When Nikki Barnett graduated from high school, she was uncertain and overwhelmed when considering what career path she wanted to take. Being a first-generation college student, Nikki struggled with navigating the processes within higher education and was not aware of the resources available. She decided to take basic courses at a community college but soon lost motivation. Nikki then decided to take a break and work full-time. Eight years later, she decided to return to college as a non-traditional student at A&M-Commerce and pursue a degree in social work. Nikki was able to earn both of her degrees in Social Work degrees here at A&M-Commerce.
A Conversation with Nikki Barnett
What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?
Establish your support system early on. Find the individuals on campus who can support you when you are experiencing challenges and barriers. When you need help, do not be afraid to reach out. Also, be sure to check your email often. Most important communication from university faculty and staff will be sent via email and this will be a great habit to start immediately.
How has your role changed since you began working at A&M-Commerce?
I started working at A&M-Commerce as a graduate intern, tasked with developing a Student Case Manager role on campus. In 2017, I was officially hired as the first Student Case Manager. Since then, the position has developed into The Office of Student Advocacy and Support, which consists of Student Case Management, The Lion Food Pantry, Victim Support Services, The Lion Wardrobe, and Foster Care Liaison Services. We have gone from an office of one to a team consisting of two full-time staff, two graduate assistants, graduate and undergraduate interns, student workers, and volunteers. I am now the Director of Student Advocacy and Support and look forward to continuing to develop and implement supportive services here at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
What do you like most about your career?
As a social worker, I have the privilege of seeing just how resilient people really are. I am honored to be able to guide and support individuals on their journey, but seeing individuals learn to advocate for themselves is the most inspiring aspect of my job. I am passionate about lifting and supporting others and feel grateful that I get to do it as a career.
- M.S., Social Work, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2016
- B.A., Social Work, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2015
Honors and Awards
- Texas A&M University-Commerce, Social Work Alumni Ambassador, 2020
- Meritorious Service Award, 2020
- Texas A&M University-Commerce, Employee of the Month December, 2019
- Higher Education Case Manager Association (HECMA)
- National Association for Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment (NaBITA)
- Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
- National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)
- Food insecurity among college students
- Impacts of mental health on college campuses
- The impact holistic support models have on student retention
As a community of scholars and research experts, Texas A&M University-Commerce is a rich source of knowledge on a range of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subject-matter experts at our university are always ready to share their evidence-based practices, research and recommendations with the community, so the university is hosting a series of live […]