Aquinas Alumnus Serves in Peace Corps, Broadens Education
Aquinas College strives to be a resource for many types of students. While the Dominican charisms of prayer, study, community, and service run through each of the College’s programs, students come from many backgrounds and have diverse plans for their future. Sometimes this plan is clear before the student even receives an admission letter. Other times, Aquinas is a place of growth and experimentation.
Daniel Costie, a 2006 graduate and dual major of political science and Spanish, was first drawn to Aquinas because of the opportunity of scholarships. He admits that he almost became a student at another school, but his choice to make Aquinas his place of learning came after an intriguing conversation. “I had decided to go to [another college],” said Costie, “but I had spoken with [Aquinas’] track coach at the time, and he had been interested in allowing me to run on scholarship. That was a big persuading factor, and also the proximity to Kalamazoo [Michigan], where I’m from.” Ultimately, Costie chose Aquinas.
While completing his work at Aquinas, Costie traveled the world in service of others, deepening his commitment to a global outlook. This outlook continues to be a driving force in his life, but the spark was ignited during his stay at Aquinas, where Costie was exposed to a variety of worldviews and met a special mentor. “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” said Costie. “I realized languages were one of the things I wanted to look at. I also had the opportunity to meet Doc Durham. He became my mentor.”
Political science professor Roger Durham, Ph.D., (aka Doc Durham) teaches “World in Crisis,” a class Costie said was instrumental in determining his future. “World in Crisis really influenced me to take my career and move it to the international realm,” said Costie. “It filled a requirement, but it’s funny, you don’t hear students talking about how awesome a class is. But this class - people were selling it by word-of-mouth. It was that powerful, and Doc Durham is that good of a teacher. He taught the class with such passion, and such dedication that I decided it was (a) the degree I wanted, and (b) the job I wanted.” One memory from the class which stands out to Costie was having the opportunity to hear an individual who survived the September 11th attacks in New York City speak of their experience. That powerful presentation has stayed with Costie over the years.
Following his graduation from Aquinas, Costie knew he wanted to gain life experience outside the classroom. Costie decided on the Peace Corps, combining a desire for visceral experience with service of others. “From 2007 to 2009, I spent two years on a small island in the Caribbean called Carriacou.” Costie described his time on Carriacou as “a very good experience.” A central part of this service was in teaching, a field Costie is passionate about.
“I taught a computer class to first grade through sixth grade, after school classes to teachers and single mothers. Those classes were more accounting-based, and record-filing. I also taught the island’s basketball team. I facilitated HIV/AIDS training sessions. The main project was computer classes at the primary school.”
These experiences have further prepared Costie for a life of service that began at Aquinas College. Costie is continuing his education, and offered this advice for recent and upcoming graduates preparing for their first forays into the “real world”: “Go somewhere you’ve never been. Maybe by yourself. No more than two other people. The world is in front of you. Take some time for yourself. Go out and do something enjoyable. It’ll calm your head. It’ll give you time to figure out what you think your next step is going to be. Learn something while you’re at it.”