Nathan Hostert believes his purpose in life is to help others.
“I hope to work in public service positions for the rest of my life,” Hostert, CSSH’21, said recently.
To help others, understanding them is essential. That’s why Hostert has taken advantage of interdisciplinary coursework and experiences, particularly his University Honors Program courses. In his first semester, he took Politics of the Veil, an Honors First-Year Inquiry Series course taught by Prof. Liz Bucar.
“There was a moment from my Politics of the Veil class that I will never forget. While doing one of our course readings on what goes into individuals’ fashion choices, I was reminded of a scene from the movie The Devil Wears Prada. In this scene, the fashion guru Miranda Priestly [makes] the point that even though Andrea says she doesn’t care about fashion, Andrea’s fashion decisions are still intentional,” he said.
Inspired, Hostert sent the clip to Professor Bucar, sharing his thoughts with her. Prof. Bucar then showed it to the class the next day.
“[She] appreciated the analogy so much that she included it in her book Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress, in which she talks about the scene and cites my name on page 8. A great experience that I would have never had if it wasn’t for this program!” he said.
“That was such a fascinating, well-organized, and engaging course, and I learned an incredible amount about what goes into the decision to wear a veil for Muslim women, and how that decision intersects with politics around the globe,” he said.
Hostert’s global boundaries continued to expand with his Dialogue of Civilizations to Geneva, Switzerland, where he was introduced to all facets of international law, policy, and diplomacy.
“We spent every day either at the United Nations headquarters or at a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization around the city. We met with 11 ambassadors and the Director-General of the UN in Geneva, and we spent countless hours doing research in the UN library. Our group of students was remarkably interdisciplinary, and we hailed from countries around the globe,” he said. “My dialogue in Geneva gave me the opportunity to completely change my understanding of international law.”
Experiences like his Honors coursework and his Dialogue to Geneva confirm Hostert’s decision to attend Northeastern, but it was initially a big leap of faith. Originally from Kansas, Hostert had never been further north than Washington, DC, and he did not have an opportunity to visit campus prior to Orientation in 2016.
“[Coming to Northeastern] was absolutely the best decision I have made in my life. The incredible people I have met here and the amazing opportunities I have been given have made Northeastern a true second home for me,” he said.
Through his confidence in himself, his tireless work ethic, and his service to the community, Hostert has become a primary mover in the Northeastern community. In Fall 2018, during his tenure as Student Body President, he had the opportunity to assist his fellow students in a concrete way. A large fire in a Hemenway Street apartment building left dozens of students without homes, and many without their personal belongings. Hostert saw a need, and worked to fulfill it with the collaboration of his student government and university staff, organizing a donation drive for the affected students.
“Within just a few short days, we received over a thousand donated items from members of the Northeastern community, and we were able to get these supplies to dozens of students who lost belongings to the fire. After students who were affected by the fire had gone through the donations, we were able to donate the leftover items to NuDay Syria, a local nonprofit that distributed them to families affected by the humanitarian crisis in Syria. It was so inspiring to see Northeastern students, faculty, and staff rally together to help students who were hurting, and to work with such a passionate and driven group of students to organize the drive,” he said.
It is actions like this, paired with academic performance and engagement with public service, that led Hostert to be named one of four Northeastern-endorsed candidates for the Truman Fellowship. For Hostert, the consideration came as a happy surprise.
“I honestly did not know much about the Truman until Dr. Jonna Iacono, Director of the Office of University Research and Fellowships (URF), emailed me in the fall and suggested I look into it. I would recommend other students start exploring all the great fellowship/scholarship options earlier than that (ideally in their second/third year), so that they can be even more prepared for the process of applying,” he said.
Currently, Hostert is focused on his main academic interests as they relate to his future goals by taking Law, Policy, and Human Behavior, an Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar taught by Prof. Richard Daynard.
“Through this class, we have been exploring how so much of American public policy has been built on the assumption that humans behave rationally, even though psychology would tell us that that often isn’t the case,” he said. “Our reading assignments are interdisciplinary, ranging from scientific research studies to Supreme Court decisions. Every class, we have in-depth discussions on how different public policies could be restructured to better accomplish their goals and support social welfare.”
Interdisciplinary experiences such as Prof. Daynard’s seminar should prepare Hostert well for his future goals.
“[My co-ops and other experiences] have shown me that I am most interested in roles where I can engage with constituents regularly and negotiate compromises on complex public policy issues. In the future, I would love to return to Kansas and work as a public servant for the state that shaped me into who I am today,” he said.
We’re certain that Kansas will happy to have this native son back, no matter what the role.