One of Gainesville State College's faculty members has been awarded for a lifetime of achievement in the field of gerontology.
Dr. Pamela Elfenbein, GSC professor of Sociology and Social Work Program coordinator was named an Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Fellow.
Elfenbein is the only person in the nation to receive the award this year and is the second person from the state of Georgia to ever receive the award.
"We are very proud of her," Lee Cheek, dean of the School of Social Science, said. "We are very proud of this honor, and this brings even more status and credibility to an already very well established and highly proficient program."
Since 2007, Elfenbein has been a member of the GSC faculty. She was an instrumental part in the development and implementation of the college's Bachelor of Arts in Human Services Delivery and Administration degree, which began in 2011.
The new degree has grown and currently has 108 students majoring in the program. Sixteen students are set to graduate soon.
"She was able to do it in a time when many universities were cutting back programs," Ken Mitchell, instructor at Gainesville State College and former state director of AARP, said.
Mitchell was contacted by Elfenbein after his retirement from AARP to teach a class in the new program. He is now a full-time instructor.
"Part of the reason she got the national award is because she was able to take an academic environment and connect it to the applied world, and that makes for the program to be more effective to the community," Mitchell said.
After creating a new degree for the college, she also hopes to help start a minor in gerontology.
A community advisory board was also recently established as a way to connect the human services program to the nonprofit community. Elfenbein has also served on the Legacy Link board for the last three years.
Elfenbein said her passion for working with older adults stems from the love she has for her grandparents.
"I enjoy working with that population, hearing their stories," Elfenbein said.
Elfenbein's long career in gerontology began as a resource volunteer for older adults.
"When I was 16 years old I went to the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged and asked if I could volunteer and they set me up in a ‘Lucy booth' on South Beach," Elfenbein said.
After that she went on to get a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's in social work and in 1999 she completed her doctorate in sociology.
Elfenbein said she is honored to be given this award.
"I can't think of another word besides exciting. It's a real honor," Elfenbein said.