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An already creative problem-solver, first-year Jack Bolton is excited for more

Jack Bolton poses for a photo wearing a dark blue sweatshirt. The ruins of Stonehenge are in the background.

Jack Bolton is ready to embrace Think and Do.

It’s NC State’s mantra and mission, and to Bolton, it sums up what it takes to solve problems.

“Figuring out a way to solve problems has always been a big part of my life,” he said.

Bolton, who is an incoming first-year student and Park Scholar from Davidson, North Carolina, wants to apply his problem-solving mindset in engineering, but also in entrepreneurship.

“I think industrial engineering is pretty unique,” he said. “It seems like it’s very interdisciplinary for an engineering degree, which would allow me to broaden my knowledge on more subjects and give me more opportunities to do what I want after college.

“I think I have sort of an entrepreneurial spirit and would one day want to start my own company. So I think getting a degree in industrial engineering will give me a lot of the tools that I need to be able to reach that goal.”

Jack Bolton poses for a photograph wearing a black NC State t-shirt.

He’s not sure what kind of company he’d want to start yet, but he does want to start something that helps people. Helping people has been important to him almost his entire life.

Bolton was involved with his high school’s Make-A-Wish Club, as well as on the Make-A-Wish Youth Leadership Council.

At his high school, he helped organize a Santa letter-writing campaign that was sponsored by Macy’s. For every letter delivered to Macy’s stores, the company donated $1 to the Make-A-Wish foundation. His club proposed a competition among classrooms, with the winning classroom receiving a box of donuts. Students wasted no time sending their wishes to Santa, writing more than 18,000 letters and raising $18,000.

On the Make-A-Wish Youth Leadership Council, Bolton helped raise funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish. The council also organized an annual trip to Carowinds for wish recipients and their families. This event is especially meaningful for him, as he was granted his wish to spend a day as a coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2013 when he was 8 years old.

It’s really cool to talk to those other wish families about their experiences and kind of relate to them my experiences, and then it’s also awesome to thank those incredible donors who made the wishes possible,” he said.

As coach of the Panthers, he signed a one-day contract to eat as many hotdogs and drink as many sodas as he could in a day. He was also given coaching gear to wear, and he spent time with the players and with the former coach Ron Rivera.

Bolton was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) when he was just a couple of weeks old.

“It’s a genetic disease and progressive, so as I get older and get bigger, my muscles kind of stay the same as when they were younger,” he said. “So I’ve been using a wheelchair to get around my entire life. There have been some challenges with that, but that’s another reason engineering has been such a big thing in my life.”

Now officially on the path to becoming an NC State engineer, Bolton is looking forward to being on campus, learning more advanced engineering and math concepts, gaining some more independence and cheering on the Wolfpack.

“I’m excited to go to some NC State sporting events this year,” he said. “Hopefully those will be better than the Panthers games.”