Nicole Hinshaw, Communication and Political Science Major

Profile on Nicole "Nikki" Hinshaw, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Student Leader for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Majors: B.A. Communication; B.S. Political Science

Hometown: Tempe, Arizona

Concentrations: Intercultural Communication, International Studies

Three best things about the Hugh Downs School and ASU:  The best things are the people that I’ve met, how inclusive the university is, and the diversity present in every aspect of my education.

Being at a large school has allowed me to meet so many amazing people from all walks of life. Furthermore, Communication is such an interdisciplinary field that I find myself taking classes with people who study computer science, business, engineering, and more. Learning to work with people with different talents, interests, and backgrounds will be extremely helpful in any career and in life. I also love that ASU encourages us to step outside the classroom to grow as people, not just as students.

Favorite class: COM 225: Public Speaking. Before taking this course, I was always nervous when presenting or giving speeches. The course can be very intimidating, so I was lucky that my professor and peers created a supportive environment that alleviated my anxiety and helped me grow as a communicator. I also learned how to effectively write a speech tailored to specific audiences and situations. After taking this course, I feel confident in any situation where I have to speak in front of groups. I’ve found myself volunteering for more positions and activities where I get to utilize these newfound public speaking skills.

 What Makes ASU Special?  It is special because it provides so many opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in your degree in different contexts. The number of programs, jobs, clubs, and organizations available to students is amazing. Although this is only my second year at ASU, I’ve already had the opportunity to work for a university initiative that I love, be a part of a one-of-a-kind cross-sector leadership program, study and intern abroad, mentor international students, and grow as a global leader. If I hadn’t attended ASU, I would have missed out on all these activities that have been integral in fostering my passions and preparing me for my future career. 

Something unexpected that you learned at the Hugh Downs School:  When choosing to study Human Communication, I didn’t realize how applicable my coursework would become in various areas of my personal and professional life. I’ve been able to use this degree to improve relationships with friends and family, prepare me to study abroad, work in various marketing roles, and more. The Hugh Downs School has shown me how versatile the Communication major can be. I’ve come to learn that having a solid understanding of the field can help improve my success in relationships, work, and life in general.

Most memorable experience:  In the summer of 2017, I went on an ASU Faculty-Directed study abroad trip, “Ghana: Politics, Culture, and Society.” The trip was based at the University of Ghana, for seven weeks. We took classes there for three weeks, then interned at various organizations for the remaining four. I interned at the West Africa Civil Society Institute, an NGO that works to build the capacity of Civil Society Organizations in West Africa. I worked in the Knowledge Management Department, and was responsible for compiling “Situation Reports” that looked at violations of civic space.

I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana. It was a challenging, but extremely rewarding, experience. I met so many wonderful people, fostered an interest in studying a new region, and gained firsthand experience in working internationally. The trip helped me grow as an intercultural communicator and solidified the fact that I do want to work abroad in my future career. 

What do I want to do with my communication education?  I’m interested specifically in utilizing positive intercultural communication practices to forge better relationships internationally. In the future, I hope to work as a Foreign Service Officer within the Public Diplomacy track. This will allow me to facilitate cultural exchanges and promote cultural understanding; two methods that I believe are consequential in eliminating discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and other identities.