A superior accomplishment
Two UF Health employees honored with universitywide Superior Accomplishment Awards
For the past seven years, the student volunteers in the UF Health Streetlight program have supported adolescent patients through their hospital stays, through their recoveries and sometimes through their deaths.
But just as Streetlight team members have carried their patients through the most difficult times in their lives, Rebecca Brown, M.Div., has carried them.
Since she established the Streetlight program at UF Health in 2006, Brown has mentored and inspired her team, which provides peer palliative support to adolescent patients with cystic fibrosis, cancer and sickle cell anemia. For teens, having peer support and friendship is crucial. Brown leads the team of 64 volunteers, raises awareness about Streetlight in the community and serves as a role model. Through her example, the program’s volunteers, who are typically pre-medical or pre-health students not only become much-needed friends for patients, but also get an early education about empathy and death.
For her work, Brown received the 2013 universitywide Superior Accomplishment Award for community service.
Brown takes every opportunity she can to raise awareness about Streetlight and the patients the group supports. She gave a TED talk at UF on death and dying in April that has nearly 14,000 views on Facebook. She composed a piece and performed at churches. The group also holds events to raise awareness about specific diseases.
Through her efforts, Streetlight also is expanding to two new Florida hospitals this fall.
“I hadn’t planned to make this program to make better medical students, but what is happening is this dual thing,” Brown said. “Not only are we there for these kids, it is training students. It is important in health care to continue relationships into the death process. I think we should have company in death. If we have been their friend, death is not when you say ‘Oh this is weird.’” — April Frawley
Cheryl Weston, business manager of the department of epidemiology in the colleges of Public Health and Health Professions and Medicine, received the Jeffrey A. Gabor Employee Recognition Award, which includes a $1,000 check and commemorative plaque. Universitywide Superior Accomplishment Award winners were recognized at a ceremony held April 18 at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.
Award nominators noted that Weston has taken on several challenges over the past year, including helping a new department chair and new faculty members transition to the department, coordinating the establishment of HealthStreet Gainesville, and planning the department’s move to the new Clinical and Translational Research Building.
“Cheryl has always presented a very positive attitude, effectively bringing keen analytic and creative skills and strong managerial qualities to a wide variety of projects,” a nominator said. “While there are many accomplished individuals at the University of Florida, Cheryl stands apart as she is genuinely helpful and she has the resourcefulness to find solutions to sometimes very challenging problems. She handles her interactions with faculty, staff and students quite ably and is extremely skilled, efficient and responsible.” — Jill Pease