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Minute with a Member


National Alumni Society Member

Cheri NippName: Cheri Nipp, MS, OTR/L, SCLV

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy 1990; Graduate Certificate in Low Vision 2010; Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy 2012

Hometown: Detroit, Alabama

Current town: Guntown, Mississippi

Current employer and job: North Mississippi Medical Center Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation- Occupational Therapist for Low Vision Rehabilitation Services

What is your favorite UAB memory? My favorite memory from UAB is the first day of classes.  Being a small town girl from a town with no red lights and only a population of 200 people, I was as nervous as a “sore tail cat” in a room full of rocking chairs.  I left extremely early that morning, as I made my way, I could see the building where my classes were so I took the first parking place I could find (it was a in a lot because I couldn’t parallel park).  I was pretty proud of myself, until I realized- just because I could “see the building” didn’t mean I was “close to the building”. After my 15 minute hike to my class, I vowed to return after hours and scope out parking areas that were close to the building, however- I never learned how to parallel park.  

How has UAB impacted your life?  UAB has afforded me the opportunity to have a career for the past 23 years that I absolutely love.

What made you choose your current profession? I chose my profession after my involvement in a car accident at the age of 18. That accident required me to be a patient of occupational therapy for over a year. I knew within a short period of time that I had found the profession I was meant to have.

What lessons has your professional life taught you?  My professional life has taught me to be grateful for little things in life.  So often we take for granted the gift of independence for even the small mundane tasks of life. 

What would you do if you were given more time in each day?  I think I would catch up on movies I haven’t had time to see and exercise while I watch them.

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important?  I believe I would have to say the cell phone/Iphone.   

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?  I would wish for all orphaned children to find a forever family to love them, that I could eat all I want and not gain weight, and for all people to have a heart for service to others.

If you could go back to any age which age and why? I don’t think I would want to go back to any age unless I could take my current wisdom with me.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why? I don’t really identify with any particular historical figure.  I have grown to appreciate people in history who overcame terrible circumstances and allowed their stories to be a part of teaching others.  Helen Keller was a wonderful example of overcoming extraordinary odds and living her life as an advocate for others.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  This goes back to my 3 wishes.  I would want every orphaned child to have a home and a family to love them. Adoption is close to my heart because of my own child. So many children across the globe are stuck in a system that leaves them unable to find what their heart desires most which is security and love.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  I am not sure if this is a “natural gift”, but I would like the gift of seeing myself as other’s see me. 

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? My friends who have a willingness to hold me accountable to being a better person are the ones I value most.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life?  Helen Hunt – maybe….

What is your motto?  One of my favorite quotes is by Mahatma Gandi- The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?  My dad always told me that a good name is worth more than money. 

If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why?  I would like to start a program to provide those in need with assistive technology for low vision and provide education and training in the use.  I often find that a simple device can make a world of difference for someone who wants to read, but it’s not always readily affordable.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? My child was born in Russia- I would love to take her back there to see her country and allow her to experience the culture.

What is something you are proud of and why? I am proud that I am currently the only O.T. in Mississippi with a Specialty Certification in Low Vision from The American Occupational Therapy Association

What is the last book you read? Under The Fairy Tree by Will Sadler.  He is a gentleman from Arkansas who has low vision and uses assistive technology to write his books.

What things do you not like to do? I do not like to run- wished I did, but I don’t.

Where would you go in a time machine?  I would travel to the future (maybe 3030- to see how my future great great great great great grand children are doing.

What 3 items would you take to a desert island other than food and water?  My pillow, a generator, and a radio.  (Assuming that I am only there for a short period of time)

Student Alumni Society Member

wei zhang smallName: Wei Zhang

Graduation Year:

PhD on Nutrition Sciences

Changsha city, China

Why did you choose to attend UAB?
The incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer has been dramatically increasing over the past decades in spite of better medical technology available. Better control and management of these chronic diseases have to be achieved via improving dietary and lifestyle interventions among the population. After finishing my medical school, in order to get more research training and learn how to generate better treatment for diseases, I decided to apply to the PhD program in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences within the School of Health Professions. As I expected, this department has two internationally recognized research centers (the Nutrition & Obesity Research Center and Diabetes Research Center) and these centers have dramatically enhanced my knowledge in this field.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? My mentor Dr. W. Timothy Garvey. When I was looking for training opportunities across the world with my interests in diabetes, Dr. Garvey was the first professor who replied to my email. After finishing my first year rotations, I was lucky to be able to join Dr.Garvey’s lab to continue my PhD research. During my PhD study, I have been able to conduct research in cultured cells and in rodent models with tissue-specific gene manipulation which I consider precious resources that not every student can have the opportunity to study on, and I have learned both basic experimental protocols that are generally used in scientific research and a series of experimental protocols that were essential for answering scientific questions in the field of metabolic syndrome. More importantly, though as a busy department chair, Dr. Garvey also spends a lot of time reviewing my research work and carefully revises every detail I write in the manuscript, he also shares his ideas or suggestions with us either by individual appointment or presentations in lab meeting. After several years of study in nutrition sciences and in the lab of Dr.Garvey, I do feel that I am accumulating more and more expertise in this field. In summary, I think Dr. Garvey is my favorite professor for leading me into the field of my study, his valued teaching has been a window for learning the most frontier knowledge in the field, and his professionalism has cultivated the way I think and conduct research professionally.

What is your favorite UAB memory?
Working and having fun with lab colleagues and experiencing the culture diversity on campus.

How has UAB impacted your life? UAB is a well-known medical center. And I see a perfect combination of medical education and nutritional education on UAB’s campus; I think this is an excellent education model for training future health professionals. Obtaining a PhD in Nutrition Sciences at UAB is definitely a plus to my medical training, enabling me to better understand the processes of diseases from the standpoint of nutrition and lifestyle. The research training taught me how to design and conduct experiments to answer the scientific questions, and the education I obtained from UAB enables me to share and communicate knowledge with people around me. In general, a PhD degree on Nutrition Sciences extended my understanding of diseases and will substantiate my future career in my interested area.

What is your current state of mind? Peace.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy visiting new places with friends. I also enjoy exercising or playing games like billiards and pingpong.

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents who taught me value of love, diligence, endurance and integrity.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? Spend more time with my families or friends.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? The ability to read people’s minds.

What are your future goals? Physician scientist or health educator.

What would be your ultimate dream job? Doctor in academic hospital or if possible, open my own service for providing high quality management for patients with obesity and diabetes.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be? Either one of my parents.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? The greediness of people - because most of the conflicts and crime come from “people who want too much for themselves”, if everyone can consider others’ needs and not be greedy, the world would be more peaceful.

What’s the best advice you ever received? The best choice is the one that best fits me.