ASU student's degree path inspired by desire to help immigrants in her hometown

N'Kiedra Nisbett

The School of International Letters and Cultures’ 2023 Dean’s Medalist and member of Phi Beta Kappa, N’kiedra Nisbett.

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

This May, ASU Online student N’kiedra Nisbett will graduate from ASU as the spring 2023 Dean’s Medalist for the School of International Letters and Cultures.

During her time as an undergraduate student pursuing concurrent degrees in Spanish and organizational leadership, Nisbett worked tirelessly to balance working full-time, a dense class load and school work. Her tenacious work towards her degree will aid in her ultimate goal of assisting foreign immigrants in her hometown to become naturalized citizens by providing translation and interpretation services.

Hailing from Nevis, a small island in the Caribbean, Nisbett’s love for language stemmed from her studies and the social dynamics that she experienced growing up on the island. She sees the study of language as a necessary tool for making connections with and understanding people.

“For one, I think it helps to bridge gaps because there's a communication barrier on a global level, even outside of back home,” Nisbett said. “I think we’re divided because of communication and it's a big barrier when it comes to coming together, integrating cultures, and so forth. I personally recognize it back home where different groups are often, not so much ostracized, but they're more connected with their own groups because of that communication barrier.”

Nisbett’s language studies will not end with Spanish — she is currently studying French and Portuguese and hopes to continue learning as many languages as possible to promote cultural understanding.

Read more about her experiences as an ASU student below.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: For the Spanish portion of my degree, I always liked Spanish. I studied it in high school and in college; there's a two-year college course that we have on the island, on Nevis. I have always liked the language and I've been interested in translation because it's not a popular field where I’m living. So I decided to explore where I can go with Spanish. Within the last year I decided to add the leadership portion of my degree. I’ve always worked in the corporate environment, so leadership is a newfound interest. I decided to see where it would go and I really enjoyed it.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I really like how inclusive ASU is. I was a bit afraid when I applied since I’m from the Caribbean and going to school in the U.S. It's a different culture, so I wasn't sure how I’d be accepted or if I'd be accepted at all. But from the enrollment process right through taking classes, everyone has been super nice. The culture is family oriented and I really like that I feel welcome and at home, even though I’m taking classes online.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I would say that it was Professor Maria Dominguez. She has been a major part of my journey. She’s taught me to believe in myself and to trust the process when it comes to learning a language. At first, it felt a bit odd because it's not my first language. Even though I had studied it before, it was difficult to adjust to doing it at a university level.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

Patience is an important part of the journey because there are times that your responsibilities can feel overwhelming. It can feel as though you’re not getting anywhere and you can't see the end of the journey, but just be patient. Practice hard work and put forth your best effort and everything will work out.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: I like the outdoors, so I enjoy studying at the park. Sometimes I went to the beach where I could be by myself, by the pool or somewhere quiet like a library. But I mainly studied at home.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: For right now, I'm going back to work for about a year because I still have my full-time job and I want to take a break from studying. After that, I may continue on to graduate school, otherwise I will take steps toward what career I have in mind. I've always had this vision of working in courts translating documents or having a business that helps foreign immigrants to become naturalized citizens by assisting with legal documentation and forms. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: The first thing that comes to mind is poverty. I don't like seeing people living in poverty and think that the societal gap that exists today is too large. There are people who are way below the poverty line and others who are far above it. Poverty is one of the areas that I would invest in. While it may not be possible to get everyone on the same level, I’d like to improve the circumstances of those who are in absolute poverty by making the wealth gap smaller so that everyone can live a comfortable life. 

Q: What advice would you give online students or people specifically fitting online school into a hectic life?

A: First, don't procrastinate! It’s not worth it and will just make you more overwhelmed. When I first started, I saw that most assignments were due Sunday at 11:59 p.m. so I left my homework to do until the weekend. Then when Saturday or Sunday came around, I realized there was a lot more than I could handle to complete in those one or two days. Second is learning time management. If you really want to excel, being proactive with planning and sticking to a schedule will really help get work done on time.

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