How would you describe your experience at UAB?
"My experience at UAB was pretty great; I did a lot and I learned a lot. UAB was so nurturing to me, and I'm sure that my experience isn't unique. During my four years at the University, I was able to be a member of the University Honors Program and learn along with students of various races, religions, and schools of thought. I was able to be an active member in the Multicultural Scholars Program and watch my fellow minority students succeed and encourage each other. I was able to work as an editor at three literary magazines, and I was able to do research – yes, English research – as a member of the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.
"My research was invaluable – I worked under Dr. Jacqueline Wood and I assisted her as she began writing a biography of writer/scholar/activist Dr. Sonia Sanchez. I collected over 1,000 articles of primary research, and although that experience taught me a lot about the process of writing a book of this sort and about the process of working as a literary scholar, I learned more than I could have expected from Dr. Wood on a personal level, who encouraged and prepared me for the world ahead that I would face as a black woman in the literary field. Her guidance meant a lot to me, and, even now that I'm in graduate school, I take her advice to heart and I'm both cautious and aggressive in my pursuit of a career in academia and administration. Seeing her achieve her career goals and work toward exposing the world to the literary merit of Sonia Sanchez and others excites me as I begin to make my mark on the literary world."
How has the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Birmingham campaign, impacted you?
"As a Birminghamian, I, of course, have been aware of the Civil Rights Movement and the Birmingham campaign for a while. However, I've only recently started to fully understand what it means to march, protest, and even die for a cause you care about. Now, when I visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, I find myself getting a little emotional. I can't imagine facing such a fight, and I am, admittedly, a little lax when it comes to actively fighting social injustices. I'm amazed at the sacrifice of those who fought this battle, and I'm incredibly grateful for their work.
"But, as I get older, I'm inspired by the Movement. I understand the power of the voice of the people. If there's one thing I learned at UAB, it's that its students make their voices heard no matter what. And, drawing from these two experiences – UAB and the Civil Rights Movement – I hope I can cultivate the strength necessary to fight this age's battles and tell my children to do the same."
Arielle Sullivan is a Huntsville native and 2004 graduate of Huntsville High School. After high school, Arielle attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she participated in the UAB Wind Symphony, University Honors Program and Pre-Med program among several other student organizations. In 2007, Arielle graduated from UAB magna cum laude with a B.S. in Mathematics. Arielle earned a second degree from UAB in 2008 with her M.S. in Mathematics. After UAB, Arielle went on to earn her Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Alabama in 2012 and has just begun her residency program in Columbus, GA with the Columbus Regional Healthcare System and hopes to practice family medicine in the near future.
"…it’s kind of surreal…the first time I went to the 16th Street Baptist Church, to think that it was just a regular church service that I went to…nothing special, and it was under similar circumstances that the girls were in…just the shuffling around before service began before their lives were ended and the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham really took off..." - Arielle Sullivan