Nathanael Arthur of Sterling earns national honor
March 26, 2009
Nathanael Arthur has been named a Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar, one of a select group of students across the United States to receive this honor. Arthur, a student at the Loudoun Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, will receive a $1,000 stipend and a commemorative medallion and be recognized in “USA Today” on April 6.
Arthur lives in Sterling and goes by the name of Nate. In essays written for the scholarship competition, he discusses his early life in India and the rocky road of his college journey.
“I lived alone on the streets of Delhi until I was nine years old when I was adopted by an American family and came to live in the United States,” Arthur wrote. “But life takes turns that people are not expecting. For me, life took a very difficult turn after my senior year. After graduating high school, I was homeless and lived in my car for four months.”
Arthur had to put college on hold while struggling to get his life back on track, but as soon as his situation improved he enrolled in classes at Northern Virginia Community College. He admits his first semester at NOVA was not completely successful. He passed two of his classes but he also failed two.
“In the fall of 2006, I was able to track down my sister who lives in India,” he explained. “I had not spoken to her in more than 13 years. Although I was excited to speak with my sister, it was also sad because she informed me of my family’s dire circumstances.”
Arthur’s oldest brother was married with two children and living on the streets. His biological father had just had a stroke and his other brother was nowhere to be found. “My priority became to help my family and I stopped attending two of my classes so I could work to send money to them in India,” he said.
Failing those classes served as a wake-up call to Arthur and he quickly renewed his commitment to his education.
“I was ashamed knowing that I had been given a chance to change the future for my family yet I had largely ignored it. I realized that if I wasted this opportunity I would never have a chance to see my family in India again. I made the decision that nothing was going to get in my way. I promised myself that I would go to college and graduate with a degree so I could provide for my family in India.”
With fresh dedication, Arthur has completed 59 credits with a 3.8 grade point average toward an associate degree in social sciences. While carrying a full load of classes, he also works two jobs at NOVA’s Loudoun Campus, helping students and visitors in the provost’s office during the week and in the testing center on Saturdays.
Arthur says one of his best experiences was talking with members of Virginia’s General Assembly about the importance of keeping education affordable and providing easy transfer pathways for community college graduates.
“Paying all my expenses while going to school is very hard, so going to Richmond was the perfect mission for me. I was excited because I finally had the opportunity to make a difference for students who are unable to attend college due to insufficient money,” he said.
Arthur will graduate NOVA this spring and plans to continue his education at American University, George Mason or the University of Virginia.
The Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team program was established by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. The top scoring student from each state is named a New Century Scholar and receives a $2,000 stipend. Fifty students are named Gold Scholars, receiving $1,500; 50 students are Silver Scholars, receiving $1,250; and 50 students are Bronze Scholars, receiving $1,000. The awards are part of a recognition program sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site, www.nvcc.edu.