Growing up, politics were ever-present for Ryan Brooks ’09. His mom worked as an environmental lobbyist while his dad worked as an oil lobbyist. Later his mom took a position in Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office.
“I got a taste for politics and public service and I appreciated the wide variety of topics that were discussed and debated,” Mr. Brooks said.
While politics garnered his attention in one direction, in his time at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, he also developed an interest in religious studies, so much so that he decided on a major of religious studies and Asian studies at Furman University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2013.
“I loved weekly chapel at HIES,” Mr. Brooks said. “It drew me into academic religious studies and I wanted to learn more about religious traditions around the world.”
After graduating from Furman, politics won him over and he began work as an assistant clerk for the Georgia General Assembly House of Representatives. In 2014, he was hired as a field representative and legislative correspondent for Congressman Tom Price. After the 2016 elections, he decided to leave political work and in June 2017 started a new role as an associate for Buck, a New York-based company specializing in human resources and benefits consulting, administration and technology.
In that position he was able to use more of his creative skills and wordsmithing that he enjoyed at HIES, particularly in English classes and on the yearbook staff as a four-year member. “I loved Mrs. [Niki] Simpson. She helped me develop an appreciation for language and word usage.” Poetry Week stands out as an academic memory; Mr. Brooks currently owns a large collection of 18th and 19th Century poetry.
The past 18 months have brought changes. In September 2019, Mr. Brooks was engaged to Sarah Beck, an attorney for the Georgia Charter Schools Association. They are waiting for the pandemic to subside before making definitive wedding plans but happily enjoy their time together with their cat, President Taft.
Mr. Brooks recently became a licensed realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Atlanta, which is their most productive office in the U.S. His experience with digital marketing and events has been a great asset in his work.
For Mr. Brooks, going through changes while also living through the pandemic has allowed time for reflection and to draw on character words introduced long ago, such as gratitude and tenacity.
“Tenacity is at the core of my character; HIES helped instill that as a rigorous school and through the football program,” he said. He played both center and nose tackle in the early years of varsity football at HIES, a time he has not forgotten.
Nor has he forgotten the importance of giving thanks. “Gratitude is something I’ve had to practice and have benefited from,” he said. “This is a time to think about the things you are lucky and blessed to have.”