Tell us about your time growing up, family and high school, please: I was born in Cedar Rapids and have lived here my whole life. My older sister, Jess also went to Kirkwood then graduated from Coe College in 2012. That was my senior year at Washington High School, and I started at Kirkwood that fall. At Wash I really found a home in the performance wing, with the Madrigal and Concert Choir groups as well as show choir all four years. I also was a member of the “A Slice of Jazz” ensemble and went to Iowa All-State music competitions for three years. I also loved the yearly musical theatre productions at Wash.
Did you have teachers or experiences at Washington that stand out the most for you?: Matthew and Shelley Armstrong directed “A Slice of Jazz” and were very supportive. Dr. Gerald Kreitzer and Mr. Peter Westphalen also helped me a lot. One of my favorite productions was Little Shop of Horrors. I was one of the “Urchins,” kind of a Greek Chorus in the musical. That was definitely a favorite.
It seems pretty obvious that music is a big deal with you, Nikki: Oh, yes! Music has always been a big part of my life. I love honing my abilities and working harder to improve in all areas. That includes my academics overall, plus theatre and especially music. Music is my form of expression, and I enjoy spreading the love! (Laughs.)
How has Kirkwood’s Performing Arts program been for you so far?: The training I’ve received here has been just right for me. I was looking to go to a big school in Chicago my senior year, but found out I couldn’t afford to go there. I decided to come to Kirkwood as a last resort, but from my first semester I found the experience in the choral program would absolutely transform my view of getting an education here. In fact, I recommend the Kirkwood music program here for anyone looking to be involved.
What’s in the near future for you?: I would love to study abroad. I am looking to Australia, and perhaps intern at the Sydney Opera House. I want to continue my education for as long as possible. I’d love to perform one day, but I also anticipate teaching music to others.