Carlow University

Susan O’Rourke is a professor in Special Education at Carlow University. She earned her doctorate in Instructional Design & Technology and a Masters in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. O’Rourke encourages all students to study abroad but never experienced international travel until participating in a professional delegation to Cuba when she was 40. Recognizing the value of a global perspective, she developed various study abroad programs for students including service-learning experiences in Ireland, Nicaragua, Belize, Jamaica, and Peru.

For the past 9 years, she has organized teams of volunteers and students to work in developing regions in Africa to improve the lives of vulnerable children including those with disabilities, children whose support structures have been compromised (orphans), or those who have experienced trauma through abuse, disasters or conflicts. This includes teacher training in disabilities, curriculum design to teach academics through gardening and to build awareness in gender-based violence, as well as organizing parent groups and home-based businesses for mothers of children with disabilities. Over the years, these teams have drilled 7 clean water wells, built an inclusive school, planted hundreds of fruit trees, distributed thousands of eyeglasses, adapted computer keyboards to Braille, and installed solar panels in schools in Uganda.

Dr. O’Rourke is a Past President of the Division of International Special Education and Services – a division of the Counsel for Exceptional Children and provides professional development to teachers across the globe including the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. She has been awarded grants from the Eurasia Foundation and the US Embassy in Moscow in support of collaborative projects in Russia and from the Grace Ann Geibel Institute in support of efforts in special needs education. 

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Susan O'Rourke
Carlow University