Gerontological Society of America honors PCC’s Jan Abushakrah
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the country’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has bestowed the Clark Tibbitts Award to Portland Community College instructor Jan Abushakrah.
Abushakrah, who serves as PCC’s gerontology faculty chair, was honored for her contribution to the advancement of gerontology and geriatrics education by GSA’s Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.
“I will forever cherish this highest, annual award because I was secretly nominated by my PCC team, and then was in tears and speechless when I learned that I had been selected by the award committee,” Abushakrah said. “Our program has guided hundreds of students to complete their first college experience, additional college degree, or certificate in preparation for meaningful careers that make a positive difference in the lives of older persons.”
- Careers in gerontology are among the next big things in the 21st century workplace, and this program is on the cutting edge of this opportunity.
- This program is designed for individuals who wish to develop careers in the field of aging, those already employed or active in gerontology or related fields who wish to enhance their career paths, and those seeking challenging and meaningful career changes in response to new opportunities created by an aging society.
Abushakrah said she is most proud of her program’s wrap-around student support efforts and its “Ending Ageism” and “Flipping Mindsets” campaigns for encore or older learners entering college. The long-time faculty member played a significant role in the development of the international Gerontology Education Competencies as part of a new Gerontology Program Accreditation process, and she served on the nation’s first Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council Board of Governors.
PCC’s Gerontology Program offers five career pathways certificates that prepare graduates to enter existing jobs and provide them with the skills needed to create new positions and directions through self-employment. Graduates work in a wide-range of entry-level and advanced positions in aging services, long term care and community programs. This includes serving as life enrichment coordinators, health and wellness specialists, aging life care managers, advocates, horticultural therapists, and many more.
“In the Portland Metro area and around the globe, our graduates are having a profound impact on the quality of life of diverse older persons,” she added.
Her own staff have said that Abushakrah, who founded the program, has made the college’s Gerontology Program what it is today. She transitioned it into a fully online format to meet the needs and demands of busy students, which helped to ensure the long-term viability. Through her community-wide outreach and mentoring, Abushakrah has helped to build an affinity for the program by students and faculty.
“Jan’s passion and commitment to advancing gerontology programs across community colleges has demonstrated a leadership that is both collaborative and heartfelt,” stated Mike Faber in the award application. “Jan is a real pioneer in the field of gerontology education at the community college level.”
The award presentations will take place at GSA’s November 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting in Philadelphia, either in-person or virtually. The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging.