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Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor

Senior Faculty Associate    

Ph.D in Rhetoric and Composition


Mary Helen O’Connor, PhD, serves as the Senior Faculty Associate for Perimeter College in the Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, she is responsible for managing the international initiatives portfolio for Perimeter College campuses. 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.