By Deb Silverthorn
Nathan DeVera is in the midst of a very busy senior year.
When he is not managing parliamentary procedure as Southern Methodist University student body president, he is the captain of SMU’s rugby team, president of the university’s Southern Gentlemen a cappella group and a Hillel Board member.
Not to mention completing requirements for the math and mechanical engineering bachelor’s degrees and the mechanical engineering master’s degree he will receive next May – yes, a double major and a master’s degree in four years.
A student senator in his freshman year and student body vice president last year, DeVera has made himself present in student government throughout his college career.
Now, whether he is speaking at new-student orientations, encouraging extracurricular activities or just giving directions on campus, DeVera’s bright smile and great demeanor are one of the bright lights on the University Park college campus.
“It is an honor to lead and serve my school community and to amplify the student voice,” said DeVera, who regularly meets with students, faculty and the university’s leadership. “The renovation of our Hughes-Trigg Student Center, enhancing the on-campus housing experience and student body unification have all been priorities, and to be at the forefront of these changes is very rewarding.”
A Southern California native who was raised nearly his entire life in Las Vegas, DeVera is the son of Lorenzo, born in the Philippines, and Esther, born and raised in Israel.
“We couldn’t ask for more from Nathan and how he has taken his incredible work ethic and spread it across all he does, everything he gets involved with, while always being respectful and loyal,” his mother said. “Nathan has always been an over-achiever, cranking it up a notch, always consistent in his commitment to all he does. I admire him for all he does, and how well he does it all.”
DeVera’s first trip to Israel came in the summer of 2016 as a Birthright participant, during which he also visited with many members of his mother’s family. After a lifetime of family coming to the U.S. to be together, he now has his own memories of Masada, of the Kotel, of going to the markets in Tel Aviv and speaking Hebrew in the streets.
The former Milton I. Schwartz Hebrew Academy (now The Adelson School) and The Meadow School student celebrated his bar mitzvah at Chabad of Las Vegas. His family also attended Temple Beth Sholom. DeVera, who came to SMU with a deep connection to his Jewish roots, quickly sought out the campus’ Hillel. He met director Rabbi Heidi Coretz and found programs and services that throughout his college career have allowed him to hold on to his heritage.
“I definitely appreciate the opportunities and programs that Rabbi Coretz and Hillel provides to our community, the Jewish community and the SMU community-at-large, because in addition to the social experience, there are many educational opportunities, whether they are teaching programs or the teaching of our community that comes because of its presence,” said DeVera. “Our community within the university community, which is diverse and has so many organizations, is proud and strong.”
“Nathan represents himself, his family and his People most honorably in how he respectfully handles himself and his role as a leader on campus” said Coretz, noting in her 15 years leading SMU’s Hillel, DeVera is only the second Jewish student body president – Taylor Russ was the first more than a decade ago. “Nathan brings talent, leadership, academic and now professional success to the table. He is an awesome example and a great friend to us all.”
With eight months until graduation, DeVera’s recent summer internship at Lockheed Martin resulted in an already signed contract to begin work next summer at Lockheed Martin Space as a project engineer with the navy’s fleet ballistic missile program.
“I really will be a rocket scientist,” DeVera said. “I had an incredible experience at Lockheed this summer, and I look forward to beginning my career.”