O’Brien receives Holobaugh Honor


Rory P. O’Brien, a third-year MPH/MSW student, was honored Nov. 5 at the Holobaugh Honors, an annual community recognition and awards ceremony for students, staff, faculty and community members who have contributed to LGBT visibility, equality and community.

Rory is a graduate assistant of Diversity & Inclusion with the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership whose studies focus on Social Justice Education and program evaluations. The honor came in part for practicum work for Project ARK, an HIV service organization in St. Louis. There, Rory facilitated psycho-educational youth groups and developed a community presence through the Mpowerment Project

Rory’s most recent practicum with Student Health Services involves, in addition to planning, implementing and evaluating sexual violence prevention programs, working with LGBT inclusion training initiatives with faculty on the Washington University campus. That work focused on the Date, a sexual assault prevention program for incoming undergraduate students.

“I focus a lot on how we create a space that is comfortable for people to deal with issues like LGBT stigma and sexual assault,” Rory said.  “So with LGBT groups, I talk about the cycle of stigma, silence and shame, and being able to understand those processes, and give people a safe space to explore those issues.”

Originally from Sacramento, Rory is a recipient of a Brown School Scholarship and the Memorial Scholarship. After graduation, Rory plans to move to Washington, D.C., to work in a field related to social justice education.