There was no doubt that Nathan Peters wanted to go to college. He had applied to nine private schools and one public school as a senior at Tumwater High School in 2012. But when it came down to it, even with all the scholarships he had won, they were just too expensive. That’s when he turned to South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), a decision he says changed the course of his entire life in a way he never thought possible.
“Originally I wanted to go to nursing school and I had early admittance to Pacific Lutheran University as a senior,” says Nathan. “But when it came to sitting down at the college to go over paperwork, even with their highest merit scholarship and despite everything I had done, the loan was just going to be too high. I couldn’t afford it.”
A month before school started in 2012, Nathan enrolled at SPSCC. Originally interested in health care, he secured the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, intended for students in a STEM or health care related degree program. “I had a few other scholarships, including ones from the community and college itself,” Nathan adds. “SPSCC was so affordable that it worked out.”
A Place of Discovery
Nathan soon learned he was exactly where he needed to be. SPSCC allowed him to take more than just the classes required for his program. Due to class schedules, he had plenty of time to explore options as well as work two jobs to help foot the bill. Nathan was the senior editor of his high school newspaper and applied for a writing position at The Sounds News, SPSCC’s newspaper. He wrote for a while before being hired to do layout. Nathan became editor the next year at 19 years old.
“I was in charge of hiring 13 other peers and learning journalism integrity, as well as managing a team of people who were mostly older than me,” Nathan shares. “That one job is what set me up for success the entire time I was at the community college. I made it a habit to interview people in administration and different faculty, so I could get some face-time and make connections. And, that is how my entire future has unfolded from my two years at community college. It really did all start at SPSCC.”
Although he was still pursuing health care initially, Nathan wasn’t quite sure that’s where he should land. SPSCC allowed him to explore other options. He took 18-20 credits per quarter completing a degree focused in the associative arts as well as the sciences. He graduated with two associate degrees, Associates in Arts with a digital media emphasis and an Associates in General Studies. “I am really glad I did that because it saved me time when I went on to my four-year degree,” Nathan explains. His Associates in Arts was a direct transfer, meaning he could attend a four-year college and start as a junior.
“The thing about a community college is you can be a big fish because it’s a smaller pond,” Nathan says. During his time at SPSCC he made connections that would ultimately lead to his current career as the Annual Giving Manager at Saint Martin’s University. “Without my time at SPSCC, I wouldn’t have what I do today,” he adds.
Nathan says that the climate at SPSCC encourages students to step-up and work hard, and they are rewarded for it. He met people that offered him summer internships, gaining invaluable work experience. After his 2014 graduation, he did not have a summer internship. However, he reached out to Cecelia Loveless, then the executive director of the SPSCC Foundation whom he knew through his work at the newspaper. “She not only said yes, but said she would pay me,” he recalls.
“The entire summer I am learning, writing stories about students who got scholarships, helping plan their annual gala fundraiser and networking with higher education administrators who care about their students and impacting their community,” Nathan says. “It opened my eyes to ways I could change lives. I have a photo of a brick that I keep on my phone with the slogan, ‘Make an impact that lasts.’ That’s what this internship taught me.”
Finding a Life Passion
Nathan now knew what he wanted to do with this life – make an impact on others through education. He earned his four-year degree at Eastern Washington University and graduated in 2016 with a focus on journalism and public relations. Upon graduation, he took a one-year contract as a consultant.
“When my contract was up, I began researching where I could go for a job,” Nathan says. Meanwhile, Cecelia Loveless had become the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Saint Martin’s University. “I reached out to her for career advice because she is a professional in this field that has been wildly successful. That first phone call turned into my first phone interview. It was pretty crazy! I was technically under-qualified, but I have been very successful in my first four months here. And ,it’s all because of my foundation at SPSCC.”
The experience Nathan had and opportunities he received at SPSCC make him passionate about his career. “It made me want to give back,” he shares. “That’s why I am in this job. I am giving students the experience I had. I engage with donors and alumni to support students so they can have an experience like I did.”
To learn more about what’s waiting for you at SPSCC, visit the South Puget Sound Community College website, or call the admissions office at 360-596-5241.