En Español. When Nate Damian was a middle school student, he sought out a dual enrollment high school program to give him college experience and save him money on tuition. When he missed the application deadline for a school near his house, he recalled Phoenix College Preparatory Academy's booth at his middle school's high school fair. Nate applied and began attending Phoenix College Preparatory Academy (PCPA) in 2017. In tandem with his high school classes, Nate completed seven college courses by the time he graduated high school in 2021. He finished his Associate Degree at Phoenix College in 2022, just one year later.
Dr. Pam Duty, Department Chair of Phoenix College's English Department, noted: "Nate is an awesome example of grit, determination, and perseverance." As Nate's instructor for English 101 and 102, Dr. Duty added, "[He is] one of the most well-read students I have ever taught!" With a penchant for biography and history, Nate's Instagram account has photos of him reading the 700-page Fidel: A Critical Portrait by Tad Szulc, the 560-page book, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs by Marc David Baer, and Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara, which he captioned with a quote by the late revolutionary: "Never say that something is impossible, everything you set out to do if you intend to do it seriously, you will achieve it."
Enrolling in Political Science Courses
"Nate has bloomed at Phoenix College," said Dr. Albert Celoza. "It's given him an opportunity to get out of his cocoon." Nate credited his friend Katie Strong for recommending he take a class with Dr. Celoza. "He doesn't stand up there and lecture you. We talk with each other," Nate said about Dr. Celoza's dialogue-based Political Science classes. "He asks a question, and we debate. He doesn't try to steer the conversation one way or the other, but allows students to think for themselves and come to a conclusion."
Joining the Model UN
Dr. Celoza, Phoenix College's Model UN advisor, invited Nate to join Model UN, where he learned how to connect with people, engage in dialogue, come to a consensus, and caucus about political candidates and policy. Model UN educates students about the work of the United Nations, an intergovernmental and international organization connecting 193 countries. "Students study countries and play the role of ambassador," explained Dr. Celoza. "Their personal view doesn't matter. They have to study all the conditions of a country to write a position paper, learn to negotiate, speak to other delegates, secure delegate votes, and hammer out solutions to address issues and come to a resolution." As a recent delegate at the Model UN conference in Chicago, Nate served in the General Assembly, discussing land mine removal and post-colonialism effects.
"Model UN invites students to get outside of their own mindset," says Dr. Celoza. To become involved in Model UN, students first take a class with Dr. Celoza to demonstrate they can do the work and meet outside of class every week. Nate was one of nine Model UN participants last year. Dr. Celoza acknowledges Nate's ability to put his thoughts together in a concise way. "He is articulate," says Dr. Celoza, "and tolerant of criticism," which contributes to one's growing up experience in college.
While Nate already has his Associate Degree and is headed to Northern Arizona University (NAU) next fall, he continues to take classes at Phoenix College to complete additional credits before he transfers. From March to August of 2022, Nate also canvassed full-time for Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. He went from home to home in the summer heat in his straw hat and colorful socks, using his communication skills to engage residents in civic action.
His advice for new students?
"You get out of the college experience what you put into it," he said. If a student comes to campus and goes to class without observing anything else, Nate said, college life will be a bland experience. "But, if you decide to engage in class, make some friends, join a club or two, then you'll have the best time of your life."
Learn more about Model UN at Phoenix College.