50th Anniversary Notable Alumni Feature Nate Waters: Awarded Posthumously – A high school dropout who moved to Tulsa with his mother as a teenager to escape the streets of Chicago, Nate overcame challenges to reach extraordinary goals and inspired the Tulsa community with his determination, passion and service to others. He would face unbelievable obstacles after a catastrophic injury severed his spinal cord and left him as a quadriplegic.
Despite his paralysis, he earned his GED, made the President’s Honor Roll his first semester at Tulsa Community College and graduated with an associate degree in Business in 2002. He would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, be employed and become a community volunteer.
While he attended TCC, Nate worked with TCC staff and TCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program helping him develop dexterity in his hand in order to use a pointer for the computer keyboard, then a roller ball, and eventually was able to write again. Nate became a community instructor through his work with the students in TCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program and shared his experiences so students could learn about his disability and be better prepared to help others. Following his death in 2013, it was announced the new clinic being built at TCC would be named the Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic in his honor.
Whether through the money he raised for organizations or the quiet determination he mastered getting up at 5 a.m. to get dressed and to get to work by using mass transportation, Nate was a longtime advocate for the physically challenged, community volunteer and activist. He received the Tulsa Area United Way Live United Spirit Award in 2009 and served on the board of directors of The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges and The Bridge’s Foundation.