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Nicole Mullinax

Student Spotlight Nicole Mullinax

School Counseling

Nicole is currently seeking her MS in School Counseling. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana she received her BS in psychology and sociology and MPA in public administration at Louisiana State University and came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2012. We asked her to reflect on some of her past and current experiences. Read her responses below.


I frequently present to agencies in Knox county about child abuse. Some of the agencies I have trained have included the school counselors in elementary schools, Knoxville Police Department Crisis Negotiation Unit, Knoxville Utility Board, the United Way, the Department of Children’s Services, and in the Knoxville Police Department Academy.

Refer to Curriculum Vita for more details.

Current Occupation

Forensic Interviewer
Childhelp Children’s Center of East Tennessee

I have been in this position for over six years. I interview children using a forensic interviewing protocol for the District Attorney’s Office, FBI, Tennessee Bureau Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement agencies, and for the Department of Children’s Services. I have interviewed over 2000 children in our community regarding child abuse allegations since I began and I also serve as a critical incident stress debriefer for the Tennessee Public Safety Network. This agency helps law enforcement and other first responders after they are involved in a stressful situation. I specifically assist with situations where law enforcement has been affected by cases they have worked involving children.

Personal Interests

Outside of work, I enjoy playing the piano and crocheting. I have two children, Amelia (10) and Landon (7), and three step children, Sam (19), Allie and Chayton (14-year-old twins). We stay pretty busy with soccer, basketball, violin, chorus, and girl scouts for the kids. I enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors taking pictures of the kids and our dog, Marley.

Future/Vocational Goals

I am about to enter my final semester in the program and I am excited about starting my career in school counseling. I hope to stay in Knox County and work here locally in our school system. I love working with younger children but enjoy helping older children develop their future goals as well. As long as I am working with and advocating for children, working with any age group would be a win in my opinion.

What sold you on this program?

Jeanine Studer, professor emerita, completely sold me on the program. In my current job, while it is important, I felt like I was not doing enough to help these children heal. Often the forensic interview is the first step in the process. I began feeling pulled to fulfill an earlier goal of working as a school counselor. After reviewing the website, I set up a meeting with Studer who really engaged with me, and inspired me that even though I worked full time and had children, I could complete the program successfully. She was a fantastic advisor and I miss her presence in the office since her retirement.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

The most rewarding and challenging part of the program is one in the same. We really have to look inside and evaluate our own beliefs, values, strengths, and weakness to be better counselors and helpers. This introspection is invaluable and I feel like I have a better sense of who I am as a person and as a professional.

Nicole Mullinax and child.