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Doctoral student's groundbreaking research topic leads to prestigious Doris Duke Fellowship

by The College of Education / Mar 19, 2014

Catherine Corr’s designation a first for College, Urbana-Champaign campus

Catherine P. Corr, a doctoral student in Special Education, has been named a recipient of a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being. She is the first student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus to win the fellowship.

“I am honored to be the first recipient of a Doris Duke fellowship from the University of Illinois,” said Corr. “This university has a rich legacy of research, innovation, and public service, and I am very honored to contribute to it.”

Special Education Professor Rosa Milagros Santos Gilbertz, who has advised Corr with Professor Susan Fowler, said Corr’s research topic is groundbreaking, given the complex and understudied issues of supporting the development of young children with disabilities who are also abused and neglected.

“Catherine has the potential to make a deep impact not only in the field of special education but also in other disciplines,” said Gilbertz. “She has built on her passion and advocacy for young, vulnerable children, fueled by her increasing skills as a rigorous researcher. It’s all sustained by her disposition to learn and commitment to advance the knowledge on this important topic area.”

Corr selected Gilbertz and Ted Burke as her academic mentor and policy/program mentor, respectively, during the fellowship. Burke is the director of the Early Intervention Training Program.

Fifteen fellowships are awarded annually to outstanding doctoral students in a variety of disciplines. The fellows are selected through a national competition and receive a stipend of $25,000 per year for two years to support completion of their dissertation and related research.

The fellowships are conferred by Chapin Hall Center for Children, a research and policy center at the University of Chicago that is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. According to Chapin Hall’s website, the fellowships “identify and develop a new generation of leaders interested in and capable of creating practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the nation’s ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment.”

A Chicago native, Corr also was selected as a co-recipient of a student Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement for the Academic Year 2013-2104, along with her classmate Natalie Danner. The honor recognized her work providing training and technical support for volunteers with Champaign County Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, a local nonprofit organization that protects the rights and well-being of children involved with the juvenile justice system.

Corr said she ultimately wants to understand ways that systems can more efficiently and effectively provide services to young and abused children with disabilities.

“In order to make a direct impact,” she said, “I believe this work needs to span research, policy, practice, and personnel preparation.”

Read the Illinois News Bureau article …