Ph.D., Rhetoric and Composition, Georgia State University, 2015
M.A.T., English & English Education, Agnes Scott College, 2006
B.S., Journalism & Public Relations, University of Florida, 1993
Refugees, International Students, Immigrant Education, Issues, and Policy, Teaching with Technology
Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor has courtesy faculty appointment in the School of Public Health. She oversees community engagement as a member of the Georgia State University Prevention Research Center team.
Dr. O’Connor is the director for the Center for Community Engagement at Perimeter College. Her teaching and research in the field of migration studies, education, and rhetoric and composition explores refugee education, agency, and identity. For more than a decade, Dr. O’Connor has been a volunteer and advocate for refugees and immigrants in Clarkston, GA, one of the largest resettlement communities in the U.S. She presents and lectures extensively on migrant students, refugee and immigrant issues, and community advocacy.
In 2016, Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Heval Kelli co-founded MINA (Mentoring Initiative for New Americans), a student mentoring organization to increase opportunities for higher education among the refugee and immigrant population. She is the recipient of two prestigious university awards: a George M. Sparks Award and the Carl V. Patton President’s Awards for Community Service and Social Action in the Outstanding Faculty Award category. She is the first in university history to receive both honors in the same year. Dr. O’Connor was recently named a “Daily Point of Light” by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service established by President George H.W. Bush during his presidency. The award recognizes extraordinary volunteers who are donating their time and talent to better their communities.