Scholarship helps propel student through engineering degreeMC alumnus did not know where to turn to plan for his education

MIDLAND Saul Natividad is the oldest of six children. He is the first in his family to get a degree, graduating from Midland College in 2011. He is currently finishing up his engineering degree at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin while working full time at an oil and gas company. When it came to his education, he had to find a way to pay for it himself.
“To be honest it was either find a scholarship, find the resources to be able to go to school or not attend at all,” Natividad said. “There was no other option for me.”
Natividad received the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship. It pays for in-state tuition, fees and books for MC students. The scholarship continues if the student meets guidelines and attends UTPB.
“The Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship was definitely a big deal,” Natividad said. “I really appreciate all the opportunities it has given me. I try to volunteer for events the Cogdell Learning Center offers to the community because I know there are others who are in my same situation. For many, whether or not they are going to be recipients of this scholarship determines whether or not they are going to go to school.”
Not all first-generation college students are the same, but many need help navigating the numerous forms that go along with admission, financial aid and degree planning. Natividad said he was intimidated by all this information.
“I was not familiar with a lot of the college processes,” Natividad said. “Sometimes I felt the pressure to understand all the intricacies of applying to college was a hindrance to learning and doing my best while I was actually in class. The Cogdell Learning Center hosted programs and events to explain college easily. The staff there removed most, if not all of my intimidation so I was able to focus on my future as an engineer. My advice to students who want to be engineers is to start networking and looking for opportunities like internships quickly. It can become tricky as you continue your studies, so get the hang of it right away and ask the Cogdell Learning Center staff for help if you need it.”
Natividad credits Cogdell Learning Center for helping make his transfer to UTBP seamless. However, he said he missed the small class sizes at MC.
“I definitely had to adapt to large classes at a university,” Natividad said. “The student to teacher ratio was not the same as MC, but thanks to the Cogdell Learning Center I did not have to worry about my degree plan or classes transferring over.”
The Cogdell Learning Center is a pillar of the south Midland community. This year it is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Faculty and staff help residents of south and east Midland pursue a college education resources like through free English as a Second Language courses, citizenship classes and preparation for the high school equivalency diploma.
“The Cogdell Learning Center focuses on helping people in the community who do not necessarily have equal opportunity,” Natividad said. “The faculty and staff try to help everyone from first-generation students to English language learners with whatever they are lacking so they can go out and pursue their dreams.”
Natividad is proud to be a Bill Pace Cogdell Scholar. He gives back to the scholarship and Cogdell Learning Center as much as he can, but he said he insists it continues to give him inspiration in unique ways.
“The scholars all try to get together to volunteer and catch up on how everyone is doing,” Natividad said. “We are always encouraging each other to push forward. Since everybody comes from different backgrounds, everybody has different stories. All those different perspectives are reassuring and motivating for me to keep going with what I am doing. It is easy to get consumed with homework and assignments while balancing a job, but when you hear other Bill Pace Cogdell Scholars’ struggles and learn how they are overcoming obstacles, you feel a renewed sense of purpose. The environment MC has created with the Cogdell Learning Center and the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship is exhilarating.”