Meet Nikki Magie, Ph.D., Olivet College archivist and assistant professor of social science, a.k.a., the college’s number one history buff. She focuses on teaching nonwestern history courses examining the world beyond the United States and Europe. As the archivist, Dr. Magie leads the college archives, an ever-growing program on campus. Dr. Magie and her student assistants organize and preserve the numerous books, letters, photographs and artifacts outlining OC’s nearly 175-year history. They also perform research requests, curate exhibits and play a role planning special projects. And they are thrilled to be playing a role in the new Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive coming as part of the Responsible Learners – Responsible Leaders campaign.
Why do you love working at Olivet College?
I’m not an alumna and had no prior connections at OC, so I was completely drawn to campus based on the college’s progressive history – specifically educating women and students of color on a coequal basis with white men. After serving the college for five years, today I still love the racial and economic diversity on campus, and the relationships I’m able to build with students. It’s an honor to be a part of their lives during their transitional period of truly finding themselves. In addition to listening, mentoring and playing a role in that process, I love that I simply have the ability to interact with them and teach with a hands-on approach customizable to each student. And lastly, I love the opportunities OC provides to students. Travel experiences, for one, allow students to see the world while deepening connections and growing together.
Why is attending OC the “Best. Decision. Ever.”?
The personal attention and the chance to build relationships with professors are the heart of an OC education and what makes it so special. As a mom, I also really appreciate the peer/mentor relationships that I’m able to build and give individualized attention to each student. Back to the opportunities at OC, one of the things I’m most proud of is being able to take students to conferences and help them get internships. Many of these experiences other students don’t receive until graduate school.
What do you most look forward to in your role?
Of course, I am most excited to have an accessible place and design to display the Olivet College history – the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive. Students will be able to come in and work, meet, enjoy the history and most importantly, learn. There’s going to be a café serving coffee and vibrant visual surroundings that I think will really encourage people to gather and share. And secondly, I’m also really excited for upcoming travel abroad experiences. I recently traveled to Prescott College’s Kino Bay Center where five OC students were spending the semester studying, which was incredible.
What is the purpose of a college archive?
An archive is designed as a place to store, preserve and research history. Imagine it’s like your grandparents’ attic. It houses documents, photographs and other important information. The main purpose is to allow this information to be researchable and then shareable. Olivet College has so much rich history, it’s important to remember the strong foundation and morals that it was founded on, and to continue living those principals today. The archive is a reminder of that.
Where does your passion for history stem from?
In college, I didn’t immediately know I wanted to major in history. Rather, I wanted to learn as much about the human world as possible – from how societies were shaped and why we dress the way we do, all the way to the reason for sidewalks. A history major encompasses many skills that are important in all fields. Critical thinking is a big one, and core communication too. Trust me, it isn’t boring! Historians work with movie directors to create film sets, assist in designing WWII video games and work in museums all over the world. Even big brands like Ford and Meijer employ historians to help market their products, and there’s always the option of freelancing which means your job never gets stale.
What is the number one piece of advice you share with students?
Don’t underestimate what you can do. Don’t overestimate it either. Have a vision and make a difference, and most importantly, remember that you are able to achieve great things because you stand on the shoulders of those who came before you – humility is always important.
More about Dr. Magie
- Magie has been playing the congas for more than 10 years, and is always striving to improve.
- She’s lived abroad in both Mexico and Brazil, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
- Magie has two daughters, ages 8 and 5, and loves the opportunities to bring them to campus.