There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Challenges and struggles exist in life, and I am continuously motivated and inspired by the resiliency and strength in people.
When survivors cope with such adversity, overcome barriers, and recognize their own strengths, I am motivated to keep going.
–Nicole Gillum, LMSW
1. What is your position at STAR?
NG: I am the Lead Clinician at the Capital Area Regional Branch of STAR and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. As Lead Clinician, I oversee and provide individual and group counseling services, including monitoring and evaluating service delivery. Also, in this capacity, I am involved in the recruitment, training, and task management of all mental health professionals and graduate level interns.
2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?
NG: At an early age, I aspired to be an adult that would listen and consider the feelings and concerns of children that are otherwise silenced or unheard. My dream was to be able to provide counseling to those with limited access and means. This led me to a career path toward psychology, crisis intervention, Social Work and ultimately working in the field of sexual assault response.
While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I worked as an office manager for a local company. Each year, during our company holiday celebration, I would have wonderful, lengthy conversations with a co-worker’s spouse. One year after I graduated, that friend mentioned an open position at the Rape Crisis Center (RCC) in Baton Rouge to provide crisis intervention. I saw this as an opportunity to apply my knowledge and skills and to develop professionally as a mental health professional.
My employment at RCC began in January 2001. After 5 years of serving survivors and learning immeasurable amounts of information about the experience and treatment of sexual trauma, a respected volunteer and colleague encouraged me to return to school for a Masters in Social Work (MSW). The MSW program at Louisiana State University seemed to be designed just for me and validated that I chose the right career path. The graduate experience challenged me to develop both personally and professionally. In 2009, I graduated and became a Licensed Master Social Worker. With a shared vision for the future in the field of sexual trauma, I was excited to continue the journey when RCC moved forward to become STAR. With the support of my LCSW Supervisor and all of my co-workers and colleagues at STAR, I completed and passed the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam this January. This is a huge milestone reached that will allow me to continue providing therapeutic services to those in need.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?
NG: There are so many rewards in this work! The most rewarding aspect of my work at STAR is the privilege of being a part of a survivor’s healing process. I am energized by meeting new people and witnessing their personal transformations. It is an amazing experience to see an individual regain a sense of safety and control, find self-acceptance, and feel empowered to join others in bringing awareness to and standing up for other survivors of sexual trauma. Survival of the human spirit is all around me!
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
NG: Challenges and struggles exist in life, and I am continuously motivated and inspired by the resiliency and strength in people. When survivors cope with such adversity, overcome barriers, and recognize their own strengths, I am motivated to keep going. It takes remarkable strength to engage in the counseling process. The fact that clients are able to overcome their personal burdens, walk through the door, and meet with me is enough for me to continue being here to serve them.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?
NG: Outside of my daily work duties, I co-facilitate a counseling group for victims of crime and I work closely with other colleagues to promote change in the community. Another way that I promote positive change is by being optimistic and approaching others with an openness and a sense of positive regard. I love meeting new people, learning about their experiences, and empowering them to follow their path in life.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?
NG: Sexual trauma affects everyone, regardless of their background or current status in life. People endure all kinds of difficulties, experience many losses, and persevere and overcome many hardships. So many people also have a strong desire to be heard, understood, and accepted for who they are. Survivors of sexual trauma are people who have experienced a hardship, a loss, and want to heal and return to a sense of normalcy. By being an active member of the movement, we are ultimately helping to make the community and the world a healthy, happier place.