Dr. Galina Nicoll (Siergiejczyk)
I was born in Belarus, a former Communist Bloc country, into a family of a Ukrainian mother and a Polish father.
I came to the U.S. in 1997 for the first time to attend a conference for ecological leaders in NY, “Youth Can” and was instantly struck with the diversity and warmth of American people. I met my first transgender friends here and tasted the amazing Chinese food in the narrow streets in the heart of the Big Apple (NYC). I walked its avenues on my own and was assisted by many strangers in finding my way back to the host family.
My next few times visiting the U.S. had more to do with exploring graduate programs and visiting family friends, whose immigrant kids have found themselves in the grip of drug addiction and needed the support of old friendships. One of these stands out in my memory, if for the wrong reasons… I left NY city only a short two days before the attack on the Twin Towers. I walked the plaza the day before I flew out, I took pictures and visited with regulars eating lunch outside. I will never forget the sheer horror of the days that followed. My phone rang at home in Grodno, and when I picked up, friends and family could speak no words, we just wept. Grateful for that I was alive and home, and for the lives of so many who perished in the terrorist attack on 9/11. Still today, I can’t think about these events with a calm heart. I say my prayer for every single American life that we lost that day.
I went back to school, studying Linguistics and Pedagogy at King Kazimierz the Great University in Bydgoszcz, Poland. I spent my time studying, community-building, practicing as a young teacher in Polish K-12. On days free from work and studies, I rode horses and played tennis competitively.
Finally, in the winter of 2002 – after having spent a few months in Colorado in the summer and early fall of 2001, diligently preparing for the GREs and submitting a full graduate school application to CU – I received the long-awaited letter of acceptance in the mail. This brought me to my graduate work at CU-Boulder beginning in 2003 and ending with a Doctorate degree in Comparative Literature (Gender Studies, Women’s Prose) in 2010.
In the course of this graduate work, I took several Law School classes, a couple as a full-credit load with official 3-hour exams: these included Constitutional Law, International Law and European Law. After receiving my Ph.D. I have continued as a faculty member at CU Boulder. Currently I teach exciting Space Minor classes, such as Space Race Culture and The Future of Innovation in Space; as well as Russian language and culture classes. I am an innovator and a contributor of design solutions for our pedagogical practices pertaining to addressing the mental health crisis we are experiencing increasingly more on our campuses.
In the course of these years, I have served in more than just my role of an instructor, or teacher at local K-12 heritage schools. I have served as an officer of a graduate student government, where I have had the pleasure of collaborating with student leader – now Congressman – Joe Neguse. likewise a student at the time and serving on the board of the undergraduate student government at CU. I have collaborated with local community organizers, nonprofits, staged conferences and volunteered, helped draft four pieces of legislation and stood up for the rights of students, LGBTQ members of academia and more.
I have been a tax-paying Colorado resident since 2003, actively connected with the amazing community that instantly became my family and the state that became my “home away from home,” as a friend and a mentor, former Peace Corps Country Director, Robert McClendon used to say. I offer my expertise to my students, my voice to the choir, Planina, which sings for all of Colorado’s communities and my heart to my family, neighbors and friends.
Most notably, having spent close to 20 years of my life in this country which I now call my homeland and share with my inspiring husband and our beautiful daughter, I have learned to deeply appreciate the enduring values this country is built on: no matter where everyone comes from, or what color our skin is, or what faith we practice – we all have a chance of living out our will, and pursue happiness here. I also witnessed that we do better as a society, when we create programs and policies that are inclusive, broad and help lift everyone.
As a human who lived through a sheer devastation of communities and very fabric of society when the Soviet Union collapsed; and who has seen what an environmental disaster looks like, taking everyone with it; having witnessed the fall of a government into corruption and dictatorship, I appreciate this democracy in ways that may be hard to grasp for someone who’s never lived outside of the privilege of the “birthright” to the freedoms we enjoy in America. It is all too easy to forget, to take for granted or become “comfortably numb” to inequalities dividing our neighborhoods, to fears and hatreds tearing our communities apart, to the business of everyday race for our comforts.
So when I say, I bring a fresh perspective to the table, I mean it. I bring a viewpoint informed by the struggle for freedom and profound gratitude for the opportunity this homeland offers all of us. I know how to search for solutions outside of the box. I value every perspective, including one that is hard to listen to. I base my decisions on science. I follow through on commitments. I stand up to injustice. I have no loyalty to corporate interests, but stand up for the needs of the invisible and undesirable in our midst: the underserved, the elderly, the diverse.
I couldn’t be more honored to partake of this Democracy and offer my discipline, compassion and commitment to represent my people, my neighbors and friends, my fellow Coloradans in our shared fight for an urgent change in our political institutions.