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UF Student Affairs personnel earn university-wide recognition

Three members of the University of Florida Division of Student Affairs have won university-level Superior Accomplishment Awards, a competitive honor that recognizes 16 top staff members for outstanding service, efficiency and impact.

Jenna Gonzalez, recently appointed interim director of the Disability Resource Center, and Dr. Stephani Jahn, a clinical assistant professor at the Counseling and Wellness Center, were among eight recipients of the program’s top award. Amber Larkin, associate director for outdoor recreation at the Department of Recreational Sports, received a Special Recognition Award.

Gonzalez and Jahn will receive a $2,000 award. Larkin will receive a $1,000 award.

Jenna Gonzalez

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Jenna Gonzalez, interim director of the Disability Resource Center, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Education at UF. She started at the DRC in 2017. UF Student Life photo by Christopher Gomez

At the Disability Resource Center, or DRC, Gonzalez oversees efforts to facilitate equitable access for students to UF buildings, services and systems. By identifying the needs of students on an individual basis, she and her team provide housing and academic accommodations including captioning services, low-distraction testing locations and early access to assignments.

Gonzalez, who is currently earning her doctorate in special education, teaches courses on how disabilities impact lives in schools, workplaces and homes. She has also continued collaborating with UF Recreational Sports, or RecSports, to refer students whose wellbeing could be improved with physical activity to their holistic wellness program and help remove barriers to recreational activities for students with disabilities.

The referral program was among the reasons the DRC was recognized by College Magazine as one of their Top 10 Campuses for Students with Physical Disabilities in 2019.

“Jenna consistently works above and beyond her job expectations,” said Dr. Heather White, dean of students and associate vice president for Student Affairs. “She truly stands apart – her tireless work ethic, passion to serve and ability to establish relationships set the foundation of excellence from which she works on a daily basis.”

Dr. Stephani Jahn

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Dr. Stephani Jahn earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from UF. She has been a clinical assistant professor at the Counseling and Wellness Center since 2018. UF Student Life photo

As a clinical assistant professor at the Counseling and Wellness Center, or CWC, Jahn helps clients develop practical solutions to immediate problems and heal deeply embedded ones. This summer, she was on a small team that developed an online program for trainees at the Alachua County Crisis Center, which provides 24-hour phone counseling to residents in crisis. Her work helped enable volunteers to complete their training remotely for the first time during the pandemic. She volunteered more than 100 hours, many of which were over the course of about five weeks.

At the same time, she mailed more than 400 handmade face coverings to healthcare workers nationwide. She also played a key role in virtual initiatives at the CWC, including an online art exhibition of student-made pieces on display in the office’s waiting room and a video celebrating 2020 graduates.

“Throughout the year, Dr. Jahn didn’t hesitate to use her skills and knowledge to support Gainesville and the UF community,” said Dr. Meggen Sixbey, associate director of the CWC. “Her expertise, enthusiasm and leadership are critical to our team and I look forward to seeing her future contributions and achievements.”

Amber Larkin

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Amber Larkin became associate director for outdoor recreation in June 2019. Revamping programs and facilities at Lake Wauburg has been a key part of her role. UF Student Life photo by Christopher Gomez

Larkin manages activities at Lake Wauburg in addition to overseeing the Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education, or CORE. In 2019, she established hallmark events at Lake Wauburg, including kayaking trips to stargaze and workshops for sailing, paddle boarding and climbing. When a tornado at the lake downed 50 trees – resulting in about $300,000 worth of property and equipment damage, including the destruction of the UF Sailing Club’s fleet – Larkin played a key role in coordinating repairs.

“Without her work and relationship building around campus, we would not have been able to reopen the park as quickly as we did,” said Catherine Cramp, director for programs at RecSports. “Amber displays an outstanding level of professionalism, care and inclusion. She is the hub and the heart of all things Outdoor Recreation – especially at Lake Wauburg.”

In 2020, she worked with epidemiologists at UF to safely reopen key RecSports services according to COVID-19 protocols.

The 2021 Superior Accomplishment Awards nomination period is from September 14 to October 30. Nomination forms can be found here.

Soureces: Jenna Gonzalez, jgonzalez@ufsa.ufl.edu;
Stephani Jahn, sjahn@ufsa.ufl.edu;
Amber Larkin, alarkin@ufsa.ufl.edu