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Georgia Southern hires new director of EAGLE Academy, open house with meet and greet and information sessions on Nov. 19

Julie Pickens, Ph.D., is the new director of the EAGLE Academy, the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program at Georgia Southern University. The EAGLE Academy will host a meet and greet with Pickens and program volunteers on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the College of Education (COE), room 3156, on the Statesboro Campus, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will also serve as an open house with information sessions at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Pickens, who previously served as a limited-term faculty member at Georgia Southern from 2015 to 2017, most recently was employed at the Savannah College of Art and Design. There she served as the head of the Jump Start program, which provides an extended orientation to increase awareness of services and resources to students with disabilities, ease their transition to the university and provide strategies for success. 

“I was so excited to have the opportunity to return to Georgia Southern and to be a part of EAGLE Academy,” said Pickens. “EAGLE Academy was just getting started when I left in 2017, and it is so great to see the program it is becoming and to help grow it.”

Pickens completed a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she served as a pre-service teacher supervisor and guest lecturer. She also holds a graduate-level certificate and licensure in rehabilitation counseling, a master’s in public and nonprofit management, and a bachelor’s in political science and public administration.

Her research focuses on transition-age students with severe disabilities, community-based instruction and employment support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I have always had a passion and interest in assisting transition-age students,” said Pickens. “It is such an exciting and scary time in the lives of all students, but especially students with disabilities. There are so many changes happening in their lives and so many skills to target as students have the opportunity to be their own best advocate and make the life they want for themselves.”

EAGLE Academy, named for its commitment to Equal Access to Gainful Learning and Employment, is a comprehensive transitional program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Unique to most programs of their kind, Georgia Southern EAGLE Academy students are given a custom-built academic program based on their interests, giving the students the same opportunity that others on campus have to take courses for credit and work toward their career goals. Students also live on campus, allowing them to become fully immersed in campus life and have easy access to all campus amenities. Finally, students enrolled in the program are also trained for employment through internships or paid jobs which are secured with the assistance of the Academy’s team.
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Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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