As a freshman from Trinidad & Tobago standing on the soccer field eager for the tutelage of Coach Dwight Hornibrook, Nigel Fabien ’99 was unaware of the extraordinary journey that lay ahead of him. “My decision to go to Houghton was entirely divine intervention,” remarks Nigel, who now works as a commercial lender with Ares Capital, where he focuses on asset-based lending.
Fabien came to Houghton at age 26, determined to complete a degree and make a difference, particularly as a member of a minority class. His first soccer season was a pivotal time for him. He was plagued with multiple injuries and “felt very pressured—not by anyone but myself—because I felt I was not delivering.” Coupled with financial challenges, this made Nigel unsure if he would be able to return the following year—or that he would be wanted. To his astonishment, Hornibrook and the staff very much wanted him to stay at Houghton, and an anonymous donor provided the remaining funds needed. Years later, Fabien found that it was a fellow teammate who had made it financially possible for him to return for his sophomore year, which led to meeting his wife April (Vaughn ’96) and finishing his accounting degree.
Multiple individuals at Houghton—Hornibrook, coaches Matthew Webb and Stefan Schilke ’91, retired business professor Ken Bates ’71, and host family and former staff members Martha and Bob Whiting—deeply impacted Fabien’s life. In particular, he recalls Ange Szymanski, former head of custodial services, who gave him a job and took him to Promise Keepers, a Christian fellowship event for men. Through his training as an athlete, Fabien developed an appreciation for discipline, the importance of being prepared, humility, and sensitivity to the situations of other people—all significant in his current line of work. In an industry where the dollar reigns and secular views dominate, Fabien tries to demonstrate Christian principles. “The decisions we make,” he says, “they change lives.”
“My household is a Houghton household,” Fabien asserts. His support of athletics and the Student Scholarship Fund reflects his deep appreciation for the lessons, friendships and education he received. “When my time comes and goes, and I am no longer on this earth, I hope other people will keep up the same spirit of giving.”