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Thursday, June 24, 2021

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William Nicewonger William Nicewonger
 


“This is My Day Job Now”

SDSU student William Nicewonger finds purpose in his education, similar to his time in the military.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

“I just want everyone to know that the scholarship is being put to good use. I’m going to make everyone proud for supporting me.”

Just before classes began this fall, San Diego State University third-year geography major William Nicewonger learned he was one of two recipients of a $2,000 Gomes Veteran Alumni Organization Endowed Scholarship. It was welcome news for the transfer student from San Diego Mesa College who hopes to become a climatologist.

“This, honestly, is going to help me so much,” said Nicewonger, a Weber Honors College student who maintains a 4.0 GPA. “San Diego is really expensive and it’s kind of hard to make ends meet.”

Nicewonger attends SDSU on the G.I. Bill. A Navy Reservist, he receives a modest stipend serving as aviation electronics technician first class petty officer, AT1.

During his five years of active duty, he performed maintenance on helicopters until his job became more administrative. His assignments included deployments to Thailand, Australia, Japan, and Africa. “I did get to see the world,” he said.

Working Hard and Getting Things Done

This semester Nicewonger is taking 17 units to maximize his G.I. Bill benefit while enjoying his reservist status. He is on track to graduate in 2022. After earning his bachelor's degree, he intends to continue studying climate change as a graduate student.

“It’s just different being a full-time student, research student, and reservist. It’s a lot of work to balance it all.”

Nicewonger credits his military service with helping him be a better student. He said his experience in the Navy has provided him better attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a drive to achieve.

“The way I see it, this is my day job now, to be a student. So as long as I am working as hard as I was in the Navy I’m getting everything done and doing a great job.”

If there is a downside to his SDSU student experience so far, it’s that he has spent all of it studying at home. 

But, he added, “San Diego State’s got one of the best geography departments in the U.S. and for being virtual they make it a good experience. My teachers are always available and super approachable and the Veterans Center has been really helpful whenever I need them. I love it here.”

Serving Those Who Have Served

The Gomes Veteran Alumni Organization Endowed Scholarship, offered through The Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center, is one of three awards Nicewonger has received at SDSU so far.  It was created by Dan Gomes (’01), a financial planner and retired U.S. Marine Corps major whose intent is to help support high-achieving members of SDSU’s military-affiliated community during their student experience.

Gomes describes the scholarships awarded through the endowment as “serving those who have served.” His goal is to assist veterans in making successful transitions from the military to civilian careers.

Nicewonger is grateful to Gomes and others who have contributed to his scholarship. “Thank you so much for helping me and helping all the veterans. Your support is appreciated,” he said.

“I just want everyone to know that the scholarship is being put to good use. I’m going to make everyone proud for supporting me.”

You can make a gift to support scholarships for veterans at sdsualumni.org/vaoscholarship.