A Typical Day like No Other

University of Central Florida political science alumnus Mike Nichola ’11 MA goes to work every day to make a difference.

Nichola works as a legislative director for Congressman Darren Soto in his Washington, D.C., office, but his journey started with an entirely different major at UCF.

“I was originally going to go to UCF for a degree in engineering because it had a strong reputation for the College of Engineering,” he said.

After some time, Nichola realized that engineering wasn’t the best design for him. It was his experience taking social sciences classes where he discovered his passion for politics and government.

He has had many memorable moments at UCF including founding the UCF fencing club and being an active member in the UCF College Democrats. During his freshman year, Nichola also ran a radio show with Knightcast called Uber Friday.

“It was a lot of fun,” he expressed. “I vividly remember one year I was the on-the-scene reporter for ‘live from Spirit Splash’ where I called in from my cell phone while in the reflection pond.”

According to Nichola, UCF helped him achieve his dream career in a couple of ways. Through the internship program,  he obtained an internship with Senator Bill Nelson’s constituent office where he gained connections and experience that would later help him excel in his career in government.

He also received the UCF Legislative Scholarship, which allowed him to spend his last semester at UCF in Tallahassee working for the Florida Legislature. During that time, he further expanded his network and found himself a job in a Congressional office.

Nichola is now an attorney that has an extraordinary job.  He worked his way up from entry level intern to legislative director, where he currently manages a Member of Congress’s Legislative office on Capitol Hill. He enjoys his job where he is exposed to countless once in a lifetime experiences.

“On a typical day, I can meet an ambassador from a foreign country to talk about trade, speak to farmers about Florida citrus, and then chat with astronauts about how they intend to be the first person to walk on Mars,” he said.

And his career gives him the rare opportunity to make an impact on a large scale.

“I’ve drafted legislation, which subsequently passed the House, that’s increased funds for tax counseling for the elderly, provided additional funding for veterans with PTSD, redirected funds to conduct research on prostate cancer and Gulf War illness, established minimum smart electric meter privacy standards, and authorized energy innovation hubs, among other things,” he said.

“The first time one of the amendments I wrote passed, it was the most amazing and surreal experience,” he said. “I was sitting on the House Floor with the Congressman while I watched as my amendment was debated and accepted by voice vote. I just couldn’t believe that something I wrote was translated into public law.”

Nichola loves that he can help people through his work. And he has advice for students and fellow alumni in the hopes that he can help them too.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today, if UCF hadn’t given me the opportunities to participate in internships with Senator Nelson’s office or with the Florida Legislature,” he said. “One opportunity leads to another and you can’t always see where these little opportunities will take you, so do the best that you can and trust that everything will work out.”

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