Scholarship Finalist: Mitch Nedderman

Birds, Boating and Ben

It was the summer before my 8th grade year and my family and I took a vacation to Philadelphia.  We  enjoyed many of the historic sites but the most memorable was the Benjamin Franklin Museum.  I was amazed at all the things one man could  accomplish in a lifetime.  “Speak Little, Do Much.” I still have the photograph on my desk standing under that quote.  I  remember my mom forcing me to take that picture and not understanding, at the time, why she felt so strongly about it.  As I sit here writing  my college essay on my background/story that is so central to my identity, I now understand the meaning of  Franklin’s quote and how it relates to me.

My entire life I’ve lived by this mantra, without even realizing it.  As a young boy my friends were busy playing sports and video games.  While I enjoyed these things on occasion, I  did not feel the same satisfaction.  My interests were different; raising game birds, boating, gardening and playing the clarinet.  I  remember noticing things the average kid probably wouldn’t pay attention to.  One time when I was about five, my sister and I were riding a merry-go-round.  She was intent on choosing the prettiest  horse while I was transfixed on watching how the machine functioned.  I  was always wondering how things worked and my parents called me a “deep thinker”.

One of my earliest memories involved game birds.  My dad thought it would  be a good life lesson to raise wild turkeys from young and release them into the wild.  I loved going down to our  barn to take care of them because it never felt like work to me.  After the turkeys left, I begged my parents for chickens.  The following  summer my dad and I built a pen and ordered twenty five.  My parents told me I had to assume responsibility so I sold eggs to my neighbors to pay for the feed.  After a fisher cat chewed a hole  in the pen door and killed all but two birds, I decided to end the bird business after ten years.

bagel boats 001

My next idea incorporated two of my passions: food and boating.  My  summers were spent swimming and sailing at a local marina.  A friend of my parents jokingly said how nice it would be to have breakfast delivered to our boats.  I took the idea seriously and approached the dock master with the proposal of a floating catering
business.  The marina agreed.  Working with local restaurants and bakeries, I sold their muffins, bagels and donuts at  retail while they sold to me at cost, allowing a small profit.  The  smell of fresh brewed coffee and the salty air still takes me back to those early mornings when most of the town was still asleep.


After hearing about my summer, one of my teachers recommended the Lead  America Business and Entrepreneur program at Babson College.  During those ten days I discovered a world of inspiration.  We worked in groups with engineering students to invent and market a product.  After being elected CEO, we created an ultra-thin inflatable t-shirt for children to prevent drowning. Our team was voted number one in management.  Someday I would like to make the “air life” idea a reality and help prevent one of the leading  causes of child mortality.


I know there are other endeavors waiting for me to discover.  I‘ve  already begun to pursue a few.  With each new project brings challenges and adventures that I enjoy tackling.  Who knew my life experiences would take me down this path, from birds to boating to business.  Wherever and whatever I end up pursuing I know it will lead me to a
place where my passion, ethical beliefs and drive will allow me to be happy.  I may not invent the bi-focals or the Franklin stove but I know I will “Do Much.”

This essay was written by Mitch Nedderman 1 of 10 finalists for the Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Mitch and the other finalists were selected from more than 1300 applications reviewed by the Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Mitch or any of the other finalists, visit the Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.

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