Asher Nelson loves to create—from music on his sunburst electric bass guitar to sleek model rockets. A recipient of the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship, Nelson is in the final countdown to launching his college journey at Illinois State University this fall.
“I’ve always been interested in making things or taking things apart and figuring out how they work,” said Nelson, a Normal native and 2022 graduate of Cornerstone Christian Academy. He plans to major in engineering technology and could see himself working in automotive manufacturing—ideally for a company such as electric-vehicle maker Rivian.
“I’m a bit of a car guy, and I really like the way Rivian has modeled their trucks,” Nelson said. Rivian’s manufacturing plant is located in Normal, just a few miles from Illinois State’s campus.
As an engineering technology major, Nelson will explore the integration of engineering principles and modern technology and will be equipped to become a technically oriented managerial professional. He said he is also excited to meet new people in college after graduating from a high school class of 21.
Nelson comes to Illinois State from a Redbird family. His mother, Amy Nelson ’98, and father, Aaron Nelson ’98, are both alumni, and his brother, Joshua, is a senior studying engineering technology.
Asher Nelson said he was in disbelief when he received an email during study hall congratulating him on earning the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship. The good news spread quickly at Cornerstone Christian Academy, and Nelson’s mother, a teacher at his school, was particularly ecstatic.
“Apparently she was so excited that she told her entire class when she found out,” Nelson said.
Nelson credits his parents for encouraging him to follow his interests—from building model rockets and detailed Lego models for 4-H to learning the electric bass guitar to play in his church’s youth group worship band.
“It’s fun to make music with friends like that,” said Nelson who recently became the band’s leader. “I’ve definitely learned how to become more assertive in that role. I’m kind of a shy person. But when you’re literally in charge of the entire band, you have to speak up and say, ‘Hey, pay attention to what we’re doing.’ So, I had to kind of grow into that.”
Nelson is also a captain in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force focused on public service and emergency service missions. Nelson said his involvement in CAP has helped him develop leadership skills while collaborating with his fellow cadets to serve the community. He and his squadron have even been called upon to assist in a search and rescue operation to locate a missing aircraft in Indiana.
Nelson expects to experience continued personal growth over his next four years at Illinois State. Along with studying engineering technology, he plans to participate in campus ministry and hopes to join ISU Cru’s worship band.
“I think they need a bass player,” Nelson said with a smile.