Center Spotlight: Jessica Mrozinske Baker

Jessica Mrozinske Baker, the Center’s Accounting Coordinator, was awarded a Division Three Superior Accomplishment Award from the University of Florida.

Center Spotlight: Jessica Mrozinske Baker

June 16, 2020 | Patricia Alba

This semester, the University of Florida recognized Jessica Mrozinske Baker, the Center’s Accounting Coordinator, with a Division Three Superior Accomplishment Award. Superior Accomplishment Awards recognize staff members that have gone above and beyond their normal assigned duties.

Jessica Baker

Jessica has been part of the Gator Nation for over 30-years. She graduated from UF in 1994 with a BA in History and Classics and began working at the College of Engineering as an OPS Clerk. Jessica’s interest in constitutional law drew her back to school, where she began her law degree in 1997 at the Levin College of Law. After graduating in 1999, Jessica returned to her old position in the College of Engineering where she managed contracts and grants. In 2000, Jessica moved to the Office of Admissions to work with minority transfer students, and in 2001 she moved to the Medical Institutional Review Board, through the UF Office of Research. Jessica started her position at the Center for Latin American Studies in October 2003 and has been with us for the past 16 years.

Jessica’s work is instrumental to the Center. Not only does she monitor all Center funds and budgets, but she also helps faculty write and manage various grants and works with the Office of Research to ensure all proposals are approved. One particular grant that stands out in Jessica’s mind is the MacArthur grant, which helped us establish the Master of Sustainable Development Practice program. “The writing process for this grant was an incredible experience,” says Jessica. “It took almost a year to write and submit the grant with over ten faculty and staff working on the project from both the Center and African Studies.”

As part of her work at the Center, and due in part to the type of research our faculty conduct, Jessica has seen all kinds of unusual travel expenses. She recalls her first experience working with a faculty member conducting research in the Amazon. “Because he was in the Amazon, we had to approve expenses like canoe rentals. Coming from Engineering where we were buying lasers to figuring out how to purchase a canoe in the Amazon was an eye-opening moment. I realized there is a lot more to research than what you traditionally see.”

Outside of work, Jessica is very involved in her community. She is part of the Planning and Zoning Committee and even ran for City Commission. Her passion for community involvement was instilled by her father, who was heavily involved with local government issues. “I grew up watching him advocate for disability access. It has always been a part of my life.” Jessica’s position has changed throughout the past 16 years. “The research and what we do in Latin America has become more intricate. And trying to find ways to properly do that within the UF system involves having to reach out and talk to various people to see how we can accomplish our research goals,” explains Jessica. “UF doesn’t always have the methods in place for accomplishing these goals so there is a lot of innovating from a fiscal aspect that goes on at the Center.”

It goes without saying that Jessica’s hard work and dedication have helped push the Center forward. Join us in congratulating Jessica for her Division Three Superior Accomplishment Award!

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