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Nick Weston

Nick Weston of Paw Paw transferring to Ferris State

Weston a Semi-Finalist for National Scholarship

Published on April 2, 2024 - 9 a.m.

Southwestern Michigan College’s Nick Weston hopes the adage “good things come to those who hustle while they wait” applies to him.

Weston, of Paw Paw, recently returned from New Orleans as one of five SMC presenters at the American Chemical Society national meeting.

At the March 17-21 conference, the Honors Program student discussed his research using fungi to remove lead from water with a professor from Ferris State University, where he transfers this fall to study biochemistry.

In the meantime, the former SMC cross-country runner remains active in club track while awaiting word as one of Michigan’s eight community college semi-finalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Cooke’s foundation in Lansdowne, Va. — he owned the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Kings — received more than 1,600 applications from students at two-year colleges across the country. Weston, graduating from SMC May 4 with an associate degree in biology, is one of 459 semi-finalists along with students from Grand Rapids Community College, Washtenaw Community College, Oakland Community College, Henry Ford Community College and Glen Oaks Community College.

This scholarship helps community-college students with demonstrated exceptional academic ability, leadership and service transfer to top four-year institutions to avoid student debt.

The award, last-dollar funding after all institutional aid, can provide as much as $55,000 per year for two to three years to complete a bachelor’s degree at any accredited four-year undergraduate U.S. institution.

This year’s semi-finalists attend 194 community colleges in 37 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In addition to financial support, Cooke Transfer Scholars have access to internship opportunities, study-abroad experiences, graduate school funding and connection to a network of more than 3,100 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni. Finalists will be announced in May.

Weston said New Orleans presented “lots of current research that’s being done by professors and institutions all over the world and seeing what’s on the forefront of science. That’s been inspiring,” since research is also his chosen career path.

Weston had flown before, but much younger, with his parents.

“This was a really good experience flying-wise,” he said. “In the past, my parents navigated the airport and getting our tickets and boarding passes.”

Weston appreciated “experiencing not only the atmosphere of the city,” but also “the professional environment where we’re seeing all the work that’s being done.”

As someone born in 2003, he was alive when Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans in August 2005, but too young to remember.

Presenting at a national meeting was an affirmation for Weston that “research we’ve done for months prepared us for this. It gives you confidence so you go in and kill it! When my partner Delaney (Platt from Illinois) and I were presenting the research we worked on together, all the people next to us were seniors at big universities. One of them told me they don’t get to go to stuff like this until they’re upperclassmen. I’m very grateful I got to experience that early on in my career. I for sure want to do research because I’m very interested in the why of how things work. I did research with Dr. Schauer over the summer with biosorption of green onion.”

“I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at SMC,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot and had an opportunity to do things, be independent and grow on my own. I went to all the indoor track meets, now we’re doing outdoor track meets. Two days after we got back from New Orleans I was racing in Indiana.”

At the Indiana Wesleyan Polar Bear Invite, Roadrunners Isaiah Beiter, Brandon Persons, Zach Stearns, Tori Yates and Weston all set personal records in their events while racing against schools including Indiana Wesleyan, Adrian, Grand Valley, Purdue Northwest, IU East, IU Kokomo, University of Notre Dame, Grace, SVSU, Concordia, Trine, Bethel, Wayne State, Grace Christian, Spring Arbor and Huntington.

“It’s a really good way to stay in shape for the guys doing cross next year,” Weston said. “I love running and being able to compete. I’m hoping to run track at Ferris State if that works out.”