Family always comes first for Chris and Mike Nicholson, two staff members of the Facilities Department at John Carroll.
Chris and Mike are brothers and have strengthened their family bond by working together to make the JCU campus a safe and clean environment for the students.
“I feel like I know him better than I ever have. Even though we are brothers, we are half-brothers actually; we didn’t grow up every day with each other,” said Mike.
Chris agreed and noted that it gives them a sense of professional comfort in their work environment.
“Professionally, it’s nice,” said Chris. “I like it because there’s always somebody that you can confide in.”
Before coming to JCU, the brothers worked in electrical construction for 10 years and are professionally trained electricians. They made the transition from construction work to their current positions because it allowed them to have consistency in their work.
“Coming from a construction background, it’s super competitive,” said Mike. “Your future isn’t certain. Here, I know what my paycheck is going to be every week.”
Additionally, their previous experience in construction did not offer good benefits for workers or a positive work environment.
“In construction, no matter what you do or how fast, it’s never enough,” said Chris. “It always needed to be done yesterday. You can literally work yourself to death, and it’s never enough.”
Both brothers’ current workplace in the JCU Facilities department on campus offers them a supportive community and stability.
“At John Carroll, I’m part of a community. Just to have my own room with a coffee maker, a computer, and some basic comfort is nice,” said Mike. “It’s great to be a part of a community where I can bring my kids in to see everybody.”
Chris had the same opinion about the sense of community on the JCU campus.
“I like interacting with the other staff, faculty, and students. Almost every day, someone new has some awesome story about what they’re doing, where they are going, and what they are involved in,” said Chris. “It inspires me to do more. I never thought I would be interested in going back to school, but now, there’s a whole world of opportunity out there.”
And although Chris never got the chance to go to college, he wants to provide that experience for his son, Jonathan.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college coming out of high school. I didn’t have the support or encouragement, or just the structure to organize my life in a way to go to college,” said Chris. “Just to see what’s going on, to see what people are doing, it really makes me want to make this a reality for my son, for him to be able to go to college.”
Beyond their work in facilities, both brothers are passionate about the living wage initiative at JCU and are helping to advocate for the rights of all workers.
“I’d like for all of our workers to feel like a part of this community,” said Mike.
Chris added that they would also like to see more workers receive tuition benefits for their families.
“The opportunity to put my son through college is a life-changer,” said Chris. “He got to experience a little of what it’s like to be here, and he’s excited about it.”
At the end of the day, Chris and Mike both love working at John Carroll, providing opportunities for their families and meeting the students on campus. Though, they noted that students are sometimes tentative when it comes to connecting with the facilities staff.
“It’s always nice to get to know the students. I think people are hesitant to get to know the maintenance guys. But we’re just trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives just like anybody else,” said Mike. “I just appreciate being able to know people.”