Hidden Figures: Nyanna Dixon

This week’s hidden figure is new to campus but is eager and excited to make her presence known. She can be seen in Trever Hall, the Exec Buildings and the Campus Life Office. She hopes to make changes at Lawrence to make the campus a better place for students. Please give a warm welcome to Nyanna Dixon.

As a Residential Hall Director (RHD), Dixon oversees the day-to-day operations of Trever and the Exec buildings. She supervises ten Residential Life Advisors.

“Our dynamic is great, and they are all dedicated to building community in the residence halls,” Dixon added.

She has a collateral position working under Dean Curt Lauderdale, serving as the advisor to the class of 2019 and a mentor to the Hurvis and Chicago scholars. Outside of working hours, she serves as the advisor to Black Student Union. The most important thing she learned on the job is maintaining a balance between work and home.

Dixon chose to work at Lawrence because she attended a predominantly white institution and wanted to experience the environment on the administration side. Although her institution was much larger and public, it had the same issues as Lawrence. Some of these issues include racial slurs, not having a sense of belonging, people not looking pass your race/skin color, speaking for an entire race of people when you may be the only person of that race in class and not having true allies.

“Now that I am in the position of power I am using that to actively make changes. I had EVERY intention of making my presence known on campus as a resource when I came to interview. I wanted to be the support I received and needed while I was in undergrad at a predominantly white institution,” Dixon stated.

Dixon received a B.A. in communication and interpersonal organization at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is currently attaining her Masters in higher education. She transitioned into Lawrence fresh out of undergraduate school. She has held many positions throughout her time as an undergraduate.

“The last position I held was working at a group home. The home was for young men and women transitioning back into society after being incarcerated. It was extremely rewarding, and I am truly grateful to have crossed paths with those children,” elaborated Dixon.

In three years, Dixon aspires to have her M.Ed. completed. Her ultimate goal is to hold a Dean title. If she is not already in that role within five years of experience in administration, she will still be working towards it.

Outside of Lawrence, Dixon enjoys singing. “I’ve recently stepped out of my comfort zone and began singing at open mics around town.”

She is also very much interested in nail polish etiquette. “I am a collector of nail lacquer. I have 523 bottles and they are separated by seasons and glitters. With sharing that information, people have asked me if I wished to go into the beauty world and the answer is, YES! I’d love to be a professional nail polish namer if granted the opportunity,” added Dixon.

Dixon’s favorite thing in her office is her space heater provided by the university. “It really helps me concentrate and stay focused while working. I like my office to be cozy and inviting.”

When asked who her inspiration is, Dixon responded, “I would have to say that the students really inspire me to do better professionally and personally! There is so much personality on this campus, it is absolutely AMAZING!”

She wants to be open and upfront when it comes to speaking to her students, as she wants them to be genuinely successful outside and within the Lawrence bubble. She always tells her students that she is there to empower, not enable.

“When I say, I am here to empower, NOT enable, I am saying that I will be open and honest with the answers and the knowledge that I share. I will NOT tell my students what they want to hear, as I am passionate about my work and I refuse mislead them. This is not just a ‘job’ for me,” Dixon added.

Passionate, bubbly and philanthropic are words I would use to describe Dixon. She is there to help make Lawrence the best possible experience for students.