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December 2012

Student Life Honors Daniel Sena

(Dec. 18, 2012) Every year since 1990, the University of Denver Student Life Division honors Daniel Senaone of its employees for their work ethic of dedication and excellence, in service to the University and the division. Named for a well-loved DU employee, the Clarice Lubchenco Outstanding Service Award for 2012 was presented at a ceremony last week to Office Manager of Academic Resources Daniel Sena.

Nominations by his co-workers call Daniel "an enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Denver" while carrying out his job of greeting students, assisting alumni, addressing employers, answering multiple telephone calls and managing a team of four student workers at the front desk. Said one nominator, "He leads his team by example, making sure everyone who enters the door is greeted with a sincere and warm hello."

In addition, Daniel was awarded based on his proactive work in developing new processes. For example, he created "fair-process sign-in sheets" for the multiple walk-in hours and designed a comprehensive "front desk quick-reference resources guide" that has served as a model for other departments across the division.

Daniel's name will be placed on an award plaque naming all Clarice Award winners, which hangs on the wall near the Clarice Conference Room in the Student Life suite in Driscoll North.

Congratulations, Daniel!


About Clarice Lubchenko

As a student, alumna and employee, Clarice was devoted to students, her work and the University of Denver. She attended Colorado Women's College (1940 –1942), was the president of the student body and was elected Athletic Queen (1941 – 1942).

Clarice married DU graduate Pete Lubchenco in 1943, and raised a family including two DU graduates. She worked at DU from 1959 – 1975, and again starting in 1981 when she became administrative assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs. Clarice also used to play the organ at DU Hockey games!

The Outstanding Service Award was established to honor Clarice's numerous contributions to the DU community.

What makes a "Thrive" winner?

(Dec. 18, 2012) When Jacaranda Palmateer—director of counseling services in the Health and Counseling Center (HCC)—heard there would be a Thrive Across America program at the University of Denver, she was ready to sign up.

Having played Division I sports in college, she's always been active and maintained a regular habit of working out on her lunch breaks. Things changed with the birth of her third child.

"I went from working out 5-6 times a week to only two or three times," she says. "Thrive Across America was the motivation I needed."

Jacaranda manages a large team, so the team aspect of Thrive appealed to her.

"I invited my team to participate, and because they're very competitive, we set a goal to do 60 minutes of activity seven days a week. You didn't want to let anyone down, so it drove us to make the commitment every day."

And it paid off. HCC's team (named "How Does That Make You Feel") finished in the top spot, earning all its members iPads.

Jacaranda shares some keys to her—and the team's—success:Jacaranda Palmateer

Hold more walking meetings. "It's a great opportunity to get in some activity time during the work day."
Find any and all ways to incorporate activity into your normal day. "Participating in the Thrive program forced me to change my mindset about routine activities in my day," she says. "I take my son to the Fisher Early Learning Center (on Evans and High), so I started walking to Fisher from the office, picking up my son and walking back to my car."
Rediscover the simple things. "Our dog is the real winner," Jacaranda notes. "I discovered renewed joy in walking my dog several times a week instead of just once or twice a week."
Now that the Thrive program at DU has ended, does Jacaranda plan to keep up the competitive pace?

"Long term, I intend to keep some of these behavior changes, although without the competition of Thrive, I won't be as rigid," she says. "We have a lot of one-on-one meetings at the Health and Counseling Center, so we'll try to continue our walking meetings.

"At home, we'll bring the kids into our fitness program by doing something outdoors like family bike rides. And of course, I'll continue daily walks with my 11-year-old dog, who has regained some puppy-like energy in the process."

Jacaranda says having the University sponsor the Thrive program was a great way to get employees interacting with each other. "Everyone was talking about it. You'd hear people in the gym on campus talking about their minutes."

Thrive lunchAs a professional with a clinical psychology doctorate, Jacaranda adds another perspective. "Everyone knows that exercise helps us manage stress, but it tends to be the first thing we cut out when stressed," she says. "Clinically, we work on behavioral activation to treat stress and depression, where the activity comes first and feeling better follows."

She adds that it sends a positive message about DU as an employer.

"It says 'we value you' when your employer encourages activity for employees' health benefits. And I'm glad to see the University focusing on prevention to manage health care costs, rather than cutting benefits."

(Note: Thrive Across America ended at DU Nov. 18, 2012, but the winning teams were recognized at a celebratory luncheon Dec. 7, 2012.)

Jessica Lenhardt wins big by Losing

(Dec. 4, 2012) Jessica Lenhardt, billing production technician in the Bursar's office, will soon celebrate her one-year anniversary using the Weigh and Win program offered by the University of Denver's health care provider Kaiser Permanente and well@du, the new employee wellness program. Yet Jessica's remarkable story of wellness started several months before she signed up for the program.

The birth of her second child, a daughter, in February 2011 inspired Jessica to change.

"I wanted to be a role model for my daughter in terms of self-esteem and body image," Jessica says. "I asked myself if my daughter would be proud of me when she got older, but my body mass index was 50, I had type 2 diabetes and I knew the answer was no."Jessica Lenhardt

She started changing her diet soon after the birth, with an original goal of losing "baby weight" from two pregnancies. When she returned to work in June 2011, she put more structure around her wellness transformation. A co-worker mentioned the Weigh and Win program later that year, and Jessica signed up. By that time, she had lost 60 pounds and had achieved not only her first goal, but a second goal she set to get her weight under 200 pounds.

"I had reached a plateau, and the idea of getting paid to continue losing weight sounded great," she says. Weigh and Win rewards quarterly cash incentives to participants who start out with a BMI above 25, and go on to successfully lose weight and improve their BMI. All Weigh and Win participants are eligible for monthly prize drawings.

This month, Jessica will mark one year as a regular Weigh and Win participant. She has earned more than $250 and is sure to earn the maximum cash incentive from the program. Since beginning her journey in early 2011, she has lost half her body weight, cut her BMI to 24.6, normalized her blood sugar, and through her example, helped others such as her husband and daycare provider. Her husband has lost 40 pounds even though he didn't start out with a weight-loss goal; her daycare provider began her own wellness program based on Jessica's example, and has so far lost 20 pounds.

"I have more energy, and in the last year I've had about a third fewer sick days," she says. "I do cheat now and then, but I've learned to move on and not stress about it, which actually helps keep me on track."

Jessica shares some secrets to her success:

  • Break it down—Jessica set what she calls little goals, and as she reached each one, set a new goal. "I never set out to lose half my body weight, which would have seemed unattainable if I had made that my goal."
  • Write it down—She notes that it's one thing to set goals, but writing them down makes you accountable. And speaking of writing, she strongly recommends keeping a food journal and checking calorie counts instead of assuming something that appears healthy is a good choice.
  • Mix it up—Jessica stays motivated by changing her workout routine every few months. "Exercising was a chore when I started, but I took it one day at a time, and broke it down to as few as 10 minutes at a time to make it doable for me. Eventually I got up to as much as a total of two hours a day."

Jessica's most recent challenge was competing in a CrossFit challenge Nov. 10. "I never thought I could do something like this; it makes me proud of me."