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 and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, she has demonstrated a deep compassion for others and commitment to effecting 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 in 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 WUSTL 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.”