Your work at Georgia Tech, but live here. How does that work?
Technology is an awesome tool. It allows me to be productive no matter where I physically am. At the intersection of technology and the world-class culture of Georgia Tech, the motivation and satisfaction come naturally.
I get the best of both worlds from the metro city to friendly farmlands and everywhere between. You can always make back your money but never your time, so I try to be intentional with my time and lean into fears. It took some logistical elbow grease and bravery, but almost a year later and I absolutely love it.
What keeps you wanting to live in Columbus?
Never miss a local story.
Native American Legend has it there is something in the water that keeps people here -- just kidding. It is the people and the ability for each individual to shine. With just some passion and open eyes here, anyone can connect and actually make things happen without major complications.
Good schools, fun things in downtown Columbus: I love my Springer Opera House season tickets, running the Chattahoochee River or cycling across town, First Friday Art Walks and Uptown Concert Series, specialized fun places like Brushes and Beverages. Despite the belt and old south, Columbus is a growing city with a continually opening feel, while keeping the southern charm.
As a CSU student, you took advantage of the study abroad program. Where did you study?
In my tenure at CSU, I completed five study abroads: Andros Island in the Bahamas to study biodiversity, Japan to study Suibokuga ink painting, Brazil on international business, the Netherlands tracing my Dutch roots and studying morphology and business, and Mexico to study language.
Immersive programs are amazing, by the end I was dreaming in Spanish. Going with a group like a class, you do so much more. Keep emptying your cup so there is room for more. The more I understand about others, the more I questioned and understand about myself.
You are a go-to person in Columbus for getting volunteers for events. How did that happen?
It started off early in college. I had a rough end to high school but when I found my way to Columbus State University and reconnected with great friends like Kat Cannella, before you knew it I was president of Student Government and had my hands in all kinds of things. Education is life changing. My studies really woke me up! I know how it feels when I am happy, or sad. It is probably the same as it feels for you. If I can deliver more of the good and take away the painful, that is purpose of life to me.
What is the best kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?
It is probably at the bottom of the Chattahoochee -- but seriously there are so many cool things here for open eyes and ears to the ground. No Shame Theater is the best $5 I spend all week. The first 15 people who want to sign up and perform any original song, poem, comedy act, whatever!
The Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum brings world-class leaders to fire up and inspire folks. Country Life is the best vegan place. Veri Best Donuts (delicious and family owned since 1954). The Skylar Saufley Band. The BJ Holland Trio. The clear water of the shallows beneath the North Highland dam.
Name: Nicole Renée de Vries
Job: Application support analyst, Georgia Tech
Hometown: Kettering, Ohio (first 6 years)
Current Home: Columbus
Family: Not-so-crazy-cat-lady in training to Mr. Sonny Purkins and Mrs. Mew Mew Kitty
Education: Columbus State University, undergraduate degree in information systems management with minors in international business and Computer Science; master's in business administration
Favorite book: "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch
Favorite movie: Anything 80's like "The Goonies"
Favorite restaurant: Anywhere with a solid Mac & Cheese like Mark's City Grill
Favorite quote: "Be the change you wish to see" -- Ghandi
"Pain Shared is pain divided, joy shared is joy multiplied" -- derived Swedish Proverb
Favorite song: "No Rain" by Blind Melon and anything big band or Frank Sinatra
Best concert attended: Phoenix, Ben Folds 5 and Flaming Lips