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

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 in 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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor’s) - 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

Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education - 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, U.S. 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

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology - Los Angeles

"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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“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

Master of Public Health - San Diego

“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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

"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

Master of Education, ITL, with Single Subject English Language Learner - San Diego

“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

Bachelor of Science, Information Systems - San Diego. U.S. Marine Corp

"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

Master of Education, ITL with Single Subject MED-English Language Learner/History - Porterville

"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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

"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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's) - Fresno

"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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“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

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology - Los Angeles

"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

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's) - Fresno

“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

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

“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

Master of Healthcare Administration - San Diego. 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

Bachelor of Science, Biology - San Diego. 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

Master of Science, Educational Counseling with PPSC School Counseling - Fresno

“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

Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology - Los Angeles

“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

Master of Science, Business Analytics - San Diego

“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
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Codi Walk

Bachelor of Business Administration - Denham Springs, Louisiana

“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.”

Antoine Saba

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Los Angeles

“I enrolled at National University because I needed a program that worked with my schedule. I work full time and National University offered flexible, 100% online courses, 4 weeks at a time. Immediately, I feel in love with the format, the teaching style of the professors, and the support we received as students. National University’s program changed my life and gave me a sense of “I can do this.

After completing my first bachelor’s degree in Public Health with National University, I came back to purse my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. There was no question in my mind that National University would be the school for me again. I could not imagine attending a program elsewhere. I am 5 months into my nursing program and although the degree paths are different, the support from faculty and staff is the same. They take their time to teach you the material, work with you if you need guidance, and take time out of their day ensure your success in the program. You can sense that this is not just a job for them, but their passion, and this shines through in each lecture.

Being a member of the NU Scholars program is such an honor. This program works with me to illuminate my strengths, overcome my weaknesses, and provide me the opportunity to be a leader not only to my fellow classmates, but within the community as well. I am the current LA Chapter president of the National University Student Nurses Association (NUSNA), which would not have been possible with the encouragement of my faculty and cohort. From the bottom of my heart, thank you NU!”

Balkis Nasery

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, Specialization in Digital Forensics - San Diego

"Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1984 as a preemie, doctors predicted that I would not make it due to limited resources or access to proper medical care. My mother did everything in her power to see that I survived. At the age of four, my parents moved to India as refugees and my dad did all types of work to make ends meet. A short year later, my paternal aunt was able to sponsor us to come to the United States. We had limited financial resources and lived in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles.

In high school, my focus was on theatre, sports, history, and English - nowhere near any of the STEM-based subjects that I have come to love as an adult. I played varsity soccer, softball, and volleyball, and these sports helped me become physically and emotionally stronger. My school offered computer classes, but that small voice in my head always dictated that it was a “boys club,” and I had no special place in it.

My initial college years were largely spent with me figuring out what I really wanted to do. I felt a constant sense of dismay, as what I was learning bored me or gave me no drive to continue.

While going to school, I worked primarily for my parents in their Afghan restaurant. The experience of running a restaurant and the hard work that came with it taught me a lot, and I applied those lessons to my academic and career path. My parents eventually sold their restaurant, and my father passed away from cancer. I worked several jobs: assistant manager at a restaurant, at MAC Cosmetics, and I also cleaned houses with my mom when I could. I continued to pursue a degree in Journalism that I had limited interest in.

I was eventually promoted to my current position as the General Manager of a popular restaurant in San Diego. The most unexpected outcome of working as the GM was the need to connect and communicate with individuals regarding the technical side of the restaurant industry. Collaborating with personnel who came in to help us with our point of sales system, phone systems, and everything else that was technically related helped me realize the potential for connecting the two industries of restaurants and technology, something I had not realized before. There was always some sort of technical issue with the hardware and programs that we used, which were not able to keep up with our restaurant’s increasing popularity, demand, and growth. We were constantly calling technicians to come out and fix issues, and their explanations were always too technical to understand or apply. Adding to the sting of not knowing what could be done on my own end to help prevent these recurrent issues was that technicians would often address my male assistant manager, assuming he was the decision maker. I did not notice this pattern until another staff member brought it to my attention months later.

I took it upon myself to learn more about the systems that we were using and realized they were not the caliber we needed for the volume of customers we were serving. So, between feeling like I was being brushed off for being a woman, and coping with services and products that did not meet the needs of the company, I began doing some research. Initially, this research was intended to help me navigate and understand what the technicians were really working on. However, through a series of events and great guidance from my first NU advisor, I found my way into cybersecurity, which fulfilled many of my interests. I knew it would be a fulfilling job due to the complex nature of the field, as well as the constant need to learn and grow to keep up with the incredible pace at which this industry evolves.

Once enrolled in the Cybersecurity classes, I became overwhelmed and even had a heart-to-heart with my first professor: I felt too green and wondered whether I should take a step back and learn independently before committing to National University’s rigorous 24-month, one-class-per-month program. Thankfully, my professor helped me see my position as a positive challenge and I continued the curriculum. I look forward to every new subject that has come across in my program, each one daunting but rewarding. I have had the good fortune of being in a room of amazing classmates, many of whom are already in the Cybersecurity field to some degree, as well as instructors that work in the field and who can therefore connect relevant real-world topics to subjects in our lectures. I am also fortunate to have two amazing women in my program, with whom I have not only developed friendships outside of the classroom environment, but also a strong support system within the program. I have less than a year left of the program, with the last three months being the Capstone readiness classes: Putting all our coursework into one practical application and presentation.

At the age of 34, I believe that I have finally found what I am meant to do: protect and serve both society and private entities in a positive way. The need for inherent integrity, strong ethics, and the drive to be the best and to be a step ahead of the bad guys makes me feel like I have found my tribe and my calling. I am extremely grateful for this path and this growth in such a demanding field. I so appreciate that NU has been my catalyst for being propelled in that direction.”

Christen Valentine

Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education - San Diego

“My name is Christen Valentine. I am a wife and mother of four children: three boys ages 15, 7, and 5, and a daughter who is 3 years old. I currently work at Poway Unified School District as a Substitute Special Education Instructional Aide. I am pursuing my bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education with a multi-subject teaching credential. I will be graduating in February of 2021, and after I graduate, I plan to get my master’s in Special Education through National University, as well.

I worked for a semi-conductor company for a third of my life, I but was laid off in August 2016. That was when my husband and I decided it was time for me to go back to school and pursue my dream of teaching. When I was in high school, I was an art docent aid for one of the kindergarten classes, and the teacher was so inspirational. She handled the children with such compassion and understanding; she was such a great inspiration. I always wanted to be just like her, and she eventually became my mentor.

I have two children with medical issues. My oldest son was diagnosed 3 years ago with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a serious childhood hip disorder. It has been an uphill battle, but we believe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and his hip is in the healing stage. My daughter was born with a congenital cataract and had surgery at 7 weeks old to have it removed. Unfortunately, at the age of 3 months old she was diagnosed with Congenital Glaucoma; she has had numerous surgeries on her eye and goes in every other month to have her eye pressure checked. When I was choosing a school, National University was the only one that would allow me the flexibility to take care of our four children and their medical needs - between four children, there have been 26 surgeries. I have found myself studying in hospital waiting rooms.

Being part of the NU Scholars Program is exciting because I get to work with other students in my field as well as get extra support from my peers. I am honored to be an ambassador for NU and to share my story of not only the struggles in my life, but also how I am still able to pursue my dreams with the support of my fellow NU Scholars, professors, family, and friends. If it were not for the flexibility of NU’s four-week classes, the help of my professors, and assistance from the library, I probably would not have been able to go back to school, and would not be living the dream that I have had since I was a teenager. I am so glad to be able to be active in my children's school as a volunteer and in their extracurricular activities, while also going to school and getting my degree.”

Shane Cooper

Bachelor of Arts with Single Subject Credential, English - Sacramento. U.S. Air Force Veteran

“At the age of 30 I found myself as a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. It was at this time that I discovered National and the benefits that it had to offer students with life experience. After learning about the fast-paced and challenging curriculum, as well as the availability of a virtual Veteran Center to assist in conquering the obstacles that previously prevented me from returning to school, I knew that I had found a home at National University. They were able to transfer in all my training units from my time in the United States Air Force and directly apply them to credits, saving me months of precious time. The staff of the university have guided me over every hurdle, and have provided a special, personalized experience that is far superior to anything I could have hoped for.

Like many who separate from the military, I had started a new career working my way up from the bottom of the corporate ladder as a cashier at BevMo! I eventually reached the position of Store Manager of a large store in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, despite my professional success, I found that I was still not satisfied, and I thought back to the passion that I had for becoming an English teacher shortly after graduating from high school. This passion stemmed from having an English teacher of who focused on the importance of self-expression, and who helped students to learn how to communicate effectively through the written and spoken word. This basic skill may seem simple, but it is what empowers individuals to find success in life, both professionally and personally. I decided that I wanted to be able to teach this skill to those of our society who would otherwise not be encouraged to have a voice. I quit my job, found a position as an aide in a resource classroom at a rural elementary school, and embarked on my journey of becoming a student again at National University.

Two years after my initial enrollment, I am well on my way to reaching the life goals that I never thought I would be able to achieve, forging ahead with my bachelor’s degree in English with an integrated single subject teaching credential. National University’s flexible online classes have not only allowed me to continue to work full time in the special education field while pursuing my goal of becoming a teacher, but they also have allowed me to continue my passion of weekend backpacking trips - and I’m even able to throw in the occasional spur-of-the-moment trip to the mountains.

The NU Scholars Program has offered me a way to be more closely connected to my fellow students, as well as support in further preparing myself for the next stage of life after college. The most rewarding aspect of this opportunity will be the chance to impact the lives of others in a positive way, and to provide guidance to those who are also chasing the dreams they never thought would come true.”

Desiree Caldwell

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I have always had interest in the medical field and helping others, even as a child. As a young adult, I decided to take the path to pre-hospital care, working as an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter. After nearly eight years of pre-hospital care, I felt as though I wanted to do more for people than just pick them up and rush them to the hospital. In my mid-twenties, I decided I wanted to go to nursing school. I was accepted into a program in Grand Junction, Colorado, but unfortunately, I wasn’t financially able to make it happen at that time. I placed my educational dreams on hold, and I began a career in the durable medical equipment field, where I stayed for seventeen years. I got married and had two handsome sons. While I hadn’t forgotten my dream, I didn’t see an opportunity to return to school because my income supported my family. When I found out that the company I was working for was closing all of its California locations, I knew I needed to make some changes.

At the suggestion of my family, I decided to investigate going back to school. I needed something different because I had a family to take care of and one of my sons required frequent medical appointments with specialists and occupational therapists. I wanted something accelerated: As an older student, I wanted to get in and get out. I decided to call National University because I heard that they had an amazing accelerated nursing program. From the moment that I called and spoke with an advisor, I knew that National University was the school for me. With the mixed online and-on campus monthly classes, I could be a mom and a student. My advisor was kind, informative, and concise. He was able to help me get all the credits from my prior educational institutions transferred, and he told me exactly what I needed to do to work on getting into the nursing program. He offered study resources for my TEAS test and contact information to the nursing department, just in case I had more questions.

My journey at NU has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went in thinking I would get my nursing degree, but what I’m getting is the powerful gift of knowledge that each of my passionate professors has brought with them to every single class. I have found truly fabulous peers that are now lifelong friendships, as well as a place that I belong and feel understood. I have taken on the challenge of a leadership position with an organization that will change the world of healthcare, Planetree. I have joined groups that help me navigate life with children and school. I have been accepted into a prestigious program that will support my research goals, educational goals, and my deep desire to help people, all while sculpting me into an accomplished leader that will help me be more than I ever dreamed possible. Thank you National University and the NU Scholars Program! I am so incredibly grateful and excited for this experience!”

Elinore Strong

Master in Education Counseling with PPSC in School Counseling - Sacramento

“I love sharing my story because I truly hope that it will inspire at least one person to take a step, a jump, a leap of faith in pursuing their dreams. There are many reasons why I felt like I could not continue my education, but a while back I decided I was not going to let fear be the deciding factor of my future. Fear would not control me or hold me back. My education was worth pursuing, and I was worth investing time and money in. This goal was worth the effort and the tears, and I was worthy of experiencing the joy of overcoming obstacles and barriers, including my own fears, doubts, and lack of belief in myself.

It all started with one person – a mentor who is now an MFT – believing and investing in me when I was in middle school, guiding me through high school, and encouraging me throughout college. She listened to me, validated me, and sought to understand me. I simply could not be who I am today without her. She has inspired me to become a School Counselor so that I will one day be the person who believes in, supports, and encourages students to be more than they could ever dream of being.

Believing in oneself can only go so far: Eventually, you have to pick up your foot and take a step forward. One step at a time. There might be some stumbling and tripping along the way, and you might not always be sure of the path you are taking, but you have to keep taking steps. I kept asking myself: How could I be a mom to two young boys and pursue my education? How could I work not only full time but also a second job to support my family and also find time to pursue my education? However, it is my motto that, if it is worth believing, it is worth achieving. I have a bracelet given to me by a dear friend that says: “She believed she could so she did.” More often than not, it is that simple.

National University has my sincerest gratitude, especially the NU Scholars Program. At every turn I have been met by people who support me, provide answers, and encourage me. The NU Scholars Program has already taught me to value and believe in myself. I am beyond excited for my journey to continue with the Scholars Program, where I will have the opportunity to encourage other students and be a resource on their journeys.”

Jacqueline Gonzalez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Los Angeles

“I am a first generation Mexican-American college student. My parents are both from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico. I am the youngest of four children. Because of the language barrier, my parents were not able to help me with my academics. From an early age I became self-sufficient with my studies. I was placed in “gifted” classes in 8th grade and in high school I was in magnet courses. I have always been a high-achieving student.

During my freshman year of high school, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I witnessed my father undergo radiation and chemotherapy. It was then I decided I wanted to pursue a career in nursing, specifically aspiring to become an oncology nurse. During my senior year, my high school offered a certified nurse assistant course. I took this opportunity because I knew that it would get me one step closer to becoming a nurse.

After high school, I paused my studies and worked at a nursing home. With no acute care experience, I struggled getting a job as a nurse assistant, but I was persistent. When I finally accomplished this goal (I still work for this company), I was ecstatic and motivated to get back on track to becoming an oncology nurse. When I interviewed for my current employer, I stated that I saw myself as a nurse within five years. At that time, I was going to community college. The courses were always impacted and difficult to get into. Even when I managed to get into science courses, I struggled with juggling three or four courses at a time. I was discouraged, and my father’s health continued to deteriorate. It was the most challenging situation I have ever gone through, and I paused my academics once again to spend more time with family.

It took me three years after my father’s passing to continue my career goal. Once I was ready to get back on track, National University accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing was my top choice. NU’s unique 4-8-week course format allowed me to take all the pre-requisite courses within one year, something that would have taken me years elsewhere. National University has allowed me to once again be a successful student, while also balancing the other things that are important to me in life. I continue working as a nurse assistant and I continue my passion for volunteering and doing community service.

Since high school, I have always known that nursing is the profession for me. There will always be challenges, but the key is to persevere with a strong, positive mindset. Despite the rigors of nursing school, I feel motivated and encouraged to continue serving my university, nursing community, and the community I live in. This endeavor has been rewarding and I know will continue to be. I never expected that it would take me 12 years after high school to obtain my nursing degree, but throughout the obstacles I have never lost sight of my goal. With National University and the NU Scholars Program at my side, I look forward to the opportunity to represent NU, share my experiences, and collaborate on future events. I can’t wait to see the leader I will blossom into. I want to be a positive role model and to show others that it’s possible to become whatever you choose to be in life, even if it takes time to achieve your goal!”

Hannah Schuerman

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I started my journey with National University as a nursing student in April 2018, and I will graduate in December 2019 as part of nursing Cohort 54. My husband and I moved to San Diego about a year ago with the Navy after being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia for two years. I attended three colleges and earned a prior degree before I started nursing school at NU, but it was only at NU that I truly learned to love learning and enjoy my educational experience as a student nurse. The military lifestyle can be unpredictable at times, which is why it was an easy decision for me to apply to NU’s accelerated nursing program. The curriculum appealed to me because it was fast-paced, organized, and methodical, with month-long classes and exceptional instructors. Although I knew that this program would be a challenge, I knew this was my opportunity to finally finish my degree and begin my nursing career.

My passion for nursing emerged from the physical challenges I have experienced as an amputee. I was born with a birth defect in my left leg that resulted in a below-knee amputation, and I have since undergone many orthopedic surgeries. Since 1995, I have been blessed with quality care as a patient in seven states and nine different hospitals across the country. Although I have had many uphill battles involving my amputated limb, they are an important part of my story, and the losses and victories I have experienced help define who I am today.  My life-long experience as a patient gave me a unique perspective towards the field of nursing, with a desire to take care of others in the same way that my nurses have taken care of me for the last 23 years. I understand how it feels to constantly fight for strength to heal, and my hope is that, as I nurse, I can physically and emotionally care for others who fight similar battles.

Since my enrollment in NU’s nursing program, I am thrilled to see that my life-long dream as a nurse is coming true. Not only do I genuinely enjoy patient care, but I also relish my academic challenges and love being an important part of a medical team. When I moved to San Diego, I made myself a promise that I would make the most out of my time at NU, and that it would not just merely be another college for me.

NU set me up for success by giving me the tools I need for my future nursing career and providing numerous opportunities to enhance my personal growth. My favorite part about NU is its NU Scholars Program, which I had the honor of joining in the Spring of 2019. Being a NU Scholar gives me the opportunity to excel in new leadership skills, serve my community, and improve my professional development. This program offers me a platform from which to promote my passion for healthcare and represent NU. The passion and professionalism that I have already witnessed among my fellow NU Scholars reinforces my desire to be nothing less than exceptional in both my academic and professional life. I am so grateful to be here, and I cannot wait to see how the NU Scholars Program enriches my personal growth and success!”

Whitley Harbison

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's) - San Diego

“My name is Whitley Harbison and I’m currently working towards my second bachelor’s degree. This will be a complete career change for me. Two years ago, I was feeling restless and uncertain of where to take my life next. I had wanted to be a nurse for some time, but I was afraid of making another wrong career choice. When I looked at nursing programs, I was dismayed by the waitlists at local universities, and the thought of having to wait almost two years to even get in made the thought of going back to college that much more daunting.

The company I work for hires many nurses and, after learning that several of them had gone to National University, I decided to check it out. I was impressed to find that NU nurses were passing the NCLEX at comparable rates to all the schools I was considering. I was feeling so indecisive at that time and NU’s one-month class format reassured me, allowing me to take a couple of classes and figure out if this was right for me. I was able to enroll in classes within a week and I haven’t looked back since. I will be graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing in January 2020.

I’ve accomplished so much since becoming a student at National that I’ve even surprised myself. This journey has shown me that I’m capable of much more than I ever thought possible, even becoming a NU Scholar. With an emphasis on professional development, research, and community service, this program empowers students to make a meaningful impact on our local communities. One way in which I plan to make a difference is through a community service event tailored to local underserved girls.”

James Brooksher

Bachelor of Science Nursing (Second Bachelor’s) - Fresno

“My name is James Brooksher, and I am currently a National University student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Beginning in high school, I have had an ambition to work in the medical field. I carried this dream of mine with me through my time in community college, ultimately graduating from the University of California, Davis. During that time, I married my Junior High School sweetheart, while we both worked hard to finish our degrees. A year later we had our first son, and it became increasingly apparent to me that I would need to enter the workforce to provide for my newly established family. With our degrees in hand, I worked to provide for my family and my wife became pregnant with our second son. While working full time, I continued to yearn to work in the patient care setting, to help children and their families. With the support of my wife, my family, and employer, we researched opportunities where I would be able to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing quickly and both fulfill my dreams and support my family.

National University has allowed me the opportunity to go back to school after already receiving a Bachelor’s degree, using some of my previous credits to earn a Bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing. Unlike many traditional Universities, the evening and weekend classes of this program have allowed me to maintain my position with my current employer. Furthermore, National University offers me the convenience of spending each month focusing on one course at a time, being able to immediately put that information into practice, all while being able to spend quality time with my family and work to provide for them. The support I have received from National University staff and faculty at the Fresno Campus, in all levels and across departments, has helped me tremendously throughout my time in this program.

This support and flexibility have allowed me to become involved with the Fresno Campus Chapter of National University Student Nurses’ Association (NUSNA). I began initially as a member, became more involved in leadership as the Scholarship Chair, and am now the President of NUSNA Fresno. It is opportunities such as these, available at National University, that allow me to grow as an individual. This will help me become a better nurse, providing the best care for my patients.

I am honored to be selected to represent National University as a NU Scholar. This program will give me added opportunities and training to improve my leadership skills, and as an ambassador I will be able to tell more people about the incredible experiences I have had in my classes and clinicals.”

Marcos Rodriguez

Master of Science in School Psychology with Pupil Personnel Service Credential - San Diego

“Changing careers is terrifying. I was 30 when I decided to leave teaching, after six years, to pursue a career in school psychology. Early in my teaching career, I became interested in the work of a school psychologist. I always loved working with students who needed additional support. The more I learned about the work of a school psychologist, the more I felt this profession was suited to my passion and talents. I did not take lightly my decision to return to the classroom to pursue a second master’s degree. I spoke to seasoned school psychologists to learn more about the field, and I researched and met with multiple credentialing programs in the San Diego area, in search for the best program that suited my unique needs and talents. I soon decided to enroll in National University’s Master of Science in School Psychology with PPSP Credential program and to leave teaching.

As I complete each course in National University’s School Psychology program, my interest and excitement grows. Each month a new stone is overturned as I learn about issues and concepts within the mental health field. My future aspirations as a practicing school psychologist are not only informed by my past experiences as a general education teacher, but also by the new and ongoing knowledge and skills that I am acquiring through National University. National University’s unique platform allows me to immerse myself in specific content, one month at a time. This is important to me because working full-time for an educational non-profit and being a husband is very demanding. Focusing on one content area allows me to succeed quickly, and the small cohort size creates a learning environment in which there is a high amount of targeted instruction and peer collaboration.

Being an NU Scholar has afforded me opportunities that have contribute to my professional and personal growth. As a contributing member to the NU Scholars Program, I can build relationships with likeminded individuals that further motivate my efforts. Honing in my leadership skills is another benefit I am excited to explore as I become a professional leader in my career field.”

Peter Tannous

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor's) - San Diego

“When I was 13 years old my father suffered a heart attack and died. When his body was found by a group of teenagers, they immediately called for help. He was resuscitated, but due to a lack of oxygen, he had severe brain damage. My brother and I spent the next 10 months of our lives taking care of him every day as I transitioned into high school. I would spend hours by his bedside notifying the nurses when I thought he was in pain or when his waste bag became full. These 10 months of tribulations shaped me into the adult I am today. Through the many hours I spent with the medical staff, my younger self learned many new and exhilarating medical terms and processes; I felt at home helping people in this environment. As I observed nurses draw blood samples or connect dialysis equipment to my unconscious father, I saw the care and compassion they put into their work. They always asked him if he was comfortable even when he could not respond, and they would often crack a joke in hopes he would laugh. These gestures helped me realize that nurses are not just people who treat colds, but people who treat hurting families.

I have always had a passion for science and lab work and for the past six years I have worked for pharmaceutical companies as a microbiologist.  During this time, I found my career to be rewarding and as the first college graduate of my family, with a degree in microbiology from UCSD, I had exceeded any expectations they had set.  However, during this time, I found that my passion for science had something that could not be quenched by simply performing endotoxin assays or identifying species of bioburden found in final product. I craved human interaction and patient care.  As a nurse, I can integrate my passions for science and human interaction.

I chose National University’s nursing program over other programs because I felt that NU had working students in mind.  From orientation day onward, I felt at home and part of a family with Cohort 55.  I would have never imagined that in only 22 months I could receive my BSN.  If it was not for NU’s unique month-by-month format I would never have been able to get my degree while working full-time to support my mother and sister.  I am proud to be an ambassador of NU through the National University Scholars Program.  NU Scholars is helping me elevate my professional horizons while allowing me to contribute to my community, and for this, I am truly grateful.”

Randa El Jurdi

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology - Dual specialization:  Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) & Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) - San Diego

“I am working towards a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at the Kearny Mesa campus at National University. National University was my first choice among universities in the San Diego region when I returned to school to begin my next professional journey to become a clinical mental health counselor. I believe that my life experiences to date will serve me well in my new career choice.

I have always been an optimistic person. During my college years, snipers, shelling, and booby-trapped cars did not prevent me from graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the American University of Beirut. The death of relatives and friends because of their religious beliefs were frightening and challenging, but they also made me stronger and helped me understand the suffering of others. It was then that I began to understand how empathy can play a key role in healing. As an undergraduate student, I decided to pursue my degree in nursing because there was a shortage of nurses during the war, and it seemed the best way to help others. During that time, I particularly enjoyed my psychology and psychiatric nursing courses; this was the first time I thought that one day I could become a counselor. As a nurse I saw firsthand the need for compassion towards others.

During my life I have traveled to more than 25 countries, living in five of them for more than a year. My exposure to different cultures and ethnicities has helped me be a more accepting and open-minded person and has taught me the value of respecting and understanding cultural differences. My life experiences have also led me to my ultimate professional goal: to help people who have suffered traumas. My intent is to achieve this goal by working in a non-profit organization that promotes non-violence and advocacy for refugees and immigrants that have fled violence. I particularly want to advocate for refugee and immigrant women and their children who have experienced intimate partner violence. National University’s unique educational platform is helping me to achieve my goals by providing four-week classes that help me finish my program in a timely manner, as well as by connecting me with non-profit organizations who serve the population with whom I wish to work. 

I am proud and honored to be a NU Scholar. National University values meeting the needs of diverse and nontraditional students by providing flexible learning opportunities and reflecting the best educational practices of the 21st century.  My life experiences to-date have led me to this moment, and I know that I can make the most of it. I believe that there is no age limit to learning. If you have a dream, go for it! One of my favorite Lebanese-American poets is Khalil Gibran and one of my favorite quotes is: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.”

Rebecca Orvell

Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Integrated Multiple Subject Credential - San Diego

“My path to National University has been a challenging one. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with late stage Lyme disease. During the months when I did not know what my future would look like, I reflected on my life, and one thing I regretted was not completing my education. I was determined that when I got better, I would go back to school.

What started as a personal goal and a way to show my children that education is important became crucial when, after 17 years of marriage and 13 years as a stay-at-home mom, I decided to get divorced. That’s when the accelerated program offered by NU became critical. I have no doubt that the strength and self-esteem I gained from my success at college has helped me through this challenging time.

Growing up, I had struggled in school, and could not even manage to maintain a 2.0. However, immediately after beginning classes at NU, I knew I was not the same person I had been. I loved learning and pushing myself, and National’s unique flexibility in scheduling and incredible support allowed me to excel academically.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have been an active member with my children’s school PTA, finding the most pleasure in the hands-on work I do with a reading program for struggling students. These experiences helped me decide that I wanted to assist other children reach their full potential by becoming an elementary school teacher. Not only am I determined to acquire my Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Integrated Multiple Subject Credential, but I plan to go on to earn a master’s degree and, who knows, maybe even my PhD.

Now that I am a single mom, my unwavering resolve has gained even more strength. I am excited to complete my educational goals and become a successful educator. Becoming part of the NU Scholars Program is a tremendous help in achieving my goals, and an exciting opportunity for me to be more actively involved in the NU community. When I receive my diploma and credential, I will know I am carving a path which my children, my community, and I can be proud of.”

Rebecca Sutcliffe

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I began my educational pursuit in 2010, after becoming a mother and realizing the passion I had inside for helping people. As a single parent, I was able to take one or two classes at a time through community college, chipping away at my goals. I have faced many obstacles and pathway changes along the way, as I’m sure most adults do. Each time, I just kept pushing through and making small goals for myself. If I could instill any amount of hope or inspiration in someone deciding whether to go back to school, I would say: Just take the first step. Life isn’t perfect, and I know through my own experiences that there can be housing issues, financial burdens, relationship changes, and shortfalls. Your environment does not dictate what you are capable of. I am a first-generation college student. I literally daydream and tear up at the thought of someday walking across the graduation stage with a four-year degree.

While the nursing program at National University requires the highest level of academic performance, I know that I am not alone and will have help to mold me into the person I want to become. My future includes graduate studies to become a Certified Nurse Midwife and possibly earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Being accepted into the NU Scholars Program has opened my eyes to even more possibilities and bigger dreams for my future. It has been such a personalized and all-inclusive opportunity of everything I hoped for in a college experience. I am so grateful for my journey and for National University believing in my abilities and dreams.”

Samantha Gallardo

Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning with a Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - San Diego

“My name is Sammi Gallardo, and I was born and raised in Chula Vista, CA. After receiving my BA in Sociology as a former Division I student–athlete from CUNY at Buffalo, I headed straight into the workforce. I knew I always wanted to further my education, but I believed it would be impossible to work and receive an education at the same time. National University knocked those doubts down and made the process of deciding to further my education simple. With their unique and flexible 1-class-per-month format, I’m able to fully focus on one subject at a time. Additionally, I’m earning my degree completely online, which truly allows me to take control and manage when and how I learn.

I am now pursuing my Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning with a preliminary multiple subject teaching credential. Although I’m currently working in a different career field, NU has provided me with tremendous support to make my transition as seamless as possible. Through the online format, I can continue to work full-time as well as enjoy time with my partner, Anissa, and our family.

I’m absolutely honored to be a NU Scholar, and to have found a program that will allow me the opportunity to develop the leadership skills I need to contribute to my community. I’m extremely excited to see what opportunities come along as a NU Scholar!”

Patricia Soza

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (Second Bachelor’s) - Fresno

“My dream of becoming a nurse began over ten years ago, but was abruptly deferred when I became a mother, and then shortly after got divorced. As a single mother I needed to work full-time; I could not afford to be a full-time nursing student and work only part-time. I was eager to obtain a degree quickly, so I opted for an “easier” program, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership at another institution. I thought that I could settle for a healthcare administration career and still fulfill my desire to help others, but I was wrong. My heart yearned for something more – becoming the nurse I always wanted to be. After looking into different local nursing pathways, I came across National University.

After speaking with an admission’s advisor, I learned that because of my current degree, I could apply to the Post-Baccalaureate accelerated BSN program after fulfilling the nursing program pre-requisites. I started on my science pre-requisites, which took me only nine months thanks to the accelerated class schedule at National University. I also maintained my full-time job, taking classes online and in the evening. Admission to the BSN program is highly competitive, and I worked hard to earn a spot.

Seven months into my nursing program as part of Fresno’s Cohort 21, I am still working full-time thanks to NU’s hybrid, online, and evening classes. My child is now older, making the extra clinical days manageable. The curriculum is very relevant, and the professors are active nursing professionals, bringing real-world knowledge to the classrooms. The support system is phenomenal; everyone at National University wants you to do your best and get the most out of your education. I wear my logo scrubs with pride when I am in the hospitals because of the great local reputation that National University has, producing outstanding nurses and boasting an exceptional NCLEX pass rate.

Just when I thought being a National University student could not get any better, I was invited to apply to the NU Scholars program in early 2019. I was beyond ecstatic when I learned that I would be offered such an amazing opportunity. One of my goals in life is to become an effective leader and give back to my community. Being part of the NU Scholars Program will give me the tools, training, and experience that I need to be the best me and fulfill that goal. I am delighted to be part of National University’s events and to share my story of how National University is helping me to reach the dream that started those ten years ago.”

Stefanie Kairs

Master of Science, Data Science - San Diego

“I am a San Diego native and a passionate STEM professional who thrives in challenging, multifunctional roles. I enjoy working with other driven subject-matter experts to find innovative solutions to complex, multi-disciplinary problems. Together, we can move mountains.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UC San Diego and I am currently pursuing a master’s in Data Science at National University. My career has been engaging and demanding. It has taken me to cities across the US and Canada, and to Zurich, Switzerland. In my most recent position at a local startup, we developed a best-in-class proteomics platform, discovered a blood-based signature for colorectal cancer, and launched a lab-developed test in our own CAP-accredited laboratory. I have been interested in graduate school for many years but never believed that I could make time to focus on both my education and my career.

Shortly after my son was born, the startup I was with closed. Rather than immediately jumping back into the job market, I chose to leverage this unexpected shift as an opportunity to pursue my graduate degree and focus on making memories with my young family. Working with my NU admissions advisor, we plotted a pathway through my degree up to graduation, with clear milestones and deliverables – it was just the sort of directness and transparency I needed to feel confident in my future success at National. The accelerated course format allows me to focus intently on one subject at a time and to make measurable progress on my degree every month. It is motivating to know that every 30 days brings me one step closer to graduation! My classes are online in the evenings at a time that lets me share parenting responsibilities with my spouse, and my teachers bring real world experience into every class session.

I was honored to be invited to apply to the NU Scholars program. I am humbled and grateful to join the April 2019 cohort with so many passionate and accomplished students. Working with this program, I have already begun to reframe what I want in my career after graduation and to begin networking with other young leaders in the region.

As a NU Scholar, I am excited to give back to the University through ambassadorship and leadership, and I hope that my success will inspire others to pursue their higher education goals.”

Terrence Jamal Brown

Master of Science in Educational Counseling w/PPSC Credential - Fresno

“I am the first person in my family to attain a bachelor’s degree. The field of psychology led me to the aspiration of wanting to work with children through education and counseling. My current profession, working as an Intervention Specialist, has re-enforced my passion, and it has led me to pursue school counseling. Thanks to National University, I have been given the unique opportunity of working my way through my academic program while still maintaining full-time employment.

National University’s hybrid structure allows me to get exposure to the classroom setting, while still giving me the convenience of online learning. Collaboration with professors and fellow students in my cohort has also made the experience of attending National University very beneficial, giving me access to the knowledge and perspectives of others in pursuit of a similar professional career path.

Thanks to my academic success, I was granted the opportunity to be an ambassador of National University through the NU Scholars Program. These life changing events are not coincidental; they are acts of providence. I am ecstatic to be embarking upon this journey with National University in collaboration with the NU Scholars Program to fulfill my professional career aspirations: to be a school counselor and to be an advocate to the youth in my community. My goal is to help young people on their own trajectory of success.”

Zachary Backus

Bachelor of Arts in History - Sacramento. Law Enforcement

“For the longest time I have wanted to go back to college, but I never thought that I would be able to do so while working full-time. However, luckily, I had the opportunity to watch my wife obtain her teaching credential through NU while she worked. Once I saw how successful she was through her program, I decided to apply, and I have been working toward my BA in History at National University since July 2017.

While I have always been fascinated by history, I never particularly enjoyed high school or traditional brick-and-mortar college. This was especially true because I preferred to focus on one subject at a time rather than the standard three-to-four in a semester. I think that focusing on a single topic at a time was what made me successful in Law Enforcement Academy, and National University has been the perfect fit for me in that regard.

Working full-time, going to school full-time, and raising a son has been a challenge. I have always been up for a good challenge and this has been an immensely rewarding experience. Being accepted into the NU Scholars Program was a tremendous honor and an awesome surprise, reaffirming that I was on the right path in my life.

I currently work as a Deputy Sheriff in Northern California and have been in Law Enforcement for more than eight years. I am married to my beautiful wife who is currently a Special Education Teacher. My wife and I have one son and another soon to come. I know that education is key in modern society, and I want to make sure that I am a good role model for my sons.”

Karrie Yi

Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education - San Diego. U.S. Navy Veteran

“With little financial support after high school, I took my independence into my own hands. This instilled a drive to survive, and a need to secure my future. I had to find ways to get to interviews for jobs, so I could regain my sense of self-worth and support myself. Unfortunately, the minimum wage job market was not hiring. Refusing to be stuck unemployed, I joined the Navy in 2005. That refusal to stay complacent drove me to take one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. My job in the Navy was on the Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck for six to nine months out of the year, for five years. My squadron, which consisted of thirteen F/18 Fighter Jets, received honors from the Rear Admiral for a 98% sortie completion rate on the USS Kitty Hawk. This is where my leadership development started, and I proved to myself that I could own my independence while working with a team in a fast-paced, high-stress environment.

Since the end of my military contract, my motivation comes from my amazing family, which consists of twin boys and an Active Duty husband (whom I met at time of my duty). My husband and I share the values of constant self-improvement and taking ownership, supporting each other’s educational and career pursuits, while also acting as active role models for our boys. As a family unit, we understand the level of commitment and time needed to achieve each and everyone’s individual goal and dreams.

Ownership of work and behavior are several of our core family values that we seek to instill in our sons. This sense of responsibility to my family allows me to hold myself to a high standard. I strive to build our family legacy, work ethic, emotional fulfillment, self-sustainment, and health. All these objectives take time and patience, but they are achievable with focus and a clear path. My journey of self-improvement and responsibility requires stamina and hard work, but our family has a motto: “Don’t Fear Hard Work - Conquer it.”

Within this journey, I found myself at National University, where I became part of the NU Scholars Program. National University has given me the opportunity to put all my goals, pursuits, and activities into an organized, professional portfolio, allowing me to easily reflect on my own self-evaluation and determine my own self-improvement in skill level. This gives me the ability to put abstract ideas and concepts into tangible, translatable examples that future networks and employers can see. The format NU Scholars Program uses to showcase your work is meticulously detailed and gives Scholars a competitive edge in the job market. The NU Scholars program has allowed me to be my own leader once more, as well as to showcase my leadership progress, accomplishments that involve community networking, and academic achievements.

National University has helped me by giving me the tools and personnel that I need to help me with my pursuits along the way. This journey with National University has helped me to re-establish myself, as well as to improve my work ethic, educational accomplishments, and overall professionalism.”

Megan Prell

Bachelor of Science, Psychology - Irvine. Scholar of Stamina

“My name is Megan Prell. I am a student at National University. My journey with National started in May 2018. Since attending National University, I have maintained straight A’s for the first time in my life. I am on course to complete my bachelor’s degree in Psychology in August 2019. I will then start on my master’s degree in Special Education, with an emphasis in Autism. I will be completing my master’s degree by July 2020. That means that, in two years and two months, I will have completed my bachelor’s degree and obtained my master’s degree, while working full time. This is only possible because of National University’s commitment to accessible education and their students.

The road I have traveled to further my education has been a lonely one. I was abused growing up. My biological mother and stepfather were my abusers. My biological dad did not get involved. I moved out when I was 17 years old, in the middle of my senior year. I was informally “adopted” by a good friend’s mom when I about 18 years old. It took me twelve years, and all the unconditional love they had to offer, for me to finally realize that they are my family. It took that much for me to accept the fact that I could be wanted for just being me. I am a first-generation college student, and I am determined to create a future for myself. I want the job, the family, the degree, and the life that only existed in my dreams.

I knew I wanted to go to college, but I never knew exactly what I needed to do to get there. My biological mother told me that I was not smart enough to get into college, so I never took my SAT or ACT. I found myself at Cypress College, 17 years old, and working three-to-four jobs at a time. I attended Cypress College for about three years before I took the infamous “semester off.” I had decided to get married and finally thought I would have a family. After less than six months of married life, I found myself walking away from a toxic, abusive situation. My life was shattered. College was the last thing on my mind. After about six years of surviving, I realized that I still wanted that degree. I still wanted that life that only existed in my dreams. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you decide to believe in yourself.

I obtained a job in the field that I wanted: education. I am an Instructional Aide for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My students are my inspiration to push myself to be my best and do my best. They are a big part of why I went back to school. After a six-to-seven-year hiatus, I was back at Cypress College finishing the associate degree I started when I was 17 years old. I changed my major for the third and final time.

Life has taught me to ask questions and ask for help. I had to learn the hard way that it was okay not to know what to do. The counselors at Cypress College told me about the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) Program. It was essentially the same thing as the typical AA Degree, but by taking a few extra upper division classes while I was still in community college, this created a much straighter pathway to obtaining my bachelor’s degree.

I completed my Associate Degree for Transfer in Psychology the Fall 2017. I was looking at traditional universities when I realized that it was going to take me at least four more years. I was working full-time, and the only way I could attend traditional universities was if I was attending part-time. I felt like I had hit a wall. I had no idea how I was going to overcome this obstacle. I spent months researching and calculating the cost. I was not sure if I was going to be able to pull off my bachelor’s degree. Then, I found out about National.

National University is the reason I no longer walk this road alone. Through National, I have support. NU’s classes are fantastic. They are only 30 days long. I complete 4.5 units during that time. The program sounded too fast and too good to be true when I first found out about the format. I retain what I learn. I am excelling in this format because I focus on one class at a time. I can do anything for just one month. For the first time in my life, I am getting straight A’s. I also have tutors at my fingertips, a personal academic advisor, a degree advisor, and professors that work in the field. It’s education for real life.

I was worried about the cost of school. National University automatically informed me about scholarships and set me up with a financial aid advisor. The best part was that I could access my adviser, whether I call, email, video chat, or go in for face-to-face advice. Not only did National University help me apply for my FAFSA, National also awarded me a scholarship for simply being an Associate Degree for Transfer student, cutting my tuition in half. This meant that I could afford to go to school full-time. In addition to that financial support, my team of advisors nominated me for the NU Scholars Program.

The NU Scholars program is more than a scholarship. It is a family and it is a future. The NU Scholars team supports their scholars in every way possible. NU Scholars develop professional profiles, learn how to network, learn how to lead, and learn how to create a future beyond what we thought possible. When I received the call that I had been named a NU Scholar, my breath left me. I could not believe that they wanted me to be part of their program. I prepared myself for the journey I was about to embark on: First I celebrated, then I got right back to my studies. About a week after the initial call, informing me of my acceptance, I received a second call, informing me that I had been designated the NU Scholars Program’s first “Scholar of Stamina,” meaning that I would remain a Scholar throughout not only my bachelor’s degree, but also master’s degree in special education. I literally dropped to ground and sobbed (while attempting to maintain a conversation, because I was still on the phone with the selection committee). The weight of everything leading up to this moment was lifted. I think I just kept saying “Thank you” and “OK” when they told me I deserved it. I am still brought to tears when I think about it. I was going to finish my degree and even get an advanced degree.

National University cared enough to change the trajectory of my future. National University genuinely cares about the students who go to school here. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you have that many people supporting you. The incredible team of staff members employed at National know who we, the students, are. They know our struggles and our triumphs. They are the reason National University students are so successful.

National University has allowed me to go to school full-time while working full-time. National has the free resources to help me be successful. I always have access to a tutor or an adviser. I have professors who care. National University’s culture is the reason I can balance work, school, and my passions. I still have the time to coach for the Special Olympics, cook in the Ronald McDonald House, paddleboard on the weekends, and live my life. Thank you, National University and the NU Scholars Program, for helping me thrive when I only knew how to survive.”

Stephan Ibal Gomez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“I am currently a nursing student at National University in our generic entry BSN program, expected to graduate in August of 2020. National University is a hidden jewel, and a treasure to me and words cannot express the gratitude I feel for finding this school. I have wanted to become a nurse ever since I first stepped into the medical field as a hemodialysis technician 5 years ago. Feeling this instinctive nature to care for my patients, as well as assist them in improving the quality of their daily lives, was something that gave me drive.  I wanted my career to progress further through offering more personalized and sophisticated care; to this aim, I found nursing.

Before attending NU, I had been to just about every community college to pursue a nursing education. I double booked myself with a full-time work schedule, as well as a full-time school schedule with multiple subjects, and found myself wondering if I’d ever to be able to make it into a nursing program, as I was turned down many times. Being the first to attend college in my family, and newly married with a baby on the way, I knew I couldn’t give up. I knew that surely I would find a way to achieve my dreams and become the leader I wanted to be for my siblings and family to come. Luckily, I found National University.

Coming into NU, I knew there was a lot of work to be done. One day I sat down and spoke with Eddie, our Educational Counselor for the nursing program in Fresno. I had mentioned to him that I was really hoping to apply for our program within the next deadline as my wife and I were expecting our baby soon, and entry into the program was definitely welcomed sooner than later as I wanted to be on track with my career to give her a good life. He gave me what I needed to get the ball rolling in my favor! Not only did he give me a detailed layout of what exactly would be needed of me in order to qualify for NU’s program down to the GPA, but he instilled a sign of hope and confidence that pushed me to accelerate at the pace I needed to, and I was able to work hard and finally gain admission into Cohort 21 of our nursing program in Fresno. I still remember the day we received my acceptance letter: my wife was 6 months pregnant jumping for joy with me as I shared the news, then I abruptly calmed her in order to prevent her amniotic fluid from swooshing around our baby any longer. It was a moment filled with bliss and gratitude as I was finally taking the next steps in achieving what I had previously thought unachievable, and I have not only the platform set out by NU to thank for making this attainable, but especially the wonderful and compassionate guidance I received that put me on the right track leading to my success.

My story only gets better; stumbling across an application email in my SSO portal for a “NU Scholars Program” that had recently surfaced, curiosity took control as I had to research what it meant to be a part of this unique group individuals. What I found startled me: full-tuition scholarship, leadership training, community outreach, and opportunities to study abroad? All was needed on my part was a complete application and interview. I couldn’t believe the opportunity that was within my grasp, so I grabbed my shirt, shoes, and tie, packed a bag, and pleaded my wife to come along with me for my interview in La Jolla. I stand before you today as one of the selected NU Scholars, grateful, humble, and yet so proud to be able to carry the title. It is with much anticipation that I look forward to my experiences in this program as I know it is going to allow me to achieve even more of my dreams, become the leader and innovator for my family to follow, and allow me to succeed to my fullest potential. Thank you, National University, for such a wondrous opportunity!”

Stacy Esparza

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“My journey at National University has been incomparable to any other college experience I have had in the past. At National, I am valued as a student and have continuously been encouraged to reach for the stars in my academic career. Learning from instructors who currently practice in the field of nursing has given me the confidence in knowing that I am being taught relevant and cutting-edge skills. I will complete my degree in August of 2019 and hope to return to National to further my education by taking advantage of the master’s program options NU has.

Being selected as a NU Scholar has created a foundation of unlimited opportunities for personal growth. I hope to reflect the values of National University through my leadership skills, community service, and future role as nurse. I aspire to be an ambassador which honors National in the way National has honored me, by selecting me as an NU Scholar.”

Cristyn Alspaugh

Bachelor of Business Administration, Scholar of Stamina Designation - San Diego

“I am a single working mother of three children ages 11-14 years. When I began college shortly after graduating high school, I seemed to be on a traditional track. However, about six months later, I found myself in a whirlwind relationship that culminated in a wedding shortly after my 20th birthday. After my wedding, my focus changed from being a student and building a career, to being a wife and a mother. I never finished my degree. Sixteen years and three kids later, I found myself needing to end an unhealthy marriage. As a newly single parent, I didn’t have a job or job experience. I had no family in the area to help, and no college degree. I faced the struggles of not only being the primary caretaker of my children (then ages 6, 8 and 9), but also finding a job. The jobs I was qualified for paid well below the poverty line; even working two different part-time jobs, I often had to choose between feeding my kids or putting gas in the car so that I could get to work. I knew that this wasn’t the future I wanted for my family.

I struggled for many years to find my footing. While I knew I needed to get a degree if I wanted to escape a dead-end string of low-paying jobs, I didn’t see how it could be possible for me to take care of my kids, work the full-time job I needed to provide for them, AND find time for school. Taking night classes at a community college would mean leaving my kids at home alone in the evenings, which wasn’t an option. As I felt school was out of reach, I focused on getting a better job, and was fortunate enough to qualify for an entry-level position that offered full-time work and health benefits. While I was relieved to finally have overcome that first, crucial hurdle, I soon found that my lack of a college education made me ineligible for promotion and advancement. The struggles that I had been through almost got the best of me, and I had all but resigned myself to working at a low-paying job, barely able to make ends meet, for the rest of my life.

But then, something amazing happened! By chance, there was an informational presentation about National University offered during one of my lunch breaks, and I decided to attend. I was amazed to learn about National University’s unique platform designed for people just like me. With National’s online program, I could work full-time, be a mom full-time, and attend a fully accredited college. I was also excited to learn that National University had a partnership with my employer that resulted in a small discount every month. I began the enrollment process that very day.

At first, I was overwhelmed. I assumed that I would need to research and plan out all the classes that would be required for my degree, and that I would be on my own in terms of figuring out how to pay for it. However, after my first conversation with my advisor, all my worries were put to rest. My advisor assigned me a short checklist of items to complete and worked with me to transfer my credit for the college courses that I had completed over 20 years ago. He walked me through the process of completing a FAFSA application to receive a PELL grant to help pay for my tuition. We talked at length about the type of degree I wanted to receive and the path I wanted to take. He listened to me and was able to lay out my class schedule for the next six months to get me started. Since that initial conversation, my advisors have kept me on track, ensuring that I only take the classes I need. While I was extremely nervous about attending an online program, since I would not consider myself a technical person, I received an incredible amount of support from everyone at National. From my professors to the IT department, every single person at National has been there to help support my learning goals.

Over the past year, I have been able to sustain a full-time job, maintain a family life, and receive top marks in my classes. I am on track to receive my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration by August 2021, with a focus on leadership and business management. I plan on continuing with National to receive my master’s degree by the end of 2022. Thanks to National University, I can create the life I want for me and my kids.”

Ayesha Anas

Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning Program with a Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - Los Angeles

“During my time as an undergraduate at UCLA, I participated in a variety of community service projects to teach disadvantaged, marginalized, and underserved youth. Interacting with and empowering these young people not only helped me to cope with my bipolar depression, but it also fed my love for Anthropology, particularly how it helps me understand society and myself.

After graduating from UCLA, I enrolled in a teaching credential program at another institution. Despite experiencing a severe manic episode during this time, I graduated with a Master of Education with Special Emphasis in Educational Technology. I am proud of this degree because it showcases my passion for technology integration and research. However, another round of financial and spiritual hardships caused me to miss the deadline for student teaching, and, ultimately, I did not obtain my teaching credential. At the age of 29, I felt like my dreams had shattered, and that I was useless. That year I was hospitalized twice for my deteriorating mental condition.

After leaving the hospital for the second time, I wanted to complete my teaching credential, but was distressed by the thought of completing more applications and participating in interviews for another program. My medication made me feel dull and sedated, and between the stigma surrounding mental illness and the unbearable side effects, I struggled to find a path forward. Reluctantly, I searched for programs, and finally came across National University. After reading the description of the Inspired Teaching and Learning program, I fell in love with its mission and became inspired by its outcomes. I was even more intrigued when I learned that NU was the number-one choice for teachers in California, and that it offered a flexible, self-paced online format. I felt that taking one class a month was an empowering option for me, as it would allow me to balance other priorities and manage my bipolar disorder.

Despite my lack of confidence, I contacted an advisor and began the application process. When my advisor informed me that I would begin class in a few days, I felt elated, but also anxious about my ability to succeed. Within the first week, I fell in love with how supportive my professor was, and I enjoyed completing assignments that capitalized on my design skills. I also benefitted from working with Student Accessibility Services, who not only understood my challenges, but who worked with me to create the accommodations that I needed to work with my illness.

For the first time in my life as a university student, I did not feel discriminated against for both being a Muslim and having a mental illness. Completing courses online and focusing on one course per month gave me the time and flexibility that I needed to excel in my courses while coping with the extreme side effects of my medication. I loved the opportunity to engage in self-directed learning, and I took advantage of not only additional NU wellness resources, but professional development through Sanford Inspire.

I want everyone to know about National University, which has been such a great fit for me, I am proud to be a NU Scholar with the opportunity to empower other students, participate in community service and research, and advance myself professionally. I encourage all students to participate in this diverse, inclusive community of learners to make a positive and lasting impact on not only themselves, but on society as a whole.”

Kayla Auster

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - San Diego

“Medicine has always been a passion of mine. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with how and why the human body works the way it does. As a kid, I liked dressing wounds with ACE bandages, even when it probably wasn’t necessary. I loved the medical shows on TV, and science and math were my favorite subjects. It didn’t hurt that majority of my family members had some relation to the healthcare field. Our dinner time conversations were often less than traditional - At any family holiday, you can bet we would discuss some new ailment someone in the family had come down with. I always loved the puzzle aspect of medicine. How does it all work together and how can we make it better? Along with this curiosity, I learned that I had a deep sense of empathy. In high school my friends nick-named me “the therapist” because I was often the friend you could go to when you just wanted someone to listen. It feels good to help brighten someone’s day, even in a small way. Medicine and nursing just seemed like the perfect fit. I love the idea of being able to combine the puzzle of a patient’s symptoms, with making someone’s life better in some small way. National University’s unique accelerated BSN program enables me to translate learning into making an impact in no time at all.

A few summers ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Kenya and volunteer in a hospital for almost a month. The experience was truly incredible. I learned so much from the amazing doctors and nurses while I was there. I was able to vaccinate children, assist in pregnancy exams, help deliver babies, observe several C-section surgeries, help the doctors in the out-patient clinic, pack wounds, and drain abscesses, learning many skills I would have learned here in the US. This opportunity really inspired me to give back. The conditions the doctors and nurses were working in at that hospital were very poor. It was heartbreaking to see their inability to provide the best care at times, not because of lack of knowledge, but due to lack of resources. They simply often did not have the equipment, or their patients couldn’t afford the best drug for their condition. This experience solidified my interest in Doctors Without Borders. I want to further my education and eventually get my DNP. With this advanced education, I would like to provide care the developing countries for under-developed health care systems. There are so many places in this world in need of better health care. I was excited to learn that, in addition to its BSN program, NU offers a DNP program that will enable me to accomplish this goal.

The NU nursing program has been a great experience. I love the knowledge we gain in our hands-on clinicals. NU’s unique class structure allows me to focus on and master the material from each subject. During my previous degree program at a more traditional institution, I found that I didn’t do as well when faced with lots of concurrent courses. At NU, taking one class at a time allows me to devote all my attention to one subject. This model is especially helpful in nursing, because all the classes build on one another. As an NU Scholar, I am confident that I will graduate with everything I need for a bright career in advanced nursing, both here and abroad.”

Joe Ayala

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“My passion for healthcare started when I was eleven years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer. For the next two years, my dad battled this deadly disease, and hospital stays, chemotherapy, and radiation appointments became regular occurrences. Thankfully, my father was able to make it through this difficult time and overcome his illness. While this was a painful experience, it taught me that I wanted to help people. The level of compassion, support, and care that was given to my father by his doctors and nurses truly inspired me. I’ve been chasing my dream of becoming a nurse ever since.

For over ten years, I have been working towards that dream, although, as a single parent of two children, it has been hard to find the path forward. For a while I worked the night shift in an intensive care unit as a cardiac technician, taking one class per semester at a community college. However, working nights and taking classes part time - all while trying to raise children and manage a household - was too much, and I was forced to put my dreams on hold. However, I never gave up on that dream, and looked forward to the day when I could continue towards my goal.

After years of waiting, I was finally ready to try to go back to school. However, I was discouraged by the amount of time it would take to graduate from a traditional college. A coworker and NU alum encouraged me to look into National University, saying that if I wanted a quality education, and to be taught by real professionals, National University was the college to attend. With that, I went to speak with a counselor. I learned about their accelerated Bachelor of Science, Nursing program and that, in just twenty-two months, I could earn my degree and be doing my dream job. I enrolled in classes the next day. After the first class, I knew I had made the right choice. The level of support and dedication that the staff provides to their students is unmatched. I was able to finish my prerequisites and was accepted into the nursing program in Fresno. It was one of the best feelings of my life.

Enrolling at National has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The unique class design has given me the flexibility I need for my busy schedule. I also find that the way each class builds upon the next keeps me focused on learning and prepares me for what I will be doing in my career. The preparation that I have received from National University has opened so many opportunities for me. I was recently selected to be a VALOR (VA Learning Opportunities Residency) student nurse intern with the VA Central California Health Care System, and I have also been admitted into the NU Scholars Program. I am deeply humbled and grateful for these opportunities. I know that I am an inspiration to my children, and I hope that my story helps to inspires others who may think that getting a quality education is out of reach. Thanks to National University, I have finally been able to fulfill my lifelong dream of helping others.”

Stacey Beaver

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - San Diego

“After earning my physics degree from UC, San Diego, I spent more than decade working in the technology industry as an electrical engineer in the Bay Area. While I enjoyed this work, I always had a nagging regret that I hadn’t pursued a position in healthcare. Nursing was a profession I admired not only for its role on the front lines of promoting wellness and treating the ill, but also for the technical challenge of it. Nurses must be proactive; nurses use a wide breadth of knowledge to problem solve; nurses make a tangible impact on patients and families every day! However, leaving the comfort and security of an established career was not a decision I took lightly.

In 2017, two of my colleagues were hospitalized for acute medical conditions just a few months apart. The first coworker suffered a heart attack while in the office but was saved by the heroic efforts of emergency personnel and the medical team. He is thriving today and has made lifestyle changes to further improve his health, in part because of the education he received as a patient. Unfortunately, my other coworker never regained consciousness after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Although he was not saved, I will always be grateful for the skillful care and compassion I observed the nurses demonstrate. Witnessing these events was a turning point for me to re-evaluate what was important to me, and how I wanted to make my own impact. I felt certain that I could contribute every day as a nurse in a way that was not possible with my current career.

Motivated by my experience, I researched not only the field of nursing and how I might fit in, but also which path might allow me to make the transition from electrical engineer to nurse. I knew that a traditional, 4-year program would not be realistic, but the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at NU seemed the perfect fit for a returning student and parent. I could earn a second Bachelor’s degree in a shorter period of time and enter the workforce quickly to begin earning for my family. I was initially unsure about how well I would learn in accelerated month-long classes, but now I am a true believer that this format is ideal. I have found that the pace of the courses keeps me engaged, and I retain more knowledge for subsequent courses. I have been able to form a strong foundation which I continue to strengthen as I progress through the program. I love the flexibility of having both online and in-person coursework, and options for evening and weekend classes mean I can spend more time with my family and meet obligations outside the program. The support of the counselling and teaching staff has also been unlike any other experience I have had in an academic setting. The professor-to-student ratio allows for meaningful interactions and personal attention. Staff has been knowledgeable, thorough, and responsive to questions. Most important to me has been the wonderful attitude they demonstrate: You can feel that they care about students' success and wellbeing, which is a powerful motivator. I am so thankful that National University has provided me with the opportunity to transform my regret into excitement as I progress through the nursing program.

It is an honor to be a part of the NU Scholar’s Program where I can act as an ambassador for the school and serve the community. I am an example that NU invests in its student body, values diversity, and will work with you to set goals and achieve success even beyond your academic experience. I will be forever thankful for this gift and am eager to learn from and contribute to the program.”

Gia Allana Cabarse

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Degree Program - San Diego

“I am currently a nursing student at National University, in the BSN Second Bachelor’s Degree Program in San Diego. It is still so hard to believe that I have become a NU Scholar, as I was once a very lost and jaded college graduate.

From 2012 to 2014, I pursued a nursing degree at a private 4-year university. I had an extremely heavy course load, and I had weak grades and an even weaker self-esteem. However, despite my dismal academic performance, clinical rotations were always the most exciting part of my week. Patient care was something I knew that I did well, and I loved working alongside the nurses I shadowed. During these times I was in my element, and I refused to give up this feeling of purpose. I was told very early in this program that “nurses cannot care for patients if they cannot care for themselves.” While, on the surface I agreed with this, I struggled to acknowledge that I just could not take care of myself. Quietly owning a history of trauma and sexual assault, I let each semester bury me under 4-5 concurrent classes, family and social pressures, and mental illness. In the middle of Spring 2014, my sophomore year, I hit a breaking point with a very unexpected life shift. I had troubled sleeping and couldn’t focus in school. Eventually, the reality that I had been looking at for so long caught up to me, and I was dismissed from the program for my declining grades.

After the door had closed on me in nursing, I opted to change majors and finish out at the same university. I graduated in 2016 with a degree that I didn’t feel proud of, at a school that mispronounced my name at commencement. While my commencement photo shows me smiling and celebrating, this part of my life always felt off or wrong, and I did not feel like I had accomplished a meaningful goal.

At this point I had been working a part-time job as a barista and going to therapy regularly to try and resolve some of the issues that had resurfaced. I noticed that my therapist had acquired her master’s degree from National University. I asked her about it and, soon enough, I had met my academic advisor at NU.

Ever since I enrolled at National University, I have felt so much more secure in my future. I have had the best classroom experiences with the most caring professors – educators who have gone above and beyond to support my learning – that truly want me to succeed as much as I do. This institution recognizes the folks that might have had to take a detour in life, and I am proud to be re-telling this story as a testament to how NU has helped me become an example of resiliency. I am fortunate to be surpassing my own expectations with NU Scholars, and it’s the utmost honor to pay this good fortune back by serving the community. I have nothing but confidence on this path to fulfilling my purpose in getting my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in October 2020.”

LaTanya J. Green

Bachelor of Science, Educational Counseling with PPSC Credential - Riverside

“I’m a Survivor, a Warrior, and an Over-Comer. I am the third of four children raised by a divorced, strong, determined, black woman who put herself through the nursing program at Compton College in 1971. I’ve overcome many obstacles in life - I vividly recall the fear of being both a 6-year-old child in the heart of the Watts Riots of 1965, and a 33-year-old business owner amid the LA Riots of 1992. I am destined to make a better life for myself, and I continue to re-define my life story in order to make a significant impact on the lives I touch.

Being a first-generation college graduate and business owner was not my dream as a teen growing up in the inner cities of Watts, Compton, South-Central Los Angeles, and Inglewood CA. At age 14, I became a teen mother, but I hung onto my drive for education and success, graduating high school at age 16 and completing cosmetology school by age 17. By age 25, I had opened my first beauty salon, where I worked to empower other young people through community service like fashion shows, picnics, holiday food give-aways, youth employment and mentoring programs. Years later, I became a licensed foster parent for around 100 children, including my two adopted daughters. For the next 25 years, I worked in residential treatment facilities for teen mothers and their babies in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.

During this time, I also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science and worked in a community college as a resource specialist and education matriculation associate with at risk-youth and former foster youth. Of all my achievements, raising my amazing son, De Aundre is the greatest. My son has blessed me with 6 awesome grandchildren, all of whom are high honor roll students, and the three oldest of whom currently attend college. De Aundre has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for the past 9 years and refuses to quit. Watching my son fight MS has fueled me to believe that my story still has not come to an end.

As a returning student, I had apprehensions that could have kept me from soaring. However, at NU, my team of administrators, analysts, financial aid specialists, and facilitators, along with all of the other students in my cohort, have all encouraged me to be sure that I can win. Since I began in May 2019, I’ve been an A student, except for a B+ in one class! (guess I can live with that). In recognition of both my achievement and my determination, I’ve been blessed to be named a member of the NU Scholars Program, which has been truly been life changing for me.

Special appreciation to NU President, Dr. David Andrews, the NU Scholars Program staff, and the Academic Program Director for MS Degree Program for Higher Education - Dr. Joseph Marron who continues to encourage me that entering the third career of my life will pay off with great dividends. I have only just begun! It’s never too late to pursue a dream! It’s my season to reap what I have sown!”

Matthew Hagmann

Master of Education with Integrated Credential - Bay Area

“After I received my Bachelor’s degree, I never thought that I would get the opportunity to return to school, and, at the time, I wasn’t interested in another degree. In the past, I had not been confident in myself as a student, and I had a less-than-stellar performance from middle school through my bachelor’s degree program. Then, in the years that followed, I had the opportunity to work for an after-school program and came to love education. However, now that I was interested in an advanced degree, I didn’t think that it was possible. After seeing several of my friends complete their programs through National University, I was intrigued and reached out for more information.

After a few months at National University, my self-confidence as a student was completely transformed. The four-week-long classes, one class at a time, allowed me to focus on each class individually, which ended up being a much better fit for my life and learning style, and which helped me perform much better than I had ever done before.

I am proud to be a student at National University because it has been one of the only schools that I have ever encountered that I feel aims to meet prospective students where they are, rather than make students meet their expectations. The way they structure their academic programs underscores this foundation of meeting students' needs, which has been one of the reasons why I have loved my experience as an NU student so far.

Through this program, I have the opportunity to conduct research on standardized testing and provide proof of how it needs to be changed to serve multiple types of learners. With this project, I will be able to work directly with the faculty of National University, as well as fellow NU scholars and NU Scholars alumni. The very idea that the school that is based on the idea of meeting the needs of their learners, will help me do my part in serving the needs of students is quite exhilarating.

Being a part of the NU Scholars Program is an absolute honor. Having the chance to represent the school that works to meet the needs that I have as a student is an opportunity that I look forward to.”

Teresa Henager

Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning Program with a Preliminary Multiple and Single Subject Teaching Credential-ELL - Redding

“At a very young age, I realized I loved school. Though it wasn’t always easy, I have always been an enthusiastic learner. You could often find me with my nose buried in books, eager to discover something new. I can still vividly remember my first day of school. I remember the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the sounds of children’s voices echoing in the hallway, and the cool surface of my desk after recess. School has always been my happy place, and I take pride in my dedication to my education.

My transition into young adulthood was rocky compared to my idyllic childhood. The recession reached its peak as I entered high school. Many families were negatively impacted, and I was just one of many. After high school, I started to buy into the lie that education is expensive and therefore unattainable. The rural part of Northern California I call home lacks opportunities for students, so I was faced with a decision: I could either take out hefty loans to attend a traditional university in a different city or stay home and enroll in a local community college. I decided, after much lamentation, to stay. I woefully watched all my friends move away, enjoying the college experience while I stood stagnant. I started to feel disenchanted. I stopped taking classes after a few semesters and entered the workforce. I forgot about my dreams of earning a degree and convinced myself it was time to face the facts. This was the real word. Though I told myself I was doing the right thing, I felt like a stranger. I thought about my child self, the little girl surrounded by stacks of library books and colored pencils. Would she be proud of me?

So, I decided to re-enroll, focusing only on my general education and not worrying about what would come next. Dutifully, I chipped away at my courses and earned my Associate Degree. Soon afterwards, I was admitted to the small private university in my hometown. Though it was a private university and therefore more expensive, my good grades brought me scholarships. I began to see that I was capable of navigating my college plans, and it felt amazing to be rewarded for my hard work.

When I graduated with my BA in Psychology, it struck me that, even though I still felt like I was stagnant, that wasn’t true, and I was slowly carving through the mountain separating me from my goals. Each class I took, each grade I earned, each assignment I completed, gained me an inch. Those inches quickly added up, even though I couldn’t see it. I decided I was ready to tackle my next mountain and pursue a Master’s Degree.

When I found National University, I felt as though the stars had aligned. The online format allows me to go to school full time while also working a full-time job so I can still support myself. The teachers at National have been incredibly helpful, and despite being an online student, I still feel very connected with my classmates. The experiences and perspectives they share is truly an invaluable gift. I am honored beyond measure to be given a chance to represent National University as a NU Scholar, and I look forward to this next chapter of my life.

I hope that, as a teacher, I can inspire my students to pursue their dreams in whatever way they can. I want to help them understand that their path might look different from their friend’s, but they’re still heading in the same direction. My journey is far from over, but I have learned valuable lessons along the way that continue to guide me. I’ve learned not to look at the overwhelming obstacle in front of me. Instead, focus on the first steps. Call about the program. Chat with an advisor. Ask questions. Soon, the small goals add up to an accomplishment that’s nothing short of spectacular.”

Annie Jensen

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“National University found me at a point in life when I was 22 years old and felt completely lost about who I wanted to be. I had just graduated with my Bachelors in Kinesiology-Physical Therapy and was working in the Insurance industry, but neither of these career paths called me. I come from a family of nurses, and I had spent some time in the hospital as a child; I was always drawn towards the medical field. However, I wanted to be unique and my own person. As I tried to make a decision, I started volunteering and shadowing different professionals at a children’s hospital in the Central Valley. I saw firsthand how knowledgeable, reliant, and compassionate nurses had to be, and I found that I wanted to be that person for patients. It was like a lightbulb went on in my head, and I realized that this was what I should have always been striving to do.

While I was excited to get back into school to pursue this new dream, working full time made it extremely difficult to find a suitable program. I explored many different programs in California, but everything was extremely impacted, with a two-year wait between application and starting coursework. My sister, an alum of NU’s nursing program, suggested I meet with a counselor to see if they could work around my schedule. The academic advisor who I met with told me about the many students who were also working full time, and about how NU’s unique learning platform helped students with busy adult lives and diverse backgrounds succeed. I applied to the program three months later and was ecstatic to be accepted into the next cohort, far faster than any of the other options I looked at.

I’m currently 6 months into my program and am absolutely loving it! Compared with the state school where I got my first Bachelor's degree, I find the learning environment at National much more effective: All of the students in my program actually want to be there, and our instructors know all of us personally, and want to see us succeed in both the classroom and the field. Coming from a family of nurses, I have some pretty big shoes to fill, and National has given me the confidence and platform to be an effective nurse and make an impact in people’s lives. I am so excited to graduate in February 2021 and make National University proud.”

Isaiah Matthews

Bachelor of Art, History - Sacramento

“Growing up as the second youngest of seven children, education was not much discussed or encouraged. With so many mouths to feed, we often struggled to keep things afloat and moved frequently due to financial struggles. Working and contributing to the household was of primary importance, and everyone had to do their part. My younger brother and I, too young to work, would rummage through trash and recycle bins at our apartment complex to scrounge up recyclable bottles and cans for the deposit. After years of struggle, I moved out a few months after turning 18 and was forced to grow up quickly, learning about life the hard way. Nothing was given to me without my own hard work, and as I made my way up the career ladder, I eventually found myself in state employment. I am proud of working hard to get to my current position within my organization, and of developing a great work ethic and reputation along the way.

As I continued to progress professionally, I found that a college degree was vital to advancement. However, with a full-time job, homeownership, marriage, and family obligations, finding the time for school was tough. Despite these numerous obstacles, I took it upon myself to be the first in my family to earn a degree and finish college, no matter how difficult it would prove to be. Back in high school, I was lucky enough to have teachers that pushed me to try hard and succeed. One of my history teachers piqued my interest in this subject, which is one of the reasons I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in History. I have always enjoyed the study of the past, and truly believe that in order to understand where we are today, we must look back and understand the journey that got us here. A few months after obtaining my associate degree through community college, I started at National University. I was used to taking online classes at an accelerated pace, but I was apprehensive about the length and speed of National’s courses. After the first few courses, however, those fears quickly subsided.

On a professional level, National University has allowed me to utilize the information and skills I have gained from my education and to apply them in my current field as a Workforce and Succession Planning Analyst in human resources for the State of California. As a full-time employee and student, I have noticed a marked improvement in my research, writing, and problem-solving skills, and I was excited to see how quickly I was able to hone these skills in the classroom and then apply them to my career. By choosing National, I will complete my program without a gap in employment, and I will be a much more competitive candidate for promotion once I graduate.

In sharing my story, I hope to provide motivation and inspiration to those who have faced similar challenges at home, at school, or with work to pursue their passions no matter what they may be up against. National University’s distance-learning model and fast pace opened up a world of possibilities, even if you might not have the support or motivation to begin.

Where I came from, obtaining a scholarship was a dream that seemed completely out of reach, so having the honor of being chosen as a NU Scholar is beyond anything that I could have expected. I care a great deal about giving back to communities like the one I came from. Everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers (aka, “Mr. Rogers”) once said, “We know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too…” I keep this quote at my desk at work to remind me to always find ways to help others. The NU Scholars Program has provided me with an avenue to impact my community positively as a role model while continuing my educational career, and I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.”

Jonathan Daniel “JD” Melendez

Bachelor of Art, Pre-law Studies - Los Angeles

“The idea that I would one day be typing a narrative about myself as a newly chosen NU Scholar is a story that I never thought I’d be sharing with you. When I was twelve, growing up in the in the San Francisco Bay Area, I decided to throw my life away and join the local gang. Staying in school, striving for good grades, and joining after-school sports were things I never considered doing. My mother worked as a nursing assistant and was also going to nursing school, and my siblings and I were left to fend for ourselves. Sitting in the school cafeteria was a daily humiliation because I was the only student who didn’t bring a lunch bag or lunch money. By fourth grade, I had run out of excuses as to why I wasn’t eating. My early elementary school years taught me how to stay quiet and navigate the halls in school as if I were a ghost. I did not want to be noticed and I was fine with not talking to anyone. I told myself it was easier that way. School was never a haven or a refuge, but a place I wanted to avoid, a place that wasn’t meant for me, a place that accommodated the “other kids” - those who carried lunch boxes and whose parents could chaperone them during school field trips.

Although I had very little control of certain events that happened when I was a child, today, I get to choose my narrative. I decided to build a better life for myself, and part of that choice was to enroll at National University in 2013. I had previously earned my A.A. degree in Business Administration, and, when I looked into enrolling at NU, I was relieved to learn that many of my credits earned would be transferrable towards my bachelor’s degree. One of the things that impressed me the most about NU was how organized and structured the enrollment process was. As I have always had to work full-time while being in school, I’ve never had the luxury of being a full-time student and having that to be my sole focus. Having an enrollment counselor greet me in the lobby with a brochure containing everything I needed to know about my program meant the world to me. I wanted to get in, get out, and get ahead, and NU made me feel like this was doable. Most of my family lives in San Francisco and I am the only one in Los Angeles, so I knew that going back to school and continuing to work full-time would be extra challenging. However, my motivation to pursue higher education at National University outweighed my fear of failing.

A medical crisis one year into my program led to a long break, but I was eventually able to come back, this time changing from psychology to pre-law. Enrolling at NU for the second time reminded me that it is a place where I belong. Yet again, I had a whole team behind me that guided me through the enrollment process, from creating an academic advisement report, to starting and completing my financial aid plan, to giving me all the information I needed to transition into my new legal studies program. Three months into my program I received a call from the financial aid office to inform me that my financial aid award would run out before earning my degree. Once again, I was faced with a situation that could have discouraged me from staying in school. I once heard the words, “If you’re determined, you’ll find a way, if not, then you’ll find an excuse.” Shortly after receiving this news, I received an email inviting me to apply to the NU Scholars Program. I leapt at this opportunity, spending many long nights writing the required essays, gathering recommendation letters, and composing a PowerPoint presentation for an in-person interview. I didn’t think that I could be awarded this scholarship because good things like that don’t happen to people like me. I am so happy that I was wrong.

On September 27, 2019, on an overcast morning, I drove from Downtown Los Angeles to National University’s Torrey Pines headquarters to receive my hard-earned scholarship certificate. That ceremony was hands-down one of my greatest accomplishments and one of the best things that have ever happened to me. First, a huge financial burden was lifted, and I was able to look past my insurmountable inability to pay for my degree. But more importantly, the NU Scholars Program and the staff who support it have given me hope about my future, and they have helped me to believe that my dreams are now achievable, as long as I am willing to do the work. Becoming part of this program has reaffirmed my commitment to be of service in my community, especially to continue to mentor other young men who aren’t sure if they can achieve a higher education. I hope to show them, through my example, that good things can happen to them too if they work hard and allow their painful experiences to fuel their drive to become better men because of it.”

Kabir Rodriguez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing (RN to BSN Program) - Fresno

“The seed of a career in nursing was planted early on in my childhood. I grew up understanding that it was a duty and a privilege to help others, and our family was a strong team that sought to overcome barriers. I see my family as the inspiration for my core character traits of perseverance, dedication, and gratitude, and as paving the way for a career in taking care of others. My upbringing taught me that anything is possible with dedication and hard work. My dad is a clear reflection of a person who works towards the American dream. While raising me, my dad had three jobs, while my mom worked two. Their dedication to improving our quality of life inspired me to want to do the same for them, as well as for others who experience challenges.

However, despite this passion and inspiration, as the eldest child of five in a first-generation family, I found have struggled to navigate the path to higher education, especially when balancing my commitment to academics, community service, and family. During my early college years, I held various jobs to not only pay for my education, but to help support my family. I have also always been involved in local community service such as serving in soup kitchens, collaborating on projects for local Boy and Girl Scouts, and volunteering in a hospital. I really enjoy volunteering, interacting with others, and making a difference in any way I can.

As I worked towards my dream of becoming a nurse, I loved working as an LVN for special needs pediatric patients. I learned that although some were unable to speak, they still expressed their vibrant personalities and responded to nurses in different ways. We learned how to interact with them, as well as be sensitive to what they were trying to tell us in order to provide them with the best care. Just like these children, we all have our own preferred way of being treated. I have also had the opportunity to work as a home health assistant, helping patients with basic everyday tasks that many of us may take for granted. With my experience of providing care on both a personal and professional level, I learned that compassion and empathy are critical for patients especially when they are so vulnerable. In these positions I witnessed health disparities, and the financial burden of healthcare.

My desire to do more for my patients, especially children, and to ensure the best possible experience for all my patients, regardless of their financial circumstances, fueled my desire to further my education. To optimize care for both patients and providers in today's multi-cultural society, I knew that I needed to expand my capabilities by earning an RN-BSN degree. While I was nervous about taking this big step, I knew I had to set the example for my younger siblings. Luckily, National University provides a clear path for people like me who are ambitious, but who are not sure where to begin. NU’s unique platform includes a flexible, high-quality learning environment that fully supports non-traditional students in making their academic dream a reality.

As a member of the NU Scholars Program, I am excited to expand on my role as President of the NU Student Nursing Association (NUSNA) in Fresno, while continuing in my RN-BSN program. Serving as a student leader gives me a platform to collaborate with faculty and students to make an impactful change on our local community. I am excited to embark on this new journey as a NU Scholar, and this scholarship will allow me to dedicate more time towards academics, leadership, and community service.”

Whisper Tennis

Master’s in Counseling with a Dual Emphasis of Marriage and Family Therapy and Clinical Counseling - San Diego

“In a life full of inconsistency, one thing that has remained constant for me is my desire to help people. I have always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and I believe my degree and career path will equip me to be an advocate for people. Throughout my life I have had loved ones who struggled with suicide, addiction, and mental illness.

Looking back to my childhood, I can see all of the heart-wrenching events that built me up to be the person I am today: An individual who has empathy and compassion for others and wants to support those in difficult circumstances.

After years of working in childhood development and finishing my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I longed to go further in my career. Since my husband got out of the Marine Corps our finances have always been a little tight, but we always manage to make a home and provide for my stepson. This year, after trying to conceive for four years, we welcomed a little boy into the world. I felt so blessed to be a mom, but of course this meant that our world drastically changed. While I love to learn and desire to be an advocate for those who are in need, after having my son, I thought my education was over. I took a leap of faith when I enrolled in my master’s program – I didn’t know exactly how I was going to pay for it or if I would even be able to get licensed. Not only do I work full time, but I am a wife and mother, and I volunteer a lot at my church - becoming a full-time student, too, was daunting. I knew that going back to school was going to be stressful but the desire in me grew, and I knew I had to step out in faith and gain the education that I needed to be a resource for individuals in need.

Enrolling at National University has allowed me to reach goals I did not believe were possible; being able to focus on one course per month and take most of my coursework online gives me the flexibility that I need to balance all these roles. Becoming part of the NU Scholars Program proves for me that it is possible to accomplish my goals and to help people at the same time, and this scholarship allows me to work, go to school, take care of my son, and focus on giving back to my community and being a positive influence for my school, community, and family. I truly feel so grateful for this gift of education and the opportunity to reach my personal and educational goals.”

Melissa “Missy” Waters

Master of Science, Educational Counseling with PPSC Credential - San Diego

“As children, we all have aspirations for our future career. I always knew that I wanted to help others and make a lasting impact on their lives. In fact, when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say “a helper.” Little did I know how many obstacles would be thrown my way – each of which I have proudly jumped over. I thank National University for making it possible for me to handle all of these obstacles while still being able to further my career. Instead of letting me say “I can’t,” National University demands that I can, and I will, allowing me to continue to work full-time to support myself and my education while still pursing my dream. By helping me support this balance, National University is allowing my four-year-old self to become the “helper” I have always dreamed of becoming.

As a first-generation college student, I had no example to follow. Not only was college not an expected path for me, but good grades were not even encouraged. However, I was determined to do what I needed to do to become successful, and to have an impact on others. The initial hurdles that might have been no big deal for a prospective college student with experienced parents were intimidating challenges for me, and although my loving parents tried their best to help, in the end, I found that doing research on my own was more helpful. At times I felt lost, confused, and hopeless, and as if I had no future, but I pushed on. Once I was successfully accepted into my top-choice undergraduate school, I was faced with the question of finances. While my parents had always provided for me, they did not have the means to assist me with the cost of college, and even with maxing out my loans, I was still short. However, I was determined to attend college, and I was not giving up my dreams. That summer, I lined up three part-time jobs, and throughout the four years of my undergraduate degree, I was able to maintain a high GPA while still working three-to-four part-time jobs throughout my matriculation.

These accomplishments were made more difficult by my ongoing battle with anxiety. Throughout my life, I have always had a voice in my head telling me I can’t. Normally, I have eventually been able to kick that voice out and push forward. However, a little over a year ago, as I tried to move forward with a graduate program, I found myself making excuses as to why grad school wasn’t right for me. Soon, I was making excuses for not leaving my house, and I started avoided doing the things I loved to reduce the chance of having a panic attack in public. Finally, I was finally able to reach out and receive the help I desperately needed. During this same time, I heard an ad on the radio for National University, and I enrolled in a program. National University provided me with the flexibility I needed to be in control of anxiety while still taking steps to move my education and career forward. Finally, I felt in control and excited for my future again.

My dream has adapted from being a “helper” to helping children learn as an Educational Counselor. I believe that every student can learn and be successful, regardless of their disabilities or background, if they are given the right tools. I am dedicated to this belief because of my own past. The NU Scholar’s program will help me achieve this by financially supporting my education while also providing me leadership-development and community engagement opportunities to ensure that I become the best educational counselor I can be. I am beyond excited to be an NU Scholar, and to live up to my potential while using my story to motivate others.

When my anxiety and past tell me I can’t, I know my fellow NU Scholars will ensure me that I can. National University has provided me with the tools I need to succeed. Let them provide you with those tools, too!”

Pedro Aguilar

Bachelor of Science, Nursing, Scholar of Stamina - Los Angeles

“I started my journey at National University as a full-time mental health professional and a part-time parent. With a busy lifestyle, I needed a school that would fit my schedule. The format and schedule of classes at NU were perfect for me, allowing me to work full time, devote time to my child, and continue to train in Jiu-Jitsu. I am currently finishing up my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and will be graduating in August 2020. My next goal is to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Getting to this point has not been easy, and I owe a lot to both National University and to my mother, who worked hard to give me better opportunities than the ones she had. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in East Los Angeles, until we relocated to Fontana, California. In Fontana, I was able to accomplish my first milestone of graduating from high school and continued on into community college. I am the first male of my family to graduate high school, and I am a first-generation college graduate.

Growing up, I learned from role models in my community, such as teachers, counselors, and athletic coaches. At home, my mother’s work ethic and perseverance empowered me to be able to overcome any adversity in my path to success. I have always gravitated towards serving others, including children without families, formerly incarcerated people who are on probation, and those with mental illness. I feel so privileged to be selected for the National University Scholars program, and I am excited to continue to pursue my work through this program.”

Erin Roberts

Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning, Single Subject Credential in Music - San Diego

“National University’s Master of Education and Credential program has been the solution to the ongoing career challenges I’ve experienced since graduating from my undergraduate program 13 years ago in Music, Vocal Performance. Having a lifelong passion for music but no real training in how to make it into a viable career or lifestyle, I have struggled to find work that is both fulfilling and steady. I have faced the financial difficulties of owning a music business, the inconsistencies of being a contracted teaching artist and performer, and the soulless, day-to-day grind of holding down a corporate job unrelated to my passion in the performing arts. Music performance and education are challenging career paths, and I have had to piece together jobs and persevere despite many years of setbacks.

As I tried to find a career that was the right fit for me, I kept coming back to music education, and I finally became determined to pursue a steady career in the field that highlights my greatest talents. That’s where National University has come in, providing me with the tools I need to become a full-time music educator, as well as to apply my unique skills and talents in music, leadership, and creativity. Meanwhile, the flexible course format allows me to keep up with my professional commitments.

As a member of the National University Scholars Program, I look forward to continuing my studies, supporting the University, and using this platform to advocate for the arts in our school systems - a critical component of K-12 education that 60% of schools in California do not currently have the funding or support to offer. I hope to inspire current and prospective students to follow their dreams as I have done, and to develop the determination to stick with their program through challenges and potential setbacks.”

Japheth Ruth Aposaga Chin

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“From my earliest memories, I have always been the student who has had very high expectations of herself. I used to push myself and cry if I felt that I did not live up to my own standards. I set my goals high and I would tell my mom – a nurse for over 30 years – that I, too, would work in the hospital. I recall writing an essay in elementary school about how one day I would apply to the University of California system as a biology major; the letter was printed in our school bulletin and my mother saved a copy in our photo album.

We all expected that, as such an academically strong and driven student, I would be a natural success at the UC. However, it ended up not being the best fit for me. I had attended small, private schools through high school, where I had been used to small classes, a tight-knit environment, and easy access to faculty whenever I had questions. When I entered UC, Irvine as a biology major (just as my childhood essay had predicted), it was a huge change. I felt distant from the faculty and other students, and although I did find a quite a few friends, I did not feel the same support and protection as I did before. During this time, I struggled and ended up switching majors, knowing in my heart that I was not on the right path.

After pushing myself in a major that did not fulfill me, I came back to San Diego with the support of my family and friends to continue my education in nursing. I wanted to get back on track with my dream of working in a hospital, but I felt scared and didn’t know where to start. I had heard of National University when I was looking for a nursing school, and I was impressed by how quick they were to call me back or answer my questions. I was soon enrolled to finish up some prerequisites, but the day before my first class – a speech and communications class – my 31-year-old cousin passed away. I thought about pushing my classes back, but she had stressed how proud she was of my efforts, and I knew that I would honor her best by rolling with life’s punches. I started class the next day, missing just one class for her funeral. We were given an open topic for our final speech – mine was a eulogy that I had written about her.

Every day that I go to class, I feel like I am fighting for myself against an undertow in the ocean that has the power to pull me away, taking with it more of myself. I keep my thoughts on the shore. I have the love and support of my family, friends, and fiancé. I have gained the love and friendship of so many great people in the nursing program at National University, all with diverse backgrounds and stories that have brought them to where they are now. I feel inspired. I feel that I am not alone, swimming against the undertow. I know that, with so many hands reaching out for me, and with the determination that has gotten me past the lowest points of my life, I can do the greatest things I have imagined possible for myself.

I am so appreciative to have found so much at National University. They have fulfilled what I have wanted in a small campus and private school. I love the class sizes that have led me to grow so close to my cohort, helping me to feel supported in each class that we take together. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given with this scholarship, to fulfill my dreams among other students who have come through so much and are still aiming for their goals.”

Luis Ramirez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - San Diego

“I am a native of Costa Rica and proudly became a citizen of the United States in 2014. My mother and I originally immigrated to the United States when I was a child. We arrived in our new home country, and just six days later I was enrolled in school. Like many parents, she was fueled by the desire to raise her son in a country where opportunities to succeed abound.

I graduated from Southern Oregon University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. With degree in hand, I aspired to travel and work abroad. One corporate role led to another and I eventually relocated to London in 1999, where I met my wife. We eventually decided to start a family and subsequently relocated to San Diego for another job opportunity. The path I’ve taken has been rich with life experiences and I have no regrets. However, when I turned 40 it dawned on me that the years I’d spent in corporate marketing had gone by very quickly, and I’d never felt truly rewarded nor particularly proud of the contribution I was making to the world. This was a turning point for me. I realized that I felt the most content when I was caring for someone else, be that sitting at my mother’s side and partnering in her healthcare, or being at my children’s side in the NICU and partnering in their upbringing. Getting to know their amazing NICU nurse, who quickly became like family, made a lasting impact on me. It was then that I began to feel a yearning to transition to a more rewarding career. Once that seed was planted, it matured into a calling to become a nurse. My wife and I are now blessed with three amazing children, two boys and a girl, and with their support, I am thriving in National’s nursing program.

As I started researching nursing programs, National University became the clear choice for me. The flexible evening course schedule and one-month course format allowed me continue working while I completed pre-requisite science and math courses for the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Learning how to learn again was one of the first challenges I faced. I was fortunate to have wonderful professors at National who encouraged me to be tenacious, to not give up, and most importantly, to keep my long-term goal in sight. They convinced me that my dream of becoming a nurse was within reach, but I should be prepared to struggle and not give up. This was the encouragement I needed, and it made a tremendous difference.

Once admitted to National’s accelerated nursing program, I was able to transition from focusing on my corporate career to becoming a full-time student. National’s one course per month format really compliments my learning style. By allowing me focus on one subject per month, I feel I can maximize learning while focusing on that subject with precision.

I’m very proud of being enrolled in National’s nursing program. Every time I go to class, I’m reminded how blessed I am to be able to pursue a second career, at age 45 with three children, a mortgage, and other responsibilities. I’m also inspired by my fellow students and by the personal stories my professors have shared of their own paths to becoming nurses. It’s exciting to put on my National nursing uniform, knowing I’m one step closer to becoming the nurse I was meant to be. Throughout my professional career, I’d always looked with envy on people who knew from an early age what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” And despite having made that discovery for myself later in life, National University opened the door to that opportunity for me. For the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to wake up feeling proud of what I’m doing, knowing that I’ll have the chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life that day.”

Lisa Shepherd

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - Fresno

“Many people struggle for most of their life’s not knowing “what they want to be when they grow up.” Few have an internal calling and can begin as soon as possible to obtain the life they dream of. I feel very fortunate that I knew at a young age what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a part of the medical field.

At 17 years old, I graduated high school and went to a private college where I immediately began working on pre-med requirements. After three years, I had to admit that I was no longer able to financially support myself while attending school as a full-time student. I was working two jobs and my grades suffered. I entered the workforce fulltime and put my dreams on hold.

Eventually, I started work as a police dispatcher. Even though this was a career I fell into, I found value and fulfillment in helping people and fed my dream a little bit when I handled medical emergency calls. This made me realize that my dream was still there, I just didn’t know exactly how to achieve my goals.

In 2009 I married a wonderful man who is an active duty service member with over 20 years of service to his country. Anyone familiar with the service member lifestyle knows there is often little stability. In 10 years of marriage, we have moved six times (and also have five children), which has made it difficult to pursue my dream of working as a medical professional.

When my first child was born, my experience with the hospital staff and nurses throughout my pregnancy and delivery was disappointing. This experience gave me a sense of calling about where I wanted to be in the medical field: I know that patients deserve more, and I want to be someone who provides the quality of care that expecting and new mothers and families deserve.

I was introduced to National University when my husband obtained his post-graduate degree through NU, and we both saw how the one course per month model fit with our lifestyle. National University has given me the opportunity to pursue my BSN and has given me my dream back. I am so grateful and honored to not only be a student at NU, but to also be in the Scholars Program. I will graduate from the nursing program in January 2021, but I do not intend to stop there. My goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner and work OB/GYN so I can affect change in the medical field and support other moms like me.”

Micoy (Leonardo) Gonzalez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“While I was in high school in the Philippines, I helped rescue a classmate from drowning in a river; in college, I assisted a pregnant passenger in a public bus. Both of these experiences showed me how good it felt to serve others, and the gratification I felt afterwards fueled a decision to pursue nursing as a career. Then in 2012, I unexpectedly experienced the other side of the experience, when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I ended up having three surgeries that year: the first to remove the lump (which came back positive for thyroid cancer), the second for a total thyroidectomy, and the last to fix my vocal cords (which had been damaged from the thyroidectomy). Being a cancer patient exposed me to what RNs do in the acute setting, and made me look back on my life and want to become a nurse even more.

The road to becoming an RN has been long: I started by becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Connecticut, then earned my licensed practical nursing (LPN) license in Connecticut in 2005. After moving to California (where my LPN license was called a licensed vocational nursing license), I first worked in a children’s clinic, then moved to a skilled nursing facility. The doctors and RNs that I worked with often assumed that I was a registered nurse, and their professional trust and respect encouraged me to pursue higher education. In California, without being an RN, the highest position I could achieve in the skilled nursing setting was as an Assistant to the Director of Nursing.

Having a spouse who was herself pursuing a BSN has made this path even more challenging and rewarding. My wife was pursuing nursing before we were married, so I worked to support her until she received her BSN in 2010. During this time, my wife gave birth to two children without taking a break from the program, and pulling together as a family was essential to making this possible. Today we have three children ages 12, 10 and 7. I waited until my children were older before taking a chance on myself, but I finally decided that it was time to complete my dream.

When I first got my hands on a National University brochure and catalog, it seemed like a perfect fit - having young children and full-time work hours couldn’t possibly work with the traditional college schedule. Two weeks later, I had scheduled an appointment with a NU advisor to evaluate my grades and transcripts. A counselor spoke with me about my GPA requirements in simple terms and in one sitting. I just had to sign a release of record information, contact my previous school, and NU staff took care of evaluating my foreign and out-of-state transcripts, grade equivalencies, and acceptance of old transfer credits. The ability to take one class each month at National University has allowed me to simplify my education, so I can devote as much focus as possible to just one class. Taking one class at a time either in person or online has made it possible for me to focus on myself while still giving me the freedom to be a father. There have been many occasions where the online course model has saved me and my wife from schedule conflicts with our kids’ school schedule and appointments.

Today, I am truly happy that I finally took action towards my professional career goals. I know I would have always regretted not working towards my own dreams of becoming a nurse. While having a family to support and a wife in school meant delays, I am a proud to be an adult learner who is living proof that you can always pursue my dreams- with my new dream being of completing my program and continuing on to an MSN-FNP (Master of Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner) program. Being admitted to the NU Scholars Program has made me feel so humbled and blessed. The teachers and advisors at NU have supported me and have made me feel as though I am not alone in this pursuit of education, service to others, and career advancement.”

Rachel Cox

Master of Science, Health Informatics - San Diego

“Growing up, I wasn’t driven in school. I had little motivation, was pessimistic about my future, and seemed to gravitate towards others who felt the same way. I spent middle and high school prioritizing my social life, and letting my education take a back seat. It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year, when my friends started talking about applying to college, that I began to question what my future would look like if I did not continue my education. My parents had always instilled the importance of education in me and my siblings, but it wasn’t until this moment that I started to take them seriously. I feared it could be too late, and spent the next two years working hard, building stronger relationships with teachers and appreciating school. I was lucky to have turned myself around early enough for me to improve my grades, and to join the Compact for Success program at Bonita Vista High. This program gave me a second chance to prove everyone wrong and getting accepted into multiple colleges was my biggest accomplishment yet.

I’ve always had a passion for healthcare, but never knew where I could make the biggest impact. As an undergraduate, my first goal was becoming a physical therapist, and I imagined myself eventually becoming a doctor. However, shortly after joining the PT program at SDSU, I realized that this career no longer sparked my interest. I changed my degree program and found a major that looked at the entire healthcare ecosystem. I found myself in awe of my health professors, their accomplishments within the healthcare system, and their personal experiences. My classes revolved around compassion, the patient-provider experience, and all the supportive teams needed to make the healthcare system work. I wanted to find ways to better support our healthcare ecosystem as a whole and started trying to figure out exactly how I could do that.

I always knew I wanted to attend National University because of the way they support the everyday, working adult, and online classes seemed to be the only way I could continue my education. After spending three years doubting myself and thinking I wasn’t ready, I scheduled an appointment with an advisor at NU, but ultimately ended up taking more time to be sure about my professional goals. It wasn’t until I came into my current role as a Project Specialist at Dexcom that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. NU and their Master of Science in Health Informatics program has given me a platform to share my passion for healthcare while learning more about the existing and evolving health information technology supporting it.

For the first time in my education, I feel confident and motivated to do my best. NU has given me an opportunity to continue my career while finding time to obtain my masters, all with immense support from professors who truly care about my success. I have never met a stronger community of individuals with similar passions and goals. NU has given me a different perspective about my education, and being a part of the NU Scholars has provided me with all the tools I need to grow as a leader and to support both my professional and educational dreams.”

Amaratpreet Sekhon

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“Throughout my childhood I was in and out of hospitals for various injuries, and I was always impressed by the compassionate care of the nurses who took care of me. These experiences drove my desire to pursue a career in nursing, with the ultimate goal of practicing as a licensed Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

I first heard about National University at a time when my academic career was at a standstill. I had completed courses at a community college to pursue my dream of entering the healthcare profession, only to be informed that, due to changing requirements, I would need to take another two full years of classes. In contrast, National would accept the credits I had already earned, and the program was shorter (only 22 months) than the state college program. Along with this shorter program, National University’s unique four- and eight-week classes allowed me to continue working while advancing my education. National University’s smaller classes, split into a cohort system, also help build teacher-student relationships, and my counselor has worked with me to make sure that I have a clear path towards graduation.

During the nursing program I was introduced to National University’s Student Nurses Association (NUSNA), which aims to build leadership skills and to help nursing students develop relationships within the community they will one day be serving as licensed nurses. Within NUSNA, I was elected to the role of Vice President, which has helped me to grow my communication, leadership, and organizational skills.

Being selected as a NU Scholar is an honor and proves to me that hard work and perseverance result in success. Throughout the course of the Scholar’s Program I hope to advance my leadership skills within this group of likeminded individuals. As a NU Scholar I hope to uphold and advance the standards of National University and be a role model for future Scholars and students alike.”

Aryal Jardines

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“I am currently in the second year of my Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Rancho Bernardo Campus, and every time that I am asked how I got here, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be given the opportunity of an education.

I am part Native Hawaiian, born and raised in the islands of Hawaii. Molokai is the last island “untouched” by the rest of modern society and is extremely limited in educational opportunities. Molokai’s educational system consists of only one high school for the entire community, with no higher education opportunities. With such a small local economy, education is the best way out. My grandparents immigrated to the island to work in the pineapple fields, and they believed in the power of an American education to change their children’s lives.

In 2010, I was given the opportunity to move to San Diego, and to obtain an education that I could never get in Molokai. However, what was to have been a happy, exciting time took a turn when, shortly after moving to California, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. Through chemotherapy, radiation, and, ultimately, admission into the Intensive Care Unit, I witnessed what the field of nursing truly entailed. Unfortunately, my uncle did not get the miracle that he needed, but it was through his battle that I grew my desire to be there for others who might, and to become a nurse myself.

I was never a 4.0 student, and, soon after high school, I found myself on my own, working two jobs and struggling to make it to my college courses. After almost four and a half years at a community college, I received my associate degree in general studies. Although I was constantly comparing myself to friends who were graduating with four-year degrees from universities in the same amount of time or less, I was proud of my perseverance and determination. However, when I spoke with a counselor on the college campus - who took in my strenuous work schedule, my less-than-perfect GPA, and the amount of time it had taken me to complete my associate degree – they advised me to choose a different career, because I wouldn’t make it through nursing school. Again, I was reminded by my own college that I just wasn’t good enough.

After I met my husband, a Marine who faced hardships of his own, he motivated me to continue to focus more on my goal of becoming a nurse. Through social media, I found out about National University, and from my first meeting with an advisor, I felt supported. Instead of telling me what I needed to give up in order to get into the nursing program, he gave me additional resources that could help me reach my goal. Instead of telling me what wasn’t possible, he helped me to see what was.

Through National University’s unique structure of four-week courses, I was able to keep working and support my family while I finished up my prerequisites for the nursing program. I was soon ready to apply to nursing school and was devastated when I learned that I had not gotten a seat at NU, my first-choice school. However, I knew that I could not let myself or my family down. After working to improve my test scores for re-entry, I re-applied and was given a seat as an alternate. The day I received the call that a seat for me had opened, I realized that I was meant to be here.

Before coming to NU, I often felt like I wasn’t good enough. Even though I have so much passion for the nursing field, I constantly felt like I wasn’t smart enough to be given such an important responsibility. Looking back, I can see all of the ways in which I lacked guidance. However, since starting my nursing program in January 2019, National University has instilled the confidence I need to overcome barriers in both my personal life, and in pursuit of my nursing degree. I am fortunate to have ended up in a student-centered institution that has guided me to where I am today.

As I write this, one year into my program, I have transformed into a student with complete confidence. I am involved in leadership, both within NU and in organizations within the community, all while being successful in my program. To be chosen as an NU Scholar amongst a community of other ambitious students is once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope to use this platform to empower other students from different backgrounds like mine, to tell them that no matter where you come from or what you think you can’t achieve, you can absolutely do anything you put your heart into. I believe that success is triumphing over hardships – willing yourself over anything and everything to achieve your goals, and I can’t thank this institution enough for giving students like me a chance.”

Emily Klein

Master of Education, Early Childhood Education - Fresno

“My education began before I could even walk or talk. My mother was a teacher and college professor, so I spent most of my life in classrooms and around children. It would only be natural for me to walk in her footsteps and become an educator myself. However, once I graduated high school, I decided to become a journalist, with hopes of one day writing for TIME Magazine. Writing has always been my passion and I can remember being a young girl writing stories about anything and everything. After my dream of attending San Jose State didn’t work out, I decided to pursue a degree in journalism at my local community college, only to realize that my fire for journalism was burning out. During these years I worked full-time, went to school full-time, and struggled to take care of my disabled mother, all while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my future. I changed my major four times before I decided I wanted to be an Early Childhood Educator.

Once I finished community college I enrolled in a degree-completion program at Fresno Pacific University and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I landed my dream job teaching early childhood education at a great school and was finally living my dream. But I wanted more – I wanted to not only make a difference in the lives of the children that I was teaching, but to make a greater impact on those around me. I decided that a master’s degree would help me to do this, and once again I enrolled in my local community college and started trying out classes in various subjects. I kept coming back to early childhood education, and a year later I realized that I was called to be a college professor in this subject, where I could enrich the lives of young children and help shape future early childhood educators.

After much research for the right degree program, I found National University, and was impressed with their online master’s in Early Childhood Education. The day after I contacted them, I received a phone call from a National advisor, and a couple of days later I was enrolled in the Early Childhood Education graduate program. NU’s unique platform allows me to keep my job as a full-time early childhood educator and help out at home, all while being a graduate student. Months later I would receive a phone call from the NU Scholars Program that would change my life. Being part of this program means that I am now able to continue on with my dream of becoming a college professor, and to mentor fellow early childhood educators. This scholarship makes it possible for me to dream bigger than I could ever have imagined, and to touch the lives of young children and adults. My next step is a doctorate degree, something that wouldn’t be possible without NU and the NU Scholars Program.”

Eva Muollo

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - San Diego

“For a long time, the idea of being in nursing school seemed far beyond my reach. I had spent years homeless and had little hope for the future, narrowly escaping death many times. Six years ago, I had that moment of clarity. I was able to obtain employment and secure a place to live, one step at a time. Eventually, I regained my ability to dream and have goals for the future. I had always been interested in nursing and desired to be able to give back to a community that had done so much for me.

When I called National University, I was full of fear and doubt. However, I trusted their mission of accommodating all students and began taking classes to apply for nursing school. I am happy I did -- National University’s unique schedule allowed me to work full-time and go to school at night, completing classes one at a time. Eventually, I was accepted into the BSN program.

To say that I am incredibly proud to be a student at National University is an understatement. My nursing cohort is full of individuals from all walks of life, and our past personal and professional experiences only enrich our educational experience. Many of my professors at National University actively work in research or clinical settings, providing a real-world application to what we are learning that I find particularly useful. I couldn’t have imagined a better environment to learn, get experience, and grow. While my educational journey at National University has not always been easy, it has been well worth it. I am building a foundation -- combining experience, new skills, and evidence-based practice -- which will allow me to save lives and make a lasting impact on my community.

The NU Scholars Program is an incredible and life-altering opportunity. It is truly intellectually stimulating to work with other students who are also dedicated to inspiring change and improving the world through their respective fields of study. National University and this program have given me the tools I need to become a leader, engage in research, study abroad, and participate in community service initiatives.

I share my story because it is important to realize that no matter where we came from or what challenges we face, as long as there is breath in the lungs, there can be hope in the heart. Unexpectedly, my greatest obstacles have become my greatest strengths, because through them I have gained resilience, passion, and an ability to affect change that only experience can bring. I am proud to represent National University through the NU Scholar Program, and I am proud to be an ambassador of hope.”

Harnoor Kaur

Bachelor of Science, Nursing - Fresno

“Born and raised in India, I grew up watching my mom work as a nurse. Seeing the way that she helped people was a huge motivation for my choice to pursue a career in nursing. Moving to the United States and choosing to go to National University have been the best decisions of my life.

As an immigrant student, I was scared about many things, and National University supported me at every step. The advisors, instructors, tutors, and Jane Christianson, from Career Services, have always been very helpful, taking their time to make sure that I was successful. National University’s online and onsite four-week courses made it possible for me to work full time and support myself. Nine months into the nursing program, I am completely enjoying it, and I love the way the program is formatted and the lectures and the clinicals are organized. When we go for our clinical rotations, I see the reputation that National University has, and I am proud to be associated with it.

My journey at National has transformed me from a shy teenager into a confident young woman. I have accomplished so much since I became a student at National, sometimes in ways that I did not expect. I have learned what I am capable of. I am so proud and honored to be an NU Scholar, which gives me the opportunity to be an ambassador for the University, to give back to the community, and to share my story and help others. Being an NU Scholar, I will be able to illuminate my strengths and overcome my weaknesses. A big thank you, National University, for helping me achieve my dreams.”

Jacqueline Moreno

Master of Science, School Psychology, with Pupil Personnel Service Credential - Imperial Valley

“Learning has always been my passion. As a child, I excelled in school despite a turbulent educational journey moving back and forth from Mexico to the US and seldom finishing a school year in the same school (or even the same country). Despite my exceptional grades, I was forced to drop out of school after 8th grade. I was devastated, believing that my education was over. However, I eventually went back to school, ready to do whatever it took to reach my goals. The process took years. I started by completing my GED, and then went to school to become a medical assistant. Several years later I started college, but as a single mom working full-time, so I could only take a class or two at a time. While it took me eight long years to graduate, I completed an associate degree with honors and was so proud of myself. When I transferred to San Diego State University to pursue a bachelor's degree, it was a dream come true for me, even though I struggled to balance my schoolwork, job, and family.

I graduated from SDSU in May of last year, and I am so excited to be working on my master’s degree. While I am thankful that I had the opportunity to acquire my bachelor’s degree through the traditional college path, I always felt out of place as a non-traditional student, and I honestly don't even know how I was able to manage to excel in so many classes while holding a job and juggling a family. At the time, I didn’t know of any other way to go about pursuing my educational goals; although I succeeded in the end, it was at a very high price. I sacrificed ten years of myself and missed out on so much of my children’s lives to get a degree that should have taken four years to complete. When I looked to pursue my master's degree, I knew that I wanted to do it in a different way, in a way that would allow me to live my life while also pursuing my degree. I am so grateful that National University has allowed me to accomplish this.

National University's unique format allows me to focus on one course at a time. Classes are fast-paced, but you are guided along the way. Your professors are approachable and, most importantly, reachable; it is as easy as sending a quick text to get ahold of your professor. As a student at NU, there will be no unanswered questions. National University's staff is there to support you every step of the way. For the first time in my educational journey, I truly feel supported by the school I am attending. I have a sense of belonging and pride that I never felt before. National University's community of professors, staff, and other students does this for you. You are not alone in this; we are all here to help. National University has helped me in an exceptional way, which has allowed me to reach a place in education that I had not even dreamed of.

I am a Latina woman, and English language learner, and a first-generation college graduate who grew up in a low-income single-parent home. Today I am also a proud NU Scholar. I am in NU’s Master's in Psychology with PPSP credential program, I work as an insurance agent and a substitute teacher. I am present for my marriage and our two children, and I hold a 4.0 GPA - all thanks to the support I receive at NU. My educational ambitions include acquiring a doctorate in either psychology or education. My aspirations in my career are to make a difference in the life of students. I have a passion for learning and value education greatly. I want to touch the lives of children in need and inspire them to dream big and reach for excellence. In my career as a school psychologist, I will have the opportunity to help and motivate children. I look forward to enriching students’ lives, both academically and in terms of their social-emotional well-being. I want students to pursue better lives, both for themselves and, ultimately, to benefit our society. Serving my community as a professional school psychologist will be my greatest honor. I hope my story of perseverance will inspire other students and let them know that reaching your goals is possible. I am most excited to create a legacy that will benefit future generations.”

Jennifer Newman

Master of Art, Education – E-Teaching and Learning Specialization - North Carolina. U.S. Army Veteran

“I never thought I was going to end up in the field of education, and it wasn’t until I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Delaware, moved to Cambodia, and began teaching, that I found a passion for education. I had the privilege to live and work in Cambodia, China, and Uruguay as an English Language teacher. Upon moving back to the states, I knew that that I needed to continue my education because, with only a bachelor’s degree, my options were limited in my field of interest. Embarking on my master’s degree journey was very intimidating. I truly struggled in my undergraduate program, and I have the GPA to prove it. I faced severe depression and had a very difficult transition back into the civilian world after leaving the military. A graduate degree seemed like an impossible task. Fortunately, with the loving support of my husband and family, I took the leap to prove to myself that I am more than an undergrad GPA.

National University was--and still is--the best choice I could make to further my career. Though I started this journey in Fresno, California, my Army husband and I were quickly moved to North Carolina – thanks to my online courses, I was able to continue in my program without interruption. And here I am now, taking truly inspirational courses with an amazing faculty online from across the country, while also being able to be with and support my family. Making a move like that is no easy task, but every single person at National University has been there to help support my learning goals.

Over the past few months, I have worked tirelessly to make the most of my master’s program. I am incredibly honored to be a part of the NU Scholars Program! This opportunity has given me great confidence and I have already learned more about my field and myself than I ever thought possible. National University has opened up so many doors and I can finally see a clear future in which I help provide for my family while doing what I absolutely love.”

Julie Kraft

Bachelor of Art, Early Childhood Education - San Diego

“I am married and have a 2 ½ year old daughter. I graduated high school at the age of 17 and immediately began attending a local community college with plans to transfer to a local university; but as they say, life happens when we are busy making plans. My educational journey has been a long one, with many twists and turns, but my dedication has always kept me moving forward.

As a child, school was a sanctuary for me. I had a stroke when I was eight years old and literally had to relearn everything: tying a shoe, reading, writing, even using a fork. Everything I had ever known now seemed foreign. I spent much of my childhood at various doctor's appointments. My mom enrolled me in music lessons, got me involved in sports, and encouraged me to read - anything to help me compensate for what I had lost. With every milestone, I slowly felt my confidence in myself and my ability to learn grow. I remember the feeling of jubilation when I read a Dr. Seuss book all by myself - the first book I had read on my own since the stroke. Later on, I looked back on this sense of accomplishment, and realized how meaningful it would be to instill that in others. I made plans to become a teacher, where I would have the ability to make a positive impact in the lives of countless children.

Unfortunately, chaos took hold of my family life and my educational goals were derailed, without a plan or the guidance I needed to succeed. While I found a job to sustain me financially and quickly climbed the corporate ladder, twelve years later, I was left feeling unfulfilled in my career. The realization that I was not living up to my true potential left me with feelings of defeat. My experiences have taught me that the only way to overcome feelings of failure is to face them head on. This became especially clear after the birth of my daughter, and I reasoned that if I had to be away from my child every day, I had better be doing something I loved to do, something worthwhile. I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.

I began researching degree programs for educators and stumbled upon National University’s Early Childhood Education program. It was their unique platform that captivated my interest. With their online and accelerated courses, I could pursue my passion for teaching, maintain my current career and manage my family life. I began my journey with National in September of 2018, and I am on pace to graduate in February of 2021. There have been occasions where working full time, going to school full time, and raising a toddler seemed nearly impossible - the trick is to keep your eye on the goal, create an actionable game plan, and hold yourself accountable. There are many nights that I spend doing homework after putting my child to bed. I live by a rigorous schedule but have learned to break the workload down week by week.

National’s 4-week platform makes the months fly by. Every moment spent pursuing my dreams is worthwhile. I have taken advantage of many of the resources that National University has to offer, including my advisor, the library, the writing center, professors, and my peers. I am so moved that my diligence and hard work led me to the honor of becoming part of the NU Scholars Program: My dedication set up me up for success, and the NU Scholar’s Program is going to help me get there.”

Kate Stoddard

Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning, Multiple Subject Credential, Emphasis on Social Emotional Learning - Sacramento

“As a first-generation student, I never thought that college would be possible for me. It was a dream come true to first graduate from California State University, Sacramento, with a Bachelor of Art in Child Development, with an elementary-level credential and a minor in counseling. I am now a student in National University’s Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning program, with a Multiple Subject Credential and an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning. My career goal is to become an elementary school teacher working in a Title I school, where I want to work with migrant, low-income students in under-served communities. After teaching for a few years, my goal is to go back to school and obtain my administrative credential.

NU's unique platform is helping me discover my philosophy as a future educator, and their credential and master’s degree programs are providing me with the opportunity to understand and implement advocacy for equity into my future career in education. Collaboration, advocacy, and endurance are vital qualities in becoming a teacher, and I really see these qualities in action in my program. My experience here at NU will help me fulfill my goal of making sure every student receives the quality, equitable education they deserve, and that they need to reach their goals. Giving back is a big part of who I am. I am excited to be an NU ambassador, and to support others around me.

I want everyone to know about National University, which has been such a great fit for me. I am proud to be an NU Scholar, and to have the opportunity to empower others, participate in my community, and advance myself professionally. I encourage all students to participate in this diverse, inclusive community of learners to make a positive difference in the world.”

Katie Squires

Bachelor of Science, Construction Management – Orange County

“I always wanted my degree, but I never thought it was in the cards for me. I was good in school, but I surrounded myself with people who told me that my SATs were just so-so, and a community college was the only thing in my future. So that was the direction I went. I didn’t apply to a 4-year school, but instead moved out, got a couple of jobs, and attended classes at a community college when it was convenient. When I discovered that I liked working and earning a paycheck, I convinced myself that I didn’t really need a degree at all, and I stopped attending classes.

I met my husband when I was 20 and we married shortly after. My husband’s military career had us moving all the time: a few years in Oklahoma, several in Germany, and a few more in the state of Washington. Being a military spouse, I had to be able to pick up and go whenever the Army told us to, often with little notice. While I could always find work, it wasn’t a career; instead, I focused on becoming the best I could be at whatever I could find. As time went on, I found that, despite my strong work ethic, potential employers were wary about hiring a person who had no formal education and who changed job every couple of years. This was when I realized that I needed my degree, as something extra to set me apart from everyone else, as I transitioned back to civilian life in Southern California.

I had worked in the administrative field for almost 20 years, when, about five years ago, I was offered an opportunity to work in the construction industry. I was delighted to discover my passion for working as a construction administrator, and I began to consider ways to grow as a leader in that field. With the help and guidance of a few trusted colleagues, I finally realized my potential, and decided how to answer the age-old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I am now proud and excited to say that I want to be a construction manager, and to lead teams to complete projects successfully. With the support of my family and employer, I began taking the necessary steps to further my career and education. After first finishing up the Associates of Science in Business Administration degree that I had begun so many years ago, I started looking for a college that not only offered my degree program of interest, but that also had the flexible schedule that I needed to be able to continue working as I attended school.

I found a few options, but National University stood out, especially when I found that they offered courses that were only four weeks long. As I was considering different schools, a cousin who worked for NU sent me a flyer, which I took that as a sign to enroll and start classes. As I progressed in my degree program, I really applied myself to each class. This goal isn’t about just having a piece of paper hang on a wall; it is about becoming the best me I can be. It is about showing others that, if I can do this, if I can work over 40 hours a week, commute an hour each way, attend online classes, excel in those courses, and be accepted into the NU Scholars Program, then anyone can do it.

I had been invited to apply for the NU Scholars Program a total of three times. The first time I thought it was a mistake, or dumb luck that my GPA happened to trigger the system. The second time, my life was crazy: work was busy, we had just lost our dog, and I was questioning why I was even going to school. Then an email came in October, once again inviting me to apply. I sat and stared at the application, put aside all of the excuses, and thought to myself, “Why not? What is the worst thing that could happen, I don’t get accepted?” Weeks went by after I submitted my application, and I assumed was out of the running and moved on. Then, out of the blue, an email arrived, inviting me to interview for the NU Scholars Program. Knowing I had made it that far changed my whole mentality about what I know I have to offer. I am a woman in construction, going back to school after many years off; helping and leading others is what I was meant to do.

Being selected as a NU Scholar is an absolute dream come true. It shows that, with hard work and determination, goals can be accomplished. I hope to use this experience to show others that, after years away from the school environment, it is possible to obtain your educational goals without having to give up your career in order to do so. I am so grateful and humbled to have the honor to be a part of the NU Scholars family. I am looking forward to helping others see their potential and grow within themselves and, most importantly, to show others that, if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Leo Brent Salvador

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - Fresno

“Growing up in a family of medical professionals, I knew that I wanted to work in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure in what role. My parents advised me to become a nurse – so of course I pursued something else, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. I found a job as a physical therapy aide at a children’s hospital, where, despite my initial goal of becoming a physical therapist, I fell in love with the nursing profession. I observed the nurses as they cared for critically ill children, consoled parents through hard times, provided compassionate care, and worked with a purpose. I wanted to become a nurse not because my parents wanted me to, but for myself.

I continued to work at the children’s hospital for years, and while I wanted to become a nurse, I kept postponing school, especially after having two children. Once my children were old enough for me to look at going back to school, most of my earlier credits were too old to be accepted, meaning that I would have to take my prerequisites for nursing all over again. I was crushed, and I wondered if I would ever move forward in my career. At the same time, I started to notice a number of new graduate nurses from NU at the children’s hospital - pediatrics is a specialty that is hard to get into straight out of college, and I was impressed to see so many new NU graduates getting hired. I found out that NU was one of the few schools in the area that had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and that their unique and flexible format would allow me to work fulltime and spend time with my two kids. I scheduled a meeting with a counselor, and the next month I was completing the last of my nursing prerequisites.

I’m currently halfway through the nursing program. Even though it has been a challenge and has truly pushed us to our limits, the instructors have been there to guide us because they want us to succeed in class and in our clinicals. I currently serve as the Cohort Representative for National University Student Nurses’ Association (NUSNA) and work as a Student Nurse Technician in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) at the VA hospital in Fresno.

It is an honor and privilege to be accepted into the NU Scholars program. The NU Scholars program is not just a scholarship, but a program that prepares you to be a leader and to serve the community. Being an NU Scholar will provide me with opportunities for personal and professional growth as I continue to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse. I am elated to serve as an ambassador for NU and cannot wait to connect with other NU Scholars to make a difference.”

María Marzicola

Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential, Emphasis on Social Emotional Learning - Santa Barbara

“I consider myself a lifelong learner, and school has always been a refuge for me. From a young age, school became my safe space, away from the chaos of having an alcoholic parent. A handful of educators inspired me in profound ways with their acknowledgement, kindness, and support. With school’s role as a haven away from home, and finding self-worth through education, it is no surprise that I have always wanted to become a teacher.

At 44 years old, I can describe my path to becoming a teacher as non-traditional. While many of my peers were planning for the next step in their educational journey, I spent the last two years of high school focused on doing whatever I could to move away from home. I then focused on finding full-time employment and being a support system for my mother and younger sister. Despite working two jobs, I slowly worked towards taking general education courses in community college when my work schedule permitted. The years went by, and I slowly accumulated credits towards my associate degree.

By the time I was 26, I found myself married and expecting a baby. Although I had finally earned enough credits to complete my AA degree, I focused my energy on helping raise my daughter. For the first time in my life, I had someone by my side who was supportive of my educational goals, my husband, who encouraged me to continue in my education. I continued to take courses at the local community college whenever I could, while being my daughter’s primary caretaker and supporting her in her development. I loved volunteering in her classrooms and in various other extracurricular activities she was involved in. By the time she was in junior high, I felt ready to apply to a university, and attended California State University, Channel Islands, to which I commuted to one hour each way. In three years, by 2017, I had earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and in Chicano/Chicana Studies. As a daughter of immigrants, a first-generation college student, and the only one of my siblings to attend college, this made me especially proud.

It is uncanny how life can sometimes happen the way that you least expect it. It took me 24 years after high school to earn my bachelor’s degree, but my dream of becoming a high school teacher is very much alive. It is hard to believe that National University’s Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning Program with a Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential is my last step before reaching my dream of becoming a teacher. I chose National’s program because it is an accredited program that offers me the flexibility to work online, while continuing to spend precious time with my daughter during her last year of high school - before she pursues her own dreams of going away to attend college. From the very beginning of my credential program, I have experienced great support from my instructors, who are only an email or phone call away, and who are always available to help. Being selected as an NU Scholar is something I could not have imagined would happen before I began my credential program. As an NU Scholar, I am so excited about volunteering in afterschool programs, a project that I am passionate about. Knowing that my university believes in me and has made an investment in my academic career and personal development means a great deal to me as I continue to prepare myself to become a teacher. I am honored to be an NU Scholar and am grateful for all the support I am receiving on my road to fulfilling my dreams.”

Patrick Mate

Bachelor of Science, Nursing – Los Angeles

“Two years ago, I was a jaded twenty-four-year-old with no direction or prospects in life. My days consisted of working my barely above minimum wage job, waiting for payday, living from paycheck-to-paycheck, with no end in sight. Today I am in Cohort 22 of National University’s BSN program in the Los Angeles region, and a National University Scholar as well. I hope that sharing my story helps others who may have experienced something similar in life - if I got out of my situation and into something more worthwhile, then anyone can.

I moved with my family from the Philippines to the United States at the age of seventeen. Life was hard, and I had to work full-time (or more) to support me and my family. As a new arrival I had no friends and no idea of what to do, and soon I found myself in my twenties – sad and stuck in a place that seemingly had no opportunity or advancement. I tried to pull myself out by signing up for classes at my local community college, but I found going to school and working was too much to handle; I started dropping a few classes here and there, then stopped going altogether. As I watched friends and acquaintances around me graduating and moving on to better things, I had the awful feeling of getting left behind in life, with no career and no goals. That is, until I stumbled upon National University.

I had heard about National University from a friend. At first, I was skeptical about signing up, since I had previously been unable to balance work and school. However, I was intrigued by NU’s one class per month format, which sounded like a better fit for me. I had never heard of a school schedule like that, but it was probably the best thing to ever happen in my academic life. After a five-year gap, I took a leap of faith and signed up to take the prerequisite classes to qualify for their nursing program. I have not looked back since.

National University allowed me to be employed full-time and move towards a career; it allowed me to work for my family but also to work for something higher, as well. Despite my initial fears and past experiences, I did not feel overwhelmed, and I was able to maintain a work-school balance. Even with strong grades, I did not immediately get accepted to National University’s BSN program, but I persisted and was ultimately accepted. I am currently three months into the program, and I am loving it. Shortly after starting my program I was invited to apply for the NU Scholars Program, which I feel so fortunate to be a part of. I truly can’t believe that all of this happened in only two years, in huge part in thanks to National University’s revolutionary class format.

I am truly thankful to National University admitting me as one of their Scholars. I am also grateful that they understand the realities of a working student and have enabled me to go from having nothing to reaching my bachelor’s degree by 2021. I hope to make this institution proud as a NU Scholar and, eventually, as a nurse, and would recommend National University to any aspiring student.”

Rae Lynn Lott

Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential – San Diego

“I received a B.A. in Communications from Biola University in 2005 and went straight into a job in public relations. My first year out of college, I experienced the tragic loss of my older brother; during this unexpected grief and loss I was given a brand-new perspective on the brevity of life and desired to make a deeper impact. During that time, I started volunteering with middle school students at my church, and I found that nothing was more rewarding than mentoring students and investing in their lives. Instantly, I knew that I had found my passion. I loved working with students, building relationships with their families, and being a positive role model in their lives. I made a huge career shift and began working full-time as a youth director. I did this for several years until I got married and started my own family. It was important to me to stay at home while my children were small and be around for those special milestones.

When my children were approaching school-age, I began to dream about what was next for my career. Education has always been a passion of mine, and I began to wonder if being a teacher would be a good fit. I have always loved working with students and am passionate about literature and writing. I thought teaching could be a great career, so I began substituting in local schools and realized that this was a perfect fit for me.

Once my kids started school, I started to investigate potential credential programs. I needed to find something flexible that would work with my family and help me pursue my education goals at the same time. A friend suggested National and, after some research, it was clearly a no-brainer. The opportunity to take my classes from the comfort of my home has given me the freedom and flexibility to both be the mom that I want to be and to prepare for my future as an educator. The accelerated courses are rigorous, but the month-long format helps me focus on one goal at a time and keep my eye on the prize. Plus, my children get the benefit of seeing their mom work on achieving her goals, something that I hope will pass on to them.

I am so excited to be a part of NU and a part of the NU Scholars Program. I consider it an honor and privilege to represent the university and I hope to show other people like me who have been out of the school game or have families at home that pursuing your dreams and furthering your education can become a reality at National. ”

Renai Rodriguez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - San Diego

“After graduating with my Bachelor’s in Fine Art from Arizona State University in 2009, I was determined to move to another country and to explore. I moved to South Korea and taught English as a second language, then I spent the next two years traveling the world, staying in hostels, eating street food, and learning about different cultures. When I returned to the United States, I moved to San Diego and found a job in childcare. After having tried and experienced so many things, I had a hard time pinning down what kind of career path I wanted to take; however, I always knew that I wanted to be in helping career. While I was drawn to nursing, I was intimidated, and not sure to how to move forward - there were so many prerequisite classes and complicated application processes. In 2015, I started working in the medical field as a medical assistant at a primary care practice, and in 2016 I began taking classes in the evenings to be able to apply to nursing school.

Like many adult learners, I had to continue working full time to support myself while taking classes, one at a time. Returning to school as a non-traditional student, I was frustrated by the traditional college structure. Classes were held at inconvenient times, and with only a few start dates per year. I was even told by an advisor at a community college that I should pursue something other than nursing since nursing programs in San Diego are so impacted. But after years of working in the medical field, I had a sense of belonging, and I was sure that nursing was the right choice for me.

I continued searching for ways to move forward, and finally found National University. I met with a supportive and empathetic advisor, who told me it was possible to start taking classes toward a nursing degree within the next week. Once I enrolled at NU, I was able to make steady progress and thrived in my classes, reaffirming that I was on the right path.

Going back to school as an adult was the right choice for me. I wake up every morning excited to go to class and learn. I can already see the rapid progress I am making toward my dreams. The pace at which I am able to complete classes at National University is empowering. I’m thrilled to complete classes in one- or two-months’ time, and with only one class at a time, I can focus all my studying efforts on one subject before moving on to the next. All my professors have been experts in their field and have supported my growth. With the support of National University and the NU Scholars Program, I am on my way to achieving my dream of becoming a registered nurse.”

Ryan Schultz

Bachelor of Science, Construction Management – Phelan, California

“I had planned to get a BS in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona, but the summer between my high school graduation and the start of college courses, my mother suddenly passed away. As I result, I instead opted to take courses through a local community college while working in my father’s business, ultimately obtaining an AS in Math/Science from Victor Valley College and transferring to Cal Poly Pomona several years later. During that time, I also got married and we had our first child. I ended up working for a public works contractor as a project engineer, quickly moving into project management and eventually doing cost estimating. With so much going on, I stopped pursuing my degree and focused on working and providing for my growing family.

After working in public works construction for 14 years, I obtained a position as a Public Works Inspector for a consulting company. I also perform construction management as part of my current position. It didn’t take me long to realize that construction management was my passion and that I wanted to continue in this path for my career, with a goal of being a construction manager for a municipal agency. I started looking into online options for a BS in Construction Management, and quickly came upon National University. The program really impressed me from the beginning, and my advisor made the process simple.

National University’s online platform has allowed me to pursue my educational goals while continuing to work with what life hands me. Working for a consulting company, we have contracts throughout California with various agencies. For years, my work location was about 90 miles from my home, meaning a 3-4 hour commute each day. I am also a father to six children, ages 4 to 19. I am so grateful to my wonderful wife, who has supported me at every step of my educational goals. National University’s platform has allowed me to do classwork whenever I can: At night after work, during breaks at work, or even remotely from a restaurant along the way to and from the office. Having not taken college courses for many years and having an extremely busy schedule already, I was apprehensive about going back to school and wondered if I would be able to complete my degree. After taking about six courses, I could feel and see the progress that I was making toward completing my degree, which has given me the inspiration I needed to keep working toward completion. Now, having completed a year of courses, I am considering continuing to a Master’s in Public Administration after completion of my BS in Construction Management.

I am astonished and extremely grateful to be selected as part of the NU Scholars Program. It is a great feeling to be part of this program which serves not only students, but the communities in which we live. I am looking forward to being part of this program and paying it forward. ”

Sophia Cha

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - Fresno

“Education has always been important to me and, after obtaining my first bachelor’s degree, I wanted to continue my education and go to graduate school. However, as I was looking into graduate programs, I realize that it wasn’t the right time to take this step. Instead, I decided to go to nursing school. I am happy to say that I am now enrolled at National University, obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

As a first-generation Hmong-American born in the United States, I had to face many obstacles to get where I am today. English is my second language, and my family has endured a great deal of financial hardship. However, this did not stop my hunger for success. My parents have set an example of hard work and dedication, which has fueled my drive to never give up, and to continue my education. My parents always reminded me to chase that “American Dream” and to become something more for myself. It took a leap of faith to put my dreams into action, and I am proud to have become the first college graduate in my family.

Since I was young, working in healthcare was always something I wanted to do. After 10 years of working as an allied healthcare professional, I knew that I needed a change, and needed to do something more challenging. At first, I was intimidated about becoming a nurse, and worried that I might harm a patient. But that all changed when my father had a medical crisis that had us in and out of the hospital and taking him to countless doctors’ visits. Taking care of him built my confidence around patient care and made me realize that being a nurse is truly my life’s passion.

When I started looking into schools, National University quickly became my first choice, and their unique one-course-per-month platform really caught my eye, as it has allowed me to further my education while working full time and take care of my family. I am forever grateful to be a part of the NU Scholars Program and be an ambassador for the school, and I am looking forward to growing with--and contributing to--the NU Scholars Program.”

Sonya Flores

Master of Science, Special Education Mild-Moderate Credential - Los Angeles

“In July 2018, I took a leap of faith, left the industry I had dreamt of as a child, and began teaching English online.  Teaching became my new love and passion. I received my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, but I felt like I still wanted more. I wanted to gain classroom experience if I truly wanted to dive into this new path, so I accepted an opportunity to work as an Instructional Aide for a seventh- and eighth-grade Resource classroom in a small school district located in northern Santa Barbara County, California. The Case Manager for these students helped me to understand each student’s Individualized Education Plan and has guided me in ensuring that accommodations and modifications are met for each respective student. I maintain documentation of behaviors and keep track of classwork and homework assignments. Preparation periods are spent pulling out students who need additional one-on-one support. 

I have become so passionate about this area of education, and quickly realized how Resource students needed strong advocates. Resource students and their families need someone who will express empathy and compassion, and who understands that behaviors and disabilities do not define who someone is as a person. People with disabilities and special needs are often incredibly gifted individuals who are too often misunderstood. Since I started working with our seventh- and eighth-grade Resource students last year, we have seen a GPA increase of 80%, and I see so much potential for continuing to support the success of these students. My ultimate goal is to pursue an administrative level position within the field of Special Education, from which I can affect the most positive change.

I feel incredibly blessed that I decided to pursue my Preliminary Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential through National University. Along with the NU Scholars Program, I know that this will give me the tools and skills that I need to bring my passions to life and to support this student population.”

Victorianna “Tori” Chavez

Bachelor of Science, Nursing 2nd Bachelor's - San Diego

“I am currently a nursing student at National University, in the BSN Second Bachelor’s Degree Program in San Diego. It still so hard for me to believe that I have become a NU Scholar, because for seven years I was told that I would never be able to accomplish being a nurse, let alone receive a scholarship for it.

I’ve been on my own since I was 16, so I was always aware that I would need to figure out a way to pay for college. My determination led me to be recruited to San Diego State University’s Division 1 Rowing Team, becoming the first member of my family to attend college. My interest in nursing was dismissed by the very first person I spoke to on campus, an academic advisor who told me it wouldn’t be possible to balance that particular course load with 18 hours a week of rowing and the full-time job I needed to hold down. I was instead encouraged to study kinesiology, which seemed to be the next best option. However, the situation changed when, early into my college career, my roommate fell asleep at the wheel on the way to early morning practice and crashed into a parked car, with me in the passenger seat. I suffered a severe concussion and multiple disc herniations in my spine, which led to months of physical therapy, epidurals, and steroid injections and ultimately forced me to retire from rowing. I was suddenly a full-time college student with no financial aid and none of the academic resources which had been available to me as a student athlete.

This seemingly negative point in my life quickly shifted to a positive as I realized I would have more time to dedicate to school and could once again set my sights on a nursing program. My advisor, however, did not share in my newfound excitement, because I was generally a B average student, and I had failed anatomy during a particularly rough semester. I didn’t let her lack of support entirely derail my academic goals and instead continued to chip away at the nursing prerequisites, while I pursued a degree in public health. This degree felt similar to nursing, and I planned on applying to nursing school post-graduation. In the years that followed, I went back and forth between being a full-time and part-time student as I worked to make ends meet. During my last year of college, I accepted a full-time job as a travel nurse recruiter. While I was finally in a career that made good money, I was still nannying two-year-old twins when I could, and I was months away from having a college degree. As graduation approached, I had to decide if I wanted to stick with my recruiting job (and its huge earning potential) or begin the process of applying to programs and looking for scholarships. Through a stroke of good luck, a manager at my company had attended National University, and her feedback was all I needed to hear. I left the stability of my job and enrolled in my prerequisite courses. Ironically, after all of my struggles with anatomy, I ended up excelling in Anatomy 1 and 2. I studied over 20 hours a week for the TEAS, utilized the writing center for months, and, within four months of quitting my job, I was accepted into NU’s nursing program. It was the happiest day of my life.

I had spent more than seven years getting through college, working as hard as I could, and yet still being told repeatedly that I would never be a nurse. National University said “yes” to my dream and gave me the tools and resources to succeed and accomplish my goals. Now that I am a nursing student, I say “yes” to every opportunity that comes my way, and I push myself harder than ever to take advantage of this chance. ​National University’s intensive format allows me to dive deeply into each topic of study with a blend of lecture-based and hands-on educational experiences. Resources like the writing center, library services, and student workshops have played a critical role in setting me up for academic success. ​​ My teachers and mentors are dedicated to helping students feel supported and able to succeed. Coming from a large college, I find that the four- to eight-week courses and small class sizes at NU allow me to focus deeply on each subject and to feel seen by my professors.​​The environment at NU encourages collaboration, fuels exchange of information, and inspires the success of its students. I am so excited to continue in my program, and to take advantage of the additional resources and opportunities that the NU Scholars Program will offer.”