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Nick Hager

For Nick Hager, Columbus State was all about connections.

The 20-year-old Grove City native graduated in May, and this fall he's transferring to The Ohio State University to study Biology and Microbiology (while studying Greek civilizations with a minor in Classical Humanities).

Along the way, he used his networking skills to get a full-ride scholarship, a paid internship and a position as student representative to Columbus State's Board of Trustees.

"What some people don't see at Columbus State are the outstanding programs that will help you grow by networking with people," Hager said. "There are tons of opportunities that will help them advance their careers and most of them start with getting involved in campus life."

In 2009, Hager's family was forced to file for bankruptcy, which led to the denial of financial aid in 2012 when he began seeking higher education. After visiting Columbus State, he applied to the Future Scientists of Ohio program and was chosen for a full ride scholarship.

"I mean, the teachers here at Columbus State have been phenomenal in continuing my education," he said. "A lot of that is due to the fact that I knew all of my teachers on a personal level and was able to communicate with them freely in and out of office hours."

Some of the professors that were key to his success include Julie Cronk, Rachael Romain and Lyndsy Wolff in the Biological Sciences department, as well as Judith Dann from the Humanities department.

Hager kept a full-time schedule, including summers, and during that time attained the level of vice president of the STEM club. He also became a Student Ambassador, which he said directly led to his position as a student representative to the Board of Trustees.

"I definitely tried to encompass myself in lots of things on the campus. I liked having the leadership role and it felt good to help other students with enhancing their education careers," he said.

His networking in the STEM club also afforded him the opportunity at a paid internship with Ohio State.

"I will start taking classes at Ohio State this fall, while continuing my microbiology research in tRNA synthetase in Dr. Michael Ibba's lab."

Hager also finds time to volunteer at a hospital.

"Go network and see what doors will open for you. That's my biggest advice to any incoming student that wants to be successful," he said. "I always tell people that if it wasn't for Columbus State, I would have never grown and matured the way that I have."