Karen Backes Headshot
  • The Learning Center

Karen Backes, MSW

Academic Programs Coordinator II

How Can I Help

I'm here to help students identify their needs and goals, get connected to academic support resources, and develop the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond.


Karen Backes joined the Learning Center team in August of 2019, after receiving her Master of Social Work degree from the Brown School at Washington University. She is passionate about promoting equity and inclusion in academics and extracurricular programming on WashU’s campus.

In her role as Academic Programs Coordinator II, Karen oversees the Matched Academic Mentoring and Academic Skills Peer Coaching programs, maintains an ever-growing virtual library of academic skills resources, and collaborates with campus partners to promote, improve, and expand the Learning Center’s programs and resources. She also co-teaches the Seminar in Academic Mentoring (SAM) training course for new mentors every fall and the FSAP Transitions course during the summer term. As a certified Social Work Field Instructor for the St. Louis Field Education Collaborative, Karen occasionally supervises foundation-level practicum students; interested first-year MSW students are encouraged to email Karen or check Handshake for more information about open positions.

In her spare time, Karen enjoys hiking, traveling, watching “so bad they’re good” movies, and taking care of her ever-growing collection of houseplants.


BS in Psychology, University of Florida

MSW, Washington University in St. Louis

Visit the Learning Center site to learn more!