Alumni Profile: Nate Estes (’13)


March 21, 2019

Nate Estes, a member of the Cathedral Prep Class of 2013, is an outstanding example of what it means to be a Rambler. Though, the decision to spend his four years of high school at Prep was not easy. After shadowing with a student, he discovered that Prep would be the best fit for him. “Shadowing was the pivotal point for my high school selection process. When spending the day there, I got excited for high school.” One thing he knew is that he would be able to best pursue his academic goals at Prep. The atmosphere of Prep was another primary factor for his selection. “It was unlike any other school. I enjoyed how you would be surrounded by a bunch of fun guys who had jovial attitudes.” 

Taking advantage of this, Estes would form many relationships and memories throughout his time at Prep. Playing tennis all four years at Prep, Estes was able to connect with even more people than his classmates, including his coach, Pat Grab. He participated in several extracurricular activities such as Student Government, Key Club, and Students Against Destructive Decisions. 

Estes certainty excelled in the classroom, being ranked at the top of his class. Some of his favorite classes were the ones which prepared him most for college and challenged him to become a smarter individual. Examples of these include Mrs. Mullen’s calculus class (which had University of Pittsburgh credits), chemistry with Mr. Markley, and English with Mrs. McKean. Nate commented, “My education at Prep certainly prepared me for college. Through my entire four years at Prep, and especially with Mr. Markley, Mrs. Mullen, and Mrs. McKean, I have developed a solid framework of academics to succeed in life, learned how to efficiently collaborate and work in groups, and the importance of service and community involvement.” These three things made themselves apparent after he graduated from Prep and began his time as a student at the University of Michigan. 

The University of Michigan was like a dream school for Nate. In grade school at Villa Maria Elementary, he made a project in which you would plan out the rest of your life. One of the important facets of this project was that Estes said he would attend the University of Michigan. His family is also deeply passionate with Michigan, whether it be their athletic programs or institution as a whole. His grandfather received a Ph.D. from Michigan and his own father is originally from Ann Arbor. When it came time for Estes to make his decision, he understood that Michigan had one of the top engineering schools in the nation and would be a great fit for him. 

There were distinct differences between University of Michigan and Cathedral Prep. The most notable was the change in class size. “It was hard to adjust from going to classes from 30 students at most to lecture halls filled with 500 students,” he said. “Also, it was weird not working directly with the instructor, because at Prep if I needed help I could easily approach the teacher and work out my problem.” Furthermore, some of his fellow students at Michigan had a wider academic background in physics, chemistry, and programming. If Estes could take one class at Prep which was not offered when he was student, it would definitely be AP Computer Science. The different courses offered by a variety of high schools put many more students at a wider scope of knowledge. Despite this slight disadvantage, Estes was able to draw from his experiences at Prep, and ultimately overcome this hardship.  

In those same differences, he came to enjoy many of the unique aspects about college, specifically at the University of Michigan. He was able to experience a whole new side of life. Estes was able to study abroad and encounter a more diverse set of experiences and cultures. “I really wish I was able to do that more in my earlier life, learn more about the world from perspectives different than being in little Erie, Pa. I certainly made the most of the opportunities in college to study abroad and experience various cultures firsthand.” He enjoyed the new depths he could reach in his education at Michigan, including all of the new people he could meet. Since graduating from the University of Michigan, he now is an employee of Amazon as a data scientist. 

Estes certainly understands how fortunate to be in the position he is in. “I was really lucky I was able to go to the high school I wanted, the university I wanted, and land a job at a company I really like. It is important to keep in mind that there are those who do not have access to the same opportunities I have had.” Prep has been able to keep Estes grounded by reminding him of the importance of being involved with the community, giving back to those who are less fortunate and those who have helped him succeed, while making the most of every situation he faces. 

After reflecting on his professional, college, and high school life, Estes was able to reflect on the role Cathedral Prep played in his personal development. Nate described how being at Prep, as well as interacting the teachers and students there, taught him how to not limit himself. Through Prep, he was able to unleash his full potential. “I am grateful especially for the staff and friends,” he said. “The teachers showed their true desire to see me succeed and passion for teaching by investing so much time into my growth. Their hard work helped reveal to myself that I am capable of doing great things in my life.” This detail came into effect in Nate’s life when he was a student at Michigan. At first, he was nervous being surrounded by a large number of intelligent individuals and being in a new environment. All it took from him was realizing his fortunate position and background, then he was able to get into his stride, truly succeeding and continuing to grow as an individual, as he is still doing today.

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