by Sophia Werning
A triple major in Global Studies, Political Science and Economics, with minors in Asian Studies and National Security Studies, Nick Devine is just one example of the many remarkable students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) who are dreaming big about having a positive impact on a changing world.
When first stepping foot on campus in the fall semester of 2012, Nick did not anticipate the unique academic path he would follow. He credits his experience as a CAS student, especially connecting to faculty who helped to guide and form him.
“One of the greatest benefits of being a student in the College of Arts and Sciences is that we have outstanding professors who teach us how what we are learning applies to the real world,” Nick reflects. “We have great faculty who have had amazing experiences that help bring to life and flesh out what we are reading in our textbooks.”
The second oldest of four children, Nick grew up in Holland, Neb. and attended high school at Norris, where he traveled abroad for the first time by visiting China the summer before his senior year. Nick would be able to return to China four years later, thanks to the Dean’s Experiential Learning Scholarship.
“Visiting China really opened my eyes,” Nick says. “One day I was walking through neighborhoods between class and my host home. Even though I was learning in school that their economy was the second largest in the world, what I experienced firsthand was the extreme poverty that exists there.” Both his high school and college study abroad opportunities had a strong impact on his academic pursuits in the college.
“When I returned from my study abroad experience in China, I wanted to look at the systemic effects of poverty in communities,” he explains. “That is how I began in Global Studies, which then led to me wanting to understand it from the Political Science side. That then led me to want to examine the economic side of it.”
Nick, who will be graduating in December, has applied for a Fulbright Scholarship as well as a Schwarzman Fellowship, a graduate program at Tsinghua University in China. If awarded the Fulbright, he plans to study the effects of militaristic buildup and rhetoric on local economies in Taiwan and China.
After graduation, Nick is interested in eventually working for a social equity fund that invests capital in companies within developing countries, with the goal of improving the economic conditions of impoverished communities from the ground up.
“I was raised in a family whose motto is to give back,” Nick reflects, noting that one of the most inspirational role models on living out this value is his late grandfather, Dr. Richard Boohar, a beloved School of Biological Sciences professor at UNL. After his passing, the Boohar family created a scholarship fund in his name. The fund, which is part of Nebraska Legends, provides scholarship assistance to the top level students across the country as an extra incentive for them to attend Nebraska.
“When the lives of great men are examined, it can be seen that almost all gave their careers in the service of mankind.”
Dr. Richard Boohar
“My grandfather would spend six hours at a time in his office just to be there for his students,” Nick says.” He wanted them to have the best possible learning experience they could have.” In this same vein, he expresses a great deal of gratitude to his own professors in the college for their mentorship and dedication to their students.
Among those who have impacted Nick the most during his time as a student are Dr. Tyler White, his thesis advisor; and Political Science associate professors Dr. Patrice McMahon and Dr. Courtney Hillebrecht. “Dr. White really challenged us in class to look at things from multiple perspectives,” Nick explains. “He taught us that even if something is in a book that is written by an expert in the field, don’t take that as your only source.”
Throughout his academic pursuits, Nick has held fast to his family’s central tenet to give as much as you possibly can. In addition to his grandfather, he has drawn inspiration from the example of his father, Dr. Jim Devine, a Lincoln optometrist who travels once a year to Haiti to provide free eye care to those in need.
“One of my favorite quotes is by John Adams in a letter he wrote to his nephew: ‘I should rather you be worthy shoemakers than secretaries of states…I had rather you should be worthy makers of brooms and baskets than unworthy presidents of the United States procured by intrigue, factious slander, and corruption,’” Nick shares. He is confident that his generation is poised to bring the principle of ethically working toward a better life and standard of living for all through service to a whole new level.
“We have more prosperity and opportunity than ever before to do the right thing and give back as much as we possibly can,” Nick reflects. “I want to make a difference for the right reasons, even if it’s the smallest difference in the world.”