Sonoran Center’s Jacy Farkas earns Young Professional Award

March 28, 2024

Jacy K. Farkas, associate director of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities and director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, received the Young Professional Award at the annual conference of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities

The Young Professional Award is presented to someone in the disabilities field who is under 40 years old and has “demonstrated dedication and commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families through their work as a bridge between the academic sector and the community,” according to the association’s website. 

Jacy K. Farkas stands in front of an AUCD backdrop holding the glass award she won.

Jacy K. Farkas received the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Young Professional Award at their annual conference.

“It is a real honor to be recognized by the association that has been my professional home for most of my adult life and that has continued to help me grow as a professional,” said Farkas, who was the second employee hired at the Sonoran Center after it was established in 2006. 

Farkas directs and is the primary instructor for an undergraduate interdisciplinary certificate program in developmental disabilities at the Sonoran Center, which is part of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Under her leadership, several of the certificate courses have been adopted as required or elective classes for the Bachelor of Science in Medicine. She is also the principle or co-principle investigator on fourteen grants and contracts. 

“It is important to note that not only does Jacy talk about diversity and inclusion, but she also lives it – making sure that people representative of disability and diverse cultures are involved in her teaching, presentations, research, development and grantsmanship,” said Wendy Parent-Johnson, PhD, former director of the Sonoran Center in her letter of recommendation. “She models these practices for her students, staff, colleagues and peers, making an influential impact beyond the direct work that she does.”

Farkas attributes the evolution of her neurodivergent identity to her professional journey within the association and Sonoran Center and is driven to support equity and justice at the university and in the community.

“I aim to do my part to ensure full community participation by individuals with disabilities through all stages of life,” she said. “Communities benefit when they recognize the strengths brought by diversity in abilities, culture, age and life experience.”

Farkas is completing her dissertation in the UArizona Human Development and Family Science doctoral program. She said that as she moves into senior leadership at the Sonoran Center, she hopes to offer the same support to the staff that she has received. 

“I have the privilege to work with such amazing staff, faculty, trainees and community members to increase access and opportunities for everyone,” Farkas said. “I have been able to work alongside and learn from people with disabilities and their families, which has fostered my passion and commitment to this field. I’m looking forward to providing opportunities for our staff to continue to grow.”