In more ways than one, Nate Higgs is a climber. “My parents told me I was climbing before I was walking,” he deadpans. The junior has used climbing as a physical and emotional outlet. In high school he “would end up seventy feet up on top of this theatre, sitting there on the edge of the building, just hanging out, watching Main Street go by...”
Growing up in a heavily Christian atmosphere in Americus, Georgia, Nate was early on influenced by a familial religious ethos. As a church camp counselor, he realized a talent for mentoring through his work with a camper with severe Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder associated with autism. “I was literally with him 24-7,” Nate says. “His parents came back and were tremendously impressed...This was the first time, for any of the camps they sent him to, that he’d stayed for longer than a day. The next year he came back and had improved ten-fold. Seeing that improvement was amazing.”
During this period, his family had an unfortunate falling out with their church over what the church felt was the unacceptable sexuality of one of his older brothers. The callous treatment and snowballing negativity that followed led him to eventually reorder his feelings regarding organized religion, realize his own personal vision of God, and discover his writing talents.
“For me, being a good person...is more important than reading the Bible every night and going to Sunday school all the time," he says. "I just decided I would write down the story of my brother coming out and how the church reacted to that, and how that affected me.”
Since Nate’s arrival on the Green Mountain campus, he has been active in the adventure education program, developing an adventure recreation major and dual geology and communication minor path of study. His sophomore year he became a trip leader for the GreenMAP program, where his personality and principles have helped him become a well-respected liaison between the student body and the great outdoors.
For Nate, a life focused on the outdoors allows him to teach, lead, and effect social change. “I don’t really have any desire to get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to hike somebody up Everest... I would rather cater my experiences and skills towards places where I feel it can make a difference.”
By Ryan Dixon '11