Portraits of stately men and influential women dating back to the 19th century line the walls of the Missouri State Auditor’s office. Everything looks just as you’d expect in a political office – stately and refined. But right beside the volumes of the revised Missouri State Statutes sits a vintage postcard proudly declaring Rolla, Missouri, as “the home of the Missouri School of Mines.”
For current Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Rolla holds a special place not just on her bookshelf, but also in her memory. Galloway earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and applied mathematics from Missouri S&T in 2004. Last spring, when Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her as state auditor, Galloway became the first S&T graduate to hold executive office in the state of Missouri.
“When I was a student, no matter where I went, I knew someone,” she says. “If I was going to Rayl Cafeteria to eat breakfast on my own, I’d end up starting a conversation; I always had something to talk about with everyone. I loved that I never felt alone.”
Galloway says she made the most of her time as a student by forming connections with fellow students and soaking up information.
“I used to hang out and play board games,” she says. “I was a server at Applebee’s, so I split most of my time between work and studying in the Rolla Building.” She also played on the S&T women’s soccer team and was a member of Delta Omicron Lambda service organization.
“Looking back, I enjoyed my classes,” she says. “I also liked the people in my classes. The education was an obvious benefit, but making strong relationships was a big benefit also.”
Fast forward 11 years from her S&T graduation, and you’ll find her in the Missouri State Capitol running meetings and reading audit reports instead of offering refills at Applebee’s.
Along the way, Galloway earned her MBA from the University of Missouri-Columbia, became a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner, worked in the private sector, married, and had two sons. She worked as the Boone County Treasurer for four years before her appointment as State Auditor in April of this year.
“My background in the private sector as a CPA combined with my experience managing the investment portfolio of Boone County prepared me for this,” Galloway says.
Since taking the helm as auditor, Galloway has made the cybersecurity of all Missourians her top priority. Her office has already released an audit on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and its use of student data.
“My job is to look at the entire business practice and how it’s working,” she says. “Cybersecurity is a part of that. I want to make sure that my family’s information and other families’ information are protected without hindering the use of technology.”
Though Galloway is tackling a complex issue, she says the key to success in anything can be boiled down to 10 words.
“Stand up for yourself. Advocate for yourself. Negotiate for yourself,” she says. “No one else will do that for you.”
The three-step formula has worked for Galloway. It has taken her from a soccer-playing waitress to a distinguished public figure. But, the postcard on her bookshelf proves she has not forgotten the days she spent talking to everyone she met, working at Applebee’s and studying on campus. After all, she says, Rolla is a special place.