By: Isaiah Hudson

Nasir Freeman is a first-year Old Dominion University student majoring in Computer Science who is also going through the Naval Preparatory Program. Even though he is just beginning his journey at ODU, he has a lot to prove to earn a full scholarship through the NPP, to his family and to himself. Through computer science, coding and ODU’s E-Sports team, Freeman is poised to be a leader as he has plans to enter the Marine Corps as a Naval Officer.

Freeman comes from a military family and his father is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Although Freeman attended and graduated from Northern Stafford High School in Stafford, Virginia, his father's military career has allowed his family to travel the globe living in locales such as California, South Carolina, and even Japan.

When it came time to select a college, the choice was relatively easy for him. “I picked ODU mainly because it was close to home, and I've traveled all around the world throughout my life,” said Freeman. “I haven’t really lived in one place for too long so I wanted to kind of change that, and obviously going into the military once again I will be moving around the world even more, so I guess if there was one place to settle down it would be Virginia.”

For Freeman, his interest in the Marine Corps stems from his father's 20-year time in this branch of the military. “I have always wanted to be like my dad,” said Freeman. Freeman attributes his interest in the military to his dad because he’d been around that lifestyle. “It made me want to go and do what my dad has done and obviously I'm going to become a Marine,” said Freeman. 

The NPP is a one-year scholarship program designed to prepare students academically, mentally, and physically for a four-year ROTC program leading to a commission as an officer. Successful students in the NPP are offered a four-year Naval ROTC scholarship to continue their studies and training.

Earning a scholarship through the NPP is competitive and calls for long days and nights. Freeman’s days begin at 5:00 a.m. for physical training (PT) and last until 10:00 p.m. because of his school load and completing assignments. “They're paying for me to be here, they're investing in me and saying, ‘this kid, if he has above a 2.8 GPA, we will pay for him to be here,’” said Freeman.

Even as a freshman at ODU, Freeman has some experience in the computer science field. During his senior year in high school, Freeman worked at Code Ninjas. “I taught kids how to code, and they were from seven years-old to freshman in high school,” said Freeman. “I would teach them how to code in Java Script, and I actually ended up getting promoted to manager.” He helped students elevate to the higher belts so that they could know more coding and be able to develop harder games. “I think working at Code Ninjas played a crucial role in me choosing computer science,” said Freeman. “I think it's just because I've always played video games too.”

In addition to the commitments through the NPP program, Freeman is a member of ODU's Rocket League E-Sports varsity team and frequently competes in tournaments. “We get to travel to places like the Capital One Arena, which is the same arena that the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals, the NHL hockey team, play in, and it's a really cool experience to see that this is an actual thing that people are investing money into,” said Freeman. He takes his role on the team seriously and stays ready by training and working with the team to prepare for tournaments. “It's not just like, ‘oh, you're playing video games’, like this could be a career,” said Freeman. “It's really cool to see that, even though I won't be doing that, obviously I'll be in the military, but just seeing that, it's just such a cool thing to be a part of.”

Freeman hopes to work for the government in the technology sector. He said, “I’m joining the military to gain security clearance, so after the military I want to go into government-related work, and obviously hoping to get my computer science degree so it could mesh well.”

He has taken advantage of the opportunities afforded to him at ODU and has enjoyed his experiences so far. “It really is just so diverse, and I love that for ODU,” said Freeman.