Entering Vanderbilt, Nick began to explore different service opportunities in Nashville. Previously working with youth empowerment and special needs issues, Nick decided to branch out upon reaching campus. Nick found Dismas House, a home for former offenders, as an opportunity to learn about the criminal justice system, poverty, and unemployment. Through conversations with the men of Dismas House, Nick became curious about solutions to alleviating unemployment and homelessness. Through Alternative Spring Break, Nick traveled to Washington DC to work with the National Coalition for the Homeless to view homelessness from a federal perspective. While in DC, Nick participated in an urban plunge, an immersive, experiential two-day period where participants are homeless in the city.
In the summer after Nick’s freshmen year, he partnered with another Ingram Scholar to travel to Kampala, Uganda to work with Empower African Children, a non-profit organization created to provide educational opportunities for orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda. There, he worked to develop logic models, metrics for organizational effectiveness. Nick was able to learn and apply business and organizational acumen in a non-profit setting.
As a sophomore, Nick further explored interests in homelessness and poverty from a food resource perspective, volunteering at the Nashville Second Harvest Food Bank and Edgehill Community Center. As a Resident Advisor and Vanderbilt Student Government officer, Nick was able to help develop the Service Commissioner leadership role in each of the first year student dormitories on the Ingram Commons.
After sophomore year, Nick was accepted into the Institute for Responsible Citizenship (I4RC) in Washington, D.C. for a two-summer fellowship. While interning in D.C., Nick worked separately with I4RC’s Youth Scholar Academy to mentor African-American males from across the country about college admissions, etiquette, and leadership tools. Working with black males reignited Nick’s passion for black male empowerment, issues he had worked on throughout high school with the Tavis Smiley Foundation. Returning to campus in the fall as a junior, Nick continued to focus on black male achievement, particularly narrowing the achievement gap in education. Nick realized that the way to alleviate homelessness and poverty was through quality education and mentorship. As a tutor at Maplewood High School, Nick developed strong relationships with students and high school faculty. Nick realized the importance of setting high expectations and providing continuous support and guidance for academic and social success.
Going into senior year, Nick is excited about continuing his relationship with Maplewood High School and its students. Nick will be working with the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office in the Victim Witness Service division in downtown Nashville. An aspiring attorney, Nick is curious to learn how to apply a legal perspective to solve economic and educational disparities in his community. Upon graduation, Nick plans to pursue a joint JD/MBA degree, practice criminal law, and continue to better understand how to actively empower his community.