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National Alumni Society Member

Name:  Marilyn Yvonne Jenkins Johnson
Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Bachelor of Science in Nursing 1982 / Master of Public Health 1990
Hometown: Bellamy (Sumter County), Alabama. 
Current town: Birmingham (Jefferson), Alabama( moved here, and have been here since I was 3 years old)

Current employer and job:  Birmingham Veteran Administration Medical Center / Nurse Case Manager.

What is your favorite UAB memory?  Graduation in 1982 & 1990. One of my favorite memories was being accepted into the UAB School of Nursing.  What an accomplishment!  Also being accepted into Sigma Theta Tau (the national Honor Society of Nursing).   In addition, in 1990 I was a  recipient of a Maternal Trainee Scholarship Award, which assisted me in gaining my Masters Degree in Public health.

How has UAB impacted your life?  It has allowed me to "live the American Dream."  I have been able to make a comfortable living, help my daughter (Theris) and granddaughters (Destiny 18 years old, and Annissa 9 years old).UAB's undergraduate program had such a great impact on me that I  wanted to come back for an advanced degree and become a lifetime member of the NAS.  I also have served on the National Alumni Society Board of Directors for 7 years where I was able to make lifelong contributions (i.e. contributions to the New Alumni House & friends).

What made you choose your current profession?   I did not want to be a nurse in the beginning.  I thought that I was a musician.  I was a music  major is college.  I had originally planned to be a music teacher. After the birth of my daughter, my mother suggested that I take a trade. I took an LPN course (after her), and worked for 8 years and enjoyed it. I came to UAB for my professional degree in Nursing. I really believe that God allowed me to work as an LPN long enough to show me that I could be an RNs.  I believe that nursing is a calling.  So I think that "God did it."

What would you do if you were given more time in each day?  Be of service to more people.

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? The computer. It has made learning so much, and access to information so fast.  "At the speed of thought".

If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?  1) To live longer in good health. 2) To be of maximum use to God, my fellow man, and Country 3) To be able to give more (money, time , talents) of whatever I have.

If you could go back to any age…which age and why?  I would not like to go back.  I have done my best, and do not want to do any of it over again.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?  Job (in the Bible).  God allowed him to suffer, but then restored the years that Locust had eaten.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  To educate the world.  It seems so simple, but there are so many obstacles.  Mostly to change the way people think.  I believe that people are where they are in life because of the way they think, and if you could change that, you can change the world.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  Public speaking, you can affect others if you are a good speaker.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? Honesty.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life?  Whoopie Goldberg.  She is funny, but intelligent. She can get the message over that I want my life to portray.

What is your motto?  "You have to give it away to keep it."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?  "Fake it until you make it"

If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why?   Something that deals with mental illness.  I believe that it is the least understood of all illnesses, and the most needed (especially with our veterans.)

Student Alumni Society Member

Name:  Jason Watkins
Graduation:  Class of 2012
Major:  Nursing
Hometown:  Hueytown, Alabama

Why did you choose to attend UAB?  Being discharged from the Navy, I found myself separated from many of the resources I had come to associate myself with. It made sense, despite my reluctance, to return to my hometown for school. It had been four years since I had graduated high school, so I was pretty apprehensive as to whether or not I had what it took to start back down that road. I knew I would need support from friends and family, so here I am.

Who is the best professor you have had at UAB so far and why?  Randy Moore, Instructor at the School of Nursing, is probably my favorite. He is the cardiac lecturer for adult health in the school of nursing, and was my clinical instructor. He taught me how best to convert what I learned as theory in class to working knowledge. That’s the trickiest part to becoming a great nurse.

What is your favorite UAB memory?  Receiving the NAS Dean’s scholarship was my favorite memory. I felt like all the hard work had culminated at that moment. I guess, in some way, I needed someone to validate that what I was doing was noticed and appreciated.

What is your current state of mind?  I can be hard on myself. I was never proud of a “B”, and when I got one I tended to dwell on it. However, at some point last semester, after the thick of nursing school was really over, I said to myself, “Look, this wasn’t easy; and you pulled through. At some point, you have to stop driving so hard, and stop to appreciate what you’ve done. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all?” So, my mood now? I’d say reflective.

What do you do for fun?  I’m an avid runner and also a bit obsessive with classic novels, especially Huxley, Orwell, and Vonnegut. No one writes like those guys anymore.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do?  Assuming I felt constructive during my extra time, I would definitely catch up on some pleasure reading. That’s something that has definitely taken a back seat since I started nursing school, and I do miss it.

 If you could have any super power, what would it be?  I’d want the ability to save American culture from the Kardashians and the Nicklebacks of this country. Whatever part of the human brain that is responsible for enjoying what is going on in pop-culture; I don’t have it.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why?  The Large Hadron Collider, in Geneva Switzerland, is a 17-mile underground tunnel capable of accelerating sub-atomic particles to 99.999% the speed of light, and then smashing them together to create particles so infinitesimal they can travel through extra special dimensions not even conceivable by the human mind. This instrument is in the processes of answering the biggest questions of our existence and challenging the way we view the world around us. How can we all not be humbled by that?

What are your future goals?  After graduation, I’d like to go on hiatus to get a grip on everything I set aside to finish nursing school. I think if I started working immediately, I wouldn’t be in the appropriate frame of mind. After that? The moon I suppose.

What would be your ultimate dream job?  I went into nursing for two reasons: One: the potential for travel, and two: I have to like what I do. I want to be a trauma nurse by specialty. I suppose my dream job would allow me to be just that, be a nurse while traveling to remote destinations.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?  “Dig”, Incubus. This week at least.

 If you had the power to solve one problem in the world, what would it be?  Ignorance.

What is the best advice you ever received?  I once had a neighbor back when I first moved to Birmingham whom I had a lot of respect for. He was one of the most educated people I’ve ever known, and a world traveler. One day, he looks at me and says, “Jason, whatever you do, be happy”. It was so simple, but it really resonated with me.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would it be titled?  “Did It”