Growing up on 43 acres in a small Colorado town, Dillon did not intend to reside in the fifth largest U.S. city to attend college. Deemed as one of the most valuable scholars in the nation by the Elks National Foundation, he had the opportunity to go anywhere, and he chose Arizona State University.
"I wanted to try something new and meet people who weren't in my hometown," Dillon says. "I love the busy atmosphere of the city and the diversity of the ASU campus."
Dillon became interested in discovering the world outside his small town and looked for colleges out of state after he and his parents experienced a variety of cultures through extensive travel.
"The [SDFA] scholarship allowed me to worry less about expenses and more about studies and work."Dillon
Dillon understood it would be expensive to attend college in a different state and began saving in high school, working in a food truck during the summer and at a Christmas tree farm during the winter. He also saw that scholarships could help. His hard work to maintain a good GPA was rewarded when he received the Elks National Foundation scholarship.
Dillon knew he wanted to become an engineer, and applied to ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to study mechanical engineering and sustainability. Fulton ranks in the top 15 percent of all accredited engineering programs in the nation and is one of the largest with more than 7,700 students and $78 million in externally funded research.
Even with his scholarship and a job, his expenses were high. At the end of his freshman year, Dillon applied for and was awarded a family association scholarship, effectively lowering his out-of-state tuition to resemble the in-state rate.
Dillon also was awarded a Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative grant, allowing him to conduct a wind turbine research project. Even with the FURI grant, Dillon found that the family association scholarship was what helped to ease his financial burdens the most.
"I have been offered awesome opportunities at ASU," Dillon says. "But the family association scholarship allowed me to worry less about expenses and more about studies and work."
Another benefit of the scholarship was that it was easier for Dillon to meet people, both parent volunteers and other students.
"It is tough the first few months away from home, especially when you are from out of state," says Dillon. "The parents involved with the family association actually care about you. It's nice to know someone is watching out for you when your parents are nowhere near."
The community service requirement of the SDFA scholarship also allowed Dillon to get involved at ASU.
Through the family association, Dillon assisted with the ASU Homecoming parade, helped out during SDFA Coffees, represented the family association as a spokesman during high school senior nights and worked at an "ask me" booth to help new students find their way around campus.
"I like being the person at 'ask me' booths who knows," Dillon says. "I like to provide direction to those in need because I know what it was like to feel disoriented on campus when I was a freshman."
Although Dillon will say he's from Colorado, he now feels he is a part of the ASU family. He has met students and faculty from around the world at ASU and has grown to love the busy, diverse atmosphere.
"It's everything I wanted for my college experience," Dillon says.
Want to support students like Dillon? Support the Sun Devil Family Association Scholarship Fund today.