Two Catawba alumni establish ‘Not for Self, But Country’ Scholarship

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Catawba College

SALISBURY — Catawba College students who want to pursue a career in the armed forces can apply for a new scholarship to help.

The Non Sibi Sed Patriae (“Not for Self, for Country”) Scholarship opens this year and is a $1,000 award.

The scholarship was established by two 2013 Catawba College alumni and close friends who are both supply officers in the military. Christian Crifasi serves in the Navy as a supply corps officer at NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego. Spencer Preston is a Marine supply, fiscal and logistics officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 at Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point.

“There isn’t a lot of exposure for the military while you’re attending college, and that is comparable to having only one-track in mind,” said Preston, who studied exercise science and was a four-year varsity soccer player at Catawba. “A lot of people feel the call to serve, but no one puts it on the plate for them. You have to commit to the service.

“We’re not looking for applications, we are looking for commitments,” he said. “The college itself is a college based on service. At the end of the day, Catawba College is a unique experience and it’s not for everybody. Just like the service, it’s not for everybody. But if we can facilitate a connection between interested students by being available to talk to them about serving, it opens the hatch for their consideration to answer the call.”

Crifasi echoes Preston’s sentiments.

“I definitely have a different perspective since I’ve joined,” he said. “What got me started was the desire to serve, especially growing up in a small town where so many join the military. I have grandfathers, cousins and good friends who have served, and it was always in the back of my mind. Once I met with all of the branches and all of the recruiters, I figured the Navy was best for me.”

Crifasi describes himself and Preston as “pretty blessed to be where we are right now.” He believes the scholarship is an appropriate way to pay it forward to current and future Catawba students.

“Hopefully, we can provide some guidance for students who want to pursue a career as a commissioned officer in one of the branches of the U.S. armed forces,” Crifasi said. “For both of us, at the end of the day, we do what we do because of our country and the people who are in it. In an era when people are very divided, it’s good to come together for a common cause.”

Both Crifasi and Preston shared some advice to Catawba students who are interested in applying for the scholarship they have established:

“Make sure that you understand that this is a very rewarding career, but there are also sacrifices, especially time away from family,” Crifasi says. “Ensure that you’re mentally prepared for those challenges.”

“For someone pursuing a position like we hold and this scholarship, be willing to commit,” Preston said. “Answer the call to serve this great nation. You’ve got to be committed and it’s going to be challenging – you’ll have a lot of unknowns – but as I tell my wife, ‘We’ve got each other and Christ.’ Those two things combined are an unstoppable force.”

Catawba students who want to apply for the Non Sibi Sed Patriae Scholarship are asked to write a brief essay answering the following questions: “Understanding that this line of work comes with inherent risk, including the potential loss of life, why do you want to be a commissioned officer in one of the branches of the armed forces? Why not enter into the civilian workforce after graduation?”

Completed essays with an applicant’s contact information should be submitted to Kenneth W. Clapp, Catawba College chaplain and senior vice president, a mentor and friend to Crifasi and Preston. The deadline is Aug. 1 so the scholarship award can be made before the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

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