Energetic achiever among the “Faces of the Future”
Anne O’Hara ’20 is a summa cum laude graduate of Radford University with a host of academic distinctions and a resume packed with community and academic engagement. But her early years in school didn’t necessarily foreshadow her extraordinary success.
“My teachers didn’t understand ADHD,” said O’Hara of her childhood educational problems. With time, she learned to manage her disability and even thrive, but her difficulties led to empathy for others in similar situations and, eventually, to a degree in social work.
“My big interest was helping people, and I finally decided, ‘How can you be a professional helper? Social work!’ said the native of Burke, Virginia, who is now pursuing her master’s of social work at Radford.
Her latest accolade is a direct result of her passion for community and university involvement. She was named one of 20 winners — chosen from thousands of applicants — of the Faces of the Future contest co-sponsored by the online community HerCampus and Neutrogena. The award honors college women of remarkable academic achievement and civic advocacy. O’Hara was the only winner from Virginia and the only social work major, and to her, that was part of the thrill.
“I am passionate about my school and proud of representing Radford and the field of social work. It’s such a great honor!” she said.
Along with the prestige, she won a $1,000 prize; a gift bag with Neutrogena products and an Amazon gift card; and a VIP ticket to the celebratory Be Your Best Fest hosted by HerCampus. Due to the pandemic, plans for the latter are in flux; O’Hara said the event will be virtual, but a date hasn’t been set yet.
In the meantime, she finds plenty of ways to stay busy. Along with her studies, she’s a graduate assistant in the social work department and an intern at New River Valley Community Services. She serves as Graduate College senator for the Student Government Association and is involved with the Social Work Club and the Yes & Improv Club. She’s also a member of several honors societies and a campus student ambassador.
“It’s a lot to juggle with 14 credit hours as a full-time student,” she said, but the loaded schedule suits her. “If I’m busy, then I’m happy. The bane of my existence is boredom!” Keeping a detailed schedule and being organized helps her work around her ADHD, too: “With ADHD, it’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. I’m always making sure I’m scheduled.”
After earning her M.S.W. in an advanced-standing, one-year program, O’Hara plans to become a licensed clinical social worker and earn a doctorate in psychology.
But of all her projects, it is the chance to mentor children with ADHD and learning disabilities as chapter co-president of the Eye to Eye program that is perhaps closest to her heart — and her social worker instincts.
“My goal with mentoring was to be the person I didn’t really see growing up,” she said. Reflecting on her journey from painful early educational experiences to summa cum laude honors, she said, "If you grew up feeling like you couldn't succeed, that's a pretty good 180 to have."
To learn more about Anne O’Hara and the other winners of the Faces of the Future contest, visit www.hercampus.com/money-career/faces-of-the-future.