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Nikki Isemann

  • Program: Academic Transfer

    Education/Industry Certifications: Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and German, Truman State (Missouri) University (1992); Philips Universität, Marburg, Germany: 1992-1993 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship; Master of Arts in Political Science from Miami University of Ohio (1994); Coursework completed toward Master of Arts in Modern Languages at Kansas State University (1994-1996). (Language of instruction in German); Nebraska State Dual Credit Teaching Certificate.

    Has Taught at SCC Since: SCC adjunct from 2000-2004; full-time since 2005.

    Years of Work Experience Outside SCC: 17 years. I have been employed as a paralegal, a grant writer, an international programs officer, a study abroad director, an international conference planner, an administrative assistant to a department chair, an academic counselor, and an academic advisor, among other things. On political campaigns I have been a speech writer and policy advisor, virtually all roles but the finance chair.

    Describe your teaching philosophy.

    My desire is to teach students how to engage with our political system, think critically about the information they find in the media or hear from politicians, and research political information on their own. I use an engaged lecture approach sharing the content of the course while drawing on examples from the students’ personal experiences. The goal is to encourage students to appreciate the virtues and shortcomings of our political system and the others we study. Students in my classes enjoy the organized debates on current topics like armed teachers in public schools and demonstrate their mastery of course content in simulations like the North Korean-South Korean peace talks. If I can inspire someone to travel abroad, that is even better. Traveling is the way you learn as much about yourself as you learn about the target destination.

    Why did you decide to teach at a community college?

    I love to see students excited about politics and learn to appreciate their vital role. Too many students have a “terrible view” of politics from their socialization at home or through a poor high school civics experience. My passion for political phenomena can be a game-changer. Teaching at a community college also allows me to teach International Relations, American Government and Comparative Politics. I am a generalist, or in medical terms, a general practitioner. SCC is a teaching institution and as devoted to quality education as I am.

    What can prospective students expect when they enroll in your program?

    A student who enrolls in political science coursework can expect rigorous content and critical thinking. There are no formulas to apply when attempting to understand the complexity of immigration policy. I encourage my students to appreciate the value of free speech, in our classroom as well as the country. My students are all prepared to speak in class as well, as there are debates and simulations. After the class, however, students are not only well-informed on the subject, but they can speak intelligently about their own political opinions and know how to research political questions they may confront later on. I always encourage my students to educate their friends and family members too. In the 21st Century, everyone should be talking about politics.

    What experiences outside of SCC do you bring to the classroom/laboratory that enhance student learning?

    One element that I bring to the classroom is my experience living in Germany, both as a teenager for four years and then again as a graduate student for one. I have traveled extensively, which allows me to share valuable insights when teaching International Relations and Comparative Politics. I have worked on several campaigns in my life during college, graduate school and even now, always in a behind-the-scenes capacity. I have had the opportunity to work in nearly every facet of a campaign, and I know intimately how that sausage is made. I recommend every political science major work on a campaign at least once.

    What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in your program?

    In general, my career advice to any Arts and Sciences student is to get a job doing something in your intended field right away, even if you volunteer first, just to be sure you are going to like it. You can intern almost anywhere to gain experience. SCC offers credit for interning, too. (See me for political science internship details). Study the core theorists you learn about in intro courses and learn the difference between the disciplines (International Relations versus Comparative Politics) so you know what field you prefer to work in. While still in school, secure an internship on a campaign or in a working politician’s office to see the political process from the inside. You may not like elected politics, but it is important to have that experience.

    What do you enjoy most about working with students?

    I enjoy getting students to appreciate the study of politics as much as I do. When you understand the rules of the game, you become a much better player. Too often, students feel as though the system is rigged against them, or their vote does not matter. Once they join my class, I can show them how to use the system, and why laws are developed the way they are.

    What is the best part about being an SCC faculty member?

    Teaching with a variety of alternative course delivery methods to include use of technology in the traditional college classroom, as well as online, are necessary skills at SCC. This skill set suits me well as I am committed to teaching students of all learning styles and traditions. I thrive in an environment with our diverse student population as it enhances the learning experience for all. Learning international relations theory is more compelling when you can hear the stories of the Sudanese civil war from students in your class sitting next to you.

    What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?

    I am fortunate to say that I have many proud moments as an instructor! I have a student intern for the New York Supreme Court Chief Justice, and eventually became a New York intellectual property and immigration attorney herself. Another young student interned for former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, completed her four-year degree, and became Bruning’s communications director. A former student and intern become a staff researcher for the D.C. office of then-serving U.S. Representative from Kansas Mike Pompeo. In addition, several students have gone on to work in law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, including those agencies requiring a full FBI background check.

    What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?

    Travel and service are my passion. My husband, two daughters and I travel when the time allows. At SCC, I have been able to travel with groups of students as part of our Global Studies initiative to Greece and Italy, as well as England and Scotland. My family travels to Germany often. I am also active in community organizations like P.E.O., a Philanthropic Educational Organization that encourages the education of women, and Rotary International, serving as president of my club during the exciting 100-year anniversary. As a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, I enjoy maintaining my friendships in Rotary and visiting with my international friends when time allows.

    What would students be surprised to know about you?

    I have been through a Senate confirmation process in the Missouri Senate when the governor of Missouri, then John Ashcroft, appointed me to a position.

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