Social Work honors four staff members with GEM Awards

Monday, Dec 05, 2022

By Valerie Fields Hill
School of Social Work

GEM 2022 Awardee


One School of Social Work employee helped a desperate caller to access Medicare. Another staff member took on the duties of two employees – for two years. Still others supported students and faculty in immeasurable ways.


In all, four School of Social Work staff members were honored Monday (Dec. 5) for exceptional work deeds and for ensuring the success of multiple department initiatives.


Gina Gonzalez-Wilson, John Sevier, Jook Lee and Ginger Jackson all earned the School of Social Work’s GEM Award for “going the extra mile” in assisting students and departmental peers with additional – and vital - work functions.


“They are truly remarkable achievements, and it attests to the contributions in all that they do for the School of Social Work, university and local community,” said Nelda Lawson, a Social Work manager who oversees the GEM Award program. “They are extraordinary.”


The four staff members were recognized during a surprise presentation at the School of Social Work’s Annual Holiday Luncheon Monday. Each employee will receive a $1,000 stipend.


The honorees were selected by a committee after being nominated by faculty and staff peers. The honorees were considered based on their performance in at least one of four areas: customer service, community outreach, climate /diversity and teamwork.


“The GEM Award is significant because it is based on criteria representative of the university’s mission and reflective of the characteristics of outstanding service and performance by individuals,” Lawson said.


The 2022 G.E.M honorees and some of their accomplishments are:


GEM 2022 Awardee - Gina Gonzalez-Wilson 

Gina Gonzalez-Wilson, Administrative Assistant I


“Gina has a great work ethic,” said a staff member who nominated her. “She values and demonstrates good, quality and hard work.”


Gonzalez-Wilson often picks up telephone traffic coming into the SSW’s administrative offices. She answered one such call from an anonymous person seeking help with locating Medicare services.


“Gina received a phone call from a person who was desperate for assistance. The caller was trying to help her friend sign up for Medicare,” the peer wrote. “Even though this does not pertain to UTA or any of our services, Gina is the type of person who believes that ‘This is not my job' or 'Our school does not handle this’ is not the answer to give to people seeking help.”


“She looked up information on Medicare, gave her some of the information she needed and emailed the rest of the information so that it would be easier for her to click on links,” the peer wrote. Gina deserves to win the GEM Award. Gina is a loyal, caring, and dependable employee who goes the extra mile and is an asset to the School of Social Work.”


GEM 2022 Awardee - John Sevier 

John Sevier, Web Developer


John Sevier supported more than 100 faculty and staff with IT and website support during the pandemic. John performed duties that previously were staffed by two positions, IT specialist and web developer.

“He did this while the School of Social Work was going through a pandemic when IT support was even more critical with everyone working remotely,” wrote the anonymous staff member who nominated Sevier for recognition. “He provided IT support, maintained thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and more than 250 webpages for the School of Social Work’s website.”

Sevier completed more than 2,605 distinct website changes and requests in 2021.

He was instrumental in helping the School of Social Work’s website “Accessibility Score” increase from 86 percent to 95 percent - higher than the industry average of 83 percent.


GEM 2022 Awardee - Jook Lee

Jook Lee, Coordinator I, Special Programs

Lee began working in the School of Social Work in March, a peer who nominated her wrote.

“She is phenomenal! She is a team player and is always willing to help anyone who needs it. She will always ask what she can do to help and does not just wait around,” the peer wrote.

“For example, two weeks before the schedule was due, she completed the corrections without being told,” wrote the peer. “Her attention to detail is so appreciated, as she is able to catch errors in the schedule before they cause problems, greatly reducing the anxiety of students and advisors during peak enrollment periods.”

“I'm not sure how we managed without her, as Jook is vital and irreplaceable team member, and I am so glad that she is a Maverick!”


GEM 2022 Awardee - Ginger Jackson

Ginger Jackson, Administrative Assistant I

Jackson, a long-time School of Social Work administrative assistant, played many roles over the last school year, a faculty member who nominated her wrote.

“She led and primarily handled the administrative support functions for the April 2022 Celebration of Excellence event,” wrote the peer, adding Jackson followed up that work by assisting with organizing the Summer 2022 Celebration of Excellence reception as well.

“Working with the administrative team, Ginger took the lead on supportive functions. They [the team] created a spreadsheet of tasks to accomplish and completed everything on time.”

Over the past year, Jackson served on a search committee for tenure and non-tenure track faculty members and helped to host several Social Work events, including after-hours orientations, homecoming activities, new student move-ins and job fairs for co-eds and alumni.

“She excels at communication and shows her compassion to staff, faculty and students on a daily basis,” Jackson’s peer wrote. “When faced with challenges, she evaluates the situation ethically, confronts the issue analytically and problem solves efficiently and effectively.”