Fisher Faculty Highlight: Dr. Anastasia Nikolis Brings Smiles to Student’s Faces on the Daily


Anastasia Nikolis (LinkedIn).

With the intelligence of her Ph.D. and the glee of a child, Dr. Anastasia Nikolis is a person that can lift your spirits on any day of the week. Dr. Nikolis is the epitome of finding yourself in college. While she originally planned to major in Art and Psychology at college, she “detoured” multiple times, eventually becoming an English major with a Minor in Art History. She is a “classically trained oil painter” who continues to take art seriously, even after deviating from her planned pathway. Her Doctorate is focused on poetry – specifically, she finds interest in the visual movement that an author portrays through poetry. She prides herself in opening the creative door for all students; whether that be through writing, art, language, or something else, it does not matter. 

Dr. Nikolis works in the English Department for half the academic year. The other half is spent using her art background in her Encounter with the Arts and Self Discovery in the Arts classes, teaching other students that the arts are a legitimate pathway in life. Dr. Nikolis describes herself as “lucky to be in the English department” because her colleagues encourage her to teach without rigidness and to take the “weird path” sometimes. The ability to float between departments at Fisher has kept her interest piqued, and she’s excited to experience “excitement and wonder” in her classes every day. 

Dr. Nikolis values the relationships she builds with her students. When asked what her favorite memory was at Fisher, she said it was hard to pick because every student and class brings a different experience to her. On reflection, though, she found that her favorite memories typically had to do with a running joke in a classroom. For example, in her Creative Writing class in Fall of 2022, the students read an essay that mentioned different Korean foods, and one student had become so interested that they brought in a type of radish for the next class so everyone could have a taste. “When students start taking material from class and making it their own. . . the class has been successful and memorable.” 

The impact Dr. Nikolis continues to leave on Fisher’s student body is a mix of personal and academic growth. She encourages students to step out of the box and “embrace the weird,” because that is where new and exciting ideas come from. Dr. Nikolis said one of her favorite classes to teach is the Self Discovery in the Arts class that takes place during the Spring semesters, because it is all about becoming enlightened through doing weird things like air guitar. Activities that would not be seen in a typical college classroom have become the norm in Dr. Nikolis’ classes.

Not only does she learn from her students, but she is also excited to embrace their weirdness as well. Through a project that a student conducted on soap carving, Dr. Nikolis learned more about the art and she then implemented soap carving in her Encounter with the Arts class. One of her old students sends emails about new poems they find to Dr. Nikolis in the middle of the night. This type of interaction causes her to be “excited about all these poems all over again.” Sharing excitement with her students is one of the parts of teaching she loves. Through the continuous interactions she has with Fisher students, she hopes that they find “comfort in being themselves” because college should be about “investigating the things that make them feel most themselves.” Her main goal as a Fisher professor is creating a “space where [students] feel empowered to search for things that make them feel whole.” 

While college can come with hardships, it is important to remember that there are faculty members out there that simply want to see you succeed. Success, however, does not come in one size. Explore yourself and your surroundings. Dr. Nikolis’s presence on campus is a friendly reminder that weirdness is a path to happiness.