NORFOLK, Neb. – From playsets to lesson plans, Nicobie Dahlgren has always dreamed of being a teacher. She has fond memories of playing school from a very young age and is excited to turn those dreams into reality as she pursues an Associate of Arts degree in Elementary Education at Northeast Community College.
Dahlgren believes earning her degree is a path toward a successful career. She is following her vision to teach children and have fun.
“Something about this just makes my heart happy,” she said.
Dahlgren said she knows that if she pursues the avenue of education, it will make her life happy, which is all she has ever wanted. The desire to live a fulfilling life has led her to pursue her education at Northeast. It’s a passion that began at a young age.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher since 3rd grade when I was in Mrs. Coffin’s class at (what was then) Northern Hills Elementary School in Norfolk,” Dahlgren fondly remembers. “She was more than a teacher to me; Mrs. Coffin involved her students, took her time and cared about them beyond just the learning.”
That caring attitude led Dahlgren to fall in love with school. She wants other students to feel they have a home in education as well.
To get to where she is today, Dahlgren credits her family and the TRIO program at Northeast as the perfect mix of encouragement and coaching to give her the strength she never had. She always wanted to be more than a “sandwich artist,” but was too shy to take steps to pursue those dreams. Supported by her family, her significant other, the TRIO program and her TRIO advisor, Dahlgren harnessed the motivation to continue reaching for her goals, even in the face of adversity.
TRIO is a federally funded program that assists income-eligible individuals, first-generation college students (students who come from families where neither parent/guardian earned a four-year degree), and those with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline to post-baccalaureate programs. It also focuses on career exploration, cultural and social enrichment, and self-awareness.
Following graduation in Dec. 2022, Dahlgren plans to transfer to Wayne State College to earn her bachelor’s degree in education. From there, she hopes there is an opportunity to join her childhood teacher at Grant Elementary School in Norfolk, where Dahlgren would like to observe Coffin teach through a job shadow experience in one of her education classes.
Although she understands the long journey ahead, Dahlgren is excited to take on the challenge she has chosen for herself. She said she wants to help young students feel cared for and empowered in their education.
For her perseverance and dedication, Dahlgren has been named the Northeast Community College TRIO Student of the Month for November. Each month, a participating TRIO student is selected for the award based upon their work in TRIO and in other activities on campus or in the community. Dalhgren and other TRIO Student of the Month award winners receive a plaque and have their photo placed on the program’s Achievement Recognition board in the TRIO office, which features the theme, True Leaders.
TRIO Advisor Matthew Sazama commends Dahlgren for being an astounding student. He said she has worked hard to find the right path for herself, and with each turn in the road, she always keeps moving forward.
“Nicobie has experienced a tragic loss of her father figure and did what she felt was right and asked for help. That is what TRIO is here for; to help students where they are and to keep them on the path of success they are destined to achieve.”
Sazama said although she has experienced many ups and downs, Dahlgren continues to push forward. With a smile always on her face, she is willing to do whatever is asked of her.
“Nicobie has a heart aimed to please that will serve her and her future students well for years to come,” he said. “She is the type of person that will set aside her own struggles to give you every ounce of her attention to genuinely care about your issues. She has learned to lean on others and not ignore her own needs. This will be a great skill she can impart on the students she serves. Nicobie will undoubtedly be someone’s favorite teacher in the next generation of students she gets to teach.”
Mary O’Boyle, instructor for the Introduction to Professional Education course Dahlgren took during the first eight weeks of the fall 2021 semester at Northeast, said she could pick up on her commitment to wanting to make a real difference in young people’s lives.
“Even through a virtual learning environment, Nicobie’s passion was felt each week in her conscientious reflection assignments and wonderful quality of work,” O’Boyle recalled. “She was always so sweet and will make an incredible asset to any school. I would hire her in a heartbeat!”