Nichol De Vita James ’87 got an unlikely start as the president of the Chicago Terps—through Facebook. Around 2010, Nichol found out (through Facebook) about a University of Maryland alumni club in Chicago that wasn’t chartered. Feeling ambitious, she offered to help lead the affinity group, and make it an officially sanctioned Alumni Association network. Seven years later, she remained the president, just recently becoming past president. In her tenure, Nichol has helped the group evolve from hosting small events at her home to large events like one recently held at Dark Horse Tap & Grill, just across from Wrigley Field.

Under her leadership Nichol has helped recruit many young alumni to the chapter – there are 3,000 alumni in the Chicago area. “It’s a very diverse group with members from all walks of life, all ages and every field of study imaginable.” Chicago Terps were awarded the UMD Alumni Network of the Year in 2015.

“We have alumni with careers in finance, education, and so much more. But the common thread we all have is our love for UMD and our desire to continue to support the institution.”

With the Big 10 Conference headquartered in Chicago, Nichol and other Chicago Terps are fortunate to watch Maryland road games when they play schools in the Midwest. “Game days are unbelievable—for UMD’s first Big 10 game, Chicago Terps had the chance to see them play in Indiana.”

When asked why she is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association, Nichol’s answer is simple—“I have loved Maryland since the day I stepped on campus as a transfer student. After applying to many schools in the DC area, a friend brought me to UMD for a tour, and it was in that moment that I knew this was the school for me. Being an Alumni Association member is an important way for me to be a mentor and give back to the university.”

Nichol advises alumni to get involved in any way possible, be it through the Alumni Association, athletics, band, or an affinity group through your school or college. “There are so many different opportunities for alumni to give back and we should each find the avenue where we can leave the greatest impact.” And Nichol is doing just that through her service as president of Chicago Terps and an admissions volunteer. She continues to build a strong community of alumni and students in College Park and beyond.