January 12, 2017
Guin Robinson and Tim Parker January 12, 2017 | Kay Jenkins

Debbie Jo Severin’s years at UAB were a defining time for her. They were also a defining time for UAB.

“My freshman year (1977-78) was the year basketball began,” Ms. Severin recalled. “That was a magical time because we were defining what student life would be at UAB. I was in the second group of UAB Ambassadors, and the second Miss UAB. I can walk around campus and see my own fingerprints here and what we as a group of students started to build.”

Born in Atlanta and raised in Birmingham, Ms. Severin earned her BS in 1981 and her MS in 1983, both in mathematics. The guidance of her UAB professors and counselors was instrumental in helping her build confidence, take risks and make decisions, she said.

After building a successful career in high-tech marketing Silicon Valley, Ms. Severin said, “I started hearing the voices of the professors and all the opportunities UAB gave me. And I thought to myself, I owe UAB.”

In 2011, Ms. Severin and her husband, Lars Severin, created an endowed scholarship in memory of her parents, who worked tirelessly to ensure that both of their daughters – her sister, Cheri Ann Warner Jenkins, earned a BS in Spanish at UAB in 1987 – could attend college. The James C. and Carol Warner Endowed Scholarship, which rewards academic merit and gives preference to first-year students, has assisted numerous students in the Department of Mathematics with their academic and career goals.

“I love it when I get the thank-you letter from the recipient each year, because I know my parents would be so thrilled that they not only put my sister and me through school, but in name they are now helping somebody else go to school,” she said.

Five years after creating the Warner scholarship, the Severins created another endowed scholarship in mathematics, this time in their own names. The Lars Gunnar and Debbie Jo Severin Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics supports students with high academic promise and financial need.

To support scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences: Camille Epps, 205.996.2154; camilleepps@uab.edu