Nicholas Brust: May ’19 Grad & Peace Corps Volunteer

Cole in Madrid, Spain during his Baylor in Madrid summer study abroad program in 2017.

What year did you graduate from Baylor and what did you study?
I graduated from Baylor in May 2019. While attending Baylor I studied Biology with a Pre-Health concentration.

Why did you decide to join the Peace Corp?
I have always had an innate desire to do something with my life that would not only help those who weren’t raised under the same amazing circumstances that I was, but to also live in such a way that promotes meaning and relevance. A life that I hope to look back on and be proud of through the differences I was able to make and the people I positively impacted.

Which country have you been assigned and what will you be doing?
I have been assigned to the wonderful country of Mozambique, Africa. While there I will be serving as a high school science teacher and educating students on the basics of biology and chemistry. I am also hoping to create and lead extracurricular clubs and organizations for the students attending my school to provide an additional level of service to the community I will be working with.

What is something you are currently excited about in your work?
Throughout my time at Baylor, I feel as though professors and various speakers
continued to emphasize the importance in our ability and duty as college educated individuals to contribute to the world and to make a positive impact. I am most excited about starting my service in Mozambique so that I can finally begin making my own impact on the world as well as using the education and skills that I have been granted to benefit those who weren’t given the same opportunities that I have been given.

Did you study abroad while at BU and if so: which program, which year, and favorite memory?
Yes, I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad with the Baylor in Madrid program during the first summer session in 2017. My favorite memory during my time in Spain was when a group of friends and I visited Sagrada Familia in Barcelona during our free weekend. I can distinctly remember stopping in my tracks as I walked around the corner of a nearby building and being genuinely blown away by the immensity and utter beauty of the cathedral. None of the photos I had seen before visiting had come anywhere close to properly depicting the scale and detail of the amazing momentous structure.

Is there something you learned during Study Abroad that still sticks with you today?
A major lesson I learned while studying abroad in Spain is remembering to sincerely take in as much as you can while being in a new and foreign place. I understand that the full schedules of most study abroad programs along with the demands of classes while in an unfamiliar country can leave you feeling exhausted. Often times during my trip I went through the motions of my daily routine without truly appreciating the abundance of new experiences all around me. I found that it can often take a concerted focused effort to maintain the mindset required to get the utmost out of your experience in any foreign and novel place. Whether it is being exposed to a whole new culture or having experiences you’d never had before, it is important to always remember to look around and consciously appreciate the various nuances that surround you in an unfamiliar country.

Cole in Valencia, Spain during his Baylor in Madrid study abroad program in 2017.

Do you have any advice for current Baylor students considering the Peace Corp (or Study Abroad)?
Since accepting my invitation to serve, I have met so many college students who tell me they’ve always dreamed of applying to the Peace Corps or a similar volunteering organization but that they are worried about the difficulties of adjusting to an entirely new culture along with leaving behind their loved ones and the comforts of home for such a long time. Peace Corps assignments typically include 2 years of service followed by 3 months of training in your assigned country so the commitment can be pretty unappealing to some. My advice to anyone that finds themself in this predicament is to consider whether or not they are honestly attracted to the idea of sacrificing such a large portion of their life in exchange for making a positive impact in the lives of others. Make sure the appeal of joining the Peace Corps doesn’t come from the desire to experience living in a foreign country or to postpone having to begin a career right after college. If you find that your heart just isn’t up for such an intense obligation then that is totally and completely fine! There are dozens of organizations that can assist you in temporarily working in foreign
countries and getting paid to do jobs that can provide you more time to figure
yourself out after graduating while also exposing you to new ways of life across the world. If you happen to find that the aspect you find most attractive about serving in the Peace Corps is a desire to live in a foreign or exotic place then you should absolutely consider joining a study abroad program while you are still at Baylor. Studying abroad through a Baylor program can help satisfy your curiosity for new adventures and the allure of the unknown in a structured and organized manner. However if you decide that serving in the Peace Corps after college is what your heart desires for you, then I encourage you to take a leap of faith and apply. While it is absolutely normal to worry about missing your friends and family while you’re away for so long, remember that true and meaningful growth comes from engaging in the aspects of life that are difficult and uncertain. It is a big wonderful world out there filled with people whose lives could be forever changed by the gifts you are able to give them.

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