Disability Support Services’ Johnson ‘never lets any student down’

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johnson streamAccording to Ashleigh Johnson’s colleagues, she consistently exceeds expectations in her role as a program coordinator in Disability Support Services (DSS) — a true feat considering how many hats she wears, from managing student employees to developing inclusive programming — and that has earned her the title of UAB’s Employee of the Month.

“With her hands in so many procedures, projects and overall daily office operations, she demonstrates an impeccable ability to juggle many things at once and does it with ease,” said Valerie Dubose, DSS assistant director.

One of the most important aspects of Johnson’s job, according to Jacyi Hamrick, a teaching assistant in the School of Engineering dean’s office, is the ability to maintain a positive attitude and environment for DSS students, many of whom experience high levels of stress. That positivity extends to other DSS staff members as well, Hamrick added.

“Ashleigh likes to get to know the individuals she interacts with in order to know how she can help them,” she said. “She has always put the interest of others before hers.”

Keeping in good spirits is a two-way street, Johnson says, crediting her co-workers for helping her stay upbeat in an occasionally demanding job.

“She influences students to speak up and challenge stigmas on campus.”

“Our office works really well together because we are able to consult, brainstorm and laugh together at the end of the day,” she said. “DSS is an incredibly warm and supportive environment, which makes stressful situations much easier.”

Johnson’s colleagues also praise her dedication to inclusivity and accessibility at UAB — a trait that comes with the job, to be sure, but one that Johnson consistently takes to the next level, said DSS Director Allison Solomon.

“She regularly reaches out to collaborate, partner and problem-solve to meet the needs of DSS students and to ensure the [Division of Student Affairs] is continuously considering access,” Solomon said.

For Johnson, she said that passion all boils down to one thing: having the opportunity to watch students succeed and grow.

Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.

“Working in DSS, we see our students fighting through a lot of stigma while being successful students and people,” she said. “While our office is primarily known for classroom accommodations, we have also made it our responsibility to help all students, faculty and staff see how important accessibility and inclusion are for all students. That’s something I try to promote in all aspects of my role, so that students feel comfortable coming to us for support.”

A student assistant within DSS, Molly Clay, said Johnson is always the first person to lend a helping hand, and often is a confidant within the office. But beyond that, she said Johnson helps create lasting change across campus.

“She never lets any student down when they are having a hard time and is always there when someone needs help,” Clay said. “She influences students to speak up and challenge stigmas on campus.”