James Murphy O’Brien II
College of Education, Health and Human Services
James Murphy O’Brien is earning a Bachelor of Arts in science studies, with a minor in language arts and an elementary teaching certificate. O’Brien entered UM-Dearborn as a nontraditional student in his late 30s. Perseverance and resilience became a recurring theme in his education journey. Eight weeks after he started, the pandemic hit. Twelve weeks into his first semester he suffered a brain aneurysm and needed emergency surgery. Over the next year, he faced other medical concerns. Yet, in spite of everything, he maintained a steadfast commitment to educational achievements.
He’s certified to lead citizen-science campaigns through the NASA-sponsored GLOBE Program. O’Brien’s research projects include an action research project designed to increase students’ ability to collect and analyze real-world data of current weather conditions. O’Brien also created “The Four Spheres of Earth,” a Google classroom that includes hands-on science lessons for fifth grade students.
For a fall 2023 internship, he worked in a fourth grade classroom at Amerman Elementary in Northville. For their culture night, O’Brien assisted with the planning and played the bagpipes, a childhood vocation that he resumed during his time at UM-Dearborn. Following his student teaching placement, O’Brien was offered a position as a full-time building substitute teacher. He plans to continue his UM-Dearborn education by pursuing a Master of Arts in educational technology.
In addition to Amerman Elementary, O’Brien worked with several southeastern Michigan schools. He volunteered as a robotics judge at Carlson High School, worked as a teacher’s assistant and tutor at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Livonia and served as a volunteer classroom assistant and reading tutor at Douglas Elementary in Garden City. O’Brien is the recipient of several scholarships, including the Kochoff Pathway to Success Scholarship, the Nancy Lemkie SOAR Scholarship, the CEHHS Get To Degree Scholarship and the Pi Lambda Theta Helen Gordon Memorial Scholarship.