St. Lucia was crowned for 2012 in December, and the tradition allowed all of Gustavus and the community to meet Sophomore Nicole Ektnitphong.
“Getting to be St. Lucia is an honor and really exciting. Working with The Guild and the other girls was a great experience,” Nicole said.
“Nicole embodies Lucia. She does service and has compassion and really wants others to succeed. She knows that we can be better individually and collectively and that is one of her strongest characteristics,” Mentoring Program Coordinator and Assistant Director of Vocation and Integrative Learning in Center for Servant-Leadership Amy Pehrson said.
A political science major with minors in peace studies and civic leadership, Nicole is involved with different groups on campus. She is a Gustavus Ambassador, a member of the Habitat for Humanity board, plays violin in the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and is a partner in the Servant Leadership Program. Nicole also played soccer during her first year at Gustavus after playing throughout all of high school.
“Nicole is a quiet leader. She is humble about what she does and that is very powerful when you talk with her,” Pehrson said. “She is a very genuine person and when she says something she means it.”
The Servant Leadership Program is a way to help students learn leadership through service. As a partner Nicole is researching the idea of civility. She is reaching out and seeing how the Gustavus community and the St. Peter community can work together.
“Nicole wants to use her skills to help people lead more meaningful lives,”Professor in Political Science, Environmental Studies, Japanese Studies and Peace Studies Richard Leitch said.
“I think oftentimes youth today are told to believe not much can change with all the hurt in the world or that it is something that will continue to happen, but I am hopeful about a future that consists of humanity and good. I let that positivity shine through on my life, the work I do, the relationships I build and how I live each day,” Nicole said.
Having a role on the Gustavus Habitat board has given Nicole a chance to strengthen her leadership skills and foster a passion for serving others.
“She brings so much passion to everything she does. Nicole is very reflective about what she does and how she goes about doing it. For her it is not just work, it is building a house for a family and giving the family a place in the community. She always tries to connect on a deeper level, she does service with a purpose,” Senior Co-president of Gustavus Habitiat for Humanity Tristan Richards said.
Nicole is spending January Interim interning at a non-profit law firm. While there she is doing legal assisting, which has opened her eyes to a dream job of being a civil rights/human rights lawyer, working on the pressing issues that affect the world.
“Being a civil rights/human right lawyer at this point would be my dream job if I could do anything, but I know I would be happy with a career that allowed me to thrive in service and building relationships with others, as well as, sharing my passions with them,” Nicole said
“She is a well-rounded Gustie, truly a liberal arts student. She has done many things, so she can understand the experiences that Gusties have. She shows that there is a place for everyone here and the world,” Pehrson said.
When Nicole is not volunteering or leading a committee meeting, you can find her sipping coffee with friends and taking photographs and video of the people and things she does in her life.
“A couple of my friends and I have a group called the ‘coffee club’ where we get together on Saturday or Sunday morning and enjoy coffee with a homemade treat or go down to River Rock or the Coffee Hag,” Nicole said.
With two and a half years left at Gustavus Nicole hopes to study abroad in India and continue to make deep connections with the people that she meets.
“I hope to leave a presence that is inspiring to others who begin their lives here at Gustavus and may have lost hope about the future or within their own lives,” Nicole said.