This week the big, yellow hat is preparing to bid adieu to senior political science and liberal arts major Nick Thomas. Before he graduates in December the Collegian had a chance to sit down with him while he reflected on his life so far as a student, world traveler and entrepreneur.
Q: What do you think makes you unique?
A: My passion for life. I truly love everything I do. I truly love living every day moment to moment. Every time I learn something I’ve never done before I try to do it within the next two weeks. I’ve traveled more than anyone I know. I’ve been in stranger situations than anyone I know. I love life. Live the dream.
Q: What’s your dream?
A: I have a lot of dreams, but it all kind of ends up simply in the common phrase, “I want to change the world.
Q: Where have you traveled?
A: I’ve been to 47 states and 45 countries.
Q: Do you have plans to travel more?
A: (Yes, I want to go to) all seven continents, 50 states and at least 75 countries by the time I’m 35.
Q: What are some of the highlights of your travels?
A: I lived in China for a year. India was one of the craziest places. In South Africa I went cage-side with the great whites. Egypt is where one of the two terrorist attacks I was in was . Machu Picchu in Peru (is) absolutely incredible. Varanassi in India – one of the most spiritual nights of my life. Jacó in Costa Rica – first time I had a gun put to my head. Safari in South Africa. I went to Burma, and that was an incredible place, and I’m really lucky I did that . Vietnam and the Cu Chi tunnels. Great Wall of China – no question. Pyramids of Giza. I like the wonders of the world a lot. Kyoto, Japan, during the cherry blossoms. To see the cherry blossoms – that’s incredible.
Q: Tell me more about the terrorist attack in Egypt.
A: Back in 1997 I was in what was called the Luxor attack. It was considered one of Bin Laden’s first big attacks, and it was on American tourists aimed at Semester at Sea, which is what I had gone on. We were actually the targets, our group, but the plane was delayed 45 minutes because of fog and by the time the group arrived the terrorist attack was already going on.
They had hijacked a couple buses and there were bullet holes through them. A large number of German tourists, I believe, (were killed). It was amazing because, I guess, the locals started hiding the Semester at Sea Group. They were shielding us from the terrorists.
Q: What else about you makes you unique?
A: I have a twin brother and about five years ago we started a business together called Snowman Productions. We shoot a lot of weddings. The high season is high school graduations around May and June . I have a younger brother. I’m very, very, very close with my family.
I took a year off right after high school and it was the greatest year of my life. I had 11 different jobs. I soloed across Europe at 19. Then I solo road-tripped across the U.S. I got my bartending license. I studied under a Lutheran guy and got ordained. I got a jeep and a puppy. It was a good year.
Q: What do you think has made you have this drive or passion for life?
A: I was very lucky to have an amazing family around me that gave me a lot of inspiration. My dad is sort of my hero. I want to go to Stanford for graduate school because my father got his Ph.D. there. I travel because my great grandparents started youth hosteling in the U.S.
They brought Richard Sherman, smuggled him out of Germany during Hitler’s regime. They brought him over to the U.S. and had him teach them youth hosteling, so I’ve always had this passion for travel. I’ve just gotten really lucky in life and I know I’ve been very blessed and I’ve gotten to do some amazing things.
Q: When you look back at your college career what stands out in your mind?
A: I was recruited to a school in Indiana, called Earlham, to play football and that’s where I originally went after my year off, and I could not stand the Midwest, so I transferred back.
I had to go to a state school in Colorado for politics is what I realized . one of my most memorable things is the streaking event we put on last year. That was a lot of fun. We tried to do something for charity that was a little crazy. Even though we didn’t get the response that we initially wanted, I think it was definitely good. We enjoyed it, and it was something I’ve certainly learned from.
Q: What is a week in your life like?
A: I have my classes. I spend quite a bit of time on politics. I’ve been doing a lot with the College Republicans, who I’ve found are a really good group of people. But I’m also (continuing) to learn about the Democratic side. I go to the Democrat as well as the Republican breakfast . every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday one of my jobs is to take care of a guy with Down Syndrome in the evenings . (I like to) lift with my buddy Gunner because I am training for a marathon.
Q: Any words of wisdom for other students?
A: You only have four or five years and although people think they realize it, they don’t realize the alternate reality they live in when you’re in college. (This) is the one time you can do something crazy and get away with it.
Right now is when you have to have your dreams. I went on Semester at Sea a couple of times and I don’t care who you are or what you’re doing, I don’t think you should be able to graduate college before taking a semester abroad. It will change your life . don’t be afraid to do something ridiculous. Time is fleeting.
If there is someone you’d like to see in the big, yellow hat contact staff writer Laurel Berch at firstname.lastname@example.org.