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Alumnus Nate Higgins: An Inspirational Person for Others

Posted on May 17, 2011 in: @Gonzaga, Academics, Alumni, Events, Feature Stories, Service, Videos
Gonzaga alumnus Nate Higgins ('09) will compete for the U.S. team in the 2011 Parapan American Games. Photo by Jennifer Raudebaugh.

Gonzaga alumnus Nate Higgins ('09) will compete for the U.S. team in the 2011 Parapan American Games. Higgins said he has been amazed by the “unreal support” that longtime Gonzaga benefactor John Rudolf has provided to him. Photo by Jennifer Raudebaugh.

Gonzaga University News Service

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga alumnus Nate Higgins (’09) remains unstoppable. A tragic accident in the summer after his senior year at Richland (Wash.) High School left him paralyzed from the waist-down. While his spine was shattered, Higgins’ habits of heart and mind have transformed him into a person for others.

As his friends prepared for college in the summer of 2004, this former captain of his wrestling and cross-country teams was fighting for his life. Higgins spent a year adjusting to life without the use of his legs before enrolling at Gonzaga in fall 2005.

A fierce competitor in athletics throughout his life, Higgins refused to believe doctors who said he would never compete again. One doctor told Higgins he would need water wings to swim, which motivated Higgins even more. Undaunted, he threw himself into swimming – first as a therapy and ultimately as a source of personal transformation and triumph. (See previous story.) Swimming has given Higgins a platform to help other disabled athletes while inspiring people from all walks of life, including the Gonzaga men’s basketball team. In his spare time, Higgins mentors an at-risk high school student in Richland.

Higgins’ accomplishments include his recent selection to the U.S. team for the 2011 ParaPan American Games (Nov. 19-27 in Guadalajara, Mexico).

Higgins is ranked No. 12 in the world in the 50-meter breast stroke with his time of 1:03.63 and is No. 13 in the world for the 150-meter individual medley with a time of 3:44.04. The rankings were issued by the International Paralympic Committee.

Gonzaga junior broadcast studies majors Tara Schmidt and Catherine Van produced a 21-minute video titled “The Nate Higgins Story.” View an excerpt from the video below. Click the following link to view the full video report.

Excerpt from “The Nate Higgins Story”

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