Nathan Freeman is a civil engineering major at Glendale Community College. He’s an honors student, has posted the highest math score for his college in the National Student Math League competition, designs weather balloon experiments under a NASA educational grant and is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Who would have thought?
Nathan smoked his first cigarette and his first beer at just 9 years old. By 24, he was a full-time meth user and at 14, dropped out of high school, eventually winding up in a detox unit at Durango Juvenile Corrections Facility – facing up to a year at the Adobe Mountain Juvenile Corrections Facility. He had completed or had been kicked out of many out-patient drug rehabilitation facilities and had been declared legally incorrigible through a joint action taken by his parents and the State of Arizona.
With help from friends and family, Nathan climbed out of his dark hole. He earned his GED and began working full-time and by age 26, he was a construction project manager, managing a multi-dollar portfolio of projects as a consultant. He owned a home, his own car, paid his taxes as raised a family.
Then the recession hit.
Phoenix’s economy came to a halt and the economy that Nathan relied on dried-up. Nathan’s lack of a normal education made him vulnerable and he was laid-off. He went from being recognized from 2 municipalities for his work in improving air quality, to watching his marriage deteriorate as well as his savings account. He lost everything and was alone, with two children.
Eventually, he found himself sitting across from a college advisor.
With kids in tow, Nathan knew that the way to find lasting peace was to get a degree. Wondering how he could make a prolific change, Nathan’s advisor said, “Well, it all depends on how you’re willing to live. How bad you want this? Would you sell your car, live with others, be less impactful in your children’s lives short-term to be more impactful long-term? If you commit, there is money and help from a community waiting for you.”
Nathan committed, took a chance and his community responded.
He lives with his parents. Nathan sold his car and bought a used one that he owns outright. He has paid off nearly all his debt and even built his family’s bedroom furniture on his own, to save money.
Nathan hopes to use his skills as an engineer with the Engineers Without Borders program to engage philanthropically after he graduates. Nathan says, “It’s the spirit of philanthropy that drives our community to improve by investing in each other and having the faith that together we can be better.”
Nathan has been awarded the following scholarships form the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation and GCC in particular: The Manny and Sue Griego Memorial Scholarship, PSA Scholarship, Dougherty Foundation Scholarship, and Evening Student Foundation Scholarship.