By Jeff Hendrix
Student Writer, EKU Communications and Marketing
Clinton Nowicke has a passion for using his own experiences to help others through theirs, and is gaining recognition for it.
A doctoral student in clinical psychology, Nowicke recently received Eastern Kentucky University’s 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Award for graduate students.
Dr. Melinda Moore, who nominated Nowicke for the award, praised his efforts to make the University’s campus more inclusive. “Clinton has demonstrated leadership in representing the interests of LGBTQ and deaf/hard of hearing students, faculty and staff at EKU since entering as an undergraduate,” she said. “He deserves this award because he is a compassionate leader who does things not because it brings him attention or accolades, but because they are the right thing to do.”
After graduating high school in 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky, Nowicke enrolled as an undergraduate at Eastern. He has remained at the University ever since, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees during that time. “I’m the definition of an Eternal Colonel!” he said.
Nowicke holds undergraduate degrees in ASL/English interpreting and psychology, and a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Even as an undergraduate, he found it easy to choose a field of study because he grew up learning about psychology. “My dad teaches psychology at Jefferson Community and Technical College,” he noted, “so I grew up learning about psychological concepts.
He enjoys using his training in ASL interpreting and clinical psychology to help students and children, particularly those in the deaf and LGBT communities. “They’re my favorite population to work with, particularly deaf kiddos,” he said.
Nowicke enjoys this part of his work so much that he sees himself making a career of it. “I would like to continue teaching, as well as work for a school for the deaf, doing assessments and therapy,” he said. In fact, assessing children is already Nowicke’s favorite part of his research as a graduate student. “Kids give you the best answers on assessments,” he said.
He currently works as a graduate assistant in the Student Life and First-Year Experience office and teaches a couple of classes in the psychology department. “Much of my work in Student Life and First-Year Experience involves implementing programs and working with various departments to improve policies and the inclusion of LGBT+ students,” he said. His many duties and responsibilities as a graduate student keep him from doing much work off-campus, but he still finds time to volunteer as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line.
Nowicke has also organized various activities on campus to represent the community, including a celebration outside the Powell Building in October for National Coming Out Day. There, he witnessed another step forward for the University. “President Benson was the first through our symbolic closet door in support of LGBT students who are unable to live openly,” he said. “The fact that I was involved in setting that up makes me extremely proud of how much EKU has grown.”
As an advocate and representative of the University’s LGBT community, Nowicke is glad to have seen the campus become a more inclusive and diverse place during his time as a student. “The changes are small but significant,” he said. “Even though the changes have been small, to some students a small change can mean the world.”