This piece was published in the September 2015 issue of the Prep News
A man of wits and wonders comes back to Rockhurst to share his excursions and teachings this year. Mr. Tim Nendick, graduate of the Rockhurst Class of 2008, continued his studies in Omaha, backpacked in Europe, and taught in Africa before returning. While Mr. Nendick was at Rockhurst, his studies were just as important as his faith.
“I have always been trying to answer how to take the Church in the modern world and apply it to our fields. How do I become a scientist working for the betterment of the people?” Nendick asked himself. He was involved in the Science Club at Rockhurst, where he played a major role in the Science Olympiad and the Science Knowledge Bowl. Additionally, he was involved in pastoral ministry as co-chair of the freshman retreat and as a Kairos retreat leader. On top of that, Mr. Nendick performed independent studies in chemical research at UMKC during his senior year of high school.
His chemical research was nationally recognized by Siemens and local science fairs. Mr. Nendick and his research partner moved on to present their studies in front of Notre Dame professors. Mr. Nendick graduated with a major in Atmospheric Science, a minor in Liberation Theology, justice and peace study, and a math minor at Creighton University.
After college, Mr. Nendick intended to go to Africa to work the the Jesuits, but one of his friends was getting married in Europe. During the wedding vacation he took the opportunity to walk the Camino de Santiago. “One of my friends asked me, ‘What is the craziest thing you could do?’ and I thought, walk the Camino,” Mr. Nendick said. “That thought later became a goal. It was something I felt called to do, and I knew I had to do it.” Mr. Nendick started in France and walked to the Atlantic Ocean across the northern coast of Spain. The hike took about a month, and over 500 miles of walking. Mr. Nendick started alone, but often met people and walked with them.
Shortly after that, Mr. Nendick backpacked through the Balkans, Serbia, and Bulgaria. “For me, it was about going to the hostels and meeting people,” Mr. Nendick said. “It was less about rituals, and more about experiencing the world around.” After all of his adventuring, it was time to get back to work. Mr. Nendick taught physics, math, and Spanish at a Jesuit high school in Rwanda, Africa, named Saint Ignatius.
“I got the job because my friend e-mailed me saying one of his friends was traveling to Africa to teach and needed someone to go with her,” Mr. Nendick said. “I quickly said yes. A few minutes later I got a phone call and they asked me some simple questions and before I knew it, I was off to Africa. The school in which Mr. Nendick taught was markedly different from Rockhurst. It had no windows or air conditioning, and the teacher wrote on a chalkboard. Nendick was involved with constructing the first science lab the school ever had. He taught students ranging from ages 11-19.
Coming to Rockhurst was another unexpected turn in his life. While Nendick was at the Science Knowledge Bowl as a judge, he met up with Mr. Winkeler and Mr. Doyle and found out about all the new changes at Rockhurst. Being a teacher at Rockhurst, Mr. Nendick tries to get students to appreciate science. “I realize that I am teaching people that don’t want to be scientists. But my goal is to make students think like scientists would and ask why or how something is happening,” Mr. Nendick said.“I want my students to take what some people consider problems and turn them into solutions.” “I feel called to Rockhurst. I am excited about the STEM initiative and be back somewhere near and dear to my heart,” Mr. Nendick said.
Aside from talent academically, Mr. Nendick has talent in photography. “In some point of traveling, people tend to pick up photography or food. I picked up both. I like taking pictures because they help me be present in the place. I’m not trying to remember the places I have been, but it helps me to experience the place behind a lens,” Nendick said. Mr. Nendick does film photography and digital photography. At Rockhurst, he is applying his knowledge with film photography to utalize the dark room. The dark room allows students to use light and film to produce their own photographs. The room is light tight, which uses certain lights to print on paper.
After all of his ventures, Mr. Nendick comes back to Rockhurst to share his knowledge and experience with students.