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UCF's Withers Named Florida Social Worker of the Year

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By Karen Guin

Jacqueline Withers, field education coordinator for social work at the University of Central Florida, has been named Social Worker of the Year by the Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

The award recognizes Withers' three-decade-plus career as a licensed clinical social worker and volunteer in Central Florida. "Jacquie models the ethics and values of the social work profession in her work setting, community involvement and personal life," said Cindy Carlson, director of case management at Winter Park Memorial Hospital and a former colleague of Withers. "She is a shining star."

Withers joined the university's School of Social Work in 2008 and currently oversees the education of social work students during their internships at community agencies. She previously worked for two years at the UCF Counseling Center, where she was a counselor, referral specialist and internship supervisor.

Before coming to UCF, Withers spent years working as a professional social worker, initially for Orange County Social Services and later at Waterman Memorial Hospital, Shands Teaching Hospital, Winter Park Memorial Hospital, Hospice of Central Florida, Florida Hospital and CHARLEE Family Care Services. She frequently rose to leadership positions at her work place and strove to educate health care professionals about the positive impact social work can have on patient care.

Withers also has spent countless hours volunteering for organizations such as the Friends of Children and Families, American Cancer Society, Social Work Leaders in Health Care, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Last year she formed a nonprofit organization named "Four Families," which serves foster children in Central Florida.

Earlier this year, Withers was named Social Worker of the Year for the Central Florida Unit of the FL-NASW. She was selected from among 18 regional winners for the statewide award. She will be formally recognized at the state chapter's annual meeting, held June 10-12 in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

"Being named state social worker of the year is a superlative compliment to Jacquie and, by association, to the School of Social Work," said John Ronnau, the school's director. "Jacquie is the consummate social worker and very deserving of this recognition."

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