University Park,
15:26 PM

Dr. Pat Robey, from first-gen student to Distinguished Alumni


At first glance, it’s easy to see why Dr. Patricia Robey, (’94, ’97, ’03), stands out as a Governors State University alumna. She's earned three degrees, as well as a full professorship and chair position to epitomize academic and career success.

Robey was honored at the annual Distinguished Alumni Reception and Show in October 2022, for her contributions to the fields of counseling, psychology, and education. There were 220 nominations for six awards presented at the red-carpet event and Robey received 19 nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Award representing the College of Education.

“I was thrilled to be recognized by my nominators and to be chosen through this process,” Robey said. “From the time I was a student, I’ve devoted 20 years of my life to GSU. To be honored while still a faculty member is incredibly meaningful for me.”

Like other successful alumni, Robey’s story starts with how she discovered her strengths and  career path at GSU. A first-generation student and mother, she began with an undergraduate degree in psychology, followed by a Master of Arts in Communication Studies, and then a Master of Arts in Counseling.

“I never could have earned a college degree at a traditional college or university,” she said. “I’m so grateful to all the terrific professors I had over the years. They opened my eyes to opportunities I couldn’t have imagined. And now I’m grateful to be able to pay it forward.”

Robey felt destined to become a professional counselor, but another GSU opportunity altered her path toward a lifetime career of teaching and mentoring. “I thought that counseling would be my full-time career, but immediately following my graduation, I was invited to teach as an adjunct in the counseling program.”

Robey was hired as a full-time lecturer, first launching her career as an educator and, later, motivating her doctoral work at Northern Illinois University in counselor education and supervision. “My doctorate made me eligible for a tenure track position in the counseling program,” she said. “I was thrilled to be accepted for that position and am now a full professor.”

Robey discovered that she loved the rewards of the classroom and became passionate about teaching. Out of all the roles she’s assumed during her career, she’s “loved every single thing” but mentoring students and other faculty tops the list.

“My real passion is working with students—watching them develop. It’s why I got involved with teaching in the first place.”

Preparing students for their careers is a constant inspiration. Robey attends Commencement every year, “to be there for that feeling of pride. Our students’ sense of accomplishment and personal reward—it’s just invaluable.”

Beyond her contributions as a teacher and mentor, Robey has shared her abilities as a leader on campus in many capacities, including chairing the Division of Psychology and Counseling, serving from July 2019 to June 2022.

She stepped down from the chair position and returned to her role as a faculty member in the Division of Psychology and Counseling. “I’m thrilled to be back as a member of the counseling faculty again” Robey said.