Nicholas Schrombeck ’19 is a 2016 recipient of the “Realizing the Dream” scholarship from the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).

The annual award recognizes a first-generation college sophomore who excelled during their freshman year. The scholarship, made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., provides $2,500 toward tuition and expenses for one student at each of the 31 member institutions of ICI, a nonprofit association that works for excellence and choice in higher education for all students. One out of every three students on ICI campuses is first-generation.

Schrombeck is an electrical engineering major from Hebron, Ind. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Valpo Robotics, Engineers Without Borders and the Symphony Orchestra.

When searching for a university, Schrombeck wanted a blend of engineering and music. “Valpo has given me free rein to explore my passion and what I’m good at in engineering while also thriving in other areas with music,” Schrombeck said. “The quality of the professors is outstanding, and the amount of experience I am getting with engineering right now is incredible.”

Schrombeck credited Aaron Preston, associate professor and chair of philosophy, as a faculty mentor who stands out to him. Through the Valpo Core, the University’s signature first-year experience, Preston encouraged Schrombeck to broaden his perspective.

“Professor Preston would always incorporate outside readings along with Core curriculum and give a broader, more conceptual, more analytical way of thinking about truth or education,” Schrombeck said. “It really opened my eyes to how people have studied these topics and how Western society has changed over the last two millennia.”

Schrombeck believes it is important to learn from and collaborate with cultures other than his own and became involved with Engineers Without Borders as a way of giving back to communities. He believes his education at Valpo will help him not only work toward a successful career in electrical engineering but also find ways to contribute to society.

“Nicholas is a dedicated student who embodies Valparaiso University’s ideal of combining the professions and the liberal arts. It was clear from our earliest interactions that he had come to Valpo with the intention of getting not just a degree, but an education,” Preston said. “He doesn’t shy away from challenging material, understanding that to grasp ideas powerful enough to shape the course of human history requires serious effort. He’s a true lover of wisdom.”

Schrombeck is invited to join the other 30 scholarship recipients from independent colleges in Indiana at a banquet in Indianapolis on Saturday, Nov. 5 to accept his award.

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