Winning an award for exceptional vision and leadership is a great accomplishment, but it isn’t very often that an individual inspires the creation of a new award. Such is the case for Jen Eichmeyer, program director for the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program and the recipient of the first School of Allied Health Sciences Award for Exceptional Vision and Leadership.
“There are plenty of great leaders who deserve recognition, but Jen’s accomplishments are unusual, and needed to be recognized. Jen is not only the first recipient of the Allied Health Sciences Leadership Award, she is the inspiration for it,” said Bob Wood, director of the School of Allied Health Sciences.
Four years ago, Boise State hired Eichmeyer to create and direct the first genetic counseling program in the Northwest. Genetic counseling positions outnumber the number of genetic counselors and the career is growing in popularity. Eichmeyer thought it was important to allow access to as many people as possible and so she created the first online Masters of Science in Genetic Counseling Program in the nation. The program graduated its first students in the spring 2021 semester.
“While the implementation and success of this program are things to take great pride in, I am more proud of our students for completing this new program while navigating the obstacles of being the first group to do so with the hardships of COVID-19,” Eichmeyer said. “I wanted our students to graduate without a lot of trauma and to still want to be part of the genetic counseling profession. Thankfully, many are still enthusiastic about their future career.”
In addition to creating and implementing the first online American genetic counseling program, Eichmeyer has emerged as a leader across campus and now the nation. The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling recently elected her to their board of directors, which ensures that new and existing programs in the field meet and maintain quality standards.
“Jen’s accomplishments run vast, and she seems to leave an impact wherever she goes,” Wood said. “You think about all those things she has done, at the national level, the university level, and within our college. There are very few places you can go on campus and mention Jen Eichmeyer without the reaction being ‘I know Jen. She’s fantastic.’ She is of tremendous value to our institution, our college, and our school.”
On campus, Eichmeyer is a dialogue facilitator for conversations around race and ethnicity, as well as a leading force in helping the campus transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently became an equity advocate and helps search committees consider equity in their hiring and retention practices.
When asked how she is able to accomplish so much, Eichmeyer responded, “I’m an enthusiastic person. When I have an idea I want to see it come to life. I don’t want to just visualize it, I want to see it become real. When I encounter somebody with that same enthusiasm, I want to empower them to be knowledgeable about information they would be able to use for themselves.”