Prof. O’Brien Receives Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award

Professor Karen M. O’Brien, a member of the faculty of the Department of Psychology, received the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, which will be presented at a ceremony in Atlanta on November 4.

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.

"I am deeply honored to receive the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman award. Contributing to my community and mentoring students who make a difference in our world are very meaningful aspects of my work," Professor O'Brien said.

Professor 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.

Rochlen noted that in Professor O’Brien’s work as a teacher and a 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, Professor O’Brien created a vocational intervention for students in low-income, first generation families, the Career Horizons Program, that has served more than 800 students in the past 20 years. More recently, Professor 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.

Professor O’Brien is the associate chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on the vocational development of women and intimate partner violence.

Professor O’Brien is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and she serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Counseling Psychology and the Journal of Career Assessment. She is a licensed psychologist in the State of Maryland and a member of the Board of Directors for the Family Crisis Center of Prince George's County, Inc. Recently, Professor O'Brien completed a Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Thanatology at the University of Maryland Baltimore to enhance her knowledge regarding theory, research and clinical practice related to death, dying and grieving.