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Second Time's the Charm

"NKU was there for me at a time when my family needed it the most. It was a last-ditch attempt for me, and it completely changed my life."

By Lizzie Kibler ('16) | Photography provided | Published June 2020
Andrea Shiverdecker

Everyone’s path in life is different. Just ask NKU alumna Andrea Shiverdecker (’18).

The Union, Kentucky, native began her college journey shortly after high school. After the 9/11 attacks, Shiverdecker left and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. She became interested in joining the military after watching her father’s experience in the Air Force and learning all the history at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Museum. Following her time in the military, Shiverdecker worked random jobs and became a professional dog groomer while living in Texas and Arizona.

But going back to school wasn’t at the top of her to-do list.

The real push started after her husband began his battle with Stage 4 Melanoma. He begged her to go back to school so she would have more security.

“In January 2017, I gave it one more shot at finishing a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “Which I did, and then some.”

Shiverdecker was the speaker at her own commencement ceremony when she graduated in December 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Psychology

One year after finishing her bachelor’s degree, Shiverdecker enrolled in NKU’s Master’s in Public History program. While working as an undergraduate research fellow for the National Science Foundation Grant Parker Academy NSF REU with Dr. Brian Hackett, director of the Public History program, Shiverdecker expanded beyond just archaeology.

“With diversifying and broadening my skillset, I was creating a wide field of future job opportunities as the job market is very rigorous and daunting at times,” she says.

Some of Shiverdecker’s graduate work consists of her research from Parker Academy. She also completed research while working for an archaeological firm as an archaeological lab technician and as an architectural historian apprentice on an extensive project in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Shiverdecker recently spent time at Rocky Mountain National Park, where she became an educational ranger for the National Park Service. When the COVID-19 outbreak began, her job of snowshoeing in the mountains and teaching snow science and winter survival turned into a working with a team to create an educational program for families struggling with home schooling during the pandemic. 

Shiverdecker's latest adventure took her to Yellowstone National Park, where she’ll be an interpretive ranger for the Norris Geyser Basin through October 2020.

“[It’s] a very proud honor to be a part of the first all-female ranger team at Norris, and as the original army outpost, an honor to be stationed there as a female disabled veteran,” she says.

With her graduate degree, Shiverdecker hopes to continue her role in the National Park Service.

“I really love the National Park Service and cannot believe I am finally achieving my dream of working with such an amazing group of people,” she says. “I want to keep pushing forward and hope to work in archaeology, cultural resource management or any other amazing opportunities that may cross my path with hopes of staying with the National Park Service for many years to come.”

Shiverdecker says that NKU was there for her when she really needed. She credits a lot of her success to her two mentors, Dr. Sharyn Jones and Dr. William Landon.

“NKU was there for me at a time when my family needed it the most. It was a last-ditch attempt for me, and it completely changed my life,” she says. “Having all the amazing people at NKU support and care about me is what truly made me successful. I never believed in myself until I received the love and encouragement from the professors and staff. They truly care, and if you work hard, and refuse to give up, you will do great things with their help every step of the way. That’s what makes me proud to be a Norse!”