At this year’s commencement, Nathan Rogers ’12 stood before his peers, SCU’s faculty members, and members of his family to speak on behalf of his class and experiences at Santa Clara. He began by stating that he used to be “stubborn” about attending school and that he changed his mindset from being “destructive to constructive.” Nathan literally became constructive. Graduating as a civil engineer, he entered Santa Clara not knowing what major to choose; a school guidance counselor suggested civil engineering after he expressed an interest in construction. In his words, “It has been the best decision I didn't ever really make.”
Those who have benefited from his construction projects can agree. After working on a senior design project with Matt Jensen ’12 that helped improve the cost and sustainability of housing structures in the upper east region of Ghana, Nathan and Matt traveled to Ghana to put their project ideas to the test. The result was a thankful group of villagers and a changed mindset for Rogers. He now feels he has more of a sense of meaning in his life, and hopes to continue to do work that benefits others.
It is surprising that someone who ended up being his class’ valedictorian came from not only a rough area of inner-city Seattle, but also a “who-cares” mentality. But Nathan has clearly grown, and is an exceptional example of someone who puts his all into what he does. He challenged himself to take on extracurricular activities that included jobs, intramural sports, clubs, and projects; a full load of engineering classes, and even a social life. But the challenge was worth it, and helped him become who is he at the end of his college experience.
“In high school I used to pride myself on doing the least amount of work possible to achieve an ‘A,’ recalls Nathan. “This often amounted to very little “work” as I generally tried to take the easier classes. I considered all my homework “busy work.” The only positive outcome of finishing it was the grade. At Santa Clara, I took pride in producing the best work I could. This came as a result of working on projects where I could see the end result of my work. Especially with the Ghana project, I saw that my work could impact the lives of others. This became the incentive to perform the work to the best of my ability. The sense of happiness came from striving for a goal that is personally and communally rewarding. Life is about the constant pursuit of happiness for yourself and your community.”
With this acquired can-do mentality, Nathan started work as a field engineer at Turner Construction in mid-September. Over the summer, he played on a summer league basketball team, volunteered at Kiwanis Camp Casey, a one-week sleepover camp for children with physical disabilities, and traveled to Israel for a birthright trip. It is clear that nothing is slowing Rogers down from building a better future for himself and others.
Read Rogers' valedictorian address.
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