Nicole Gaskell has experienced a ton of scary situations, from receiving roofies to witnessing her mother being accosted in a mall bathroom. The Phoenix resident wants to ensure young people in the Valley stay safe, founding nonprofit Alert & Aware America in 2011, which teaches schoolchildren self-defense techniques, as well as works with other nonprofits. The 29-year-old from Cortland, N.Y. uses her military experience and martial arts training in her courses, and she also teaches Self-Defense 101 with her mom (also a self-defense instructor) at Scottsdale Community College. Read on to hear more about the experiences that inspired her to teach self-defense to others, as well as to hear five reasons why Gaskell loves living in the Valley.
What brought you to Arizona?
The weather. Everyone always said it was a gorgeous place to live, and I always had a problem with the cold and never with heat. I love the outdoors, and my mom wanted to move here. I checked it out and moved here after I found a job.
I was born in Cortland, New York, near Syracuse. I went to Niagara University and got my Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in military science. I went to Germany with the military and lived there for a few years before moving to Arizona in September 2006. Continue reading