Nikki Zumbach Harken

Nikki Johnson

I believe the difference between UNI's Communication Graduate Program and other programs is how much people care. I chose UNI because the faculty and staff on campus were truly concerned about and committed to students.  I never felt like a number in either my undergraduate or graduate experiences.  Faculty and staff wanted to know what I was doing, thinking, and seeing.  I always felt part of something much larger—a community of learners.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to teach.  My Graduate Teaching Assistantship confirmed the idea. It has been a great segue for my current position as an instructor in the Communication department at UNI.  After I finished my Master’s, I worked for a K-12 system as a grant writer/manager and with community relations.  Though I thoroughly enjoyed that position, I was very happy to get back to my calling—teaching.

One of the biggest opportunities I had as a student was being a representative on the Artist Series committee. It allowed me to network with professors on campus, but also broadened my perspectives. Listening, watching, and being a part of several types of performances shaped how I viewed the world and those within it.

The graduate faculty member that played the most influential role to my success was Cate Palczewski. Cate pushed me.  She pushed my thinking to levels I didn’t think I could achieve.  I will be forever grateful for her belief in me.

When I graduated with my master’s, I will never forget the faces of my professors. They showed so much pride and were so congratulatory. The fact that they asked me to keep in touch showed that they still cared even after I completed my degree.