Our nontraditional and graduate students are some of the hardest-working Tigers you'll meet. While they earn their degrees, most of them maintain other responsibilities, such as working full time or parenting. And their effort and execution don't falter in the classroom, whether that be online or in person.

Meet our class of 2023 Featured Tigers, leaders in all aspects of their lives!

Nicole Gonnerman ’23E
Nicole Gonnerman ’23E feels prepared to step into her new role as Assistant Principal at Lakeview Elementary — and empowered to make the school year great for her students and staff.

Nicole Gonnerman (she/her)

Hometown: Omaha
Currently Live: Lincoln

Master of Education in Educational Leadership

First off — congratulations! How do you feel as you head into the next phase of your life?
I am incredibly excited and anxious for my next chapter! Doane has given me innumerable experiences to learn and grow. I will greatly miss my monthly opportunities to collaborate with my peers.

What's your next step after graduation?
After graduation I will begin the Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration program at UNL. I will also begin to serve as the Assistant Principal at Lakeview Elementary.

How has attending Doane prepared you for your next steps?
Doane has prepared me for my next steps by guiding me through the necessary parts of leadership that are not often seen by those not actively in a leadership role. I was given opportunities to coordinate programs, assessments, and teams, while also learning the legal and policy side of education. The vast number of speakers and projects helped us dig deeper into leadership, and impact real change on a school-wide level. Going into my new role, I will be able to feel comfortable leading the hard conversations, knowing the policies, and having systems in place to make this year a successful one for myself, my staff, and my students.

What do you consider the best part of your Doane experience?
The best part of my Doane experience was my Cadre. I have formed lifelong friendships with people I never would have even met without Doane. My professors and my classmates created a community that I will miss greatly. Cadre 44 will forever be a cherished group of people!

What will you miss the most about being a Doane student?
Doane truly cares about its students and their successes. They pride themselves on the process, and the learning, and don't accept less than your best. I have been very grateful for the frequent feedback I have been given throughout my time at Doane, and I will miss the opportunity to bounce ideas off so many people!

Who was a major influence for you during your education here, and how have they helped you?
My family and my husband have always been a major influence in my life, not just through my time at Doane. They have given me feedback, encouragement, and guidance when things got difficult. I have been truly blessed with the best support system. I would not be where I am today without them!

What is something you're proud of achieving or accomplishing while at Doane?
Throughout my time at Doane I have been able to serve as a Special Education teacher, then a Special Education Coordinator and finally as an Assistant Principal. Additionally, I was able to be accepted into a doctoral program to extend my educational leadership work. All of these things would not have been accomplished if not for my time at Doane!

What advice would you give to incoming students?
The biggest advice I would give to incoming students is to lead from where you are, trust the process, and know that you belong here. When you arrive and start to get to know all of your classmates, you will feel like you are the only one in the room who isn't prepared for the journey, and that it must have been a mistake to be chosen to participate in the program. One thing I want to remind you of is that you belong in every room you enter, and it is ok to be vulnerable with your peers!

Finishing a degree is tough to begin with, but especially so in recent years — what has helped you overcome challenges you've faced along the way?
With the process of the EDL Program, and the multitude of opportunities you are given to receive feedback and make edits on your work, I have learned to accept that I cannot and will not be perfect on every assignment I turn in, or every discussion I participate in. Take the feedback, make the changes, and know that it is ok to not have all the answers! Additionally, build a strong network of support around you. These two years are hard, but having people to support you makes it so much easier!

Finally — what are you most excited about for your future?
I am excited for the unknown! I have always been someone who wants to plan every step of my life, and wants to know what comes next. The opportunities that this program has given me has opened so many doors that I cannot even see yet, and the unknown is so exciting.