War changed Ricky Clousing. The former Army interrogator served in Iraq during the start of the conflict. His job was to interrogate high-value targets captured in the field. Clousing’s experience in Iraq ultimately led him to be a war resister. He spent three months in jail at Camp Lejeune after his soul-searching told him he could no longer serve.
Clousing’s transition to civilian life wasn’t easy. “I had a lot of anger and frustration,” he said. The Sumner native started working at a friend’s landscaping company. “The work was really healing and therapeutic,” Clousing said. He started reading up on permaculture and system design with the goal of learning to work with nature instead of against it.
Clousing graduates this month with a degree in sustainable urban development. The now-33-year-old believes education helped him rebuild. “My program has given me a way to unpack all of these really difficult concepts, evaluate them, and move forward with a positive outlook instead of holding onto frustration,” Clousing said. He is one of eight UW Tacoma students in the inaugural Husky 100, a tri-campus honor that recognizes those students who are making the most of their time at UW.
Going forward, Clousing would like to work as an urban planner. He currently interns with Pierce County’s Public Works Department. “I’m drawn to connecting people to green space,” he said. “The stress that can come with urbanization can be mitigated through intentional design and restoring our relationship to nature in an urban environment.”
Clousing would eventually like to attend graduate school. For now he’s taking a break from formal schooling. He’s married and has three young children. Needless to say the past few years have been stressful. Clousing credits his wife for helping him stay on track. “I wouldn’t have been able to engage with the material or with the campus in the way that I have if it wasn’t for her support,” he said.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org