From Promotions Producer for NBC News, Nicholoff brings Artistic Freedom to the Classroom
October 12, 2021 by Tori Stanek
More than 70 student-created memes have spilled over from the cabinet to the wall of Central Wyoming College Professor of New Media Amanda Nicholoff’s broadcasting classroom.
Created by Nicholoff’s recent graduate, Numark Ricafranca, the memes portray inside jokes from her class and indicate how Nicholoff’s creative approach to instruction transfers to students and their learning space.
Nicholoff is known for evoking a sense of innovation through a variety of projects that combine hands-on instruction and fun multimedia equipment.
This has proven effective for Ricafranca, who said the variety of assignments, including documentaries, multi-cam studio scenarios, website and promotional video and radio show creation, allow him to learn and avoid stress.
“My favorite part about her classes are all the projects and assessments she assigns to us,” Ricafranca said. “I might be a weird person who likes projects, but she always makes it more fun and interesting.”
Ricafranca’s opinion is echoed by current student, Shanna Miller, who said Nicholoff’s varied approach to multimedia instruction lends students the necessary creative license to keep them interested in the field.
“Assignments are fun,” Miller said. “We can share our own creative ideas in our own projects.”
Nicholoff’s enthusiasm for artistic freedom isn’t just limited to her teaching style. When she isn’t at work, Nicholoff’s sense of creativity takes a different form.
“I am about three-quarters through with my first mystery-suspense novel that takes place in Fremont County,” she said. “Everyone has at least one good novel in them. It is a lot of fun to get in my head and visualize a story, then use my words as the paintbrush.”
Nicholoff was born and raised in Arvada, Colorado. She and her family moved to Wyoming after she graduated from high school and Nicholoff discovered a love of broadcasting while attending CWC.
“I became interested after enrolling in one of the radio classes, during my freshman year,” she said. “I was just filling some credits and it sounded interesting. Soon, I discovered that it was fun and that I was pretty good at it.”
Nicholoff graduated with an associate's degree in radio and television broadcasting in 1992. Her supplementary studies ended up allowing her to take a more imaginative approach to her broadcasting work as well.
“I minored in psychology so that I could use lessons learned about human behavior to tell stories that help document human culture,” Nicholoff said.
She continued her studies at the University of Montana, Missoula, where she earned her bachelor’s in television production. While still in Missoula, she was the co-creator and director of the CBS affiliate’s morning show.
After graduation, Nicholoff’s early career was characterized by travel. She first worked as a photojournalist and a producer in the promotions department for the NBC affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Next, she relocated to San Francisco to work as a promotions producer for NBC News.
Nicholoff moved a third time when she learned CWC was restarting its television broadcasting program and was hired in 2006. Now in her 15th year, Nicholoff loves the atmosphere of her overall workspace.
Lessons and projects promote a respectful and collaborative environment where students recognize that learning can, and should be fun. I love coming to work and being with my students. ”
Amanda Nicholoff, New Media professor
Although the program requires a great deal of accountability, Nicholoff’s students are up to the challenge.
“They are professionals-in-training and I need them as much as they need me because we air live broadcasts like all of the home volleyball and basketball games and work as crew for Wyoming PBS studio productions,” Nicholoff said.
Nicholoff’s high expectations prepare students for careers in the industry. One of her first students, Matt Wright, recalled being impressed by her expertise.
“I was fortunate enough to be in Amanda Nicholoff's first semester of classes when she was hired at CWC,” Wright said. “It was immediately obvious that she knew the broadcast industry and had real-world experience.”
After completing his associate degree, Wright put Nicholoff’s training to work and he continues to witness her influence in his current position as a production specialist for Wyoming PBS.
“I graduated from the program and now work full time for PBS, going on nine years,” he said. “This gives me the opportunity to frequently work with her students and it's obvious she is still teaching her students the skills needed to do the jobs.”
Nicholoff’s current students agree and Miller said Nicholoff’s training prepares them to work in the industry.
“She lets her students know, who are thinking about going into journalism, how the job is and what to expect in the world of journalism and media,” Miller said.
Ricafranca credits Nicholoff with much of his success. He said she regularly goes the extra mile to lend support to those in need.
“She always works with her students that are struggling with homework and projects,” Ricafranca said. “She tirelessly attempts to be close to every one of her students to show us how important we are.”
Ricafranca said this level of support is unparalleled.
“In the other schools I've been in, they made me feel like I'm just a number,” he said, “but when I went to CWC and had Amanda as my professor, I've never had a day of feeling alone because she always helps us, even outside of class.”
Though serving students, managing the campus’ broadcasting efforts, wrapping up a Master’s in Higher Education Administration at the University of Wyoming, and preparing to astound the world with the next great novel may seem like more than a full-time job, Nicholoff does have some leisure time.
“When I am not at my computer, writing, you can usually find me on the golf course every day but Wednesday's, men's day,” she said.