By Kyle Grosskopf
At a recent St. Petersburg College SGA meeting, something political comes up and Nathyn Montagano jumps right in with his two-cents.
Montagano, a student at St Petersburg College, is the legislative liaison for the student government association (SGA). He is the director of Legislative staff at Florida College System SGA as well as the director for political action for Florida African American Student Association (FAASA).
“People always say, ‘Nate you’re white as a ghost; what is your reasoning?’ One reason was I was raised to help people. Especially people who don’t have a voice,” said Montagano, and even though he gets questioned, he hasn’t received any pushback for trying to give people a voice.
At SGA meetings, Montagano has a genuine care for this school and fighting for the Florida College System as a whole, so much that the president, Fallia Zacharopoulou had to reel him back in, so she could move along with the meeting.
When asked about this Montagano said, “You have to be passionate about the things you care about. Sometimes it is my best quality and my worst quality. Sometimes my passion really gets a hold of me and really hammers some stuff home.”
Montagano wasn’t always this passionate about the life around him. When he was 14, his father died with two weeks left in summer, and he had a 1.9 GPA and was deemed in-eligible to play football.
“My life was essentially in shambles, said Montagano, “I didn’t run with the best crew at that point in time after my father died; he was my hero, my best friend.”
Montagano started talking about his post high school life, and how he was doing. He was making good money at his job, but at 26, Nathyn was at a plateau. He needed a change, but he didn’t think he was smart enough to go back to school.
“I started listening to a lot of motivational videos,” Montagano explained, “You can’t let fear dictate your action. The reason I hadn’t been to college is because I had been letting fear dictate my actions.”
He decided to conquer his biggest fear and go to college. He came in with the mindset of giving it his all and seeing where it took him, so he joined SGA. College turned out to be pretty successful. Nate now has a 3.9 GPA, is on the honor roll, and is on two state boards; that’s something he never thought would be possible.
When talking to Lora Hmelas, Vice-president of SGA and close friend of Montagano, she brought up how she went down a different path, “I can’t even think of how it is to have someone who means that much to you as a dad then just kind of lose it.”
Nathyn would consider himself influential around campus, all without being noticed by the students and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I rub shoulders with the president of the college and the provost a pretty regular basis. We’re on a first name basis. These are things that I never would have thought in a million years that I thought I would have done. I owe it all to SPC.”
Talking about his future education, he has a plan laid out. He is a pre-law major looking to transfer to Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) with a minor in political science then transfer to Harvard University.
“Being a politician is my end goal. I do someday want to fight for people in congress. I plan to become a civil rights lawyer. I don’t ever need to be rich. I plan to give all my money away that I plan to make anyways.”
Most people can look towards to future enough to see a year or two down the road, maybe ten. Nate wants to look 50 years down the road. He called it his 50-year plan. He wants to, someday, run the biggest non-profit organization the world has ever seen.
“I’m telling you if there are two things that Nate could change in this world, that would that his dad is alive and the second one is that he would just want everyone to have the same rights,” said Hmelas.
Being compared to his father is something Montagano strives for. He hopes people see him as someone who a selfless, compassionate human being that wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion and stand up for people who needed help along the way.
“And obviously a great father. Hopefully my children will say that I was a great father. That is my number one goal in life is to be half the father, my father was to me.”