Providence College Commencement 2013
Academic Lives of Meaning and Purpose
World-traveler Nathan Holterman ’13 Finds Academic Success and His Own Company
~ Vick-Ann Downing, Writer
Providence, R.I. - Nathan Holterman ’13 (Peoria, Ill.) remembers the first time he saw Providence College. He was a senior at Fenwick High School, the Dominican high school in Oak Park, Ill. It was April 25, 2009, six days before the deadline for selecting a college for the fall, and he still hadn’t made his choice. He arrived in Providence to cold rain, gray skies, and 40-degree weather, not expecting much.
But by the time his wet and chilly tour of campus with two Friars Club members was complete, “I wanted to come here so badly,” Holterman said. “They were so outgoing and so friendly. I felt connected on a very personal level.”
Holterman made the most of his time at PC academically and socially. He is graduating summa cum laude with a degree in humanities and minors in Spanish and sociology. He is a member of Dirigo, the College’s leadership honor society, and was selected to receive the Director’s Award, given to the senior who exemplifies general excellence in the humanities.
Last semester, Holterman was one of three students who represented PC on the academic quiz show “Schooled: NESN’s College Face Off.” After victories against the University of New Hampshire and Norwich University, the PC team finished second to Williams College in the finals.
Studying abroad for four months during his junior year, Holterman visited 14 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America. The travels inspired him to partner with two friends to found Serengetee www.serengetee.com , a web-based business that sells T-shirts made of fabrics from around the world to benefit charities internationally.
Holterman even became a member of the Friars Club his freshman year, so he gives the same tours to prospective students that convinced him that PC was right for him. He also found time for fun — playing indie and house music on his own show on radio station WDOM and competing in club volleyball and ultimate Frisbee.
“I just found some really amazing people here — people I admire so much and want to be around,” said Holterman. “Students mostly, but professors too.”
An “intellectually curious” student
Dr. Edward E. Andrews ’01, assistant professor of history, said Holterman, who took his course Native American History, is one of the strongest students he’s taught.
“He was always intellectually curious, but he also had a fantastic grasp of history in general,” said Andrews. “Toward the end of the semester I was particularly impressed with the ways he would invoke things we had learned earlier in the semester, or even comments other students had made earlier in the semester. This meant not only that he was listening to and engaging with the ideas in the course and positions voiced by other students, but also that he was retaining them, considering them carefully, and applying them to future problems.”
After commencement, Holterman will develop Serengetee with his partners, Jeff Steitz, who is graduating from Claremont McKenna College in California, and Ryan Westberg, who is graduating from the University of Arizona. They will spend two weeks in Costa Rica and Guatemala, shopping for fabrics and volunteering, before settling in Los Angeles to grow the brand.
“It’s the first time the three of us will be able to dedicate ourselves exclusively to the company,” Holterman said.
Serengetee was founded in February 2012 with fabric the partners collected during their international travels. The fabrics are used to create a distinguishing pocket for the shirts and tanks and are stitched to the shirts by tailors in California.
In 2012, the company sold $140,000 in shirts and donated $3,000 to 20 charities worldwide. In the first four months of 2013, it has already sold $130,000 in shirts, Holterman said.
As head cause coordinator for Serengetee, Holtmerman selects the charities the company will support. After the Boston Marathon bombings, the company introduced a limited-edition shirt — with a breast pocket featuring shamrocks — which will send 26.2 percent of its profits to The One Fund in Boston.
The company’s motto is “Wear the World.”
“We were inspired by the world,” said Holterman. “We wanted to give back to the world we came to love.”
In September, Holterman will spend a month volunteering in Vietnam for a charity established by his parents, who are pediatric surgeons. He may consider a career in medicine one day.
“I truly believe that he’s going places, and that he’s going to make a positive impact on our world,” said Andrews. “He’s affable and ambitious, but also brilliant, intellectually curious, and articulate. I’m proud to have been his professor, and I’m especially proud he’ll be representing Providence College when he heads out into the wider world. ”