UAB News

  • UAB students win public health scholar bowl in St. Louis
    The undergraduates answered questions on everything from disease outbreaks to community health as they competed against 13 teams from across the country.

    Aarin Palomares, Claire Finney, Sean McMahon, Katherine Hymel and Beenish KamranFive students from the UAB School of Public Health competed against 13 teams from across the United States in the St. Louis University Public Health Scholar Bowl, winning first place in the bowl and tying for second place in the case competition.

    Beenish Kamran, Katherine Hymel, Sean McMahon, Claire Finney and Aarin Palomares won the quiz-bowl-style tournament focused on current public health topics ranging from disease outbreaks to global and community health. The group of undergraduate students competed against teams including Johns Hopkins, George Washington University and Washington University.

    “Beyond academic success in the classroom — which this group has in spades — these students have always pushed the envelope to identify opportunities to practice and display their public health skills in the community,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., assistant dean for undergraduate education in the School of Public Health. “The public health scholars bowl was a natural extension of their commitment to seek out these new opportunities. Competing against students from other universities only enhanced their drive to succeed. I am so proud of the passion and drive within each of these talented undergraduates that led to the success they achieved at the scholars bowl.” 

    During the case competition, UAB’s team worked collaboratively to tackle a current issue causing health problems in a community, sleep deprivation on campus. The team developed a promotional campaign and identified policies that may impact sleep, which landed them in second place.

    “These students have participated in our Wicked Problem Case Competition and the Global Case Competition, and this year a couple of them assisted in writing the case for our wicked competition,” said Max Michael, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Public Health. “Because the cases we use are so complex, our students are well-prepared in thinking through the process of dealing with complicated issues. I’m not at all surprised at their success and how well they represented our school at a national competition.”

  • Health Literacy Partnership of Alabama established
    Governor Robert Bentley has signed an executive order establishing the initiative to improve the health literacy of Alabamians, and UAB faculty will play an important role.

    Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signs an Executive Order establishing the Health Literacy Partnership of Alabama in his office at the State Capitol in Montgomery on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. UAB faculty members Conan Davis, Ann Gakumo and Joy Deupree are at left. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office.)Gov. Robert Bentley announced April 26 that he had signed an executive order establishing the Health Literacy Partnership of Alabama.

    The Health Literacy Partnership of Alabama, created by Executive Order 18, will recommend to the governor ways to improve the health literacy of Alabamians. Recommendations may take the form of regulatory or statutory changes, with initial recommendations due before the start of the 2017 regular session of the Alabama Legislature.

    “It is vitally important that people understand their health care needs and how they are treated. This reduces chronic illness and in turn lowers overall health care costs,” Bentley said. “This partnership is important to providing the resources needed by the people of Alabama to ensure they know how to properly seek treatment for any health issues they may have.”

    Joy Deupree, an assistant professor in the UAB School of Nursing and Robert Wood Johnson executive nurse fellow, will chair the Partnership.

    “From diagnosis to medication management and discharge instructions, patients are at risk for poor outcomes because they often do not understand how to use the information," Deupree said. “The support of the governor to establish a meaningful initiative to address health literacy disparities in Alabama is an important development for the health and economic future of our state. I am deeply grateful for his commitment to improve health care outcomes in our state.”

    The Partnership comprises members from health care-focused agencies and organizations across Alabama, including four other UAB faculty members:

    • Nancy E. Dunlap, M.D., professor emerita of medicine
    • Conan Davis, DMD, assistant dean for Community Collaborations and Public Health, UAB School of Dentistry
    • C. Ann Gakumo, assistant professor, UAB School of Nursing; Robert Wood Johnson nurse faculty scholar
    • Kathleen Ladner, adjunct associate professor at UAB School of Nursing
  • UAB’s Quang Do named 2016 White House “Champion for Change”
    Do, a student leadership staffer, is among a group of 10 people selected from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.” He will travel to Washington, D.C., for a two-day visit May 4-5.

    The White House has chosen University of Alabama at Birmingham student leadership staffer Quang Do as a 2016 “Champion of Change” and will recognize him and nine other individuals Wednesday, May 4.

    Do is among a group of 10 people selected from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.” He will travel to Washington, D.C., for his two-day visit May 4-5. There he will attend an awards presentation at the White House, serve on panels during the day, and speak about his work at UAB, his art and spoken word, as well as meet with peers and students, and attend a gala where President Barack Obama will give the keynote. He will also likely get the opportunity to read one of his poems and maybe more.

    Do is coordinator of student leadership in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership in the Division of Student Affairs, where he has worked with the Multicultural Greek Council, Black Student Awareness Committee, the Multicultural Council, International Mentors, and a host of other organizations and programs.

    As a spoken word poet, he has worked to empower AAPI youth and has extensive experience as a teaching artist facilitating writing/performance workshops using spoken word as a tool to help communities better understand the personal and cultural needs of the AAPI community. The themes of love, identity, oppression, compassion and humanity are all foundational to his poetry. Do is a multiple-time Grand Slam Champion of the Montevallo Poetry slam, TEDxBirmingham 2015 speaker and top finalist at the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam.

    Do graduated from UAB in 2012 with a degree in political science and an English creative writing minor. After graduation, he traveled to more than 100 colleges, high schools and conferences as a full-time touring and teaching artist.

    Do says he is driven to give a voice to the many Asian-Americans who have none. “The change happens through poetry and community building and having difficult conversations, something I feel that UAB really does push and wants to have," he said.

    When people ask him when he became a poet, he says “pretty much since I learned to speak English in grade school.”

    Do came to California with his family from Vietnam at the age of 3. When he was 13, the family moved to Alabama. As a child, he was the translator for his parents and had to bridge his understanding of the Vietnamese and American languages to help them understand.

    “In Vietnam, there was no true medical care, so when I got a diagnosis from the doctor my parents freaked out, even if it was just a cold,” Do said. “I may not have known the exact Vietnamese word for insurance deductible; but there are ways for me to pull other things I know from Vietnamese to tell my parents, ‘hey, this is something we have to pay.’”

    Do says he is driven to give a voice to the many Asian-Americans who have none. A lot of his work is focused on the model minority myth — the idea that Asian-Americans are the best of people of color, because they get good grades, do not get into trouble, work hard and are quiet.

    “A lot of our brothers and sisters do not have college access, have high dropout rates in high school, have language barriers and other obstacles keeping them from success,” Do said.

    He is passionate about his work at UAB, and his own work in poetry, because of the change he longs to make in the world.

    “The change happens through poetry and community building and having difficult conversations, something I feel that UAB really does push and wants to have — not just superficial conversations, but real conversations that change our community, regarding health disparities, economic disparities, education disparities," Do said. "The UAB community, when they see something, they are not only willing to do something about it, but at UAB the faculty and staff we have here really push students to do something, to think of things differently, to fix that problem.” Do blogs at and tweets under the handle @quangvdo.

    During Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, the White House and White House Initiative on AAPIs are celebrating artists and advocates who have used unique channels and diverse platforms to tell powerful stories, increase awareness around key AAPI issues, and encourage diversity and inclusion in all sectors of society. These 10 individuals were selected for their leadership and tireless work to raise the visibility of diverse AAPI experiences and create dialogue around issues the community faces.

    The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at at 3 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, May 4. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

    As part of AAPI Heritage Month, the White House is working with StoryCorps to share and document AAPI stories under #MyAAPIStory. To learn more, visit here.


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