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Nick Vigneau, The Human Behind "Humans of UMass Amherst"

By Jessica Williams and Emilie Ferreira

As Nick Vigneau’s time at UMass comes to a close, he reflects on his newfound awareness and appreciation for the diverse world around him. His education in Political Science and Legal Studies has encouraged him to question established systems, and he says that he feels empowered to accomplish anything because his education has given him a global perspective.  Vigneau emphasizes that “no matter your course of study, as long as you’re learning about the world, you’re going to be better off for it. It’s going to make you a better citizen.”

When Vigneau first started at UMass, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. He was the first of his family to attend college, and had a clear thirst for knowledge. As he explored different classes, certain topics started to stand out for him and he honed in on his passions.

Vigneau cites Legal Studies Professor Leah Wing as having a great impact on his perspective. “Her style of teaching generates empathy by putting students directly in situations that demonstrate privilege,” he explains. Another class that made an impact on him was Vincent Ferraro’s World Politics. “Professor Ferraro has a brilliant way of describing world politics, whereas it does not feel like he is trying to push an opinion. This course inspired me to follow the news and the interaction between global entities. I still follow Professor Ferraro’s World Politics blog.”

Between being an officer in the Wildlife Society, working for the Student Legal Services Office, and holding a job as a security guard, Vigneau is no stranger to being active on and off campus.  In February of 2015, Vigneau added Humans of UMass Amherst to his list of campus activities and projects. This photo series follows the format of Humans of New York, telling touching stories of different individuals across campus. He developed it as a way to both foster and showcase community at UMass and give people a glimpse into the lives of those around them. Humans now has over 6,000 followers from all around the world. Vigneau believes that Humans is a thoughtful and intimate way for the rest of the world to see UMass, conveying the idea that “everybody can find a place here; that’s the beauty of this school.”

Reflecting on his own experience here, Vigneau urges incoming students to get involved and be engaged on campus, and to do what they love. He thinks the best thing to do is to look around campus and find ways to add value because doing so “gives you self-efficacy and makes you feel stronger in the world.”

After graduation, Vigneau plans on traveling for a year. This round-the-world trip is meant to further his own self-discovery and continue his knowledge and exploration of the diverse world around him. Vigneau plans on starting his trek in Europe, transforming Humans of UMass Amherst into a global storytelling and travel site. To keep the spirit of Humans of UMass Amherstalive, he is mentoring a fellow student to take over a new account that's part of a global organization called "Students of.." based out of Oxford University.


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