School of Education and Human Services

SEHS Shining Stars

icon of a calendarMarch 31, 2023

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SEHS Shining Stars

Oakland University is made up of students, faculty and staff who all play a key part in the success of the university. Each year, OU recognizes these individuals/groups as “shining stars.” Not only do they play a vital role in the transformative process of higher education, but they shine a light on what Oakland has achieved and what it aspires to become.

In 2023, the Center for Autism, Kennedi Robinson (student), and Dr. Roberta Rea (staff) were each named an Oakland University Shining Star.

Kennedi Robinson
After Kennedi Robinson’s first year at Rochester College, she learned about the new elementary education program offered by the School of Education and Human Services. It was then that she officially transferred to Oakland University.

Since then, Robinson has been extremely involved in the community. Not only has she held internships with Kensington Church children's programs, but she has also worked at the School-Age Child Care (SACC) programs at Romeo Community Schools. She maintains a high GPA while balancing her field work, academic requirements, and work in the local schools.

Robinson is currently in her Junior year at OU and will begin student teaching in winter 2024. She is a shining example of student success.

Roberta Rea
Dr. Roberta Rea is the Director of Advising within the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS). In her role, she works with a team of individuals who have elevated advising in SEHS to be student-centered, focused on success, and of tremendous value to the School. Rea was nominated for the Shining Star award by multiple members of the SEHS Executive Committee, including Dean Jon Margerum-Leys.

“Dr. Roberta Rea is an indispensable leader within the School of Education and Human Services,” Margerum-Leys said. “[She] has been instrumental in developing and implementing the undergraduate advising model in SEHS. In turn, SEHS advising has played a crucial role in the School's continuing excellence in retention and time to graduation. She is perceptive, analytical, visionary, caring, and deeply deserving of this recognition.”

Center for Autism
The Oakland University Center for Autism (OUCA) has recently received a $385,000 grant from United Way of SE Michigan. Since its inception over 15 years ago, the OUCA has had a reputation of providing excellent, high quality autism programs. Oakland University has become a hub in Oakland County for youth with ASD to come for programming. The OUCA employs highly-trained, expert faculty, staff, and OU students in the area of ASD to maintain their high-quality programs.

The OUCA aspires to be the leading autism center in the state of Michigan. It currently serves roughly 2,300 people impacted by autism annually, but with the support of the recent grant, plans to increase that number to 3,000.  The grant will also allow the center to train additional OU students in the areas of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and help them gain experience working with people on the spectrum.

In order to meet these aspirations, the center will:

  • offer new after-school ABA therapy to help improve self-help, independence, and social-emotional skills in a 1-on-1 environment
  • increase out of school recreational program opportunities to learn social, communication, emotion regulation, and emotional understanding skills
  • expand summer camps to increase the center’s capacity to offer daytime summer activities to youth with ASD to learn critical social-emotional skills and retain academic skills over the summer

The increased services made possible by this grant will allow individuals with autism to develop critical skills to meet their fullest potential and positively impact their quality of life. Students engaged in these programs are inspired to be engaged in academic coursework, which positively impacts the school’s enrollment and leads to well-trained autism professionals in the community.

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