Empowering Others

Images from "The Stories Project," designed by De Andrea Nichols.

De Andrea Nichols (BFA10) receives Ethic of Service Award

Posted by April 28, 2010

De Andrea Nichols, BFA10, is one of six recipients of the 2010 Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award. Founded during Washington University's Sesquicentennial year, the annual award recognizes a select group of WU community members who exemplify a character of service and giving to the St. Louis region.

In addition to Nichols, this year's winners are Reginald Gray, a staff member in Mail Services; Harold Y.H. Law, DSc, WUSTL alum (engineering, 1975); Joanna Perdomo, a junior philosophy-neuroscience-psychology major in Arts & Sciences; Katie Plax, MD, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Center at the School of Medicine; and Julia Warren, an MD/PhD student in the School of Medicine.

ABOUT DE ANDREA NICHOLS

Artist. Advocate. Leader. Friend. De Andrea Nichols encompasses the qualities that come with each of these roles. During her time as an undergraduate student in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University, she has demonstrated a deep compassion for others and commitment to affecting positive change in both the University and St. Louis community.

De is most known for engaging others in topics of diversity and inclusion. She has done so through facilitating dialogues, mobilizing students, starting new initiatives, and sharing her artistic talents. She was instrumental in the formation of Connect 4, a student group that focuses on the four principles of diversity, dialogue, change, and understanding. Under her leadership, Connect 4 has flourished as an organization, hosting such initiatives as the Soap Box program in the Danforth University Center and organizing town hall conversations following an incident of discrimination during the Senior Class trip to Chicago in October 2009.

As an artist, De captured fears, struggles, and hidden thoughts that may not have come to the surface in regular conversations through The Stories Project. Utilizing a variety of mediums and interviewing Washington University students and St. Louis-area community members, De was able to draw attention to individual narratives while raising awareness of broad diversity issues.  

As a leader, De excels in empowering others and bringing individuals and groups together. In her senior year, she started The Creative Catalysts Network. This initiative seeks to communicate with students and groups to creatively express a multifaceted student identity. In addition, the project works to visualize and articulate the WU student experience, generate cultural and community awareness of campus and social issues, integrate the arts and various media into student group programming and initiatives, and most essentially, radically and dynamically effect positive change, awareness, and progress on campus.

While her accomplishments are many, De never sacrifices her own relationships. Her nominators wrote that she is known as one of those people "who will think of something that would be nice to do for someone else, and actually do it." As one nominator wrote, "In the two years I have worked with her, I have been unable to ignore that she lives a life of service: If De's awake, she’s contributing to an initiative, brainstorming for a fledgling vision, or working on a project that will enrich and strengthen the Washington University community."