May 2016 Wellington Education

Nicholas Palmieri

Wellington Education

Palm Beach Atlantic’s Nicholas Palmieri Helps Adult Students Achieve Their Full Potential

Story by Chris Felker

Photos by Abner Pedraza

Professor Nicholas Palmieri is nearing his 30-year anniversary in the field of guiding adult students who are seeking more meaning and fulfillment out of life after devoting decades to nurturing careers and families. To this day, he is still is thrilled when such a student succeeds.

“When a student realizes that he or she has something important to offer in this world, and she finds the courage and the means to express all of what she has to offer through her unique set of gifts and talents, that is extremely rewarding,” Palmieri said.

Palmieri is an instructor at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He lives in Royal Palm Beach with his wife, Tress. The couple celebrates 40 years of marriage this month.

Palmieri is a professor of adult education, teaching in the Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership. He gives classes both there and at the main campus in West Palm Beach. He has also served as a faculty development coach.

For 16 years before he joined Palm Beach Atlantic in 2004, Palmieri was on the faculty of the University of South Florida in Tampa. He grew up in the Pittsburgh area, earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling from California University of Pennsylvania, then continuing his education at Penn State to get his master’s degree.

“I began my career working in social services,” he recalled. “I was providing professional development training for people who wanted to be foster and adoptive parents.”

That experience got him interested in teaching adults, rather than primarily young adults, at the undergraduate level. He decided to get his doctorate at USF while working at the Florida Mental Health Institute.

“It was there that I provided professional development for police officers and for public and private social service agencies that helped protect children,” Palmieri said.

While there, he worked with a small group to develop a statewide instructor certification program, and earned his doctoral degree in educational program development with a specialty in adult education.

Right now, Palmieri is teaching many empty-nesters who are transitioning, in many cases, toward second careers that more closely reflect their true passions.

“Quite a few of my students are already in leadership positions — with the [Palm Beach County] Sheriff’s Office, fire-rescue services, with hospitality companies, with nonprofit organizations,” he said.

Palm Beach Atlantic caters to people working full-time, offering a one-night weekly evening program. “It’s at both campuses, and master’s classes start back up again in the fall at the Wellington campus,” Palmieri added.

The leadership school, which has had enrollees associated with Leadership Palm Beach County, aims to hone these adults’ altruistic instincts.

“Our Master of Leadership program is distinctive in that in addition to equipping students to cast vision, conduct thorough organizational assessments, develop strategic plans, and coach and consult, it helps them establish their own virtue-based foundation for leading with integrity, wisdom, courage, humility, altruism, hope and perseverance,” Palmieri said.

He instructs multiple generations of students.

“We have an undergraduate degree in organizational management, and we also offer a psychology degree, and those are specifically tailored for adult students who are working during the day,” he said. “We have quite a few students who are raising families, who are supervisors in healthcare facilities and things like that, and they want to earn the degree, and many go on for an advanced degree.”

Palmieri is proud to work with many local undergraduate and graduate students.

“This is something that’s unfinished business for them,” he said. “What’s happening is they’re coming into a new chapter in their life and they want to explore some of their deep interests and passions, look for a meaningful life, and create a life that is in sync with their deepest intentions.”

In about two years, Palm Beach Atlantic’s leadership school will host a groundbreaking event for the county.

“We have a connection with some of our students working with the organization that has the World Leaders’ Conference, which will be at the convention center, and we’re also going to be partnering with the International Leadership Association for 2018,” Palmieri explained. “There’ll be leaders from all over the world coming into Palm Beach County to have their 2018 Global Conference, and we’re going to be the partner school.”

It’s for both governmental and private-sector leaders, and there will be many different workshops and networking opportunities, he said.

Palmieri, who turns 64 this month, isn’t ready to start contemplating retirement, but his interests outside education will be enough to keep him busy indefinitely. Last year, he took a sabbatical and began an initiative to help bring character development into secondary school curricula in El Salvador. That involved trips to Bogota, Colombia and Peru, and along the way he became enamored with Latin music.

Now, Palmieri, who plays guitar, is also studying music online with the Berklee College of Music in Boston, taking songwriting classes, and has his own music publishing company called Suavoro Music Co.

So, is he contemplating his own second career? “I love that question. I’m going into a new chapter in my life, and it has to do with elevating the quality of life for children and families in Central and South America. That’s one part of it. And the other part is [doing] the music to generate funds for my travels,” Palmieri explained.

Palmieri is interested in having his music used in other genres as well. “I’d like to play one or two of my Spanish songs in a Latin film, as background music for different themes,” he said. “I’ve also been doing some Christian music that I hope to bring to the Gospel Music Association.”

It seems that the dreams of his students have rubbed off on him.

For more information about Palm Beach Atlantic University, visit