By Donna Parker
Nick Shockey (left) at a forum organized by Apple Computers
Nick Shockey, who received a bachelor’s degree in economics, philosophy, and business administration from Trinity in 2009, began preparing for his current position while still a student on the Skyline campus. On campus, Nick passed a resolution supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act through the university’s student government. That led to a post-graduation job with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in Washington, D.C., where he is the director of Right to Research Coalition, a group of student organizations that advocates for more open access to academic research.
Recently, Nick was invited to be one of six speakers at an Apple conference (yes, that Apple!) which explored ways to advance open access, online education, and associated teaching methods. Nick’s presentation was entitled The Digital Natives Are Getting Restless: the Student Voice of the Open Access Movement.
“My interest in open access to academic resources began while I was traveling in Europe before beginning a summer program at the University of Oxford. I happened to be watching CNN International in a Paris hotel room when I heard a story about MIT launching an online opencourseware program, putting everything online,” explains Nick.
“I sent an e-mail to Dr. Erwin Cook, then chair of the Classics Department, asking what he thought about pushing Trinity to do something similar. During my sophomore year, I pulled together a campaign on campus, sending a petition to student organizations asking that the University put course material online where it would be freely accessible. While that campaign ultimately didn’t work out, it did lead to my meeting Diane Graves, the University librarian, who introduced me to a related cause, open access to academic research, an issue I then became very passionate about.”
In 2009, the Trinity’s faculty passed an open access policy, and now all articles published by professors are posted in a repository where anyone can access them for free.
“Trinity has joined the likes of Harvard and MIT as one of a growing handful of universities with such a policy, and is the first small liberal arts university to do so,” says Nick, proudly.
So, Nick told the audience of over 1,200 at the Apple conference that, in his words, students are digital natives and need an open academic publishing system that equally serves all who depend upon it for research, rather than just those who can afford the often high cost of access.
“The fundamental mission of universities is to spread knowledge, but that mission is being unnecessarily hindered by rapidly rising journal prices. That’s why I’m continuing to advocate for this cause.” Only a year after being founded, Nick’s coalition now represents more than five million students on the issue of access to research and will begin expanding internationally later this year.
Not surprisingly, Nick’s job “consumes his life,” but he loves what he’s doing! All work leaves little time for play, meaning he sometimes “lives” at an Adams Morgan coffee shop where live music takes the edge off working into the night.
“If I’m having long days, I’ll work until 5 or 6, go home; then take my laptop to the coffee shop and work until midnight.”
He does enjoy Jazz in the Garden on Friday afternoons and is “religious” about attending those concerts in the National Sculpture Garden. He’s also training for a 10-mile run in October and is increasing his distance by 10 percent each week.
Nick says there are many things he cherishes about his Trinity experience, not the least of which was the close relationship with his professors.
“I minored in Dr. Erwin Cook. I took six classes for credit; audited one class and peer tutored another. He’s an incredible teacher. It’s rare that you encounter someone brilliant enough to take a complex idea and make it understandable to even the most uninitiated student. He’s also the person I thank for my writing ability – he spends an incredible amount of time working on students’ papers to improve their writing habits. Most importantly, I count him as a friend to this day.”
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator