Tuesday, May 14, 2024
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Jennifer McGinn has been with University of Iowa REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) since 2016. The comprehensive four-year program within the College of Education helps college-age students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities transition to the next phase of life in a structured collegiate environment. 

As a member of REACH’s academic team, McGinn teaches several classes, including Health I, Health II, Lifetime Literacy, and Social Skills, and provides academic support as students select classes and navigate campus. 

“I believe that all people can accomplish big things with the appropriate types of support,” McGinn said. “I value talking with students about ways to manage their feelings and identifying how their goals might be able to influence the decisions they choose to make.”

Prior to becoming a UI staff member, the UI alumna; worked in several non-profit organizations supporting children with mental health diagnosis. The goal was providing students resources to cope with their feelings and to manage their behaviors. In addition, McGinn worked as a paraprofessional in a classroom for elementary aged students with an autism diagnosis. 

Student success has remained a key driver throughout McGinn’s career. 

“Seeing students succeed is the thing that makes me the proudest,” McGinn said. “This success could be managing their feelings in that moment or graduating from the UI REACH program and everything in between. It doesn’t matter how big or small the achievement is, it matters that the student took the steps to meet their goals. All people have strengths and challenges and supporting students to overcome their challenges is very rewarding.”

When not at work, McGinn enjoys exploring with her 9-year-old daughter, Maelyn. Last summer, they embarked on a 19-day camping trip in which they stopped at several national parks and other attractions on their way to Seattle, Washington. She also enjoys raising Monarch butterflies with Maelyn, spending time at her husband’s family’s lake house in Indiana, and, coaching Maelyn’s volleyball team. 

McGinn’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. Colleagues have recognized McGinn’s commitment to students and her support for mental health. 

“Jenny McGinn creates inclusive environments everywhere,” colleagues wrote. “She has a wide variety of campus connections and does her best to meet with and ask questions for the goal of improving well-being, for not only her life but for the students she has interactions with daily.”