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Pay it Forward: Missouri Teen Donates Savings After Scholarship Award


Joshua Nelson, an 18-year-old senior at St Charles West High School, inspired friends and family by donating his college savings and starting a scholarship fund for students in need after he was awarded the prestigious President’s Scholarship to Southeast Missouri State University.

The scholarship, valued at $43,000, will cover tuition and board for four years as long as he keeps his grades up. Nelson was one of only five students selected for the scholarship out of the 288 that applied.

“I feel like it’s important to be involved in your community and leaving a legacy,” Nelson explained to We Love St. Charles, a local non-profit community outreach organization.

Leading by Example

Nelson started the Joshua Nelson Leaders in Action Scholarship fund to help other promising multicultural students secure a college education. The fund is currently being managed through the school and the Multicultural Achievement Council (MAC) program. Donors are free to contribute through the school’s website.

Nelson hopes that his actions will inspire others, as well as local businesses, to start donating as well so that his new scholarship fund can help more than one student. 

A Star-Studded Academic Career

Nelson will study biomedical sciences this fall at Southeast Missouri and will pursue a career in optometry.

Displaying a long track record of leadership and community service, he currently serves as president of the MAC, a program focused on encouraging under-represented students to make the most out of their academic potential, according to the program website.

According to a university announcement, he is also a member of the National Honor Society, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Black Student Union. Beyond academics, he serves as a tutor for the Boys and Girls Club of St. Charles County and volunteers for the Refuge and Restoration Mobile Food Market. 

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