Juanita Turner made quite a favorable impression on Carolyn Van Laare some 20 years ago simply by listening.

Being supportive, generous, responsible and helpful are just a few of the reasons Juanita Turner was selected Employee of the Month for August. If you know someone who should be Employee of the Month, send letters of nomination to Jason Turner at jturn1@uab.edu.
Turner’s actions during the past two decades continue to have a positive influence on Van Laare to this day.

“Juanita is one of the most supportive, generous, responsible and helpful persons I’ve ever known,” says Van Laare, coordinator of clinical services for The Resource Center. “Whenever I was stressed out in graduate school, having difficulty with class scheduling or even needing information about the program or an upcoming event, she always was there with the answers.

“I can’t remember an occasion when she didn’t take the time to provide assistance to me or other students.”

Turner, an office associate in Human Studies, always has shown a sense of calm, a desire to help others and the ability to get any job completed — traits her co-workers say make her worthy to be the Employee of the Month for August.

John Quenelle, J.D., counselor at The Resource Center, met Turner as a student working toward a master’s degree in counseling 18 years ago.

“She was a guide to me and any student who sought her advice on everything from directions to the classroom to how to get that one course I had to have or who to see to set up a practicum,” Quenelle says.

“Now, 18 years later, I’m flattered when I run into her and she still remembers me. I run into her on occasion since I’ve been working as a marriage and family therapist at The Resource Center these past 12 years. She has been very helpful to us in setting up programs and workshops that we need to coordinate with the counseling program, which we frequently do.”

Turner, who has been an office associate in Human Studies for all but nine months of her 27 years at UAB, works primarily with the counseling-education program. Her chief job is generating the class schedule for the department. 

This isn’t the first time Turner has been honored for her work; she has received the Outstanding Services Student Award, Dean’s Award and the Mary L. James Clerical Award from the School of Education during her time at UAB.

Turner says she appreciates the compliments of her co-workers, students and former students. She says they are the reason she is here.

“I love working with the students, the faculty and my co-workers,” Turner says. “I try to do everything within my power to help the students at any given time, whether it’s with class scheduling, if they’re lost — it doesn’t matter. And I work with a very good group of faculty in counseling and educational psychology, research, health education and physical education. They are all fantastic.”

Turner’s reputation quickly spread to Marie Baisden, director of the Employee Assistance Program. Baisden first became aware of Turner from employees who had graduated from UAB with degrees in counseling. Baisden heard many stories of the ways Turner had helped students through difficult times.

After the Department of Continuing Education closed, Baisden got her first opportunity to “come face-to-face with the legend,” she says. Baisden had to find a way to provide CEUs for the counseling programs The Resource Center offered. Patricia Sheets, program coordinator for the Counselor Education Program, led Baisden to Turner.

“She was everything I had heard,” Baisden says. “She was helpful, thoughtful and kind. If she said that she would do it, it happened.”

Sheets says the examples to support Turner’s selection as Employee of the Month are numerous, but the most important, she says, is that Turner is a wonderful public relations ambassador for UAB.

“She is a model of a true professional,” Sheets says. “She has had a difficult year caring for a mother who has been seriously ill, but no matter what was going on in her personal life she never let anything drop at the office. She truly cares about our program and our students.”

Turner says her job is made easier and enjoyable because of the help of those around her. She credits her daughters Tamesha and Imani for their support at home, and she especially has high praise for co-workers Arlene Benson, an office associate in Human Studies, and Thressa Bloomer, an office services specialist in the Human Studies.

Turner recently missed time at work to care for her ailing mother, and she says Benson and Bloomer helped do her job in her absence.

“Arlene and Theressa were wonderful,” Turner says. “The work I couldn’t do here, they backed me up on it and never complained. It kept me from having to go back and forth between home and work. But that’s really how we are in the School of Education. We’re like a family, and we enjoy helping out one another.”