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Faculty Highlight: Kelly Roberts

Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Science, and founder of Oklahoma Christian University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate program Dr. Kelly Roberts is being inducted into the Oklahoma State University College of Education and Human Sciences Hall of Fame for her contributions and accomplishments as a distinguished leader. 

Roberts explained the award she is being given by her alma mater of OSU. 

“It’s an award recognizing the culmination of work accomplished across my full career,” Roberts said. “I remember being a student at OSU and having the chance to speak with someone who was being inducted into the Hall of Fame that year — in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be the person the current students will now be meeting.”

In addition to the award being presented to Roberts, she emphasized her missional goal as both a professor and avid researcher. 

“I like to explain what I do by explaining the mission of a land grant university: teaching, research, service and policy,” Roberts said. “I teach students how to become excellent systemic family therapists; I research ways to strengthen families and marriages; I serve my community in a variety of ways and I spend every year and every spare moment working on ‘the next right step for mental health policy at the state or national level.’” 

Roberts explained the source of her inspiration to become someone who could inspire change.

“I was student teaching at a local low-resource high school when I began seeing students reading the Daily Oklahoman every morning. They were searching the paper to see if anyone they knew had died or been arrested. They slept in their cars because sometimes it was not safe to go into their homes at night. And sometimes they began running drugs for their grandparents when they got their driver’s license because their parents weren’t around,” Roberts said. “Before I had even taught a class as a certified teacher, I began thinking about how I could get a degree to help make the world a better place. A place where students read the newspaper to learn about current events, not their dead friends.” 

Not only was Roberts impacted by student teaching in college, but she also said she is still being impacted and inspired by her current students today. 

“My students are so open about their learning and growing experiences — every single day, one of them shares an ‘aha moment’ about how they are personally growing, about how something works well in therapy, or about what they’re dreaming about next,” Roberts said. “Their energy and dreams keep my heart young and keep me inspired to press on — doing what I can to help pave the way for as many who want to walk this path.”

Roberts went on to express her deep desire for current students to realize their dire need in our world today. 

“My hope is they realize their own value and can translate who they are into the work they do for the breadth of their careers,” Roberts said. “I genuinely, out loud, love our students … and I know the world is in exceptional hands in their care.”

Roberts attributes receiving this award not only to her own work, but also through the work she has seen God have in her own life throughout her career.  

“There have been times when I absolutely believed we didn’t have the votes for a bill that passed, or I wasn’t going to get funding for important research … and yet, it came in at the last minute. I believe with all my heart our professional capacity only reaches so far … and Providence still finds a way for our humanity,” Roberts said. “God is as much a part of what I do as breathing is a part of what keeps me alive.”

Additionally, Roberts gives current students advice to keep going. 

“If students are reading this, I just want to challenge them to do the work it takes to get the answers they’re seeking about their faith,” Roberts said. “He still works … and in my own life, is likely much of the reason I’m getting this award.”

Roberts is continuing to teach at Oklahoma Christian and growing the Graduate Program she founded.

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