By Matthew Luna
Before John Niroula applied for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship in November he was just like any other college student.
Being 18 years old and graduating early from Van Nuys High School, his first semester at LACC was definitely a challenge for him.
He never lets his rough time at LACC get the best of him as he continued to work hard and seek help from his peers; seeking help from peers is something Niroula considers of utmost importance for any college student.
Now, Niroula who was accepted to Cal Tech- ranked internationally number one for engineering technology and physics- has just learned that he was also accepted to MIT and now faces the tough decision of deciding between the two.
Born in Los Angeles, John Niroula being half Korean and half Nepali was initially struggling with his course work. Niroula knew he had an interest in physics, and he knew he was a good student so he rolled with the punches, and eventually ended up applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s scholarship programs are designed to encourage and support outstanding students who work hard and have financial need.
“David, the director of the scholarship foundation at LACC, called and said he had to tell me something and that it was a good thing.” Next thing he knew, he was in room that held a few of his professors, the president of LACC, and “important people in suits,” Niroula said.
Although he was extremely happy at the news he received, he jokingly admitted that the relaying of the message was a bit awkward.
The application process was not easy for him.He had to write seven 600 character essays, two 1800 character essays, and one 3000 character essay.
Niroula mentioned he was confident in his abilities, but definitely asked for guidance when writing these essays from English teacher and honors director Dr. Muller (LACC).
Growing up his parents pushed him to be a doctor. In High School a Physics douse was not offered. He was introduced to Physics in college and it is now what he aspires to be a part of. It was a passion that he acquired from initially taking Intro to Physics in the summer of 2012 at LACC.
Niroula credits ELAC’s MESA Program with helping to get his foot in the door, and opening more opportunities for him.
The MESA program at ELAC enables educationally disadvantaged students to prepare for and graduate from a four-year college or university with a math-based degree in areas such as engineering, the sciences, computer science, and mathematics.
Niroula notes that the MESA program was a huge help to him and encourages students to join if they are interested in the fields that are provided. It was at the MESA program where Niroula was lent some of his books for school and was able to work on physics workshops, presentations, and was even offered a paid internship at JPL. JPL is a federally funded research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
No matter what obstacles Niroula faced, he never stopped working hard and always asked for help from his peers. After graduating,
Niroula plans to attend grad school and hopes to become a teacher at a prestigious school that will allow him to have his own lab.
Niroula would like to give thanks to his professors at ELAC: Professor Ramirez, Professor Papenkova, and his MESA mentor Professor Kiledjian.
He would also like to thank his LACC professors who helped nurture his interest in physics: Professors McCudden, Bhakta, and Arvidson. And a special thanks to these people who helped Niroula write his essays and personal statements, along with apply for this scholarship: MESA program director Dr. Rivera, MESA program counselor Marina, and LACC honors director Dr. Muller