Jayne Hess travels widely, and in style. Of her most recent European trip, she says, “We met wonderful people, stayed at the best places, ate like kings and queens—and lost weight.”
The key is her mode of transportation. For Hess, the best way to see the world is from a bicycle. Her 255-mile tour through Hungary last summer is only the latest in 20 years of bike rides that include Napa wine country excursions and her first European jaunt, a three-week trip through Holland, which she calls “a biker’s paradise – the whole country is flat as a pancake.”
Not surprisingly, says civil and environmental engineering professor Amelia Regan, “Jayne is the most fit person in our department.”
With her daunting work and service agenda, Hess needs to be fit. As administrative specialist for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hess manages the department’s academic payroll. For more than 10 years, she’s also been the mainstay of Civil and Environmental Engineering Affiliates, the department’s industry-university support group of approximately 36 companies and individuals in the engineering industry who help with guest lectures, curriculum development and a mentor program for undergraduates
“Jayne’s above-and-beyond service includes attending every 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting (for years), keeping in contact with all the CEE affiliates and organizing quarterly meetings for as many as 150 people—a real organizational challenge. Faculty members of the affiliates come and go, but Jayne has been here through three different chairs. She’s been the anchor for the program,” Regan says.
Hess also is an anchor for Academic and Professional Women at UCI, rotating through several offices and, for the past two years, serving as co-chair of the group’s community service committee. The organization takes on a number of community service projects each year, including SOS, Boys and Girls Club and Human Options, but especially dear to Hess’ heart is Working Wardrobe, which assists women in shelters with the attire and self-confidence they need for job-hunting.
“We just finished a ‘Day of Self-Esteem’ for 280 women,” Hess says. “We arranged for new hairdos, makeup, fashion seminars and a ‘shopping trip’ for donated clothing. I’ve been a personal shopper at the event for the past 10 years, and I really enjoy it. With a partner—Christine Stadlemann in UCI Extension—I spend an hour each with three clients, putting together eight to 10 outfits. Then they have their pictures taken and model their outfits in a fashion show. The women are so excited—it’s great to see what a lift it gives them.”
Hess’s schedule also recently included a lift for the city of Anaheim, as she volunteered to help with a house-painting project. Now she’s busy filling gift baskets for sheltered and homeless people and providing Christmas for a family in need. No matter how full her good-works agenda gets, Hess continues to make time for the 40-mile Sunday brunch rides that keep her in shape and for her one frivolous pursuit: the Red Hat Society of a dozen 50-plus women friends. “We wear purple outfits and red hats. Our motto is ‘Fun After Fifty’—it’s all about friendship and women getting together,” she says.