Citizen Potawatomi Nation member Skyler Riggle is an exemplary student from Asher High School. He spent four years of rigorous attention to coursework and many extracurricular activities as well as put additional focus on his future during his senior year. In April 2020, Riggle received the news that The Gates Scholarship organization selected him as one of 300 minority students from across the country for the prestigious program.
Aside from funding for tuition and other college costs, it also provides opportunities for networking, mentoring and guidance while entering the workforce. The intense application process includes a thorough look at test scores, academic background, additional activities, essays and an interview. Riggle worked on his submission for the majority of his senior year.
“I tried to exhibit who I am, really,” Riggle said. “I try to be a hard worker and dependable. I have a very genuine interest in my career within the Marine Corps but with computer science as well. I hoped that what grabbed their attention is my personality and attitude.”
Debt and aspirations
At the beginning of 2020, approximately 45 million borrowers owed more than a record $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Receiving the Gates Scholarship provides relief from the stress of owing money, and Riggle appreciates the opportunities that flourish without the added pressure.
“Being named a Gates Scholar allows me and my family to be worry-free as far as my college debt goes, which in turn helps me to focus in on learning and my life after college,” he said.
He plans to attend the University of Oklahoma in Norman and participate in its Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He wants to major in computer science. However, Riggle also aspires to attend the United States Naval Academy and become a member of the Marine Corps. His older brother Ashley served in the Army and retired as a sergeant. Riggle always looked up to him and his selflessness. Riggle also admires the “gung-ho, go get ‘em attitude” of the Marines.
“The mindset of ‘First to Fight’ is awe-inspiring, and it’s this bias for action that draws me to the Marines more than any other branch,” he said. “That, and their proud history of heroism, selfless sacrifice and war-fighting excellence makes the Marine Corps a clear choice for me.”
Passions and projects
Riggle’s many extracurricular activities and enthusiasm for a breadth of subjects helped his Gates Scholarship application stand out.
His interest in computer science and programming developed throughout high school. Riggle joined Asher High School’s first robotics competition team, where he discovered the intersection of the physical world and applied mathematics.
“I also really enjoyed the hands-on portions because it allowed me to become more intimate with the design of the robot. … For me, the greatest moment was driving the bot for the first time. Seeing all of the systems that I helped design and put together work perfectly with the code I put together was honestly one of the greatest feelings ever,” Riggle said.
Technology and problem solving also fuel his interest in modern history. It helps Riggle imagine the possibilities of his career and contributions to society.
“My favor for more recent history comes from the clear correlation between it and the world today,” Riggle said. “The incredible advancements in society, and even more so technology, have opened the doors to so many wonderful possibilities. It excites me to know that there might be so much more to discover.”
Riggle also participated in the National Honor Society, Asher High School Student Council, Gordon Cooper’s Leadership Academy, the quiz bowl team and Asher’s Business Professionals of America chapter during high school. He volunteered at the Special Olympics as part of the BPA for a couple of years, which he calls “an experience unlike any other.”
“Seeing the athletes persevere and have a great time despite their individual circumstances was very inspiring. It really goes to show you that no matter what happens to you, so long as you’re not dead, you can always keep moving forward,” Riggle said.
He holds the experiences dear to his heart, and he is anxious to keep adding to them as a Gates scholar. Riggle feels confident it will allow him to continue volunteering and work with other admirable organizations.
Find out more about The Gates Scholarship at thegatesscholarship.org.