The ongoing coronavirus health crisis has meant an irregular beginning to the academic year with a still uncertain navigation for the future. But in the midst of the unprecedented, Cole Nakadate ’22 was inspired by the pandemic to seize the power of proactivity.
Nakadate crafted and executed a philanthropy project that is providing personal protective equipment for St. Thomas faculty and students to help combat the spread of COVID-19. He raised more than $1,000 and furnished 770 KN95 premium face masks. The breathable, high-efficiency, one size fits product will promote health and safety once St. Thomas transitions to an on-campus hybrid model of instruction.
“I wanted to help build as much confidence as possible in returning to campus,” Nakadate says. “A spike in confirmed cases would be an obvious setback if we are to continue in a classroom setting. A lot of time and effort in resuming would be wasted.”
Nakadate drew on his entrepreneurial Round Up experience to plot an effective strategic plan. The involvement in one of the nation’s most successful student-driven fundraising initiatives proved invaluable in organizing and prospecting a potential pool of supporters. “I started with an existing network of contacts and then followed with referrals. The initial response was positive and we gradually gathered momentum.”
As Nakadate secured financing, he brokered with product dealers and suppliers for availability and the optimal financial deal, then partnered with Mike Bissell, vice president of global sales with Mobile Outfitters for distribution and shipping.
“Mr. Bissell’s excitement was obvious from the very beginning,” Nakadate says. “We struck an immediate chord, both trying to help in whatever ways and areas that we could.”
Nakadate understands that successfully uniting the academic community is contingent on the actions of every student and faculty member, meaning wearing masks and social distancing is crucial.
“Cole has demonstrated one of the core principles of what we all need during this challenge, and that is everyone collaborating to recognize our shared responsibility in keeping our campus safe,” Principal Aaron Dominguez ‘96 says. “He represents the collective call of perseverance, innovation, and commitment in the coming months as we adapt to the new normal brought on by COVID-19.”
Like millions of students throughout the United States, Nakadate’s world has turned virtual during the pandemic. A wide array of summer enrichment opportunities were canceled, including internships with a Houston law firm and the Honors College at the University of Houston with Dean William Monroe. Nakadate did participate online in a summer forensic education program through the University of Texas but his significant achievement was the charity given to his St. Thomas campus community.
“When you see an obvious need, you can’t always rely on others to fill the void,” Nakadate says. “There are times when you have to step up and take action.”
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