Carrie L. Nutter-Novak (CSH ’89, LAS MS ’92) is among thousands of DePaul alumni who are putting their education to work in service to others. Nutter-Novak has a rewarding career as an occupational therapist in Chicago Public Schools, where she assesses and provides treatment for students with physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges, as well as mentors fieldwork students and new employees. She also provides hippotherapy with her equine “co-therapists” at Freedom Woods Equestrian Center in Morton Grove, Ill. (An example of hippotherapy can be found here.)
Nutter-Novak’s affinity for helping children and working with animals expressed itself during her years at DePaul, when she tutored students in an after-school program at Christopher House, participated in service days DePaul organized at homeless shelters and youth centers, and volunteered for a variety of animal welfare and animal rights organizations. Today, Nutter-Novak serves on the board of Safe Humane Chicago, whose goal is to help create safe and humane communities by inspiring positive relationships between people and animals.
“I learned of Safe Humane Chicago when it was incorporated as Dog Advisory Work Group (DAWG) in 2000 from one of my neighbors, a founding director, and the program sounded fascinating,” says Nutter-Novak. Originally founded to encourage positive relationships between dog guardians and non-dog guardians in the community, its evolution into Safe Humane Chicago promotes connections between humans and animals in underserved communities. Its programs include Lifetime Bonds, in which incarcerated teens bond with, socialize and train shelter dogs for adoption while developing the skills needed to re-enter the community; Collaborative Justice, in which animals who are associated with court cases are exercised, socialized, trained and placed in appropriate homes by rescue groups; and Youth Leaders, in which high school students mentor elementary school students in disadvantaged communities and teach them about the humane treatment of animals.
Nutter-Novak believes DePaul aligned with her values by “providing classes on topics related to real-world issues and opportunities to engage in projects, clubs, service days, internships, volunteer opportunities and travel relating to one’s interests.” She particularly appreciates how DePaul allows students to foster individual passions in the context of wider community service. “All are encouraged to pursue individual goals while giving back to others,” Nutter-Novak says.