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Q&A: Meet Aiden Thatcher

Meet Aiden Thatcher, a recipient of the 2024 Alisa's Angels scholarship. Aiden comes from Anthem, Arizona, and just graduated from Boulder Creek High School. Aiden’s excited to start his college journey at Occidental College this Fall, where he plans to double major in Urban & Environmental Policy and Economics. Aiden's passion for making a positive impact in the community is clear, and this is what inspired us most about his story.

What inspired you to apply for the Alisa’s Angels Scholarship?  

I see myself as fundamentally service-oriented, playing an active role in building a better society around me. This ranges from participating in volunteer service, generating change through action to even little acts of kindness, incrementally making my community a nicer place to be. Thus, when I by chance stumbled upon this scholarship one day and read about Alisa’s story, I felt that it was the perfect match!

Can you share a moment or experience from high school that shaped who you are today?

One of the projects I volunteer for offers virtual literacy tutoring to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds and I had the privilege of getting to teach a young girl, recently moved to the US from Guatemala, her first words in English. I found this experience truly profound as it highlighted that my time and my actions had the ability to improve the world and make a tangible progress, whatever the scale, on modern issues.

How do you plan to make a difference in your community or field of study?

I hope to become a competent expert within the realms of transportation, housing, and climate policy so I can translate political ideals into pragmatic realities, building the more sustainable and socially just cities of tomorrow.

What is a personal achievement or milestone you are particularly proud of?

I am truly proud of my certification of advanced proficiency in the Spanish language. Learning a language is a strenuous process that takes years. However, the cultures, countries, and individuals that is expands your horizons to without a doubt make the investment worth it in the long run. I’m so excited to connect 500 million other people globally that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or interests outside of academics?

I’m an avid runner and love to get out in nature any opportunity I can! I also harbor an addiction to podcasts and despite struggling to produce art/music myself, I really enjoy the history and criticism of both musical and visual arts, frequently visiting art museums.

How did your high school experience prepare you for your future endeavors?

In high school I’ve had a lot of experience starting clubs and launching service projects. While certainly all did not succeed and many lack relevance to my chosen career path, I am immensely grateful for having had these opportunities, as it taught me the tools through which I can initiate effective change and the best strategies to amplify this change through encouraging others to serve with me.

Can you share a challenge you’ve overcome and what you learned from it?

Through my running and bike commuting, I’ve been hit by a car on two separate occasions. For a while this instilled a bit of a fear within me as a pedestrian that I’ve only recently started to overcome. I hope to use these experiences in my future as an urban planner to help make streets safer, more hospitable, and convenient for pedestrians so healthy, climate friendly, and socially just alternatives to driving are available to others without risking life and limb.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

If you have a passion, an idea, a unique opportunity pass your way, do it! One thing always leads to another, and the next thing you know you’re a regular person changing the world.


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