Otero Junior College announces new hires in International Relations office

Ken Hamrick
LA Junta Tribune
Maureen Rikhof

Otero Junior College has announced that Maureen Rikhof and Darrin Nielsen are new hires to the International Relations division. They replace Rochelle Wallace, who resigned in December to pursue other opportunities.

Rikhof, who will be the new international relations director, is originally from Illinois, but grew up in Ouray. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in political science.

She also earned a master's degree from the University of Colorado Denver in public administration. She has five years experience working in nonprofit management and more than 20 years in higher education, mostly at the University of Colorado.

As director of the international relations program, Rikhof is largely responsible for recruiting students, advising and supporting them, fundraising and creative opportunities in the community to share international presence.

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A large part of international student scholarships come from events such as International Foods Night, which takes place annually. The event will be different this year with more information to be announced soon.

"The international students are all interesting with good stories about where they came from and big dreams about where they are going," Rikhof said.

Rikhof hopes to help nurture and grow the international traditions that have been established before her by Wallace and former director Sallie Hibbs. She wants to ensure that every student has a great experience at OJC and shares their experience with their families and friends at home.

Darrin Nielsen

Nielsen is the new international relations activities coordinator. She is originally from Phoenix, but has lived in Cheraw for 30 years. Even though she is new to the the international relations office, Nielsen is not new to OJC, having taught dance courses to young children several years ago.

Nielsen graduated from Lamar Community College with a certificate in cosmetology. She has been a self-employed salon owner and nail technician for 25 years.

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One of Nielsen's goals is to help international students feel welcome and at home at OJC and in La Junta. She would like to help the program grow and she loves the community atmosphere that OJC provides. She also plans to take courses herself to pursue an associate of arts degree.

For information about the International Relations Office, contact Rikhof at Maureen.Rikhof@ojc.edu or Nielsen at Darrin.Nielsen@ojc.edu.

Tribune-Democrat reporter Ken Hamrick can be reached by email atKHamrick1@gannett.com