podcastED: Software engineer shares how Alabama school choice scholarship helped him achieve success in education and life

Nick West, recipient of an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship

On this episode, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie talks with Nick West, a Mobile, Alabama, resident who works for Siemens Digital Industries and is pursuing a doctorate at Purdue University.

West, who attended private elementary and secondary schools, talks about how the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship program made it possible for his mother, a single parent of five boys, to send four of them to a school that was the best educational fit for them. Without the scholarship, West says, it would not have been possible for him to remain at his Catholic high school.

“There’s nothing wrong with the public schools, in general. It’s just that I feel like every child has different needs, and parents should be able to have their choice, to pick whatever school is necessary to meet their child’s needs. I am where I am today because I went to private schools. We should be funding students, not systems.”

West tells how two of his brothers were born with unique abilities, forcing his mother to leave her job so she could care for them at home, and recalls how he always studied hard because he was aware of his mother’s sacrifices.

Now a successful young adult, West volunteers as a part-time computer teacher at his former school.

He also has worked with the American Federation for Children on policy issues, bringing awareness to his fellow Alabamians of the scholarship program and alerting them to when new applications are being accepted.

EPISODE DETAILS:

  • West’s early life and education
  • How the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship, which allowed West to remain at his Catholic high school, made a difference in his life
  • West’s volunteer work as a teacher and advocate for education choice
  • Why West thinks education savings accounts are the best form of education choice