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Each year, Claims Magazine awards an academic scholarship to a student at the Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services at Illinois State University. The program prepares its students for careers in insurance and risk management through on-the-job learning opportunities and internships.

This year’s award recipient is no stranger to the limelight. In fact, Brandon Nicol claimed the prize in 2008. Since then, he has had a life-altering experience — deployment to Afghanistan — and recently spoke again with Claims to discuss his tenure at Katie, plans for the future, and the transfiguring experiences that have given him a fresh perspective on life.

Can you tell us about your service and experience in Afghanistan? Has that changed the way you look at insurance or life here in the United States in general?

Afghanistan was an amazing experience. When I was over there I didn’t think it was as amazing, because I was away from my family and friends, and I was in a dangerous environment. Now looking back, it was amazing, we helped the women, children, and elderly by giving them clothes, food, toys, shoes, and numerous of other items to help out in the daily life.

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