Displaced employee finally settles


Photo courtesy of Tonya Nickle

Student Employment Coordinator Tonya Nickle admires the view from her new permanent home after their former home was destroyed in the tornado.

Tonya Nickle, student employment coordinator at Missouri Southern, is finally closing escrow on her new house nearly nine months after losing almost everything, including her family car, in the May 22 tornado.

Nickle, who has worked at Southern since August 2010, describes herself as easy-going and agreeable, not easily upset or angered. This past year of dramatic changes bears witness to her self-assessment.

This will be the Nickle’s fifth move since May.

Her family had moved into a new house in Joplin just three weeks before the tornado struck. Nickle and her husband rode out the storm in the laundry room, huddled with their three dogs.

Nickle’s work history had prepared her well for the challenges she faced in her new position at Southern.

“They needed someone who is self-motivated, that will go forward and if they see that something needs to be done, to do it,” she said.

Nickle works with all areas of the University: finding and posting jobs, working with individual departments to identify employment needs, processing new employee paperwork, filling out tax paperwork and giving jobs orientations.

“In the real world you have to apply for a job, you have to interview; you have to turn in a résumé or an application,” she said. “Jobs aren’t typically handed to you on a platter. That’s the direction I’m taking student employment. This is practice for the real world.”

Nickle’s life has become a testament to her personal credo, “Go where life takes you.” She is working in a position in a field that has nothing to do with either of her degrees or her fields of study.

“Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that’s not exactly what you had envisioned for yourself before, but if you just jump on board and open your mind to things, you can end up being in a place you love,” she said. “I love this job. I enjoy it. I would say if you just go where life takes you, don’t fight it, you might find something that you never knew existed.”

Nickle encourages students to participate in more than just school and work. “Find something that interests you on or off campus, commit yourself to it, and be a part of something other than just the rigidity of going to work and to school and to work and to school.”