Barbara (Hickey) ’57 O’Brien Scholarship

Barbara (Hickey) ’57 O’Brien Scholarship

Criteria: (Amount Equal to One Full Annual Tuition Award) The Barbara (Hickey) ’57 O’Brien Scholarship will be awarded to a student majoring in Education who exemplifies the qualities of hard work and determination. Applicants must submit the following: • Evidence that they maintain a full- or part-time job while pursuing a college degree; • A letter of recommendation and a personal essay attesting to their high level of maturity, perseverance and industriousness. (Please send an original letter to the Financial Aid Office in Room 150 the Shaughnessy Administration Building.) It should be noted that this scholarship will not be automatically renewed and applicants are encouraged to reapply each academic year.

Barbara (Hickey) O’Brien ’57 has a distinguished record of generous support of Worcester State University. She and her husband, Robert O’Brien ’58, previously established four memorial scholarships at the University in honor of their parents. With this current scholarship, Mrs. O’Brien has created yet another source of support for students at her alma mater.

During her college days, Mrs. O’Brien worked as a cashier and bookkeeper at Walgreen’s on Main Street in Worcester, a job she remembers fondly because of the “wonderful people” with whom she came in contact. Following graduation, she embarked on a 34-year career in the Worcester Public Schools. Mrs. O’Brien first taught at the elementary level and then went on to be a special education teacher. Before retiring in 1991, Mrs. O’Brien concluded her career as Worcester’s CORE chairperson, where she was responsible for overseeing the city’s special education program in various schools.

The mother of two children, Mrs. O’Brien says that she chose a career in education because she “always loved school.” However, Mrs. O’Brien acknowledges that teaching is a challenging profession. “It’s one of the few careers where you become all things to the children you’re with all the time,” she says. “You become parent, counselor, and social worker as well as teacher.’

Mrs. O’Brien, who earned a master’s degree in education from Boston College in 1977, noted that Worcester State prepared her well for the classroom. “My education at Worcester State was excellent,” she says. “It taught me how to stop and think. That is the greatest gift knowledge can give. The whole point of a college education is to learn how to think logically.”

Mrs. O’Brien’s scholarship is established to support Education majors who display “a degree of industry.” “I value hard work and determination,” she notes, “and I want to help students who share those values.”

With the establishment of this scholarship, Mrs. O’Brien is also sharing another core value – generosity. “My mother always talked about reciprocating good will,” she says. “I hope that today’s students will continue that custom later in their own careers.”