Congratulations to Dr. Karen O'Brien, professor in the Department of Psychology and co-director of the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program, chosen to receive the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, which will be presented at a ceremony in Atlanta on November 4, 2017.
The award recognizes academic faculty members who inspired their former students to make a significant contribution to society by creating an organization that makes a difference in their communities. The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Trust was established in 2008 in memory of Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman, a pioneer in the field of Psychology. Recipients receive $25,000 from the Gail McKnight Beckman Trust.
O’Brien was nominated by one of her former advisees, Aaron Rochlen, Ph.D, a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. Rochlen created a non-profit organization, Soccer Assist, to help underserved children participate in soccer leagues. The goals of the organization are to increase access to soccer, diversify the teams, and strengthen soccer players and their families in the Austin community. In addition to awarding soccer scholarships, the organization provides shoes, balls and free summer camps to underserved youth and refugees (see soccerassist.org).
Rochlen noted that in O’Brien’s work as a professor and mentor, she emphasized that the skills that students develop in their education to be future psychologists should be used to improve the lives of others – and she modeled these values in action. Early in her career at the University of Kansas, O’Brien created a vocational intervention for students in low-income, first generation families, the Career Horizons Program, that has served over 800 students in the past 20 years. More recently, O’Brien developed a University-Community partnership at the University of Maryland where over 140 undergraduate students have donated thousands of volunteer hours to children residing in local abused women shelters.