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12 Who Care: Dr. Tara Rowe helps students with disabilities thrive

Dr. Tara Rowe has helped develop the THRIVE program to assist students with disabilities at the University of North Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — 12 Who Care honorees are being recognized for the amazing work they do in our area.

Dr. Tara Rowe is a pillar in the University of North Florida community.

For the last ten years Dr. Rowe has developed the THRIVE program to help students with disabilities get through college. Her colleagues have witnessed her dedication.

“She is moving and grooving and improving pretty much everyone’s life that comes in contact with her,” said Tyler Charles, UNF.

“She has been an amazing person in my daughter’s journey and I know for a fact in many students’ journey… students who are on the Autism spectrum,” said Christina Gilson, parent of student in THRIVE program.

Christina Gilson nominated Dr. Tara Rowe as a 12 Who Care honoree after she says Dr. Rowe changed her daughter, Kate’s, life for the better.

“I was watching television and I saw this nomination for 12 Who Care and the person who came to my mind immediately was Dr. Tara Rowe,” said Gilson.

Kate graduated with honors from the University of North Florida in the Spring.

She was a part of the THRIVE program where Dr. Rowe and other faculty teach students on the Autism spectrum who are getting their degrees how to study and get through college.

“What we noticed was that there were very few services for students who were degree seeking yet still having areas of need like social skills or making friends or living in the dorms,” said Dr. Rowe.

Students also receive support doing things they enjoy like building Lego.

“People who have Asperger’s because I am diagnosed with Asperger’s excel at building Lego because it helps them think critically which is essential for beyond college,” said Victor Sherline, THRIVE student.

Sherline is another student who has felt the impact Dr. Rowe leaves on those she helps, but Dr. Rowe doesn’t take the credit.

“I did some research and I’m like 12 Who Care, I was reading incredible stories and I’m like wow these people are amazing so it’s a huge honor and I’m really excited about it but I know I’m just doing my thing…. doing my every day thing,” said Dr. Rowe.

She credits the parents of THRIVE, instead.

“I know she has really helped a lot of these students graduate as my daughter did this Spring and go on to have successful lives and careers,” said Gilson.

“If it weren’t for her, there are a lot of people who would have come through this program, over a hundred who would’ve very quickly admitted, I probably wouldn’t have made it,” said Charles.

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