|UST Freshman Uses Pageant Title to Raise Teen Depression Awareness|
As the newly crowned Miss Black Teen Texas, University of St. Thomas freshman Nicole Hickl, can smile proudly as she walks around campus. But the poised, confident communication major who serves as a UST Presidential Ambassador, Student Government Association Freshman Senator and member of the Black Student Union, did not always have such a sunny outlook.
Hickl suffered with depression through her freshman year at Dulles High School. Her struggle inspired her to mentor teens with depression and to enter the Miss Black Teen Texas pageant to pursue depression outreach on a larger scale.
“I was isolating myself from people, skipping school and karate classes and I would even take scissors to my arm and cut myself,” she said.
Hickl said she was able to push through her depression by recommitting to her KickStart Karate classes and with the support of her family, karate instructor and friends. She eventually sought counseling.
“Speaking from personal experience, I can tell teens with depression that even if you hit a down period in your life, you can learn and grow from it and be a success despite depression,” Hickl said. “I didn’t enter the pageant to win the crown or the scholarship. If the pageant didn’t have any of that, I would still enter just to have the opportunity to bring a message of hope to more teens, because depression is something I’ve dealt with and it’s something I’m passionate about.”
Hickl chose to attend UST because she thought she would benefit from the University’s small classes and values-based community. She feels right at home on campus, as she sees her fellow students share a similar commitment to helping others.
“I didn’t want to go to a really big school,” she said. “I love the campus, everyone’s really friendly, the students are focused on giving back to the community, my professors are approachable, and they are always there for you.”
Hickl said she plans to parlay the skills she will learn in UST communications classes to fulfill her “ultimate dream job” as a full-time motivational speaker. The communication skills will be equally applicable to Hickl’s speaking engagements and other commitments as Miss Black Teen Texas. Considering her commitment to the community, she also hopes to run for Houston City Council in the future. In addition to studying communication, Hickl is also pursuing a minor in accounting to assist with her grandfather’s accounting business.
To learn more about communication degree programs and courses, visit the UST Communication Web site.
To learn more about how UST counsels students with depression, visit the Health and Counseling Web site.