Debra Hope knows there is still a lot to learn.
That’s why she constantly questions and researches the best clinical psychology practices relating to race, gender, under-served populations and sexual minorities. It’s why she continues to find ways to help those who have confronted inequality and injustice.
And it’s why the professor of psychology will be honored with the 2016 Chancellor’s Fulfilling the Dream Award. The honor is given to those who have contributed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln or the city of Lincoln in promoting the goals and vision of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Hope will receive the award Jan. 21 at the university’s official celebration of the holiday. A program and awards ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center Unity Room.
“When you look at the list of people who have won it, it’s mind-boggling to be on that list,” Hope said.
Hope began her research career examining anxiety disorders. In the last decade, however, she shifted focus on the impacts of stigma and discrimination on mental health and health services, particularly in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
David Hansen, professor of psychology and director of UNL’s clinical psychology program, nominated Hope. He highlighted her research that has improved mental health practitioners’ understanding in treating lesbian, gay and bisexual people and noted her role in starting the Rainbow Clinic in the Psychological Consultation Center. The Rainbow Clinic provides individual, couples, and family therapy for Lincoln’s LGBTQ community.
“Throughout her career, (Hope) has shown commitment to supporting diversity and espousing (King’s) ideals,” Hansen wrote in his nomination letter. “Deb serves as an exemplary leader and role model on campus and beyond.”
She helped develop an Achievement-Centered Education course, Psychology of Diversity, which challenges students to learn about cultures and beliefs different from their own.
“I ran into a former student (who) said, ‘I thought about things in that class that I’d never thought about before, and that class really changed my life,’” Hope said. “It’s important to get students to think about these issues in a safe environment and to learn about people who are different from themselves.”
In a nomination letter, psychology graduate student Andrew Jeon wrote: “As a psychologist, Dr. Hope always strives to help those in the community with their experiences of inequality and injustice.
“Her commitment and acceptance of diversity in her professional roles makes her an example of how to change the world through what we do and who we are.”