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O’Brien named Outstanding Doctoral Student

Jennifer O’Brien is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.
O’Brien received a B.A. in psychology and Spanish, and a B.S. degree in advertising, from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her MSW from Smith College. She entered our doctoral program in 2012.
O’Brien’s areas of research interest include sexual violence, juvenile delinquency and behavioral addiction.
“Jenny is a very hard working and thoughtful student,” wrote her nominator. “In addition to developing expertise in her area of gender-based violence and human trafficking, Jenny has been actively collaborating with scholars and doctoral students in other areas, and integrated other peoples’ expertise into her own research.”
“Jenny’s CV shows she now has 10 publications, and two more under review,” adds Sheryl Zimmerman, associate dean for doctoral education. “She’s collaborated on 23 paper presentations and poster sessions. This level of dissemination – which is critical in research — has already surpassed the accomplishments of many incoming assistant professors.”
Other students also praised O’Brien, saying:

“Jennifer is a good friend and mentor to other doctoral students. She is unselfish and always has time to help others and provide opportunities to be involved in her work.”
“Jenny has inspired me with her scholarly merit and commitment to social justice.”
“To me, Jenny is someone who truly embodies the values of the social work profession. I can say, unequivocally, that Jenny is one of the best and truest social workers I have ever met.”

Zimmerman notes that faculty also had similar glowing comments, such as, “Her devotion to her scientific and clinical work is surpassed only by her warmth, empathy, and concern for others.”
“And if that’s not enough,” Zimmerman added, “One said, ‘Jenny is outstanding in every aspect of her work.’ She further displayed outstanding work by receiving the UNC Dissertation Completion Fellowship this year.”
O’Brien was presented her award on May 6 at the doctoral program graduation reception.