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Katie O’Brien Earns NACA Scholarship to Support Doctoral Program

Student Success and Retention Specialist Katie O’Brien has been awarded the Mid Atlantic Higher Education Research Scholarship from the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Foundation.

The foundation offers a variety of scholarships to assist undergraduate students, graduate students, professional staff, and associate members in pursuing educational interests and career development. O’Brien began pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Higher Education at Rowan University in September.

“I wear many hats,” said O’Brien of her work in the Institute for Student Success. She serves as the case manager for all students on academic probation; a first-year adviser; and an academic coach. This semester, she helped develop a peer academic coaching program that ran for the first time, and she also taught Creating Success: Academic Skills for Success in College as a pilot course. The faculty recently voted to implement it into the course catalog to run each spring semester. The class is geared towards students on academic probation, helping them learn the skills needed to achieve academic and personal success at Ursinus.

O’Brien said the virtual format of her doctoral program gives her unique insight our students’ remote learning. “I’m required to keep up with the weekly reading and write a discussion board post based on that reading, while also looking ahead for what papers or other assignments I need to work on,” she said. “It’s all really self-regulated, which is the challenge with virtual learning. Most of the students I met with this semester have presented with this issue: keeping up with their online classes and managing their time.

“I can definitely empathize with them because it’s tough trying to keep up with it all! I’m able to provide some of my own tips and strategies for managing my time and keeping track of all my assignments.”

O’Brien’s doctoral program will involve three years’ worth of classes, and then she will write her dissertation. “I am equally nervous and excited about [it],” she said. “I’m planning on focusing on one of my passions: academic coaching or academic advising.”