College of Education & Human Services

Life After the CSP Program With Z Nicolazzo

Life has been busy for Z Nicolazzo since walking across the stage to receive a Master of Science in College Student Personnel degree in 2006. After talking about Z’s professional path, which includes five years of full-time work experience as a student affairs educator at both Dartmouth College as a Complex Director with a collateral assignment in the Co-ed Fraternity and Sorority Office (2006-2007) and The University of Arizona as a Violence Prevention Specialist in Campus Health Services (2007-2008) and a Coordinator in the Fraternity and Sorority Programs Office (2008-2011), I learned that it was a critical conversation that Z had with Dr. Tracy Davis, a CSP faculty member, that catapulted hir onto a new professional path in student affairs. The conversation that impacted Z’s professional path centered on Dr. Davis asking one question;

So when are you applying to a Ph.D Program? - Dr. Tracy Davis

Z Nicolazzo

Z Nicolazzo, '06

Mind blown! This was certainly an option that Z had never seriously considered before that moment but after talking through the logistics of pursuing a Ph.D. and a healthy dose of reflection on hir values and goals, Z attended Miami University and graduated in 2015 with a Ph.D. in Student Affairs in Higher Education and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Currently, Z is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Adult, and Higher Education and faculty associate with the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Northern Illinois University. Z also had hir first book, titled Trans* in College: Transgender Students' Strategies for Navigating Campus Life and the Institutional Politics of Inclusion , published by Stylus Publishing). Through all of hir achievements, Z continues to credit the CSP program as a great training ground for hir success. The relationships forged with the faculty, experiences gained from the classroom, and transferrable skills developed in an assistantship in University Housing and Dining Services, practicum experiences in the Alcohol and Drug Office and at the Carl Sandburg College extension office, and an ACHOU-I summer internship helped Z navigate working with a wide variety of students (in hir professional positions and as a part of hir research studies), professionals, and faculty members from across the country.

Keep doing good self-reflection. The better you know yourself and the better you understand what you want, the better your career is going to be. - Z Nicolazzo

Learning that Z’s experience in the CSP program plays a big part of his professional life now, I closed our interview by asking “What advice do you have for me and other current graduate students?” Z’s answer was simple and straightforward. “Keep doing good self-reflection. The better you know yourself and the better you understand what you want, the better your career is going to be.”

Z Nicolazzo is just one of the 1000+ alumni that have made WIU a place to call home.