Nick Drushella, who is a newly appointed Rotary Peace Scholar, was born and grew up in Portland, Oregon. In 2012 he graduated from the University of Oregon in International Studies with an emphasis in Media, Journalism and Communications. He has a fierce love for writing, international exploration, but most importantly youth development so it is no surprise he was attracted to the Imagine Scholar program, as its mission aligned with his personal interests.

Like the students say, Imagine Scholar is above all else a family.

Nick spoke to our club about Imagine Scholar earlier this year. You can see more about that here:

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students enroll to study at South Africa’s universities. Of the 60% of black African students who survive, only 15% will ultimately graduate. This is because of an oppressive, ineffective public school system. Most classmates never make it to higher education and those who do come are poorly prepared.

There is a huge racial divide that exists and progress to unify has been very very slow.

The condition of public education in South Africa is akin to a refugee camp.

Imagine Scholar recognizes the enormous unfulfilled potential and talent of South African youth and is building a tremendous network of advocates and activists to address the needs and systemic issues.

As a result, this year, Imagine Scholar youth have been accepted to high quality programs around the globe. They are succeeding in University. They are organizing service projects in their communities.

One example: Rodger awarded a $75,000 scholarship to finish his last two years of college in Armenia at a highly prestigious school.

Another example: Thenjiwe Ndimande is finishing her second year at University of Johannesburg. 10 times out of 10, students like Thenjiwe would have been forgotten because she was not doing well in public schools. But now she is in the top 10% of the 50,000 person class at Johannesburg and working her way to the top 2%. This summer, she came to the US for help fundraising and raising awareness for Imagine Scholar and she is on track to become a program director of Imagine Director by 2020. Many current staff will eventually be replaced by those who have experienced the program and who have grown up in South Africa.

Imagine Scholar looks for students during the 8th grade year and accept 10 students each year out of hundreds of applicants. They come 6 days a week, 20-30 hours a week, to Imagine Scholar in addition to their regular studies, their chores. It’s built for students who are committed and want to be there.

Imagine Scholar believes in starting small and nurturing students. It’s a sustained investment. Each experience and accomplishment builds on the last.

Please visit the Imagine Scholar website for more information and to get involved. Consider sponsoring a student. You will be able to communicate with your student.

Nick is excited for transitioning from Imagine Scholar to his studies under the Rotary Peace Fellowship in Australia. This will be a 1.5 year masters program. He will focus on the UN’s sustainable goal of ensuring inclusive and quality education for all.