The news last week that he had received the University of Wyoming’s premier scholarship suddenly made Nate Rzasa’s college selection process much easier.
“That definitely moved UW up, because free college is hard to beat,” Rzasa said.
Rzasa, the son of Steve and Carrie Rzasa, is a senior at Buffalo High School. He joins a select group of 100 students statewide to be offered the full-ride University of Wyoming Trustees’ Scholarship. The four-year scholarship is worth nearly $76,000.
According to UW, students from 34 high schools were chosen, along with one home-schooled student.
The scholarship recipients are evaluated on their academic excellence (high school grade-point average, ACT/SAT scores and curriculum rigor). Among this year’s award winners, the average GPA is 3.97, and the average ACT score is 32.
In addition to his sterling academic credentials, Rzasa plays the euphonium in marching, pep and concert band. He has participated in all-state band and all-state orchestra. In addition, he participates in the board game union, esports and debate, which he credits with improving his communication skills.
“Speech and debate has done huge wonders for me, like public speaking, being able to write things more concisely and being more argumentative,” he said.
Rzasa said the road to a full-ride scholarship was winding, with a preliminary application that included an essay and two rounds of interviews — one online and one in person.
After learning that his application and essay had advanced him to the interview round, Rzasa said it started to feel real.
After an online interview, Rzasa was selected to participate in an in-person interview at UW. The day included an opportunity to visit the university’s Honors College and learn more about UW.
After all that buildup, Rzasa learned via email that he’d been awarded the scholarship.
“I think it was about pretty much a month from the interview . . . when I got the news in an email,” he said. “And I was very happy.”
Rzasa is still waiting to learn whether he was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“That’s my first choice. If I get in,” he said. “I’m not expecting it a ton. But if it happens, it will be awesome.”
Barring admission to MIT, Rzasa said he’s set to enroll at UW this fall, where he plans to major in computer science or software development with the goal of having a career in game development.
It’s a field he got interested in through coursework at BHS and Sheridan College and his own curiosity.
“I was kind of looking for something to do over a summer. That’s how it started the summer before junior year,” he said. “And I was, like, ‘Hey, I like playing games. Why don’t I try making them?’ So that’s kind of where that came from. And I was, like, alright, I’ll sign up for some coding classes to get started with that. And when I got started with that, it was really fun and I really had a great time with it. So I kept going in that direction.”
Rzasa credits a couple of BHS teachers with influencing his choice of college major.
“I need to give an equal shoutout to Mrs. (Krista) Sweckard and Mr. (Walter)Farwell. Mrs. Sweckard, because she is the one who offers the computer science classes. And Mr. Farwell, because my sophomore year, he offered a video game development class. And that wasn’t straight coding, but it got me more interested in learning that kind of that side of things.”
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