OC business student wins Gerdau scholarship Jake Weith won a highly coveted Gerdau scholarship that is worth $2,500 and is renewable for up to four years.

Jul 06, 2017

Two years ago, it was Jake Weith’s senior year at Mansfield Legacy High School when his friends convinced him to join DECA, a competition team for emerging youth interested in business, marketing and finance fields.

“I didn’t want to,” Weith said.

Weith wasn’t interested in business -- he was interested in psychology. But at the urging of his finance teacher, Nancy Kojder, he joined DECA anyway. Little did he know it would change his life.

Now a junior at OC, Weith isn’t studying psychology – he’s pursuing a double major in finance and accounting. To help him get through his final years of undergraduate studies, Weith has won a highly coveted Gerdau scholarship that is worth $2,500 and is renewable for up to four years.

The scholarship is open to children of employees at Gerdau, a steel manufacturer with a presence in 110 communities in the United States and Canada. The Arlington, Texas, native is one of two winners from Texas and one of 15 winners total from North America. Weith’s father, John Weith, works at Gerdau’s Midlothian, Texas, steel mill.

To nab the Gerdau North America scholarship, Weith wrote an essay about an inspirational figure in his life: Nancy Kodjer, the very teacher who encouraged him to join DECA two years ago.

“She showed me how to study. She showed me I could do things,” Weith said. “She was just a really nice woman but also had a lot of knowledge of finance.” 

Weith started out feeling reluctant about DECA.

“But then I heard about the scholarship,” Weith said.

The scholarship was offered to those who placed in DECA’s International Career Development Conference. It would help pay for his next year at OC. The odds were steep: tens of thousands of students compete.

“I said to my high school teacher, ‘I’m going to win that scholarship,’” Weith said. “She said a ton of kids have said that to her before and no one ever wins.”

That is, until Weith. He placed in the state competition and went on to win second in Personal Finance Literacy at the international competition in Orlando, Florida.

“These outside scholarships are what get me through college,” Weith said. “It’s freedom to not worry about paying back a certain amount. I was so happy when I found out I won the Gerdau scholarship.”