Nikki Truax

After a 15-year career in the health care field, Nikki Truax, ’15, decided it was time to return to college and earn a degree that would allow her to pursue her passion.

“Health care was not my passion,” she said. “My dream is to work with victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

As she researched adult education programs, Nikki realized that her biggest fear in returning to school was getting lost in the crowd. That’s why Meredith’s Wings Adult Education program was so appealing to her. In addition to offering the social work degree she desired, the small classes and personal attention from faculty and staff ensured she wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.

This wasn’t Nikki’s first attempt to further her education. She previously balanced two jobs – full-time in labor and delivery and part-time in an E.R. trauma unit – with part-time studies. But her plans to earn a degree were derailed when she went through a divorce and faced the responsibility of raising her two small children as a single mother.

Nikki eventually remarried, and with the support of her spouse, she was confident that the time was finally right to pursue her educational and professional dreams.

Nikki has taken advantage of opportunities to build strong relationships with her classmates and professors, but said finding her voice has been the most important strength she’s developed. “I have grown by leaps and bounds at Meredith,” she said.

Nikki confessed that before attending Meredith, she was prone to give in to her introversion and sit at the back of the class and not participate. But that changed after Dr. Bishop, a professor with whom she’d built a relationship, asked her to share her story about intimate partner violence with a social work class.

“Next thing I knew, I had different clubs and other professors, along with outside agencies, asking me to speak,” she said. “One Meredith professor saying she believed in me opened so many doors and helped me build my confidence.”

In addition to her increased public speaking prowess, Nikki has gained leadership skills through her participation in on-campus groups. She’s been involved with the Wings Adult Student Organization, Wings Advisory Board, Student Government Association, and Social Work Club. She’s also received numerous awards, scholarships, and honor society inductions.

With all her accomplishments, there are two that make Nikki most proud of her experience at Meredith. One was earning the Social Work Professional Development Award. The other was working with the Dean of Students and the Counseling Center staff to plan and implement Sexual Assault Awareness Week on Meredith’s campus, which has been held for the last three years.

She’s also getting hands-on experience that will benefit her in her chosen career. She’s interned with InterAct, a non-profit agency located in Raleigh that provides safety, support, and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault.

Nikki has no regrets about pursuing her degree as an adult student at Meredith. “This has been the hardest, yet most gratifying thing I have ever done for myself,” she said.

She encourages other women to pursue their dreams – whether they’re looking to change or advance their careers or complete the education they’ve always wanted. “Follow your dreams and take that first step,” she said. “You’ll never regret it.”

Learn more about Wings Adult Education at Meredith