Sunday, January 24, 2021

Richardson on path to serve public

Plattsburgh State senior Nikia Richardson has a longing to help those in need.

As a gender and women’s studies major and English minor, Richardson has learned many of the skills necessary when it comes to community educational events, organization, planning and peer educating.

Richardson came to PSUC with a different major but said she found it boring. She decided to take a lot of general education classes, including some GWS classes, to find a subject that really interested her. She was a gender and women’s studies minor first before making it her major.

Educational Opportunity Program senior counselor Amy Daniels met Richardson in 2013 and became her adviser her sophomore year at PSUC after her major was chosen.

“She was very driven, very motivated from the beginning,” Daniels said. “I would say she definitely wanted to do something when she was here, and at first, she didn’t know what that was, but once she knew, she just went for it.”

Richardson found her calling when she did an internship with the Title IX office in the fall that focused on coordinating GWS104, a one-credit weekend course offered to PSUC students. The course Sexuality, Power and Relationships covers a broad range of topics that everybody should be aware of.

This semester, Richardson did another internship with Title IX. She came up with the idea to have a weekend course like GWS104 but let it be open to all community members, including faculty, staff and locals. She worked diligently with Title IX coordinator Butterfly Blaise to ensure the event was successful and ran smoothly.

“Nikia is very decisive. She is organized and she is assertive, which are very strong qualities, specifically when working on communication with community members and engagement and event planning,” Blaise said.

Richardson was responsible for reaching out to various college and community members to ask if they would offer their time to lead workshops open to the public. Richardson wanted these educational workshops to be available to all community members because she felt like the information being taught would be suitable for all sorts of people, not just students.

“Why not have workshops open to students, community members, faculty and staff?” Richardson said. “They can come in and learn something new on a Saturday they never thought about learning.”

Richardson wants the event to become an annual event even after she graduates in May. She said the internship made her realize that there is always something new to learn.

“Community members and students want to learn the same things,” Richardson said. “But I realize we don’t really know how to interact with each other because we don’t take the time to interact.”

Blaise said Richardson is one of the most committed individuals she knows, and she truly wants to make our campus a better place. Blaise has seen her evolve from a student to peer educator to not only teaching other students but interacting with the community. Blaise thinks Richardson is a leader in her own way. She isn’t outspoken but always does what is needed and expected of her.

“Her leadership and her goals and the work that she’s doing isn’t about personal gain,” Blaise said. “It’s not about her getting notoriety. It’s about her truly caring about the campus and it being a better place and the community being a better place. I think that’s a true leader. And that’s what she brings to the table every day.”

Richardson doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do after graduation but looks to Blaise for inspiration. She said she could see herself working on a college campus helping students because they are the future.

Richardson said she wished there were more males in the major and minor.

“People hear ‘gender and women’s studies’ and think it’s females talking about a bunch of things they want and need,” Richardson said. “I think we need to start making classes mandatory like the weekend course because these topics are very important and this is something you should take with you when you graduate.”

She encourages everyone to try new things constantly and never fear a challenge.

“Try something you would have never tried before,” she said. “Step out of your comfort zone because you can’t learn if you’re always staying in your shell.”

Email Laura Schmidt at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com

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