Savannah Nichols Selected As NPRC Commencement Student Speaker

Savannah Nichols NPRC

The 2023-24 school year has been an exciting one for NPRC graduate, Savannah Nichols. The Warren native wrapped up her coursework at NPRC in December 2023, continued her undergraduate career at Wilson College in January 2024, and was selected as the student speaker for NPRC’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony.
“When I initially got the communication that I had been selected for this opportunity, I was stunned and honestly thought they sent the email to the wrong person,” said a flattered Nichols. “I was truly surprised at first, but that feeling has turned into one of excitement. I’m excited to have this to opportunity to give my speech and reflect on all that I’ve worked hard on during my time as an NPRC student.”
Nichols graduated from Youngsville High School in 2015 and attended Clarion University for a semester as a childhood psychology student. She was passionate about working with kids, but the degree she chose, the environment away from home, and her readiness for the college classroom all attributed to her returning home to begin her career. She quickly dove into a career in childcare after returning to her native Warren County and has spent much of the last eight years working in childcare and early childhood education. After working in the industry for around five years from 2016 to 2021, Nichols was hopeful to advance her learning and education to progress into the next stage of her life. With Northern Pennsylvania Regional College emerging in her hometown, it made going back to college more convenient and affordable.
“From the start, NPRC made me feel like I was at the right place. I felt from the beginning like I knew what I was doing, and I was ready for college. Getting used to doing homework, studying, and completing my assignments was a bit of a challenge at first, but I kept myself organized with a calendar to make sure I could balance going to class, schoolwork, and continuing my career. My calendar looked crazy, but it kept me on track.” After completing her associate degree in early childhood education at NPRC in December 2023, Nichols continued with more education and enrolled in Wilson College’s online bachelor’s program in special education. Nichols transferred without loss of credit and anticipates graduating in December 2025. Her goal after completing her bachelor’s degree is to become a special education teacher at the elementary school level. “It was certainly a change from NPRC because I had to get used to watching pre-recorded lectures,” said Nichols. “I’m currently in one course in the spring term but will be taking three over the summer.”
Nichols has grown to love school and even plans to have her own classroom someday soon, but her early years as an elementary and middle school student were filled with some unpleasant memories. Going to school did not necessarily mean being accepted and it was not a place she was always comfortable going to. However, as time has gone on, she’s grown to love attending school and has made it her mission to make sure her past and future students feel accepted and enjoy their education. “Having faced challenges throughout my time in school, I understand the impact a supportive environment can have on a child’s development. I aspire to be a source of encouragement and guidance for young minds; helping them overcome obstacles and fostering a love for learning that extends beyond the classroom.”
During her time at NPRC, Nichols herself was positively impacted by many instructors, including Director of Arts and Sciences Ben Blood and Director of Applied Studies and Instructor of Early Childhood Education Leigh Anne Kraemer-Naser. Her relationship with Kraemer-Naser has extended to one in which Nichols views her as her truest mentor in the childcare and education industry. Kraemer-Naser shared a testament about Nichols’s growth in her profession and life in recent years. “To see her go from a quiet, but always attentive, student to a vocal and willing participant in class has been amazing. I saw growth in her reflective writing that really told me that she was born to work with children and families. It’s been exciting for me to get pictures and text messages showing how she immediately and creatively applies what she learned in class. I’ll never forget a text exchange helping her rearrange her classroom furniture. I’m so proud of her drive to keep learning and pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She has an amazing future in education waiting for her.”
In addition to her bond with her instructors, Nichols has also formed a great relationship with Student Engagement Specialist, Sandie Rohlin. Rohlin was one of the first people Nichols met when she began her time at NPRC and became an amazing resource and supporter of hers over her three years as an NPRC student. “She’s someone who always made my day better,” explained Nichols. “She consistently checked in on me and was someone who helped me as I went through a lot of educational and personal growth.”
NPRC also became the place that introduced her to one of her closest friends and a fellow graduate she will share the stage with on May 18. Brittany Grajek will also receive her degree in early childhood education and the bond that these two students share has become an impactful one. Though distance separates them, the friendship they’ve formed is a strong one. “Our friendship really started after I sent her a message for some help with an assignment. We just kept talking from there and eventually decided to hang out. Since then, I’ve become close with her family and from the start it felt like we’ve hung out together a million times. I’m so thankful NPRC helped bring a friend like her into my life.”
In just a few short weeks, Savannah Nichols will cross off one of the many goals she’s set out to achieve; to walk across the stage and receive her diploma. She’s grown a great deal both personally and professionally in her three years as an NPRC student. She’s made the successful transition to a bachelor’s program and will one day hopefully have a special education classroom of her own. But this upcoming moment of addressing her peers and the NPRC community at large during commencement is perhaps the sweetest moment of all so far. “I just hope the students that follow me find a way to enjoy their journey. It’s important to take the time to do homework and study, but finding your core people and forming friendships is also a valuable part of college. Finding that balance I think is what’s helped me earn this opportunity at commencement,” she said.

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