Validation by philanthropy

Student pushes himself to greater excellence thanks in part to philanthropy

Nick Rogness

By Laura Pizzo

Raised alongside eight siblings, Nick Rogness ’16 always knew paying for college would be a challenge for his family. But as a junior in high school, he remembers being even more concerned that he may not be ready for the academic rigor.

“As a family, we were all homeschooled,” he said. “And my mom didn’t have time to micromanage us all to ensure we were on track. So there was an expectation that I be self-disciplined. During my first few years of high school, I wasn’t very good at it. Then, in my junior year, I realized at some point I was going to go to college and needed to grow up and learn how to embrace education.”

To his surprise, he has done very well at UC Davis, double majoring in political science and economics. Since transferring from Folsom Lake Community College, Rogness has maintained a high grade point average, taken on an honor’s thesis project, participated in extracurricular activities and interned in Governor Jerry Brown’s office. He was also awarded the Clare E. Ficklin Scholarship for merit and interest in public policy, which has served as a reminder of how far he has come.

“This scholarship helps me feel that I have become a good student,” he said. “Part of my success has been learning to enjoy learning. Really, everything we do in life is an educational experience. And I have astonished myself by what I have been able to accomplish at UC Davis. Back in high school, I never would have seen myself receiving something like this.”

Accountability pushes Rogness toward greater achievements

Rogness’ scholarship keeps him motivated and accountable even when his schedule is overbooked or he has a particularly difficult project.

“With this scholarship, I now know it’s not just my parents and myself who have invested in my education,” he said. “There’s other people behind that. And with their investment, I have an expectation to uphold.”

As Rogness gears up for graduation, his scholarship and experiences at UC Davis continue to encourage him to embrace lifelong learning and push beyond what he thinks is possible. He said these are the greatest lessons his scholarship taught him.

“Philanthropy, like respect, is a two-way street,” he explained. “There’s someone who started the process of generosity. And there’s also a responsibility on the part of the recipients to make the best use of it and to demonstrate the difference that philanthropy makes in our lives.”