Faculty Voices: Dr. Nicki Stancil
Hailing from the small town of Tiffin, Ohio, Doctor Nicki Stancil found herself at home when she arrived at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith campus in the fall of 2015.
Since then, Dr. Stancil has become a pillar in the media communication department and the university.
By taking a deep dive into the self-proclaimed open book’s table of contents, one might be surprised at what makes Stancil the unique and relatable professor she is.
Stancil hoped to find a way to stand out as one of four children. It came by way of the classroom. Stancil thrived academically, and her parents took notice. After working nights at the Whirlpool warehouse during the summer following her high school graduation, Stancil knew the path ahead of her was clear.
Attending the University of Toledo for her undergrad, Stancil became the first member of her family to attend college.
“I’m our anomaly in a lot of ways as far as education is concerned,” laughed Stancil.
But it did not end there.
Stancil went on to Kent State University to complete her master’s degree and received her doctorate in American Culture Studies and a graduate certificate in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, both from Bowling Green State University.
Today, Stancil nears the end of her seventh school year, and her passion for what she does continues to grow – especially at UAFS with her ability to connect with first-generation students in the classroom.
“I try to be flexible because this population in particular, so many of them are working, so many of them are relying on Pell Grants, or student loans, or financial aid, and there are a lot of stressors that these students have in their lives that have to do with the same stuff I dealt with, but didn’t know how to manage,” explained Stancil.
Stancil believes in her approach to teaching students and works to continually develop a curriculum that flows for each class, saying, “I just enjoy seeing how it plays out.”
Not one to flaunt her success, it is that ‘letting it play out’ style that has resulted in Stancil’s proudest accomplishments as an associate professor at UAFS.
Stancil’s annual Alumni Q&A event drew its largest turnout this year. As goodbyes were being exchanged, Stancil recalled how a student told her how the turnout was “a huge testament” to who she is as a professor and that so many former students are willing to come back and speak because of the positive experience they had as a result of her teaching and attitude.
Stancil makes an impact and impression, not just with her students.
In 2021, she was awarded the Lucille Speakman Master Teacher Award for her work during the 2020-2021 academic year despite being impacted by the COVID pandemic. Stancil says what made the award even more rewarding was that it was given by her peers’ recognition of her work and dedication to students.
“I’m really proud of that,” said Stancil with a smile.
Outside of the classroom, one of Stancil’s favorite hobbies, playing video games, has transitioned into becoming one of the two UAFS eSports team coaches. Despite her love of video games, Stancil jokes not to call her a ‘gamer’ as she works to help end stereotypes and gender discrimination in video game culture.
As a coach of the eSports team, Stancil gets to play some of her favorite games and help teach the primarily male team about the importance of understanding these issues and being a positive influence on others.
Stancil says she has always had a passion for teaching others, and her work at UAFS is a testament to the professor she is. From the classroom to the controller, the “Book of Nicki Stancil” contains examples of what it means to be a Lion.