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OJC Press Release ID: 3078

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Staff Members in OJC’s International Relations Office


In December of 2020, after 11 years, Rochelle Wallace has moved on from her position as International Relations Director at Otero Junior College to pursue other opportunities. She will be missed. Maureen Rikhof and Darrin Nielsen have recently joined the Otero team to pick up where Wallace left off and have been on the ground running ever since.

Maureen Rikhof, originally from Illinois, mostly grew up in Ouray, Colo., a tiny mountain town on the western slope. She will be the new international relations director at OJC. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in political science. In 2005, she completed her master’s degree from the University of Colorado, Denver in public administration. Rikhof has five plus years of experience working in non-profit management and 20 plus 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 creating opportunities in the community to share international presence. A large part of international student scholarships come from events such as International Foods Night which is held annually. The event will look a little different this year, but there will be more information to come shortly.

Rikhof is excited to work with all of the students, “They are all interesting with good stories about where they came from and big dreams about where they are going.” She 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 here and shares their experiences with their families and friends at home.

Recently married, Rikhof has a blended family with five children. Due to the pandemic she moved to La Junta in the spring of 2020. Some of her hobbies include: cooking, hiking, rafting, camping, running, politics, planting a garden, photographing her family’s adventures, playing games with them and planning events for post-quarantine life.

Darrin Nielsen, the new international relations activities coordinator, is originally from Phoenix, Ariz. but has lived in Cheraw for nearly 30 years. Although new to the international office, Nielsen is not new to OJC. She taught dance courses to young children years ago.

Nielsen is a graduate of Lamar Community College with a certificate in cosmetology. She has been a self-employed salon owner and nail technician for the past 25 years.

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

Living on a farm/ranch, Nielsen and her husband raise registered black angus cattle. This farm has been in operation for nearly 100 years. She and her husband have three children and one grandchild. Her three children have taken courses at OJC and benefited from their experiences here. Nielsen’s hobbies include being creative, she likes to build and repurpose items. She also enjoys sewing and working with different mediums.

If you have any questions about the International Relations Office, please feel free to reach out to Maureen at or Darrin at

Press Release Photo
The International Relations Office at Otero Junior College has two new staff members this semester. Maureen Rikhof has recently joined Otero as the international relations director.

Press Release Photo
Darrin Nielsen has been hired as the international relations activity coordinator.