Scholarship gift honors a mother’s legacy

Erica and Judie Goldin pictured in 2009.

When Erica Goldin graduated with her UF master’s degree in occupational therapy last December, her family friends Toni Thompson and David H. Amis thought carefully about the perfect graduation gift for Erica.

They decided to honor the memory of Erica’s mother by establishing the Judie Pink-Goldin Occupational Therapy Fellowship.

“The gift, incredibly gracious and giving, gives not just to me and my family, but to generations of occupational therapists to be,” Erica said. “I am my mother’s daughter and can only hope that I make as big of an impact on the world as she did and continues to do today.”

Judie Pink-Goldin, a 1976 graduate of UF’s occupational therapy program, had a 33-year career at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital in Tampa. In addition to her specialized skills in traumatic brain injury and polytrauma under the physical medicine and rehabilitation service, Judie provided occupational therapy services to the psychiatry and geriatrics departments. She also served as a fieldwork education coordinator and was instrumental in establishing occupational therapy’s role in the hospital’s Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program for military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. As a therapist, she was known for her mentorship, love of learning, compassion and dedication to her work.

“I can vividly recall Mom always coming home late from work,” said Judie’s son Todd. “No matter how exhausted she was, she always had a smile on her face. When asked by her family why she was coming home late her answer was always the same: ‘I needed to finish my progress notes.’”

Toni Thompson, a fellow occupational therapist, met Judie more than 25 years ago. In addition to their shared profession, the two friends each had children about the same age. The bond extended to the next generation when their daughters, Vanessa Rangel and Erica Goldin, became best friends.

Erica followed in her mother’s footsteps and was accepted to UF’s occupational therapy program in 2010. It was exciting to see Erica and Judie share the mindset of an occupational therapist, Toni said.

“They talked about the unchanging occupational therapy foundations of holistic, client-centered care in an ever-changing world of health care,” Toni said. “Erica enriched Judie’s experience with the latest educational and research aspects of evidence-based practice. Judie’s experience offered Erica the practice viewpoint, a new dimension to Erica’s book knowledge.”

Just a few months after Erica started her occupational therapy studies, Judie was diagnosed with advanced melanoma.

“The last thing that Erica expected or wanted was for her mother and mentor to become her first patient,” Toni said. “Judie plodded through the cancer treatment maze as Erica stepped up to provide input into her care. Erica designed interventions to improve Judie’s skills in all activities of daily living. What Erica could not manage to improve, she sought to maintain.”

Even during her illness Judie continued to put her family first, said her son David.

“No matter what was going on in life, nothing stopped her from making sure all her kids had what they needed and more,” David said.

In May 2011, 10 months after her diagnosis, Judie passed away with her three children and husband Bruce at her side.

“My mother was and will always be my inspiration,” Erica said. “She has instilled values of compassion, patience and care into my character. I am certain my mother’s handprint on my heart led me to my career in occupational therapy where these traits are essential to successfully helping others.”

The Judie Pink-Goldin Occupational Therapy Fellowship will support a UF occupational therapy student who has had to overcome adversity, Toni said.

“By setting up an endowed scholarship, we have ensured an everlasting tribute to Judie and Erica, the Goldin women,” Toni said.