Nathan Tappen Headshot

Nathan Tappen

Academic Excellence Is My Ambrosian Value

Computer Science, Class of 2020

“I am happy with what I’ve accomplished and glad the school supported what I was able to do in my academic journey. I am happy SAU is structured to allow me to reach my full potential.”


Nathan came to SAU in 2017 as an Ambrose Scholar, a distinction that included a scholarship for his academic achievements, community involvement, and leadership. Here, he built on all three. Nathan graduated in three years, with honors, and launched his career as a software engineer in the prestigious Information Technology Development Program at Deere & Company.
Nathan Tappen

Hometown: Crystal Lake, Illinois


Nathan enrolled as a political science major and by his second year, realized it was not the best fit. He inventoried his strengths and interests, matching them to a program that allows creativity, problem-solving, and boundless growth: Computer Science. His first course in Programming caught his full attention. “You can compare it to any form of art where you are building, like architecture. It is a medium for limitless potential and creativity. Getting to see in that first class all of the things you can do on a computer, all of the things you can create, I just wanted to keep learning more and more,” he says.

Students on campus

Why pursue the Liberal Arts?

Educational depth

Nathan describes his St. Ambrose education as encompassing, “because of that liberal arts aspect, you are not just learning your major. Courses in theology, communications are still useful experiences,” he says. “Even though I changed majors, my political science classes counted toward my general education requirements and will not go to waste, on paper or in my life,” he says. Education at SAU goes far beyond the surface. “You are also looking at what is beneath, the ethics. You are not just taught how to solve a math problem – you are also taught to ask questions.”

Why SAU?

Why a Catholic University?


St. Ambrose enables students of all faiths to develop intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically, and physically. "When I looked into SAU I liked what I saw. I prefer a small- to medium-size campus and the Catholic aspect was important to me," Nathan says. Growing up, he attended Church with his parents. “College was the first time I had to make that decision on my own and attending services at Christ the King Chapel helped me grow in my faith. The torch was passed to me and I made my faith my own.”

Campus Ministry

Drum line performing with marching band

How were you involved at SAU?


"At SAU, there is room to be social and find your way outside the classroom,” he says. Through the Honors Program, Nathan gave 50 hours of volunteer service, working at local food pantries and Hope at the Brick House. He joined Marching Band, taking the field to perform as a member of the drumline, then joined Pep Band, too. “One thing I am sad about graduating early is I won’t get that fourth year of memorable college experience. I know I made the most of college to the extent I could, and I will definitely remember my experiences and my friends.”

Get involved

sau monument

Why choose the Computer Science program?

Structured to Soar

Graduating a year early was an opportunity Nathan could not pass up, and possible, in part, through the guidance and support he received. “My advisors did a good job of making sure I was on track when I decided to switch majors and made good course recommendations. They knew the program and I was able to trust them, which took pressure off my shoulders. Faculty were always available for questions. Their doors were always open, and I could walk in and talk to them. That level of support, in and outside of the classroom, shows what a good structure exists at SAU.”

Computer Science

So, what's next?

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