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Take 10 with Dean of Students Nick Kehrwald


Nick Kehrwald
Nick Kehrwald

Where were you born?

I was born in Cherokee, Iowa. Cherokee is a small town of about 6,000 people in northwest Iowa (an hour east from Nebraska/South Dakota, and an hour south of Minnesota).

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?

I have had several great teachers and professors in my life.

I remember my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Radke. She didn’t send me to the principal’s office when I got into a fight with my best friend on the playground. My high school economics teacher, Mr. Woods, provided a great lesson on the value of graduating from college in four years instead of five (e.g. the cost of a fifth year of college + your lost earnings). My high school teacher, Mr. Andringa, was thought-provoking in ways other high school teachers were not. Mr. Jolly, the high school shop teacher, assistant football coach, and weightlifting coach, taught every student athlete how to train and mentally push yourself. The enjoyment I have for weightlifting and working out is directly linked to Mr. Jolly.

My undergraduate thesis advisor and psychology professor, Dr. Michael Gill, challenged me and developed my love for research. Dr. Bickhard, the chair of cognitive science at Lehigh, introduced me to the power of interdisciplinary work and interdisciplinary thinking. At the University of Missouri, my assistantship director, Dr. Kristi Clevenger, believed in my leadership abilities when I had self-doubt. Dr. Norm Gysbers, one of my clinical supervisors, provided wisdom that I use to this day. At the University of Iowa, my clinical supervisor Len Sandler taught me how to write, and how the law can be harnessed to improve people’s lives.

Each of these individuals, and several other teachers not listed, provided lessons and a foundation for my love of learning that I carry with me every day.

What was your first job?

Like most kids in Iowa, my first job was detasseling corn. It involves pulling the tassels (yellow pollen-producing, flower-like object) from the top of the plant. The purpose is to create better hybrid versions of seed corn. For young teenagers, it involves walking through muddy, wet rows of corn at sunrise and continuing until the heat of midday. It is the worst parts of being wet and cool in the morning, and too hot and sticky in the afternoon.

What’s your favorite way to unwind?

I love being outside and nature. I really enjoy hiking in wooded areas because I find the sounds and the fresh air to be invigorating. If I can’t hike, going to a park and walking outside is second best. I am a big believer in physical exercise and its impact on my mental focus and clarity.

I also really enjoy cooking and eating good food.

What three albums would you want with you on a desert island?

  • AC/DC - Back in Black
  • Green Day - Dookie
  • Led Zeppelin - Remasters *This is slightly cheating, since Led Zeppelin’s Remasters is a compilation and multiple albums.
  • Honorable Mention: Foo Fighters - Colour and the Shape

What’s your favorite vacation place?

The beach is my absolute favorite place to be. I have been to Australia multiple times, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, San Diego, Florida, and the Gulf. I love waves and the power of the ocean. I find the beach to be the place where I can relax and gain clarity.

What or who inspires you?

I have always had an appreciation for architecture and design. Someone like Frank Lloyd Wright, whose building designs take advantage of the natural landscape, sunlight, etc., always inspires my creativity. Having been a student and a staff member at seven different institutions, I think about how universities use the natural topography and space to create great physical workplaces and support wellness.

Favorite TV or streaming show?

I like forensic psychology, so I love a show like Mindhunter.

What’s your favorite thing about USC Upstate?

I love the well-intentional, collaborative culture at Upstate. I think people genuinely care about students, the institution, and the impact the institution has in the region.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I had delayed language development as a child where I didn’t talk until around 4 and did not read very well. I went to an in-home babysitter that was run by a retired couple, Helen and Ray Struck. Ray would help me read and work through my assignments during my preschool and elementary years. In addition to all of the formal teachers and professors that I had, I also had a very caring babysitter.