal life. I, for one, am grateful for being allowed the freedom to devise a schedule that comfortably fits within my life and will help promote my success at National University. Thank you, National University, for providing me with the opportunity to bring awareness to an industry that touches the lives of so many individuals!"

Alexandra Wigmore

Master of Arts, Education with Single Subject Credential in Health Science - Los Angeles

"I am greatly honored to be a NU Scholar at National University. National University has given me a second chance at pursuing my true passion. I am currently enrolled at National University to earn my single-subject credential for health science. I know that I want to pursue a career that benefits both the academic and social-emotional lives of our youth. I had not always been this certain when it came to my career. After I graduated from University of Arizona, I had been through a few other career paths in entertainment. I then came across the opportunity to work for the Boys and Girls Club. It was there that my passion for helping youth was reignited. I thought long and hard about the career path I wanted to take, one that would incorporate my desires to mentor and educate.

When I researched the single-subject credential, I knew that this was the right route for me. I was nervous to go back to graduate school because I had been out of college for about seven years. However, when I came across National University, it hit every requirement that I needed, allowing me to have a full-time job while going to graduate school. Instead of having to put my life on hold, I was doing quite the opposite, and was able to move forward in every area of my life. Through National University, I am one step closer to achieving my career dreams, and am learning so much with every education course that I take. I am growing in my knowledge as a teacher and could not be more grateful for every professor, administrative staff member, and classmate I meet. I am appreciative for every course that I take and for every opportunity that comes my way through National University. If you were in a position like me, where a certain career path didn’t seem to fit, rethink your direction. I did and now, with National University, I feel filled with opportunities and knowledge.

As an NU Scholar, I will participate in every experience with enthusiasm, determination, and compassion. I look forward to the opportunities to help the community, learn from brilliant minds, engage with fellow students, and gain insight from previous NU Scholars and staff members. I feel honored to be accepted into this program. I know it is a privilege to be experiencing what I am with National University. I will continue to strive to make National University proud through being a successful scholar. It has been such a positive experience, and I cannot wait for what the future holds.”

NU Scholar Jeremiah F.

Jeremiah F.

Bachelor of Science, Homeland Security and Emergency Management - Los Angeles. USMC Veteran

"I am 31 years old and live in LA. I am a senior in National University's Homeland Security and Emergency Management program. I grew up in Southern California before moving to Seattle, where I went to high school. I enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 18, in 2005. After exiting the military in 2011, I spent several years attending school intermittently, obtaining an associate degree in history from College of the Canyons. During that time, I also was able to do security and refugee relief work abroad.

I currently attend National University full time and work part-time doing land surveying. I am married with a four-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. Being a loving husband and father are my primary goals now and will continue to be into the foreseeable future. My academic and professional goals include a master's degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, participating in various efforts to help others both locally and abroad, and eventually starting a business in a related field. I am honored to be in the NU Scholar's Program and look forward to working with everyone involved."

Jiaunna Arnell

Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education - San Diego

"I have been a devoted employee with the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department for eight and a half years. I have developed many professional skills through working with the city, providing quality program activities and curriculum heavily influenced by the communities I serve. I have also implemented programs such as dance, ceramics, and fine arts classes. In the summer, I head the Summer Lunch program for underprivileged families and youth services within the greater San Diego community. Staff, parents, and directors have praised the quality of these programs, and I received an award from the Deputy Director of City of San Diego Park and Recreation Division CP1 for my hard work and dedication.

I received an associate teacher’s achievement certification with Highest Honors from Miramar College, and I completed my associate degree in child development in 2018. Among my many academic achievements, I have received the Honor Student award, and was on the 2015-2016 Dean’s list for my 4.0 cumulative GPA. My current academic goal is to complete my bachelor’s degree in child development at National University and to continue to complete a master’s degree program in child development."

Kaitlin August

Master of Education, Single Subject Credential - Science

"I am so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be a National University Scholar. I went to a rural high school called Middletown High School where I was Valedictorian of my class. After high school, I attended the University of California, Davis, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Biology, with a Minor in Education. Here, I realized that the classroom always has been and always will be my home.

I grew up in a household with an amazingly kind, funny, and adventurous father who made sure that my brother and I never once questioned his unconditional love for us. I believe that I was blessed with such an amazing dad to make up for the difficulties that I had with my mother, who had various mental health issues. While dealing with my mom’s illness was sometimes hard and discouraging, my dad was always building me up and making me feel like I could attack and conquer anything I set my mind to. I needed this attitude my senior year in college after I was involved in an extremely serious ATV accident: I shattered all the bones in my face below my eyes, lost my five front teeth, and was millimeters away from losing my life. The first thing my dad said to me when he saw me was, “Well sweeter, this is going to be a crazy ride, so make sure you buckle up!” At the time, I did not realize this would be my future mantra as I tackled the difficult life experiences to come.

One year and six months after my accident, my dad was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage Four Squamous Cell cancer, and six months later he passed away. He wasn’t kidding when he told me to buckle up—Four years after my ATV accident and nearly two years after the loss of my dad, I am still buckling up every day to face the physical challenges of recovering from my accident, along with the emotional challenges of losing my best friend. While I am no stranger to physical, mental, and emotional setbacks, I have always chosen to view each difficult experience as an opportunity for reflection and growth. Without those setbacks, I wouldn’t be the resilient and compassionate person I am today who strives to meet each person and experience with kindness, an open heart, and an open mind. I am forever grateful to have had such a selfless and caring father to model and guide me through these lessons.

I am currently working towards my master’s in education and single subject science teaching credential, and have just completed my first year as an 8th grade science teacher. Students of this age are refreshingly honest and, quite frankly, hilarious. I am honored to be in a position where I can validate my students’ thoughts and feelings and help them more effectively navigate this confusing and unpredictable time in their lives. My goal is to utilize my role in their lives to prepare them to be the wonderful, kind, and responsible humans I know we all can be. Moreover, I hope to create an environment where each individual knows they have the strength and resilience necessary not only to survive the inevitable challenges of life, but to thrive and rise above them.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about my journey, and I look forward to representing and serving the National University Scholars Program!”

Kelley Diaz Gonzalez

Bachelor of Arts, Spanish - Fresno

“Eighteen years ago, my brother and I faced a life-changing decision to immigrate to the United States. By immigrating, we were leaving our father behind in Mexico, our native country. We knew we would be facing a new lifestyle and language barriers, as well as dealing with the illness of our mother, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer at 39 years old; she was already living in the United States. This was our opportunity to aide her and to create a more lasting bond. In 2002, our mother lost her battle with cancer, leaving my brother, age 16, and me, age 15, as orphans. Despite reeling from the loss of our mother, as well as navigating a low income and cultural barriers, English as a Second Language (ESL) high school teachers supported my brother and me during many difficult moments, and they gave us the opportunity to work after school tutoring ESL students and helping during school events. Support like this was instrumental in helping my brother and I graduate high school.

As the years passed, and the ups and downs of life and the desire to pursue a higher education never came together. However, just last year, a personal setback took over my life, and I found myself—a mother of two—finally moving towards my educational goals. Knowing that education was the only way that I would be able to provide a decent life for my children, I found the strength to reach out to a National University career advisor and project specialist who, once again, provided me with the opportunity to continue my studies.

National University’s unique monthly course platform, along with their incredibly professional and supportive faculty members, has given me the opportunity to believe in myself as a person and to see myself as a rising scholar focusing on my studies and my profession. Thanks to a National University faculty member’s nomination, I was awarded the 2018 Inspiration Award at the annual Student Success Recognition Ceremony. This award was given in recognition of my outstanding contribution, inspiration, and motivation as a National University student, to both my university and to the community.

I now have the opportunity to work at my local school district with special needs students. Here, I have the good fortune to embrace their love and innocence and to be part of their personal and academic success.

Thinking back to my high school years, I remember the amazing support I received from my ESL teachers, as well as the sacrifices made by my parents and family; today, I think about the immense love that I have for my children, and I am thankful for the people who are wishing me luck in my studies. Now more than ever, I am dedicating myself to the world of education, honoring the legacy and philosophy of my amazing support network by fostering these relationships in our future generation of leaders.

Eighteen years after immigrating to the United States, I am a first-generation college student, a mother of two beautiful children, and a naturalized American Citizen. It is so tremendously meaningful to me to have the honor of representing National University as a NU Scholar, and to be a leader in our community helping other Latinos to reach their higher education goals. Today, more than ever, I am pleased to say that I am living my American Dream.”

Lauren Powell

Master of Art, Education w/ Single Subject Credential - Science. Tehachapi

“I am very grateful and honored to be a National University ambassador! I believe that everyone has such a unique story and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my story.

I am twenty-four years old and recently became the head of the household for my family: My family consists of my husband, an army veteran pursuing his degree, and my son, who is just over a year and a half. I ran my first half marathon this year and enjoy hiking, backpacking, swimming, and being outdoors. I have my bachelor’s degree in biology from CSU, Monterey Bay, and I am currently obtaining my single subject teaching credential in science, as well as my master’s degree in education.

I am teaching in my own classroom as an intern at a Title 1 high school in science, a high-need area, and commute an hour a day to get to my school. I live in a remote location where the closest college campus is at least an hour’s drive from me and only offers on-site classes. National University was the only school that offered everything I needed to accomplish my goals.

National University’s unique online platform is the only reason I made it through the 2017–2018 school year still inspired to keep going. As a professional educator, I must obtain my single subject teaching credential to continue my position as a science teacher. I care so deeply for the children I teach, and I am overjoyed that I get to not only share my passion for science, but also connect with some amazing kids. I would not be able to reach my goals while balancing my career, my home-life, my education, my family, my hobbies, and a social life with any other school platform. I am set on achieving my ambitions and hope to inspire others to achieve theirs.”

Mackenzie Lubratich

Master of Art, Education w/ Integrated Multiple Subject Credential - Santa Barbara

“As a first-generation college student, I relied on my teachers and professors to guide my educational pathway. Although I have always had a tremendous amount of support from my family, I genuinely depended on my educators to inspire me to go to college.

I began college with a focus on communications and business, but, in my junior year, I began considering a different pathway. At CSU Channel Islands, I took a special education course titled “Individuals with Disabilities,” which required me to develop lesson plans and think as if I were a teacher with a class of students with disabilities. While completing this class, I felt fulfilled and thoroughly enjoyed every assignment I worked on—I knew that I had finally found who I was meant to be. I graduated from CSU Channel Islands with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Being eager to work full-time right after graduating from college, I was hesitant to go back to school. Fortunately, a great friend of mine told me about the success she had at National University, so I began taking courses!

I am now pursuing my multiple subject credential with a master’s of education in Inspired Teaching and Learning. As previous courses and my National University professors have inspired me to become who I want to be, I hope to inspire future students to reach their goals. National University’s unique online format gives me the flexibility to work as an educator at the Santa Barbara Zoo, a substitute teacher in multiple districts, and waitress, all while pursuing my degree. As busy as my work life may be, I have maintained straight As in my National University coursework and plan to maintain this success as I continue my journey towards becoming a future educational leader. I am honored and thankful to be a NU Scholar!”

Pamela Schreurs

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego. U.S. Navy Veteran

“It took me several years after graduating high school to begin my college journey. I am a first-generation college student from Tucson, Arizona and the oldest of five children. After serving in the United States Navy, marrying a fellow sailor, and having two children, I worked as a nursing assistant and an activity director in Washington state. My family received orders to San Diego in 2014, and I began completing my nursing prerequisites.

I was thrilled to be accepted into National University’s BSN program last year. The accelerated nature of National University and the opportunity to focus on one class at a time fits perfectly into my life as a military spouse and full-time mom. It also allows me to stay active in my community. I have been volunteering with Girl Scouts San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital for four years now. As a future registered nurse, I hope to continue my community service working in pediatrics and community health.

This year I was blessed to have been accepted into the NU Scholars Program. It is a privilege to be an ambassador for the school that I love so much. Being a scholar will give me opportunities to be involved with my community and my peers. I am looking forward to making a difference and exceeding my personal and educational goals.”

Pratichhya Shrestha

Master of Science, Applied Behavior Analysis - Irvine

“When I was five years old, my parents won the United States Diversity Lottery, which is an annual, random selection of 50,000 immigrant visas to be selected for review. After rigorous interviews and filling out detailed documents, we were approved to come to the United States. We arrived as a Nepalese immigrant family with big dreams; however, like many immigrants, we soon realized the struggles of trying to make it in this country.

With a growing family and little support, my parents had to work hard to raise us. I remember my parents working two or three jobs, attending community college, and helping other people within their community. My parents are survivors who used the resources around them to improve themselves and to inspire others to do the same. I was raised by strong role models who taught me the principles of integrity, self-improvement, and autonomy. My background has made who I am today.

Today, I am a proud National University student pursuing my Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as well as an NU Scholar. I received my Bachelor of Science in Human Development from the University of California, Davis. This experience led me to the world of ABA, where I began to provide direct behavior therapy to children with autism.

As a full-time Behavior Interventionist, I get to help children learn to communicate, interact with their world, and ultimately become more independent. I also help parents become empowered as they begin to understand the concepts of ABA and to utilize them to help their child. In my line of work, no two days are the same, and there is always room for improvement: for the child, for the parents, and for myself. Applied Behavior Analysis, for me, is proof that, with the proper guidance, anyone can succeed.

Choosing National University was a pivotal decision that continues to shape my growth as a Behavior Interventionist. Its small class sizes, experienced professors, driven classmates, and supportive faculty have truly propelled me to a level of success I would not have been able to attain alone. I now see no limit to the success I can attain. I hope my success can inspire others to create positive change in their own lives because everyone is worth investing in. You are worth investing in.”

NU Scholar Ramaneet Dhillon

Ramaneet Dhillon

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“I am the first of my immediate family to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and I was also the first to attend a four-year university fresh out of high school. My parents immigrated to the US from India. Although my mother was able to go to school and pursue a career in nursing, my father did not have the same opportunity. Growing up, my parents made sure to instill the value of education in my brother and me. We were taught that education is the one thing in this world that cannot be taken from a person.

I decided to enter the field of nursing to follow in the footsteps of my mother, aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother; however, I had no idea it was a field I would soon fall in love with. The collaboration, compassion, and care that nurses provide daily makes this a career field with the potential for unlimited personal growth. My journey of pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) began at Fresno State, where I completed my prerequisite courses. I transferred to National University because of my eagerness to succeed, andI soon found the accelerated nature of the program to be a perfect fit. National University has provided me with opportunities to complete my clinical rotations at top-notch teaching hospitals, including a Level I Trauma Center, where I was able to solidify my nursing skills, expand my critical thinking capacity, and enhance my patient interaction capabilities. In just six short months, I will be a National University BSN-prepared nurse, and I could not be more proud.

As pre-nursing or nursing majors, students adhere to strict timelines to pursue their dream careers and work quickly to complete all the necessary requirements for admission into a nursing program. These students, much like myself, miss out on opportunities such as traveling abroad. The NU Scholars Program is now providing me with opportunities I never imagined I would have as a BSN student – to travel abroad, participate in research, and work one-on-one with career services to perfect my professional portfolio. I am eager to embark on this journey filled with ambassador training, community involvement, cultural experiences, and research opportunities. Needless to say, the NU Scholars Program will foster my growth as an individual personally, professionally, and academically.”

Rebecca Zegers

MFA - Creative Writing, Fiction - Tulare

“I am currently a sophomore English teacher and the high school Drama Director. I also have experience teaching Freshmen English and Sophomore Honors English.

As a Drama teacher, I teach both a Drama I class (focusing on all basic aspects of drama, from acting to backstage technical skills) and a combined Drama II/III advanced class which focuses on directing, advanced acting, stage management, and script writing. I take the advanced drama class to Universal Studios every year, where we receive an intimate backstage tour. I also advise the Drama Club on our campus, which puts on events like a haunted house at the Ag-Center during their Harvest Festival and an annual Mother’s Day Tea Party, and which participates in community fundraisers like the Relay for Life (supporting cancer patients) in Tulare.

As school Drama Director, I lead the spring production. Our first major musical, which we were very proud of, was Beauty and the Beast. Other successful productions have included The Wizard of Oz, Noises Off, and The Addams Family New Musical. Every year I try to take my students on a trip to see local community theater, and every two years we travel to either Los Angeles or San Franciso to see a major musical. Being Drama Director is exhausting yet very rewarding, and I love it. This year I am inviting special education students on our campus to join my advanced drama class and be a part of our show, whether on stage or behind the scenes. I have seen firsthand how drama can help students with so many different strengths and interests blossom and become more confident.

I am also a mother of two young children. With the encouragement of my husband, family, and friends, I decided it was time to go back to school and further my education. I wanted to prove to my children that it doesn’t matter what your age or circumstances are; it is still possible to reach for your dreams. With my demanding schedule, I didn’t think I would be able to go back to school; this changed when I came upon National University’s online program.

Because of the flexibility of their program, I can pursue my passion and love of creative writing. Every creative writer hopes to publish someday, but my main goal in getting my MFA in creative writing is to teach creative writing at the college level, as well as to have the tools I need to teach my current students how to write plays or short stories. My professors, fellow classmates, and advisor have been very supportive through this process and I could not be happier with my decision to go back to school.

I am honored to be a part of the NU Scholars Program and to represent National University as an ambassador. The NU Scholars Program will give me the support I need to pursue my project integrating special education and drama and will help me to give back to my community. I can already see how NU Scholars support each other — I am humbled by this opportunity and look forward to this exciting experience.”

Tera Voss

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I found my path to higher education in a very unexpected way. I graduated from high school in 2009 and didn’t know what I wanted to do. This uncertainty pushed me away from going to college right away, so I worked and traveled instead. I was living in Montana when I fell in love, got married, and soon found out I was going to become a mother. As soon as I felt like I was finally starting to settle into this life, it all unraveled and I was faced with a big decision: Do I stay in an unhealthy marriage where I am financially unstable, completely uncertain of what I want to do, and expecting a baby? Or do I go back to California (where I’m from), re-enter education, and raise my daughter on my own? I started my first course at National University in San Diego when I was 14 weeks pregnant.

Being a student at National University has changed my life in many ways, and the Scholar’s Program is certainly no exception. When I started my journey with National University, my end game was to earn a bachelor's in nursing and become a registered nurse, so I could work and provide for myself and my daughter. Along the way, I have been so inspired by faculty and other students, and I find my ambition just growing and growing – when I graduate, I plan on entering a program for my doctorate.

Having immense success as a student has given me a new-found confidence, one that carries over into motherhood. The strength I’ve found in myself is a value that is now being passed along to my almost two-year-old daughter. I’m so grateful to be setting such a strong and positive example for her, something that I couldn’t have accomplished without the opportunities provided to me by National University.”

NU Scholar Cassie Chavez

Cassie Chavez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“I am a wife, mother of two, and a full-time nursing student at the NU Fresno campus. I have always been passionate about healthcare but, after working as a Medical Scribe Regional Manager for 10 years, and having my two children, I decided it was the right time for me to return to school. Nursing is the right profession for me because I love learning, I enjoy being challenged, and I want to care and advocate for patients.

I chose to further my education by obtaining a B.S.N. through National University because the nursing program focuses on developing my critical thinking and leadership skills, reinforces patient-centered care, and supports evidence-based practice. At National University I am receiving a high-quality education and gaining experience from educators currently working in the field. The program's unique platform allows me to complete classes in an accelerated format both on-campus and online.

Obtaining my B.S.N. will afford to me life-long educational opportunities in the nursing field and it will allow me to be an advocate for patients, a leader to other nurses, and an educator in the community.

Being selected for the NU Scholars Program is both an honor and a privilege. I appreciate being acknowledged for my hard-work and dedication but am also thankful that the NU Scholars Program will allow me to strengthen my leadership skills, support me in giving back to the community, and more! I look forward to being a part of this amazing opportunity."

NU Scholar Brystal Colbert

Brystal Colbert

Bachelor of Arts, English - Riverside

“I am currently studying English in the pursuit of obtaining a B.A. I will then strive for a Master’s degree in Special Education (mild/moderate). I am a wife and the mother to two young sons. In addition, I work full-time as a student attendant aide for special education services. I chose to attend National University because of the format of the online program. I am able to be a wife and mother, while I work and further my education. Thus far, I have had an exceptional experience with the academics, my professors, and my fellow students. The courses are rigorous, yet challenge the students in the most productive ways. National University produces students who go on to become leaders and positive contributors to their communities."

NU Scholar Clinton Pusey

Clinton Pusey

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I am currently attending National University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program within Cohort 52, to advance my career to the next level, and better serve my community.

I was born and raised in the region of Newcastle, Australia. My professional career began in the field of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), where most of these sleepless years were spent as a Firefighter/Paramedic for a busy, municipal Fire Department.

I am a father of three, and I am joyfully married to my best friend, who also happily chose National University in achieving her own BSN degree. Currently, she serves as one of San Diego’s few prestigious neonatal, emergency flight nurses, which remains nothing short of inspirational. Like all adult-learners, my day is full from dawn till dusk with maintaining a household, running children’s errands, fulfilling every-day activities, and completing my assigned school-work on time. As busy as it seems, it is never unachievable, nor impossible.

While my early educational history was fraught with uphill struggles and demoralization, it was the various study models that National University offered, which allowed me to truly realize the potential of what I was academically capable of.

Returning to school in my 40s was daunting and intimidating to say the least. However, the university offers such guided expertise and personalization; there really was no valid reason not to pursue my goals.

The NU Scholars Program, on top of the already established university support, creates an extraordinary platform to better assist my fellow students, serve the public as I have done for years, develop advanced leadership skills, and become an ambassador to the school that has helped change my life for the better. Aside from the scholarship award, the NU Scholars Program itself offers an incredible opportunity for academic expansion and career advancement in a competitive marketplace. It is such an honour to be bestowed this opportunity."

NU Scholar Kyle Roloff

Kyle Roloff

2nd Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“My name is Kyle Roloff, and I am a born and raised San Diego native. I am currently in the nursing program here at National University and am excited about a career in nursing. Nursing is something I feel I was meant to do - it just took me a lot longer than some to figure it out! Before starting the program, I worked at a therapeutic riding center, teaching children and adults with special needs how to ride a horse. The students ranged in abilities and had many different diagnoses and each one of them holds a special place in my heart. It is because of this program that I love making a true difference in someone’s life. I knew that working with children was “my calling” and that it was the first thing that truly gave meaning to my life!

I am currently engaged to my amazing fiancé, Ryan, and we hope to have a wonderful wedding after I complete my program. I work as a case manager and CNA for patients in the homecare setting, and I hold a board position on our student-run nursing association. As the NUSNA Director of Community Service, I get to be in the community helping many different populations of people and hopefully making a difference in this world. I am excited about the opportunity of being a NU Scholar and look forward to all the doors it will open!"

NU Scholar Jessica Rogers

Jessica Rogers

Early Childhood Education, BA - Sacramento

“My name is Jessica Rogers. I am a wife, mother of two children under five-years-old, and a National University Scholar. I also work full-time as a para-educator in the Elk Grove Unified School District, assisting children with special needs. I have been attending National University since August 2016 and am currently enrolled as an undergraduate student in the Early Childhood Education program. I will continue with National University to receive my Special Education teaching credential.

Being a mother and working full-time limits my ability to pursue my education in the traditional classroom setting. This is why National University’s online platform is perfect for someone like me. With their flexible schedule and supportive and knowledgeable faculty, I can be a successful student, provide for my family, and pursue my dreams.”

NU Scholar Danielle Ross

Danielle Ross

Bachelor of Science, Biology - San Diego

“I am a Wildlife Technician with Project Wildlife - working to save injured and orphaned wild animals from all over San Diego County. I have Dysautonomia, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which I have been diagnosed with since age 12. I wish to work in the field of wildlife medicine and research."

NU Scholar Pamela Tran

Pamela Tran

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I was born and spent most of my life in San Diego, though I lived in Central Texas for about 10 years. My background is in animal behavior and veterinary medicine. I currently work as a part-time veterinary technician and am in the National University nursing (BSN) program. I am a mother of a 2-year-old and am expecting another this summer. I am married and have 4 dogs, a horse, two turtles, a parrot, and raise tilapia in our aquaponics system.

My plans are to work as an ICU nurse for at least one year then continue to pursue a degree as nurse anesthetist. I have a busy life, but I am blessed to be able to go to a school that fits my busy schedule. I am excited for this year and all that I will experience."

NU Scholar Vanessa Solarczyk

Vanessa Solarczyk

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“I am in the nursing program working towards a Bachelor of Science, Nursing, so I can become a registered nurse. When I started the fast-paced nursing program at NU, I was also my mother's full-time caretaker. By staying focused and tightly managing my time, I have been able to stay in school while coping with her illness and her tragic death. It has not been easy to excel at National University, but the platform, flexible class schedule, supportive counselors and caring teachers have been critical to my success. In only a year, I will be able to work in a hospital and have the privilege to give back what other healthcare workers gave—not only to my mother—but also to my family during the most difficult time in our lives. Ultimately, I feel so privileged and grateful to have become an NU Scholar and be given the opportunity to share with others why National University is a place for success, understanding and growth."

NU Scholar Jordana Williams-Lark

Jordana Williams-Lark

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

"I am currently enrolled in the BSN program at National University. The road to this point in my education has been a very bumpy one. My initial attempt at college was over 20 years ago. I ended up having to leave school for various reasons, and I thought I would return the following semester. Well, during that break, life happened: children, several careers, and some attempts at returning to school. Married to a sailor in the U.S. Navy, and having to move every 3 years, made it almost impossible to get into a nursing program, as the waitlists for entry are sometimes as long as a year. When we moved here to San Diego, I decided it’s going to have to be now or never because I was not ready to give up on my dream of being a nurse.

Walking into the admissions office at National University, I was certain that I’d be told I’d have to start my education all over again. At my age that would have been devastating news to hear. I had actually already prepared myself emotionally for it. I spoke with the advisor for a short time, and she requested that I have my official transcripts sent in. About a week later, I received a call from her to set up an appointment to meet. I was excited, and relieved, to learn that not only would NU accept most of the prerequisite courses I’d already taken, but I would also only have to take a few more to be eligible to apply to the nursing program!

What I love most about NU is that the courses are only a month long. For those of us who don’t really have a lot of time, because of multiple obligations we may have, including family and careers, one-month courses make obtaining a degree very attainable.

The best part: I don’t ever feel like I have to choose between my education and my family.

I am a very strong believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. And I would not trade the long, twisted road that I’ve travelled to get to this point for anything. It is what has prepared me for what’s to come."

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis

NU Scholar Terrence Lawson

Terrence Lawson

Master of Public Health - San Diego. Active Duty, Navy.

“I’m a native of Summerton, South Carolina currently living in Chula Vista and conducting a daily commute to Camp Pendleton. I am currently married and have one special needs son, age 8. I’m an enlisted sailor in United States Navy, since June 1998, and this will be my 20th year of service.

I am an Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC). Patient care and preventative health services is what I perform daily, including prescribing medications to treating anxiety or splinting fractures. As a result of my military opportunities, I’m a Certified Surgical Technologist (16 years), Basic Life Support (BLS) provider, and instructor.

I received my undergraduate education from Ashford University in Health and Wellness, and I obtained a Master’s of Science, Health Sciences with a Public Health concentration, from Trident University International. Currently, I am enrolled in the Master’s of Public Health program here at National University with a projected program completion date of June 2018.

My volunteer activities include coaching youth sports for flag football, volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank, and USO San Diego- Neil Ash Airport Center.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to be an NU Scholar. This will allow me to continue my educational goals and continue to provide the educational background to be a well-rounded physician.

Anything you want can be achieved with a little hard work and determination."

NU Scholar Brent Harris

Brent Harris

Creative Writing MFA - 29 Palms

“I'm a master’s student in Creative Writing. I'm also a stay-at-home dad to a deploying Navy wife. National University has the flexibility and first-rate faculty to help me pursue my educational and professional goals.

I want to be a writer, publish books, and work for television. Several of my works have already been published, including my alternate-history novel of the American Revolution: A Time of Need, and a short story, Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon, which garnered a Sidewise Award Nomination. I currently reside in Southern California where I've lived long enough to become convinced that Joshua trees are, in fact, real trees. When not writing and going to school, I focus on my family, and volunteer efforts in the community.”

NU Scholar Rachel Wexler

Rachel Wexler

Master of Arts, Education with Integrated Teaching Credential - San Diego

“I am currently working as a full-time employee benefits insurance broker and making a career change to follow my passion for children and education. I was born and raised in San Diego and graduated from San Diego State. I enjoy any outdoor activities, cooking, and reading in my spare time."

NU Scholar Gisela Michelle Lagos

Gisela Michelle Lagos

Master of Arts, Strategic Communication, Emphasis in Organizational Leadership - San Diego

“As a first-generation college graduate and the daughter to immigrant parents, I was pleased to graduate from National University at the age of 35 with an undergraduate degree in Digital Journalism. Growing up in a low income and underrepresented community left me with a desire not only to strive to better my own situation, but also to share that knowledge with individuals I mentor and coach. My long-term goal is to work as a Strategic Planning Specialist in the non-profit sector. By consulting for not-for-profit organizations, I hope to provide an analytical and critical eye in formulating and advancing their strategic goals."

NU Scholar Jordan Montejano

Jordan Montejano

Creative Writing MFA

“English has been my passion through my drive to learn, read, write, and teach. As a Professional Expert English Tutor at Crafton Hills College, I work to help students sharpen their writing skills as they find their unique voice. The online MFA Fiction Program at National University offers a unique and focused platform with dedicated professors, faculty, and students. The program has given me the tools to be a skilled writer and teacher as I serve others through the NU Scholars Program and work toward becoming a Professor of English."

NU Scholar Shirley Zhao

Shirley Zhao

Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia - Fresno

“For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for helping others.

This passion was instilled in me at an early age. I am first generation Chinese American student to parents who are both immigrants, and I grew up surrounded by family members who have been caretakers/medical professionals in some capacity. Growing up in this environment has made me privy to unique aspects of cultural diversity wrought with challenges that can be overcome through compassion for helping others. These experiences deeply ingrained in me the spirit of helping others, fueling my drive to become a nurse.

My journey into nursing has taken me from Southern California to Nevada, and now here to Fresno. Throughout my journey, education has always been a first and foremost in my life. Being the first person in my family to go to college, I have learned the value of applying oneself whole heartedly to their studies. It was with this thirst for learning that I graduated with a BSN and a GPA of 4.0 from Roseman University of the Health Sciences. Shortly thereafter, I applied my ever-growing knowledge base to work experience as a nurse in the critical care setting. It was during my critical care experience where I learned how to operate as an integral part of a team while being exposed to situations that fostered my growth in essential knowledge and skillsets needed to save lives. While I enjoyed my experience, I felt I needed more. I wanted to challenge myself in my profession, as well as my education.

Because one of the major benefits being in the nursing profession is that it opens oneself to many opportunities, I knew I would be able to fulfill my desire to grow. It was after two years of critical care nursing that I decided to bring my desires to fruition and apply to join the ever-growing dynamic field of CRNA. Thus, I was back in school to complete my Master’s in Nurse Anesthesia here at National University in Fresno. It was evident from the beginning that the program director here at National University’s Fresno campus offered a great number of opportunities for me to achieve my goals.

The NU Scholars Program focuses on leadership, giving back to the community, international opportunities, and peer mentoring. NU creates an environment for success and spreads their impact through their positivity around the community. Furthermore, it has been an honor and privilege to be able to attend National University’s CRNA program here in Fresno."

NU Scholar Nicole Alexander

Nicole Alexander, Los Angeles

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology

"As a mother of two with a full-time job, I never thought college would be an option for me. I researched traditional colleges and it wasn’t going to be difficult, it was just not possible. I could not miss what precious little time I have with my daughters, and with National University, I don’t have to. I chose to sacrifice reaching my academic and career goals to support my family, which is my motivation to develop in my career so that my daughters don’t have to choose. My new career will allow me the financial stability to support them through whichever path they decide to pursue.

I have been an instructional aide in special education for a school district for 13 years. Working with individuals with disabilities is a passion of mine. While instructional aides are crucial to the special education environment, I knew I wanted to contribute on a higher level. I had outgrown my post and was ready for something more, and National University allowed me to do that. I am currently obtaining a Master of Science in School Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services in Psychology Credential. With my degrees, I will be given the knowledge and experience to support the academic, behavioral, and emotional needs of students of all abilities. School psychologists have a responsibility to their students and to their community to perform their duties at an exceptional level. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the curriculum is a priority for me and National University’s unique format is ideal for such a comprehensive degree of learning. Focusing on one class per month allows me to fully immerse myself in the subject matter without feeling as though I’m having to juggle. Along with the unique format, National University provides a network of support staff and services to ensure academic success. Resources like workshops, the writing center, career services, and academic advisors have allowed me to reach my full potential as a scholar.

I feel honored that National University has recognized my determination and potential by providing me with such an amazing opportunity to be a part of the NU Scholars Program. Choosing me to be an ambassador is yet another way NU supports their learners, providing enrichment to empower student-leaders and offering support for the students who need it. I am looking forward to performing research and attending conferences to bring innovation to my field of study, to experiencing the opportunity to study abroad and expand my cultural competence, and to have the opportunity to work with faculty to develop my professional network."

NU Scholar Nicole Beltran

Nicole Beltran, Fresno

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

“Being able to embrace my setbacks and struggles is what brought me to this point in life and shaped me into the person I am: a single mother of two, determined to make a better life for my kids and me. I am also an employee at a local school district, where I work with special needs children and have the opportunity to help them and see them grow. I also work as a volunteer tutor in my free time, hoping to give students the confidence they need to achieve their goals.

As a nursing student at National University, I am motivated to complete the BSN program. I chose nursing as my career, because I want to make a positive impact in the lives of others – to be the bright light in their day and make families comfortable when comfort is the last thing on their mind. This is a goal that I am successfully working towards thanks to National University.

The accelerated program at NU and the one-class-per-month schedule makes achieving my goals possible, while I also take care of my children and financial obligations.

I am extremely excited to become a part of the NU Scholars Program and an ambassador for NU. I am eager to take advantage of the research opportunities, leadership training, and the many other opportunities this program will provide. I hope to inspire and guide fellow students and show them their goals are attainable."

NU Scholar Kerri-Michaela Berlin

Kerri-Michaela Berlin, San Diego

Master of Public Health

“My story may not be expected, nor an ideal narrative for any ambitious young girl with a bright academic future ahead. However, I feel a sense of duty, fueled by immense gratitude, to share my experience, with the hope it may make a difference for someone like me. After graduating high school, I received a degree in literature and composition. I became a single mom, pulling double waitress shifts when a plan was formulated out of determination and sheer necessity. Years of profound struggle and multiple setbacks left me fearful and uncertain. However, the circumstances of my early adulthood left me no choice other than to set those troubling feelings aside. I knew there was no other choice (for me) other than to shift my focus; from all that had been lost, to the trajectory of what my newborn daughter and I deserved.

I chose to pursue a career in health care to achieve fulfillment, security, and stability. I put aside tip money (in shoeboxes kept under my bed!), tutored high school students, and even sold cosmetics door-to-door to be a full-time medical assistant. I started night classes at a community college and became a licensed clinical nurse. I loved every aspect of nursing, learning new skills in every possible setting and discipline. I was pregnant with my son and only a few years into my second marriage, when my personal life (again) began to unravel. So, now with two young children in tow, I had to dig deeper than ever to find the core of my resolve to gather the strength to move forward, never look back, and no longer allow anyone to jeopardize that which I had set out to achieve.

I was so fortunate to find National University, the place where I would come to excel and ultimately achieve my goals of working in community health and advocacy. National University's Community Health Program; along with my instructors, fellow students, and advisors, fostered the directional clarity needed to see my future’s path. The academic framework of NU's immersive courses, led by public health professionals, served as an educational roadmap of limitless opportunity.

Having earned a National University Bachelor of Science degree and currently completing graduate studies (MPH/mental health focus), I have the educational foundation, practical skills, and confidence necessary to work competently in my chosen field of prevention and outcome improvements for women and girls impacted by sexual assault and interpersonal violence. I now have an invaluable wealth of real-world resources, professional guidance, and motivational support afforded by the NU Scholars Program.

Because of my decision to pursue my education with National University, I am on course to exceed any of my early ambitions, affording me the peace of mind I’ve been longing for and providing the future my children deserve. My two precious kids have earned this honor alongside me, never complaining about all the take-out dinners, a mom glued to her laptop; their nightly encouragement is amazing: 'Mom, you can do this!'"

NU Scholar Jacy Bigknife

Jacy Bigknife, San Diego

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

"After graduating high school, I did not immediately go to college. I wanted to take a year off from school before furthering my education, and that year turned into over eight years. Throughout that time, I experienced hardships, including housing insecurity and unemployment. I knew I wanted more in life, and I knew that a college education was the best way to accomplish that. Through many small steps forward and a few setbacks, I was able to get back into the workforce and was more financially stable, so I started looking at schools. I have known for a few years that I wanted to be a nurse, but I was afraid of the time commitment of a nursing program as an adult learner. This was especially intimidating after being out of school for over eight years. I started out taking one or two classes per semester at Grossmont College and was doing very well, but the semesters were months long. It would have taken me years to finish just my prerequisites at that speed.

I learned about National University’s one-class-per-month format and decided to enroll to take the rest of my prerequisites. I loved the pace, so I finished up my prerequisites and applied for and was accepted into the nursing program. I have excelled in NU’s program because the one-class-per-month style allows me to focus all of my attention to better understand and master a single subject at a time without the distractions of other classes. This format works well with my adult learning style and has contributed to my grades being better than ever, and I am on track to graduate with honors. The format also allows for me to continue to work and still have time for my personal life. I am very grateful and excited to be an NU Scholar, and I look forward to helping, encouraging, and inspiring other students to make their own dreams come true!"

NU Scholar Osvaldo G. Albarran Brito

Osvaldo G. Albarran Brito, San Diego

Master of Education, ITL, with Single Subject English Language Learner

“I was six years old when I set foot in this country and left most of what I had known behind. I was fortunate enough to be brought to this country with a visa, as my father had worked for a long time to bring his family here with him. He sacrificed his time, money, and toil to build his own business here and gave my siblings and I a life we could never have imagined in our home country. I grew up working hard for everything we’ve ever had, and I have my parents to thank. Even when the business was doing well, they never let us forget neither who we were nor where we came from. Mexico is still near and dear to my heart, as is its rich history and culture, but it took me a long time to be able to reconcile that image with the one that was demanded of me as an inhabitant of this country.

For the longest time, the language barrier was something that bred insecurities and conflict within me. In school, people tended to equate my ability to use the language with intelligence. It was definitely transformative to deal with this identity crisis of neither being Mexican nor American, so much so my parents had to move me from my first elementary school, because teachers and students were not quite accepting of my hardship. I would not understand how this would shape my view on my academics until I got old enough to understand a few things about life. My family always had college in their minds for all of us. My two brothers and my sister all had different personalities with different aspirations for their future. They’re some of the most intelligent and inspiring people I have ever met, but academia was always my endeavor. I am the first one in my family to ever attend and graduate college.

As an undergrad at UCR, I realized that teaching put together my love of school and of helping others. I work now as a guest teacher for a permanent teacher who has been out all year. It was a rare and incredible opportunity that has not only solidified my decision for my future, but also has shed light on the real power of teaching and making a difference in students’ lives. Now more than ever, I want to pledge my life’s work to the world of education, not only in furthering my own but instilling the wonders of it in our youth.

I am excited to become a part of the NU Scholars Program. I have worked all my life to become something more than myself, to give back to the community, and become the best at what I do. It is a tremendous honor to be included among my peers for this prestigious recognition and hope to continue this journey of academic success with vigor and enthusiasm.”

NU Scholar Eduardo Davila

Eduardo Davila, San Diego

Bachelor of Science, Information Systems

U.S. Marine Corps

"Born in the Bronx borough and raised in Yonkers, New York by two teenage Mexican immigrants, I have faced much adversity; however, these struggles kindled a profound impetus for improvement – in education, health, and understanding. In high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a student ambassador in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the Vatican City. Unfortunately, because of some unforeseen circumstances, by the time I began preparing to go to college, my family’s financial instability exhibited no easy path to graduation. Growing up, I did not know what my future held, but what I was certain of, is that my family would always be my rock. Irrespective of the misfortunate events my parents were subjected to, they never strayed from working hard. Had I gone to college immediately, I would have almost eliminated the option altogether for my siblings. With a heart full of patriotism, a necessity to support my loved ones, and a handful of supporting individuals, I made the hardest decision of my life. Leaving my family and high school sweetheart behind, I joined the utmost elite fighting force – the United States Marine Corps. By enlisting, I was able to ensure that my loved ones would struggle no longer. I moved my immediate family to California, where I have been stationed since 2016.

I am a first-generation college student and an active duty Marine who has somehow managed to earn a certificate of commendation, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. I have worked as an information systems security officer, a network administrator, and a quality assurance inspector. I have also had the privilege of being a training non-commissioned officer at the Aviation Logistic Tactical information systems course aboard the Newport Naval Station, where I led and mentored accession level students in physical fitness, drill, uniform appearance, bearing, confidence, and all other areas of Marine Corps ethos.

Subsequently, I fell in love with this career field and have chosen to strive for my Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management. It has been a few years since I graduated high school and there is a long path ahead of me, but it is never too late to start garnering a higher education. Afterwards, I plan to continue with my Master of Science in Management Information Systems and then my PhD in artificial intelligence. Being in the military is tough enough as it is, taking college classes simultaneously is even harder – there are weeks I have to work 80+ hours and keep up with my family – however, the faculty and staff at National University have gone above and beyond to facilitate my experience.

By offering online four-week classes, students such as myself are afforded the opportunity to work around their schedule and can focus on each class, retaining the most knowledge as opposed to using rote memorization to get by in several classes.

As a firm believer of education being a gateway to success, I always encourage others to go to college. Getting a degree may not be the only way to be successful; however, it creates a bastion for anyone to build upon. A college education exposes you to diversity and develops people into well-rounded individuals breeding acceptance of all others.

As an NU Scholar, I would like to invite anyone who seeks comfort and guidance to feel free to contact me at any time. If I do not know the answer, I will find it or point you in the right direction. With a love for meeting others, I cannot wait to make your acquaintance!"

NU Scholar Richard Flores

Richard Flores, Porterville

Master of Education, ITL with single subject MED-English Language Learner/History

"I am extremely honored to be an ambassador for National University!

My parents worked hard to provide a sustainable future for my siblings and me while we were growing up. Their childhood summers and vacation breaks were spent in the fields, picking fruits and vegetables to help sustain their household. While my mother did receive her associate degree from our local community college and subsequently began a career in real estate, my father spent over 30 years toiling as an auto parts salesman. They instilled in us the importance of higher education and hard work. My two older sisters attained their bachelor’s degrees while I was still in high school, which motivated me to further my own education. After graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in History in 2011, I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my degree, but I had no idea of how to accomplish it.

My local community shaped me and gave me so much, it made me want to give back.

Porterville, my hometown, is a small community that is growing in economy. Unfortunately, one thing it was lacking until recently was access to higher education. National University’s online program is helping me achieve my goals, while allowing me to still be here and make a difference. This is why I am pursuing my MA in Education and my teaching credential. This is a big year for me, as I am also getting ready to marry a wonderfully amazing woman at the end of 2018. As an accomplished and effective teacher, she motivates me to achieve my educational and career goals. However, as an amazing mother to four incredible children, she also motivates me to be the best role model that I can be. I hope I can set an example for the amazing children she brought into my life, just as my parents did for me."

NU Scholar Rachel Fitzgerald

Rachel Fitzgerald, San Diego

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

"I’m currently in the nursing program at National University, cohort 49. We graduate in October 2018. I started my nursing school journey over five years ago. At times, I wanted to give up because of the challenges I faced with juggling school and a full-time job, along with the pressure of obtaining good grades to compete with the impaction of the nursing programs. I am the first and only person of my immediate family that has gone to college. I have been working and paying my own way ever since I started college years ago. The NU Scholars Program would give me that opportunity to showcase all of the hard work I have put into my dream of becoming a nurse and to make a difference.

I always knew I needed to further my education but struggled to get to this point. I wanted to become an RN after high school but didn’t think I could do it, so I put it off.

I never gave up though, NU gave me the opportunity to reach my goal of becoming an RN with my bachelor’s. I didn’t get into the nursing program the first or second time, but because of NU allowing me to apply a third time and accepting my best TEAS score, I was able to fulfill my dream of getting into nursing school. I have always wanted to get into the medical field and am now working diligently towards the completion of my goal.

I have also been accepted into the Nurse Candidate Program for the U.S. Navy, which will increase my knowledge and give me the opportunity to learn and travel the world in hopes of not only helping and caring for our military members, but also to explore other opportunities in the medical field.

I was determined to never give up on the path I chose for my future regardless of my age. With the flexible schedule and accelerated program, it has allowed me to work as a CNA part time at Scripps Mercy Hospital, gaining experience in the field I will soon be practicing.

Lastly, being an NU Scholar not only will help pay for college, but it also presents recognition that all of the hard work I’ve accomplished has paid off. Being an ambassador for NU means that I was given an opportunity to represent a higher educational institution, that I am worthy of being a part of the bigger picture, and can help bring something to the table. I am very excited and looking forward to learning from others and becoming a better person by being an NU Scholar."

NU Scholar Amanpreet Grewal

Amanpreet Grewal, Fresno

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's)

"National University has given me a sense of belonging and opportunities that I will forever be grateful for. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program provides me with quality education, clinical rotations at top hospitals, and small class sizes that increase instructor-student interaction. National University is preparing me with more than technical skills. It is preparing me with the critical-thinking and interpersonal skills I need to be an effective nurse. I am honored and pleased to say that in one year I will be a National University-prepared nurse.

Helping others is what gives purpose to my life and is the reason why I decided to pursue a degree in nursing. Many nurses believe that this profession is their calling, but what exactly does that mean? Each individual will give you a different answer because of his or her own personal experiences.

Mine started when I was nine. My mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, and her eight-year battle exposed me to many health care professionals. What made nurses unique to any other professional, is that nurses see patients beyond their room number. They understand that the patient in room 526 is someone’s mother, wife, and sister. Seeing the connection and the difference that the nurses made in my mother’s life helped me realize that I want to be the positivity in someone’s else life when he or she is going through a difficult time. Cancer may have taken my mother’s life, but it did not take my drive to be a nurse.

Fresno County is a medically underserved area where a large number of the population lacks access to health care services. This was the primary reason why I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health with a focus in community health. I plan to use my nursing degree in conjunction with my public health degree to provide care for my local community. As a nursing student and future registered nurse, I look forward to giving back to the city that has given me so much.

I look forward to being an NU Scholar as the program will allow me to grow both personally and professionally through academic, community service, leadership, and research involvement."

NU Scholar Macashin Grogan

Macashin Grogan, San Diego

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

“I am a nursing student in National University’s accelerated BSN program. My mom inspired me to work in the health care field, not only because of her personal career in health care, but also because, as I grew up, I helped take care of her due to her chronic illness, which caused periods of time of limited mobility. After high school, I started taking general education classes at Grossmont College, while working full time as a general manager for a local restaurant establishment. As I progressed in my career, I knew I wanted to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. When I started researching nursing schools, I immediately fell in love with the profession. I transferred to National University, where I was immediately enrolled in nursing school prerequisites and was able to apply to the nursing program soon thereafter. Now, I am more than halfway through the nursing program, and I am constantly inspired by my colleagues, instructors, and patients to make an impact in the nursing field!

Balancing school and home life can be challenging, but I always make sure that I make time for family and friends. I have a niece who is two years old and a nephew who is four years old and they are the light of my life! In addition to spending time with family and friends and going to school, I am a part of National University’s Student Nurse Association and am project manager of the Media and Communications Committee in NU’s Planetree Student Committee. Having so many opportunities to be involved has been an awesome experience. I am so excited to be a part of the NU Scholars Program and to continue to grow professionally and personally!"

NU Scholar Rosario Gutierrez

Rosario Gutierrez, Los Angeles

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology

"Give it your all or don't do it, my mother’s words were echoing inside my head as I combed through my final paper for the third time in the last half hour. I was on my first class as a graduate student at National University, pursuing my master’s in school psychology, honing my rusty writing skills from years of dormancy. While grad school has always been on my life’s checklist, I’ve found every possible reason to keep it all the way to the bottom, unchecked. The commitment and responsibility did not appeal to me. The thought of meeting deadlines and keeping good grades was near petrifying. But I did it anyway. Next thing I know, it was first day back to school. Once I started thinking differently and adjusting my attitude, every shred of fear I had of school started to peel off. Every day, I still fight the urge to worry about the possibility of failure or disappointment. Instead, I focus on each small task. I have come to call these my ‘TRYal’ tasks. These are to-do things I need to complete to TRY to get one thing done. This attitude allows me to become more comfortable of the unknown without the heavy burden of pressure.

My experiences as a sibling to a brother with severe mental disorders attracted a strong interest in the field of psychology and human behavior. However, the idea to pursue a career in school psychology came much later, after working some years in special education. Initially interested in adult mental health, I had difficulties landing a job at private and public mental health agencies. I grabbed the first job offer I received in months, which was working with children with autism. I had no interest in working with children but, much to my and everyone’s surprise, I was good at it. It came almost naturally and I soon fell in love with the children, the teachers, and the whole school community.

Currently working as a behavior interventionist and a part-time multi-sensory reading specialist, through NU’s platform, I’ve been granted the luxury of being able to work and pursue graduate studies at the same time. A scholarship was not in the plan either. Up until two months ago, I truly believed such a thing simply did not happen to people like me. Often, I still surprise myself how far I’ve come. I say this with great humility because it truly would have been impossible had it not been for the non-traditional format National University has to offer. I’m able to work and focus on one class at a time, with courses four to eight weeks in length, without sacrificing quality of education. I get the best of both worlds from the hybrid program, working on-site with my peers and professors, as well as participating in ongoing collaboration through the online platform. All my professors have been completely professional, engaging, genuine, and approachable. They are passionate educators, dedicated to paving the way for me to succeed in my chosen field. I always get constructive feedback fueling my motivation, and they go over and beyond, providing me with all the support I need. All these ingredients make for an absolutely memorable learning experience.

The NU Scholars Program is about to take off, and I could not be any more excited and nervous. This program travels far beyond money saved. It is an enormous blessing that will open doors of leadership and research opportunities, fortifying my professional endeavors.

From these I can develop all the necessary skills to become an outstanding school psychologist and community leader, advocating for all students and supporting families.

I’m almost finished with my first year in graduate school. While I don’t see the workload shrinking anytime soon, I will always be a day closer to the fulfillment of my dreams. One task at a time, I keep one foot in front of the other, giving everything I’ve got with each step I take. I will always keep in my heart the values of hard work and perseverance my mom has taught me and when shrouded with heavy clouds of fear and doubt, I will simply close my eyes and say a silent prayer of hope."

NU Scholar Herlinda Jimenez

Herlinda Jimenez, Fresno

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's)

“I was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. I come from a small indigenous community in Oaxaca whose primary language is Zapoteco. When I was 12 years old, my family and I immigrated to the U.S. I began school and it became clear that overcoming the language barrier would be my first step towards success in my new country. I joined a reading club and began reading children’s books to learn faster. I worked hard in school and within a few years learned to read, write, and speak English. By middle school, I caught my first glimpse of a microscope and became fascinated with all things science and biology.

In high school, I enrolled in the Biomedicine program at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART). I was exposed to the world of human biology; I can vividly recall getting to hold a human brain in my hands and deciding that I had to go into the medical field. After high school, I began attending UC Merced, majoring in human biology with a minor in public health. I am a first-generation college student, and because English is my third language, it was very challenging for me to keep up with university-level work. My vocabulary was still limited, and I frequently used a dictionary to look up common scientific and medical terms I was not familiar with yet. There were many times I wanted to give up. Because of my status as an undocumented immigrant, I was considered a “dreamer” and was not eligible to receive financial aid. College tuition was very expensive and although my family worked extra to support me as much as they could, I still had to work part time on weekends to help pay my way through school. In 2014, I graduated with a bachelor’s in human biology.

In 2015, I began the process of becoming a legal resident and was scheduled for a series of immigration appointments in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The appointments were only supposed to last a few days; however, when I arrived, I was told that due to some missing paperwork, my residency appeal was denied and I would possibly have to stay in Mexico for 10 years before I was allowed to return to the U.S. I was devastated and did not know what to do. I travelled back to my hometown in Oaxaca and was graciously received by my grandparents who I had not seen since I was a child. It was a bittersweet experience of feeling happy to reunite with dearly loved family members after so long. Yet, I felt like an outsider who did not belong there anymore and longed to return to my life in Fresno. As months went by, I passed the time by helping my grandparents and other family members in whatever ways I could. During the week, I gave English classes to children who were eager to learn my new language. I also began educating people and children on the basics of living a healthy lifestyle. Rates of diabetes had been increasing steadily in my town in recent years. I realized they were never informed about the importance of nutrition and exercise. I started an exercise/dance class with some of the women and children in my family, which they really enjoyed. I also showed them simple ways of incorporating more vegetables into their diet, and I encouraged them to drink more water instead of all the soda they were consuming. While in my hometown, I witnessed countless instances of people not having access to proper care or not being informed enough to seek help when they were experiencing symptoms of disease.

After six very long months, my residency case was finally resolved, and I was allowed to come back to the U.S. When I arrived in Fresno, I realized that health disparities were not just a local problem in my village; minorities and people living in low-income areas in Fresno were facing similar situations. This fueled my desire to pursue nursing – a field where I would be able to interact face to face with people from various backgrounds – and discover more about these needs and how I can fulfill them. I became a mom and realized that the flexible schedule of being a nurse was ideal for me; I am very family oriented and being present in my daughter’s life is very important to me.

Out of the available nursing programs, I decided to go with National University because it is a faster paced and more focused program, and the quality of education and instructors is higher. I now have the honor of being an NU Scholar and representing this great school. I am proud to say that I am part of a university that supports international students and encourages them to continue to work hard in pursuing a higher education. I plan on making full use of opportunities for research, community outreach, and studying abroad to widen my knowledge and experience more cultural diversity. I believe these opportunities will give me the connections and experience I need to better enable me to continue my dream of aiding underserved populations through public health access. National University has given me the resources and tools I need to pursue my dream of becoming a public health nurse. I plan on practicing in the San Joaquin Valley, serving and educating the Hispanic and other minority communities, as well as low-income and homeless populations."

NU Scholar Anja Jones

Anja Jones, San Jose

Master of Science, Special Education Mild/Mod with Multiple TED CR

“I have lived with my husband, two boys, and the family dog in San Jose, California for about 10 years. Born in Germany, I grew up with my three older sisters in a traditional setting. Wanting to do things differently, I pursued an apprenticeship as a furniture maker after I graduated from high school. Completing this program was a very challenging experience, yet I persevered and continued my quest of fulfilling my potential by traveling throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America. My travels brought me to California in 1990 where I found many opportunities that I didn’t know existed. My language skills were limited, but I wanted to continue to learn and enrolled in evening classes to improve my English. Eventually, I moved to San Luis Obispo, CA where I received my Bachelor in Science with highest honors in Psychology. I worked as a mental health counselor for SED students, as a parent educator and as a substitute for K-8.

Throughout all these life experiences my desire to learn never stopped. I decided to return to school when I discovered my passion for teaching special education. I have substituted for the last few years and completed a long-term assignment in an SDC class for grades 3-5. It wasn’t always easy, but I like figuring out ways to help children learn and achieve their goals. It’s a remarkable experience to see them grow.

As a parent, juggling daily life tasks can be challenging. So, I’m very excited to have found National University and its unique program, which allows me to be with my family, work, and study. The flexibility and accelerated courses of this program made it possible for me to continue my desire for life-long learning. I’m amazed how much I have already learned. The field experiences are an invaluable component for my degree and are preparing me well for my work in special education. I’m a dual candidate (multiple subject) for mild/moderate and general education including a master’s in special education.

National University has become so much more than I ever anticipated. I have excelled on many levels due to the ongoing support of my professors, advisor, and family. Thanks to everyone, I’m now one of the ambassadors at National University. I’m so excited about the opportunities that NU made possible for me. Therefore, I feel grateful and honored to be an NU Scholar and look forward to helping others and giving back to the community."

NU Scholar Erik Mantsch

Erik Mantsch, San Diego

Master of Healthcare Administration

U.S. Air Force

“I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a proud veteran, entrepreneur, and board game designer. I hold an associate degree in avionics systems technology and a Bachelor of Science in Management. In 2017, I completed the coursework towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and am presently pursuing a master's in healthcare administration, both at National University.

I honorably served in the United States Air Force from 2001-2005, with the primary duty of instrument and flight control maintenance on the B-1 Bomber, and was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, SD. During my enlistment, I deployed in 2004 to Balad Air Base, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) on security detail.

Military service aside, I am best known in my community for owning/operating the award-winning family-friendly retail business 'Just Awesome! The Board Game Store' in San Francisco during the late 2000s. The Board Game Store was renowned for its community-building game nights and events. In my capacity as owner of Just Awesome!, I was one of the first recipients of Kiva.org’s decision to expand peer-to-peer lending into the United States; an expansion inspired by California's then first lady, Maria Shriver. This story was featured nationally on ABC, was also on other local news stations, and is the subject of Peter Daulton’s documentary film “Microloan USA.” On stage during the Microfinance USA 2010 conference, Ms. Shiver and I discussed the importance of access to capital for low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in the United States.

In 2014, I set my sights and career aspirations on working within the Veteran Affairs (VA) Healthcare System. The care and attention I had received from the VA, and specifically my nurse practitioner, was exactly what I wanted to emulate. I was drawn to the opportunity to change people’s lives – not through selling retail goods, but through motivating, improving, and supporting their quality of life through health and lifestyle modifications. I decided it was time to reeducate myself and made the decision to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I became determined to use my unique combination of skills and talents to better the lives of my fellow veterans. It was then that I found out about National University.

The month-to-month class schedule allowed for instant immersion into pursuing my ambition. The flexibility of in-person and online classes was a perfect mix for continuing my education. For years, I had hesitated at the thought of going back to school, as it might mean that my past accomplishments and successes were invalid or unimportant, when in fact it was the opposite. At National University, I encountered students of various backgrounds and experiences, each with their own story to share, all of which heightened the joy and satisfaction of returning to school. Upon completion of National University’s nursing program, and with plans in motion to become a VA nurse, I knew that to advance within the VA and utilize management experience, it was necessary to continue and pursue a master’s degree. I am happily married to my husband, who also is in the healthcare field and studying for his boards to become a licensed doctor in the U.S

When I am not studying, my hobbies include bowling, gardening, and a recent interest in Pilates, but I most enjoy playing board games with my husband, family, and friends. My board game hobby is a passion and I have successfully designed three board games: Thalatha, based on the three-in-a-row game I played with a local Iraqi civilian during OIF; The Money Pit of Oak Island, a deduction game based on the Oak Island mystery and the various stories of buried treasure on Oak Island, Nova Scotia; and most recently, Cabooses in the Corner, a train building game based on a classic card game taught to me as a child by my beloved Aunt Jan.

The most exciting aspect of the NU Scholars Program is the potential to build my professional networks through meeting prominent alumni, speaking to the Board of Trustees, and through the various leadership roles that I will serve on throughout the program. The community and outreach-based aspects of the program are a perfect fit for my aspirations and experience."

NU Scholar Kevin Matzke

Kevin Matzke, San Diego

Bachelor of Science, Biology

U.S. Navy

“I was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a small town with a big national laboratory. Growing up, I had a great amount of exposure to the sciences and technology, and quickly found I had interest in medicine and biological processes. I wasn’t the greatest student in high school, and I ended up leaving school to get my GED in 2006. I then joined the U.S. Navy to be a Corpsman. After my initial training, I went on to serve with U.S. Marine infantry as a “Greenside” corpsman in Ramadi, Iraq, followed by a voluntary one-year deployment to Afghanistan to fly casualty evacuation missions. The time I spent in Afghanistan, and the things I saw while treating the wounds of war, only furthered my desire to seek an education that involved medicine in some way. I wanted to be more involved and have a better understanding of why the things we did there worked, and in turn apply that knowledge to help save lives.

My last two years in the Navy landed me in a Naval Hospital in Rota, Spain. During my two years in Spain, I managed to become fluent in Spanish, allowing me to meet my amazing and supportive wife, who is originally from Madrid, Spain. Shortly after leaving the Navy, we moved to San Diego, and I began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a technician in the Emergency Department.

My plan was to get situated to San Diego and then begin working towards a degree in the medical field. I learned about National University from a friend who had attended the nursing program. I signed up and began my first classes towards a nursing degree in October of 2014. Between first enrolling and now, things in my life have moved at a fast pace. I am now a father of two beautiful daughters; I am also a homeowner. I have changed majors to biology and still am a full-time student. This has been possible only because of the class format, and the flexibility that National University provides.

The unique one-class-per-month format really appealed to me because it allowed me to focus entirely on one subject at a time, maximizing my ability to learn and understand the material covered. The class schedule also allows me to continue to work full-time, have time with my growing family, and even squeeze in the occasional mountain-bike ride. Other schools’ formats would require me to sacrifice having a full course load, working, or being present for my family. Changing degree programs is not an easy thing to do, but the advisors and faculty at NU made the transition easy. I have found the teaching faculty to be extremely passionate about what they teach, and I enjoy sharing their knowledge.

My acceptance into the National University Scholars Program is an amazing honor, and I hope to be an example of what a National University student can achieve. I look forward to enhancing not only my educational experience at National, but also that of others attending here as well. I want to help people through my career and the opportunities provided to me through the NU Scholars Program."

NU Scholar Mackenzie Mennucci

Mackenzie Mennucci, Fresno

Master of Science, Educational Counseling with PPSC School Counseling

“My path to becoming a graduate student at National University was not a clear one. After receiving my undergraduate degree in mass communications and marketing from Iona College in New York, I returned to my hometown of Fresno to start a job at a marketing agency where I was previously an intern. While I loved the people I worked with, and found an incredible mentor during my tenure there, after two years I began to feel as though I was missing some sort of fulfillment in my career. At this time, my mother was closing in on the remaining few weeks of her 39-year career as a dance and physical education teacher. I had the pleasure of witnessing past students of all ages come back to celebrate her legacy at her final annual dance concert as well as send kind messages to her. My mom has always inspired me, but during those last few weeks of her final school year spent teaching, I felt inspired in a way I hadn’t been before. I saw the extent of the impact she made on almost two generations of students and I yearned to do the same. Thankfully, I was privileged enough to have had an amazing high school counselor who I stayed in contact with over the years. After meeting with her, I realized the field of school counseling was the perfect intersection of my passions: community service, the promotion of social justice, and mentorship. I began to do the work necessary to become a school counselor myself one day. I applied to several universities, and I committed to attend an institution in Southern California. The day before I was set to move, the admissions office called and said the program would only be offered online that term due to a number of last-minute dropouts.

Emboldened by my frustrations, I drove to speak with an advisor at National University in Fresno that same day. In less than two hours, I was enrolled, set to begin class in two weeks, and more than relieved. Working with those at NU felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the frustrations and rejection I faced when communicating with other universities. It finally felt like I had real people behind me who wanted to see me succeed – and that they would do whatever they could to help me do so. Now as an NU Scholar, I hope to help other National University students feel the same way I did when I first arrived and positively impact my community at large."

NU Scholar Brittnei Price

Brittnei Price, Los Angeles

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology

“It is such an honor and privilege to attend National University. I am currently earning my master’s degree in school psychology at the Los Angeles campus. During my undergraduate tenure, I earned my bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University located in Montgomery, Alabama, though I am originally from Los Angeles. Going to school in Alabama was a challenge because it was far away from my family and home, so I often got homesick. I chose to go to ASU because their softball program offered me a generous softball scholarship that I gladly accepted. My undergraduate experience at ASU was an outstanding journey that I learned and grew so much from and for that I am forever grateful.

I chose to pursue a degree in school psychology because this field allows me to be an advocate for the students and stick up for them when no one else will. It also permits me to continue to work with children to guide them in the right direction, set them up for success after high school, and intently listen to their problems to give them the support they need.

Aside from being a full-time student, I also work full time, coach softball after work, and have family I must tend to. I coach softball at a high school in the inner city where I also act as their mentor and tutor. During each summer, I help orchestrate a nonprofit organization that gives inner city girls an opportunity to play softball and be a part of a program that keeps them active throughout the summer. Softball opened so many doors for me as a child, and it took me places I never thought I could go. It is because I had such a great experience with it, I feel that it is only right that I present to young girls the same opportunity that I had. Giving back to my community is very important to me, along with mentoring and being an example for the youth in today’s society.

National University is a school that allows me to continue to do everything in my busy schedule and go to school with their unique class schedule that is tailored to me. The mission here at NU is to provide accessible, achievable higher education for their students. This is a mission that is accurately proven to be true and I am pleased with my decision to attend National University. NU is an institute that caters to each individual and their needs. They provide each student with different resources necessary to ensure that all students are successful no matter the degree or program you choose to pursue.

I am thankful to have been selected to be an ambassador for this prestigious university. It is an honor and I could not be more excited to experience this journey. The NU Scholars Program is the reward for all of the hard work I put in, and to see my hard work acknowledged is a feeling of great joy and gratitude."

NU Scholar Matthew Vanderbilt

Matthew Vanderbilt, San Diego

Master of Science, Business Analytics

“My educational journey has been less than traditional, having entered junior college at 13 and earning two associate degrees prior to transferring to university at 16. Originally majoring in microbiology, I excelled at lab work and was even offered a NASA research grant, but I had difficulty engaging in lectures that focused on memorization over applied learning. I eventually changed majors to accountancy, but my perceived failure, coupled with the dichotomy of my educational position and age, led to my withdrawal from university, and I moved back with my family in San Diego. I struggled to find my footing, having lost confidence in my education, and finding the careers I desired unachievable absent a degree.

After various unfulfilling jobs, I began working at San Diego Gas & Electric at 19. A director in the district I worked for saw potential and promoted me to a financial position shortly thereafter. He was a gruff, retired Marine Colonel, who made my promotion contingent upon a personal promise that I would complete my degree. It was National University that allowed me to fulfill that promise. Every professor had a career outside of teaching, understood the difficulty of working and going to school, and were there because of a passion to teach at least equal to students’ desires to learn. They focused on the application of knowledge rather than just memorization for test-regurgitation. I graduated in 2005 with my BS in Accountancy.

My degree, as well as passion and skill for data analytics, allowed me to advance quickly over nearly 20 years at SDG&E. Wanting to improve my skills and open additional career opportunities, I enrolled in the NU Master of Science in Business Analytics program the same day I learned about it; it feels like I received my formal acceptance letter four days later. The program has been incredible and so much more than I anticipated. I have been able to take things I learned from each lecture and homework assignment and successfully apply those skills at work.

Never one to do something the easy way, though, I left SDG&E and started working at the very inclusive UC San Diego School of Medicine on October 30 – the start day of my third master’s course. With the support of my family and everything I have learned at NU, I am now the director of fiscal affairs for the Department of Medicine, the largest at the school. Two of my NU professors, Drs. Smith and Baker, helped support me through the transition from a Fortune 250 energy company to a world-renowned, nonprofit, health-science organization. I’m actively building a business-intelligence team after having turned in a proposal to my UC leadership the morning after submitting it for a class final project at NU.

It has never once been easy – I have come close to quitting on a couple occasions. My job, like my professors, are very understanding but also demanding. I’ve attended online lectures from my office late into the evening and have logged into lectures with the phone app while stuck in traffic a couple times. The knowledge I’ve gained about analytics, my professional passion, has been absolutely incredible, with the possibilities pushing me to learn more. My spouse has continued to support me, picking up those chores I haven’t had time to complete; my son is my “homework buddy” on Saturday mornings. Right when I begin my capstone courses, our second son will be born – I’m sure he’ll spend some class time in my arms.

I am in still in shock over being accepted into the NU Scholars Program; I was just honored to be invited to apply. The most personally meaningful part of becoming an NU Scholar is learning just how wrong I was about being “no good” at school; my education has taken unexpected twists, been completely non-traditional, and has been a success ever since I found the right school; one where the professors have worked to understand me at least as much as they ask each student to understand them. I hope that sharing my experience as an NU undergraduate alum and current graduate student helps others to find their own way to success. I owe where I am today both personally and professionally to NU and the goals the staff and faculty helped me achieve. There are multiple pathways to success, and mine was joining National University."

NU Scholar Codi Walk

Codi Walk, Denham Springs, Louisiana

Bachelor of Business Administration

“As we become older, it is easy to lose ourselves in the many roles we play: spouse, employee, parent, etc. Beginning my college journey at National University was something that I did to regain me. Growing up in a single-parent household, there was an emphasis on the need to go to college but not so much on the how-to. Nobody in my family had been to college before, and I had no idea how to begin. Therefore, I did not go. I continued to work various jobs, trying to find the career path I loved, until I met and married my husband. We were blessed with three kids, with whom I stayed home while he was on active duty. This is around the time that I felt that I needed to do something for myself, something to call my own.

Going to college after being out of high school for 10 years was scary. Taking all online classes was even scarier. National University eased all of my anxiety and worries from the initial step of my application. They were friendly and hands-on from the moment I reached out to them. My advisor has been by my side every step of the way and wants me to excel just as much as my family and friends. The professors have real-world knowledge of the information they teach. The lessons are designed to encourage success and allow students with busy lives to thrive as well. I am currently a business administration major with a concentration in entrepreneurship. After trying several different fields, I discovered that I wanted to run my own company. Being a business owner is the only position that would grant me all the aspects I was looking for in a career. Being accepted into the NU Scholars Program was surreal. It felt like all of my hard work was being recognized and I was honored. I knew it would not be easy, but it has been quite a wonderful adventure. I feel more confident and accomplished. I like that my children are seeing how hard I am working to become more intelligent and successful. I look forward to walking across that stage and receiving my bachelor’s diploma, knowing that I could not have done this without the NU Scholars Program."