Ashley Nickel ’17: The World is Her Classroom

Posted on March 16th, 2016 by

Nickel poses with the Roman Forum and Colosseum in the background.

Nickel poses with the Roman Forum and Colosseum in the background.

Gustavus Adolphus College junior classics major Ashley Nickel is using a $10,000 scholarship to attend a highly selective study away program in Rome this semester through the Duke Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (ICCS).

Nickel, a native of Fargo, N.D, knew she wanted to study abroad as soon as she began college. “I was first informed of this program by my advisor in the first semester of my first year at Gustavus, and I guess it just stuck,” she explained. “When the time came for me to start planning my study abroad experience, I remembered that ICCS had been recommended to me, and decided it was the program that was the best fit for me.”

In addition to being the only Gustavus student chosen to attend the program, Nickel also received one of the largest scholarships offered. The unique program was created as a result of the partnership between the American Academy Abroad and the Duke ICCS in Rome. Throughout the semester Nickel and other students are participating in original research opportunities, engaging in mentor relationships with professionals in their field of interest, and gaining valuable independent study experience.

Classics is the study of Ancient Greece and Rome in terms of their history, literature, languages, and various other subject matter.  “A person’s experience of the major often winds up being quite particular to that individual because there is so much for one to connect with depending on one’s interests,” classics professor Seán Easton explained. “It is fundamentally an interdisciplinary field and is especially rewarding for those who really enjoy engaging with a mix of subjects.”

Nickel toured an Etruscan tomb in Cerveteri.

Nickel toured an Etruscan tomb in Cerveteri.

Nickel attributes her academic success at Gustavus and abroad to all of her professors in the classics department, particularly her advisor Easton and professor Matt Panciera. She chose to study both Greece and Rome to get a deeper understanding of both cultures, and works hard to gain comprehensive knowledge of classics during her time at Gustavus and abroad. “One thing that stands out to me is that Ashley thinks a good deal about how to make the most of her time at college and of her future beyond college” Easton said. “My sense is that this intentionality and spirit of self-examination fuels her work ethic.”

In addition to her academic studies, Nickel is also passionate about music. After being a part of the Gustavus Choir since last year she recently joined the College Ave. Jazz group, a new vocal ensemble created this fall. She credits her musical accomplishments to guidance from professors Greg Aune and Dave Stamps. “I can honestly say that my experience at Gustavus would not have been the same without any of them and their dedication to students,” Nickel said.

After a month in Rome, Nickel took a moment to reflect on her study away journey. “My experience has been exhilarating, intense, exhausting, and fast-paced, but I feel like I’m absorbing so much between all of the information I’m learning in the field and the cultural and language immersion,” she said.

Throughout the rest of the semester, she will travel to Sicily and Campania with the other students and do some individual traveling as well. “I’m really thriving on the challenge and can’t wait to keep gathering experiences with my remaining time here,” Nickel said.

ICCS was established in 1965 with 10 American college and university institutional members; that number has now grown to over 100 affiliates. This global education program provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to travel to Rome and study ancient history, archaeology, Greek and Latin literature, Italian language, and ancient art.


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One Comment

  1. Eric Dugdale says:

    Ashley epitomizes the spirit of adventure, whether she is immersing herself in ancient languages, deciphering Byzantine manuscripts, or exploring Etruscan tombs. Happy trails, Ashley. “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”