Nichols to speak at commencement

Photo Provided
Photo Provided

Retired educator Mary Elaine Williams Nichols, Northwestern Oklahoma State University class of 1970, will be speaking at the 118th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 6, at 10:30 a.m. at Ranger Field. In case of inclement weather, commencement will take place in Percefull Fieldhouse.

Nichols earned her elementary education major and minor in art at Northwestern and continued on to earn a Master of Education degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood learning, and a minor in art.

Nichols served on the Oklahoma State Board of Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education, retiring in 2005.
As a classroom teacher, Nichols taught in Oklahoma City Public Schools, Takoma Park Maryland and Tulsa. Nichols was a master teacher and classroom teacher of infants and toddlers for Community Action Project of Tulsa before retirement.  She is a Professional Development Specialist with the Council of Professional Recognition, Washington, D. C.  Nichols continues to teach as a professional network marketer in the areas of health, wellness and business.

As an artist, Nichols has exhibited in a number of galleries. She was a gallery assistant for the Smith-Mason Gallery and Museum, Washington, D. C., and is included in many private collections. Nichols’ art business, In House Gallery, produces custom paintings for interiors and hand-painted greeting cards. Nichols was Artist-in-Residence for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Sister Cities Artist for Tulsa.

Nichols wrote articles titled, “A Crayon Workbook,” “Poor People’s Guide for Rich Language,” “Why, Why? – Questions from Below the Knee,” “Face in the Christmas Tree” and “Gambling.”

Nineteen years ago, Nichols founded Power of Prayer Penetrating Schools (POPPS), which has sponsored an annual recognition of educators and has recruited churches to adopt schools through prayer, and provide services to the schools through volunteers.

In 1968, Nichols was elected as Northwestern’s Ranger Queen making her the first black woman to win that honor at the university. She was selected from a field of 16 nominees.

A livestream link for the commencement exercises can be found at