❍ Year of graduation: 1994
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Academia
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Tim Nikula: I am a 9th grade history teacher in the suburbs of Boston. I’m in my 6th year here after teaching for four years at the Anglo-American School in Moscow.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Tim Nikula: Before I started my teaching career, I spent about ten years total in the former Soviet Union working on a variety of projects, both in the public (NGO) and private sectors. My study of language, culture and politics at Williams very directly allowed me to get most of these jobs, and definitely helped me out during them. Having a Russian major (and having spent my junior year abroad in Russia) opened doors for me and gave me connections with people in the field. Ten years after Williams, I got my masters in international politics/education and have now moved into the classroom.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Tim Nikula: Russian language and studies was very much in demand when I was in high school and college in the late 80’s and early 90’s and it seems that programs have been contracting a bit over time, especially with a shift towards Mandarin/Asian studies. Events and trends over the past few years suggest that knowing Russian, and knowing Russia, will be valuable going forward. As a high school teacher, I tell all of my students that they should at least take one Russian History class when they get to college.
If you would like to write to Tim Nikula, please contact Baktygul Aliev.