#MyPathToSeniorWalk: Nathanael Martin-Nelson

Nathanael Martin-Nelson
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Nathanael Martin-Nelson

Nathanael Martin-Nelson was a stay-at-home dad in Ohio when he decided to pursue a graduate degree – a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering – because he likes to solve problems. 

“I wanted a career that involves finding solutions to the world's pressing problems,” he says, “and getting a master's qualifies and enables me to solve more challenging technical problems. It was also a good way to keep myself entertained and progressing professionally, while taking care of a baby.”

Martin-Nelson wanted the flexibility of studying online so he could take care of his toddler while his wife attended law school. Through his research of the U.S. News & World Report best online programs list, and even as an Ohio resident, more than 800 miles away from Fayetteville, he found his place within the College of Engineering and the University of Arkansas ONLINE.

“I was looking for a fully online and affordable power engineering program, and based on my research, ... this was the best program,” he says. “It also made me more comfortable that the U of A has good name-brand recognition and a robust research program.”

He says it was a perfect fit: “The U of A's asynchronous courses allow me to study at times compatible with my family and professional schedule.” 

Despite being an online student, he has been able to participate in several campus activities, including attending thesis and dissertation defenses and taking part in a social and environmental impact consultancy pilot project. The project, called People, Planet and Profit Project, or P4, is run by an interdisciplinary group of M.B.A. and graduate students in the U of A's Graduate Net Impact chapter.

“It has been very fun to be able to do that all the way from Ohio,” he says. He was also able to complete a full-time internship with a utility company last summer.

Nathanael is scheduled to graduate in May, but he’s already employed full time at the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO. 

“It was at the suggestion of Dr. (Roy) McCann, one of my professors, that I applied to MISO,” he says.

There, he conducts analyses of future electrical grids and reviews proposed utility projects to ensure the grid remains reliable. 

“My master's coursework has prepared me well for this job; some of the courses I have taken since I started reflect exactly the sort of thing I do,” he says.

He says he would advise other students to consider working and going to school at the same time: “While it can be a challenge, there are a lot of companies that are supportive of further education,” he says. “Working helps you figure out what you want to get out of your education, and you can pursue professional opportunities without waiting on the degree.”

“I think the UARK program helped me get the education necessary to get the type of job that I want, while fitting my particular life and circumstances.” 

For more student success stories like Mullins', check out some of our previous #MyPathToSeniorWalk features: Markese MullinsGerson Fajardo-Brühl, Abby Goldsmith, Dietrich Thurston, Jenna Klewsaat, Michaela Parks, Angel Williams and others at our #MyPathToSeniorWalk website. If you have a story that you'd like told or know someone who has an inspiring story, please check out the nomination form.

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