Like many nontraditional students, Nathan Center took a longer, less travelled and more colorful path to the University of New Mexico. From his time in the U.S. Army, to his work as an apprentice to one of America’s Master Cabinet makers. But nothing may beat his time working flying blimps around the country as part of the High Degree Operations and the Lightship Group, both professional blimp companies.

“They fly a couple of ships, like Snoopy One and Snoopy Two, the Met Life blimps that you’ll see over NASCAR and a lot of college football games.”

Moving blimps around the United States gave Center a lot of time to reflect on life and think about where his future might lie, and his mind kept returning to his love of writing.

“All the way back to elementary school and high school, I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always known that I wanted to. I don’t think I really appreciated that good writing was always more than just sitting down and banging something out on the keyboard. That legitimate writers took a serious approach to writing as a craft. I realized that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to learn what it meant to write, not just scribble.”

Like many great novelists, Center may be drawing on his life experiences as he works on his “Great American Novel.” These experiences helped him become the person he is today, gave him a greater appreciation of why he wanted to return to college, and the value of those experiences to helping him achieve his goals.

“I have an honest appreciation for what real work is. And an understanding what it is to work and what a work ethic means. It helped me take school more seriously. My first time at UNM I didn’t understand that a university is really all about learning how to do the job you want to do for the rest of your life. I treated it more like high school. Now I understand that I’m really learning a new craft and taking it seriously. That made all of the difference for me.”