Former UT English major and veteran travels the world, creates non-profit foundation
Wed, October 16, 2013
Erick walking across Tower Bridge in London, England, the first stop on his trip around the world
When Erick Prince-Heaggans came to the University of Texas, he had already completed four tours of military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a security forces and maintenance specialist for C-130 aircraft. As someone who enjoys challenges, he decided to triple-major in English, History and Government in preparation for law school and a diplomatic career. Ultimately, though, his passion for travel and writing led him on a different path. With the help of a grant from Fractured Atlas, an organization that provides financial sponsorship to artists and arts organizations, Erick created minoritynomad.com, as well as his own foundation, A World Beyond Youth Exploration.
For the past 10 months, Erick has been travelling around the globe. He has visited 17 countries during that period, documenting his experiences on his website. “Travel experiences differ for racial minorities, single women, and gay/lesbian travellers depending upon where you travel,” he writes in his Minority Report. “It's important that these groups are made aware of this fact.” Erick’s website has generated considerable interest worldwide. minoritynomad.com received 800,000 hits last month. Erick also has some 15,000 social media followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Touching down in Austin again a few weeks ago, Erick talked about his experiences over lunch at Thai Spice. “If people only knew what goes into being a travel journalist,” he said laughingly. “I’m working harder now than when I was in the military,” he added. In addition to maintaining his blog and travel journal, he is writing a book about his travels. Proceeds from the book and from corporate sponsorships will be used to fund world travel for inner-city youth, one of the missions of A World Beyond Youth Exploration.
In less than a year’s time, Erick’s project has evolved into an international movement. Living the dream, he says, is scary, exhilarating, educational, tiring, and otherwise wonderful. “I’ve never been this happy in my life,” he said.
What else would he like to accomplish after this considerable success? “I’d like to open our eyes as a society to ways of achieving international cooperation. I want to help create global citizens who are aware of the effects of our policies on other countries. I’d also like for the U.S. to create and to experience the kind of attachment to other cultures that is so prevalent in Europe.”
When asked whether he had any advice for up-and-coming English majors, he offered the following suggestions: Write about what inspires you. Write where you are inspired. Stick to your goals, and remember that the traditional path isn’t always the best path. Last but not least, embrace the advice that your professors give you. “I got the best advice from English professors,” he added, thanking Professors Brian Bremen, Mia Carter, Neville Hoad, Justin Hodgson, Rolando Hinojosa and Hannah Wojciehowski for inspiring him “to step outside of the traditional box and pave my own way.”
To learn more about Erick’s travels, visit minoritynomad.com. And read about Fractured Atlas and A World Beyond Youth Exploration at Youthhttps://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=7441
--Hannah Wojciehowski, Professor of English
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