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Faculty Focus: Meet Marci Nimick
October 2, 2019

Marci Nimick loves her job. And she owes it all to a debate.

Nimick, associate professor of speech, was in her first semester of teaching at an East Tennessee four-year university. She had just volunteered to start a debate team when she received a phone call from Malcolm McAvoy, head of speech communications. He was calling to invite her team to the first Great Smoky Mountains Debate Tournament.

“At the time, I didn’t even have a team and the tournament was just two weeks away. Malcolm encouraged me to put one together and come to the debate. We did go to the tournament and we won our division,” Nimick recalled.

Her team became enthusiastic about debate while Nimick became enthusiastic about Walters State.

“That was my first time on campus and I loved it.”

Nimick did not have to wait very long for a job to come open. She joined Walters State and became an active coach of its distinguished debate team. The move became even better in 2014, when she began teaching full-time at the Niswonger Campus, just a few minutes from her home in Greeneville.

In the beginning, Nimick chose to study speech in hopes of finding a career where she could talk for a living – really.
“In my first speech class, I realized speech was actually a discipline. I wanted to be in that discipline. I also realized that I loved being on a college campus better than anywhere else. So, becoming a speech instructor made sense,” Nimick said.

Since entering teach, Nimick has developed a passion for students who have a fear of public speaking.

“One way I teach students to get over the fear of public speaking is by pointing out that there’s no real danger. If you fail in delivering a speech, you are not going to die. I also work with individual students to find out if there is a cause for the fear. A student may have had a bad experience in elementary school. In my classroom, we can relive that memory and give it a different ending.”

Nimick encourages students to keep developing their speaking skills throughout their college careers and their lives. She said we should look for speakers that inspire us and pay attention to the phrases and the style utilized. For Nimick, the perfect public speaker will always be the late Paul Harvey.

“You didn’t have to agree with him, but he was such a good speaker, everyone believed him,” she said.