Nathaniel Higgins - Richland, WACapella University - M.A. Human Resources - Fall 2012
Nate Higgins had been involved in competitive athletics for as long as he could remember and sports were an integral part of his life. As a high school senior he served as captain of both the cross country and wrestling teams. He also competed in track, swimming and soccer. On July 7, 2004 he had just graduated from high school and was working as a painter to earn money for college. He fell off the roof while painting and was left with a fractured skull and a broken back. When he woke up at Harborview Medical Center two days later on a ventilator he immediately knew that he was paralyzed. The very next thought that went through his head was, “I’m going to qualify for the Paralympics.” The accident resulted in a T-4 complete spinal cord injury as well as a serious head injury. After the initial trauma he was faced with many more days and nights in the hospital fighting infections and internal bleeding. Nate’s competitive spirit kicked in and he decided “to win” even though at the time he really couldn’t figure out what that meant. Two weeks later he enrolled for classes at Washington State University at Tri-Cities. While several medical professionals told him that he would not be able to go to college because of his head injury he received a 3.5 gpa in his first semester. In the fall of 2005 Nate enrolled at Gonzaga University. He was scared to death having never lived on his own after his accident. He put forth a valiant effort attaining a 3.22 gpa and being elected as the vice-president of his fraternity pledge class and appointed to the presidential council’s athletics committee. That spring, a blood clot forced him to be hospitalized once again, taking a leave of absence from school leading to a horrible bout of depression. It was there that he remembered the promise that he made to himself to qualify for the USA Paralympics Team. He joined a local US Masters swim club and started to train. Swimming helped Nate to figure and beat the depression. He became an entirely new person. Back to school again he competed in National and International swimming competitions and qualified for the 2008 Paralympic Trials. While he failed in his attempt to make the US Team for the Beijing Paralympics he went on to graduate from Gonzaga in May of 2009 with three business concentrations and a minor. He is back in the water training for the 2012 Paralympic Trials. He is working on a masters degree in Human Resources with a concentration in Labor Relations while working full time at CH2M Hill. He hopes to follow up with an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at USC.
Return to Recipient List