Campus Closeup: Jana Nicholls
NMU alumna and Negaunee native Jana Nicholls is putting her office systems degree to good use as the principal secretary in the geography department. It's a career she began planning for back in high school.
Nicholls' professional experience at NMU began when she was an undergrad working in the purchasing department. After she graduated in 1996, she started in vocational services, moved to the JOBSearch Center and then worked in the English department before settling in to her geography position.
Nicholls feels her experiences as a student and in the other offices on campus equipped her to ease into her secretarial position in the geography department.
“Experiencing both the academic and student service side of the university helps me feel well-rounded to help undergrads,” said Nicholls.
Her primary duty is to run the day-to-day operations of the department. This encompasses everything from answering the phone to tracking paperwork and budget issues. Nicholls keeps the department faculty members on track through updating them on department happenings and assists faculty with advising support for about 200 students enrolled in the seven majors the department offers.
Nicholls keeps geography students informed of departmental events as well as internship opportunities and makes herself available to answer as many questions as possible. She helps students update their program planning sheets and works with the faculty to guide students along the right academic path.
“I love to go the extra step for the student when I can. When I leave at the end of the day, I feel so good that I was able to help students,” Nicholls said.
For example, Nocholls helped a current student realize that by switching his geography concentration, he would be able to graduate sooner, which would allow him to pursue a post-graduate opportunity.
Now that students can register and look up information online, fewer seek faculty advising or come into the office for help. To preserve some face-to-face interaction, Nicholls is working with the faculty to help students realize the benefit of advising through such events as advising parties. She makes the extra effort to let students know how essential it is to see their adviser and keep in contact with the department to remain on track for graduation.
Nicholls and her husband, Mark, live in Ishpeming with their 5-year-old daughter, Taylor, and six-month-old son, Levi. Ishpeming. She loves spending time with her family and walking her dog, Bailey. She also likes to attend the extracurricular events her high-school-age niece and nephews participate in, attend craft shows and decorate her home and office for the seasons and holidays. When she’s not spending time with her family, she enjoys spending time at her family’s camp on Big Shag Lake during the summer.