VERMILLION, S.D. -- Jennifer Gaspers, secretary for Disability Services, has been named April 2008 Career Services Employee of the Month at The University of South Dakota.
Gaspers gave thanks to her co-workers as well as the students she works with for making her job a memorable experience the past five years. "My boss, co-workers have definitely made it worth going to work each day," admitted Gaspers, who accepted the award during a reception in her honor at the Unity House on The U’s campus. "Working with the students makes it so worthwhile."
Nominated for the award by Ernetta Fox, director of Disability Services at USD, and Jacy Fry, Program Assistant I for Academic Affairs, Gaspers was recognized for making students with disabilities feel more at ease when it comes to registering with their office and her dedication to ensuring that students with disabilities receive the same level of service.
"Jennifer provides exceptional customer service to the students who rely on our office," Fox stated in her nomination of Gaspers. "Each semester Jennifer organizes, implements and oversees at least 250 exams proctored by Disability Services. She also has the ability to quietly and calmly resolve issues that students feel are beyond their control."
Next month, Gaspers will take matters into her own hands on a whole different level when she leaves The U to join the Peace Corps for 27 months. She will travel to Swaziland in Africa and put her healthcare skills to use. More than 40 percent of the population of Swaziland is living with HIV/AIDS – the highest rate in the world.
"It’s something I’ve thought about for some time," Gaspers said of her decision to join the Peace Corps. "I attended a seminar in Sioux Falls more than a year ago, found out I was qualified and thought at the time, ‘let’s just see where this goes.'"
Gaspers believes her experience as a hospice volunteer as well as working for disability services at USD were the "right fit" for the Peace Corps and significant reasons she’s leaving for Swaziland in June.
"This is proof of her compassion and dedication to helping others," added Fry. "While I'm sad to see her leave, the Peace Corps is lucky to have her."
A native of Lindsay, Neb., Gaspers received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from USD in 1999. When she returns from Swaziland, Gaspers isn’t ruling out the pursuit of a master’s degree in public health, something she knows she will have time to think about while helping others.
"I’m sure there are going to be changes that are going to happen within me because of this," she described. "It’s definitely an exciting opportunity for me to explore the world and challenge myself to help people who desperately need it."
A photo of Gaspers receiving her award from Matthew C. Moen, acting provost and vice president for academic affairs at USD, is available for download at www.usd.edu/urelations/images/Jennifer_Gaspers.jpg.