A (One Hundred) Grand Vision

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If you’re a student, you may have seen him in class or on duty as an RA in the Pennington dorm. Or maybe you saw George Fox sophomore Kyle Degman win a $100,000 scholarship from Dr. Pepper on national TV.

All it took was a short essay, some online voting and one video (made by fellow RA Jake Thiessen) for Degman to make his way to the finals of Dr. Pepper’s annual Tuition Giveaway. He squared off against a student from USC during halftime of the Pac-12 Conference championship football game in a contest to see who could throw the most footballs into a small container from five yards away in an allotted amount of time. Degman was declared the winner and is now $100,000 closer to his dream of being an optometrist.

“Kids from small schools don’t ever win those kinds of scholarships,” Degman said. “But I thought to myself, ‘I might as well take a shot at it.’”

The question everyone asked after watching his submission video was, “Where did he learn to throw like that?” Degman, a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball and basketball), hoped to play baseball at George Fox until he sustained an injury. He considers it his second passion, and his skills as a ballplayer made him a formidable opponent in the football toss.

He’s a formidable foe when it comes to tackling global issues, too. Degman plans to use his scholarship to help fund his education and live out his dream of serving in inner cities and around the world. Ask him where he got this drive to help the world and he’ll tell you it all stems from home.

“In the church with my family, everything we did to help others made me want to help with the skills I have and the skills I will have,” Degman says. “The summer before my senior year of high school, I went on a missions trip to Uganda. I always knew I wanted to do some sort of missions work in life, but being a part of the medical field makes it a lot easier to actually be able to contribute and help people in their lives.”

Now that he has some college expenses out of the way, Degman is excited kyle_header3about the years to come at George Fox.

“I look forward to Juniors Abroad, just to see more of the world. It’ll probably excite me even more to travel and do missions work. I most look forward to hopefully being an RA again, being in a leadership role again, meeting new people and growing with people I know.”

Not only does he have big plans for the rest of his tenure at George Fox, but after graduation he hopes to join the optometry program at Pacific University. After receiving the Dr. Pepper scholarship, Degman was contacted by the dean of optometry at the school, who offered to help him put together his application for medical school — a task often considered a full-time job.

Degman hopes the scholarship will allow him to spend more time volunteering and working toward owning his own practice rather than dealing with paying back student loans. Long-term, he plans to own his own practice. Ideally, he’ll stay close to home in the Portland area so he can help fit his family for glasses. Ironically, everyone in the family wears them except him.

With his passion for vision and helping others, Kyle Degman’s future looks bright.