Nicholas Klawitter, ’15, grew up in a working-class family in Johnstown, Ohio. While he didn’t know what he wanted to become as an adult, he knew he wanted more than a job. “I wanted to do something that was worthwhile to me and benefited others,” he says.
Just three years out of Tiffin University, the first-generation college graduate is well on his way. After earning a double major in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security and Terrorism and in Government and National Security he joined the Peace Corps. in early 2018, he moved to Kabulonga, Lusaka, Zambia, a country of 13 million in south-central Africa. There he works as a rural aquaculture promotion volunteer and health promoter. When he finishes work in Zambia in 2020, he plans to use the Peace Corps Coverdale Fellowship to attend law school.
His path wasn’t always clear. He visited several universities during his senior year in high school. He chose Tiffin University after talking to one professor about a career in law enforcement. “What stood out most was the personal connections he had with students. I remember that, on several occasions, he would talk about students he had in his classes. It demonstrated to me how beneficial the small classroom setting was at TU.”
One of Klawitter’s small classes was an advanced criminology IGS with Dr. Joshua Hill during senior year. “I remember that being the most difficult class that I ever took at TU. But I also look back on it as one of my fondest memories because of the extra work Dr. Hill put into the class when he didn’t need to teach it in the first place.”
Involvement in TU’s Global Affairs Organization led him to a path less taken. He says, “Through my participation in Model UN and Model NATO, I developed an interest in global issues and wanted to do my part after I graduated.”
A world away in Zambia, Klawitter is helping to feed people and stop disease. “I primarily promote small-scale fish-farming to increase nutritional diversity and access to food all year,” he explains. “I also am active at the community schools where I work with youth on malaria and HIV prevention.”
He has no typical day. He says, “I work with members of the Lunda tribe under Chief Kanyama. I spend most of my time working with current and prospective farmers in and around the village. I act as a technical resource for people interested in fish farming. I spend about one-third of my time working with small-scale farmers on earthen-pond construction, management and renovation.”
The rest of his time is spent working with village groups on malaria prevention, HIV awareness and other income-generating activities. “I run two clubs at a local school,” elaborates Klawitter. “The first is called Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) where my counterpart and I work with young girls on career planning, nutrition and safe sex. The second club is soccer-themed but offers lessons centered on HIV education and prevention.”
Home is a small hut made of mud bricks and the nearest volunteer-colleague is about 15 kilometers away.
If he could talk to current students, Klawitter would tell them to consider the Peace Corps or to pursue an international travel experience.
“Since I moved to Zambia I have been immersed in a new culture and language, and have learned so much about myself,” he says. “Living overseas gives you a new perspective on who you are and what you are capable of. By losing yourself in another culture, you just might learn something new about yourself. These past nine months have been the most transformative in my life since school at TU.”