There is a common thread that continuously works its way into the conversation when you sit down and talk with Nick West about how he got to where he is today. He is just starting out in life graduating high school only a few months ago but you wouldn’t know it. He recognized early that his family was different from others and he was going to need help to achieve his goals. But it wasn’t what he needed that resonates with Nick.

“We really didn’t have anywhere to live that’s how bad off we were starting off. It had literally come just in time.” Nick is talking about the Alabama Opportunity tax credit scholarship. He qualified to receive paid tuition to the school of his choice. Alleane West said her prayers were answered. “It was a relief that nobody would understand. You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic which is what it boils down to.”

“When we finally moved into a house, it was bare. We had all the rooms, the air condition didn’t work, it was hot. It was hot. But I still really didn’t care about all that. I really just wanted to go to school. I just look at how successful other people are with an education.” Nick recognized his talent early on. He knew he was good at computer work, it came easy to him, but he also knew he was good at something else. “People are always telling me, ‘oh you need to tell people to pay you for doing that.’ I know some people can’t afford that kind of help just like I can’t afford it. So I like to offer it for free when people need tutoring. I like to just give.”

Nick was voted unanimously by his high school peers “Most likely to succeed”. His mom says the teachers at McGill Toolen High School listened to Nick and worked with him. Nick was asking for tough classes and his teachers kept challenging him with tougher and tougher material. By the time he was ready to graduate he had options. His ACT score was 29 but he knew he could do better. “I spent two weeks inside the house and going to Starbucks and taking this test on my own until I got the score I wanted. So when I finally took it again I did it. I make a 32.” That is one thing he didn’t learn in school, determination and drive. “The more knowledge I have, the more education, the more I’m able to help people. My idea was always to help people.”

Nick is now attending The University of Alabama at Huntsville on a full scholarship. “I want to join the FBI cyber division. My goal is to be a field agent. A lot of people say you don’t make a lot of money doing that, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I want to help people.” The common thread weaving through Nick’s life is his drive and determination to help where needed. It’s something you can’t teach, and can’t put a price on.