University Park, IL,
12:08 PM

Trading His Police Badge for a Therapist's Notepad

2019 Graduate Profiles

As a Senior Police Officer and a trainer at Governors State University, Maurice Hill is highly skilled to adapt to whatever situation he faces on campus. Tempering tactical training with compassion, he makes staff and students feel safe.

It’s one role that pulls from many. “I wear lots of hats—I always enforce the law—but in a college setting, sometimes I’m daddy or uncle, and sometimes I’m a spiritual leader,“ said Hill, who first came to GSU in 1998 as a Criminal Justice major.

Now more than 20 years and a bachelor’s degree later, Hill looks forward to trading his police badge for a therapist’s notepad once he receives his Masters of Arts in Counseling degree on May 18.

He plans to retire from the GSU Department of Public Safety in 2020, just in time to see his son graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Long-term, Hill wants to move to Atlanta to practice in a field he sees as a culmination of all the jobs he’s had since he was a young medic in the U.S. Army.

After graduating high school, Hill went to Triton College, and then joined the military.

He arrived at GSU in 1998 on the advice of a co-worker familiar with the university’s Board of Governors program for returning adult students. While studying for a degree in law enforcement, Hill assumed real-life experience as a police officer joining a team he estimated at up to 25 full-and part-time officers.

In 2001, Hill left briefly but returned, finished his bachelors, and began work on a master’s degree—in special education.

At the time, he was working full-time as a gym teacher in a south suburban school district and at GSU as a police officer, all while going to school.

Though his schedule was jam packed, Hill said the experiences as an educator and police officer, children and adults, gave him a new perspective to change his major.

“I realized I wanted to help people—and not just kids. As a counselor, I would be available to everyone.” he said.

Now, with a special training in clinical mental health counseling, Hill said he is well prepared to help his clients navigate difficult emotional terrain.

“With the practicum, we were seeing clients with actual issues. That’s not the experience my peers had at other schools,” he said.

Many of those clients were from the African American community, where studies show individuals have less access to mental health services than their white peers and are less likely to receive needed care.

Hill turns somber as he discusses an uncle who returned from Vietnam a shell of his former gregarious self who never received treatment for what we now know is PTSD.

The scenario is all too familiar, Hill said.

“Being a black male, I’ve seen so many people fall by the wayside because they didn’t get help. It doesn’t have to be this way anymore.”

Hill is already making a change as an intern in the Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Tinley Park, where he notices some clients are more comfortable talking with him than other therapists.

He’s not sure if it’s cultural or gender preference, but Hill is celebrating the fact that he’s filling a need. “I know I can make a difference because I can I can talk to the janitor or the president of the United States and have a good time with either one.”