Live to Inspire: Nick Hayes ‘08

April 28, 2014

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Nick Hayes ’08 will be the first to tell you he thinks all Texas Lutheran University graduates are, in a sense, philosophers. The word philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia meaning “love of wisdom.” In that sense, he believes, most TLU alumni graduate as philosophers, or lovers of wisdom. Hayes’ own love of learning and exploring a world outside his own still burns strong.

As a visiting professor of English at Chungnam National University in South Korea, Hayes currently teaches English Composition and English as a Foreign Language. It was the opportunity to study abroad in London through TLU that gave him the travel bug and the courses associated with his major that showed him the value of good communication.

“Dr. John T. Masterson once shared a quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein that reads, ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world,’ and I find this quote to be remarkably true,” Hayes, communication studies major and philosophy minor, said. “If I can help strip away these limits for my students and take part in opening up their world, I take great joy in that. TLU grads have a genuine passion for working with others and creating meaningful relationships. In other words, we seem to engage in social contracts of all kinds with a certain level of conviction that I don’t believe the majority of graduates from other universities share. This passion has carried over into my life after TLU, and is ultimately the reason I enjoy teaching in Korea as much as I do. While at TLU, I really had a sense that we were all sort of in this thing together.”

Hayes sees how TLU graduates possess a real sense of community and the ability to think critically with an open mind. “TLU is quite unique in its emphasis on community,” Hayes said. “As I try to improve myself and become a better educator every day, I find myself stealing from the faculty members who influenced me during my four years there. Whether it means being a great listener like Dr. Bollinger, always having a positive attitude like Professor Padilla, or using humor like Chef Ernest Servantes, I try to give my students all the best parts of what TLU has given me. These experiences and relationships help me feel prepared for anything that life has to offer.”

While teaching in South Korea, Hayes earned a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from The University of Birmingham in England. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys yoga, playing basketball, competing in Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournaments and of course traveling. He recently reconnected with some of his family in the Philippines.

“I've always known I was a quarter Filipino but my dad wasn't aware of any living relatives. However, after tracking down the names on the letters he discovered that we still had plenty of cousins and aunts and uncles alive and well. I befriended them on Facebook while I was here in Korea and got a chance to visit them for two weeks in my grandfather's hometown of Sorsogon City.”

Although he’s 7,000 miles from TLU, Hayes said the education and experiences he had travelled with him well.

“Dr. Steven Vrooman once pointed out to me that the more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know,” Hayes said. ’This concept may seem simple enough, but it is a concept that many college grads don’t realize. At TLU, the environment is such that your beliefs will be questioned and you will have the opportunity to question the beliefs of others on a wide array of subjects on a daily basis. TLU faculty and staff are up to the challenge and do a wonderful job of facilitating this process. They teach you how to think rather than what to think. Students leave TLU not necessarily having all the right answers, but certainly being able to ask the right questions.“


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