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Alumni Spotlight: Nicolas Valcik

Nicolas Valcik (BA ’94, MPA ’96, PhD ’05), a three-time graduate of UT Dallas, is good at taking advantage of his circumstances and turning them into opportunities.  When his interest in pistol shooting couldn’t find footing at one school, he recruited two more schools to lend support. As a result, he and a determined group of students founded UT Dallas’ Trident Pistol Team in 1991.

“I became interested in pistol shooting when I started as a student at
UT Arlington in 1989," Valcik says. "They had no athletics, but they did have a pistol team, so I got involved in that.”
Shortly thereafter, Nick transferred to UT Dallas and was concurrently working toward his associates degree at Collin College. While there, he met a few students who attended Collin College and the University of North Texas. 

It didn’t take him long to rally his fellow students under the banner of a different kind of pistol team—one which collaborated with and capitalized on talent from multiple universities. With students from UT Dallas, Collin College and UNT, Nick was able to build a well-rounded team with both young and experienced members. And the Trident Pistol Team—the only team of its kind—was born and aptly named for its ties to the three schools.

From 1991 to 1995, the Trident Pistol Team competed in dozens of competitions winning 20 team awards and over 40 individual awards. At its height, the Trident Pistol Team boasted 13 members, both men and women in all majors from arts and humanities to electrical engineering. The team dissolved in 1995 after its last member graduated, but Nick continued his education at UT Dallas, ultimately obtaining both his master's and his doctoral degrees.

Professionally, Nick says he used his leadership and organizational skills as he interfaced with administrators, wrote policy regarding the pistol team for two of the schools, and wrote the organizations' constitutions. All of those skills followed him to graduate school and have served him well in his career.

Nick is also quick to note that the administrators and the students at all three schools were very supportive of what the Trident Pistol Team was doing, and because of that backing, the team was able to compete against the biggest and most well known teams from across the nation. Most importantly, Nick says that he and his fellow marksmen were able to bring students to UT Dallas who might not have attended otherwise.

Nick continues to serve UT Dallas and is currently the associate director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis where he oversees the university’s data integrity and mandatory reporting to the state and federal levels. 

He has worked for the university for almost 11 years, and in that time he has published and edited books, authored articles for professional publications and been a clinical lecturer in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.  Nick is now a clinical assistant professor, the captain of the Staff-Faculty Swim Team, and he still participates in pistol competitions.

Other Trident team members have used their experience to launch interesting careers. One former member is now a U.S. customs agent and several other team members work in law enforcement.

When asked what advice he would impart to students and new graduates, Nick responds, “The opportunities are out there if you’ll only take advantage of them.  You’ll be surprised in the directions you’re going to go.”  Once again, he’s right on the mark.

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Erin Dougherty, MPA, '03 '07
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