|(From left) Carol Garrison, Bertha Hidalgo, Barbara Gower, Gillian Goodrich, Joan Stelling, Rachael Rosales and Fan Xiong are UAB's Outstanding Women Award recipients for 2013.|
Seven local women were honored as the UAB Outstanding Women for 2013 during a ceremony Thursday, March 14 in the Hill University Center Great Room Hall.
The UAB Women’s Center, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and UAB Commission on the Status of Women present the awards annually during Women’s History Month to honor women in the UAB and Birmingham communities who have mentored or served other women, taken a courageous stance or overcome adversity to achieve a goal.
Candidates for the award are nominated by Birmingham residents, mentors and others from around the country and are selected by a committee of university and community women.
The 2013 winners are:
- Becky Trigg Outstanding Woman Faculty Member Barbara Gower, Ph.D.
- Outstanding Woman Staff Member Joan Stelling
- Outstanding Woman Post-Doctoral Fellow Bertha Hidalgo, Ph.D.
- Outstanding Women Graduate Student Fan Xiong
- Outstanding Woman Undergraduate Student Rachael Rosales
- Outstanding Woman in the Community Gillian W. Goodrich
- Outstanding Service to Women at UAB and in the Community UAB President Emerita Carol Z. Garrison
Becky Trigg Outstanding Woman Faculty Member
Barbara Gower: Gower, professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences and director of the Human Physiology Core of the UAB Diabetes Research & Training Center, has made it easier for other women to achieve success in careers in research and academia through dedicated mentorship.
Since 1996, Gower has mentored more than a dozen female masters and doctoral students and chaired more than two dozen graduate committees. She also has mentored many female postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to successful careers in nutrition, thanks in large part to her guidance.
Female students seek Gower as a mentor, knowing they will get both the support and guidance they need and the benefit of the vast knowledge she has in her field.
“As a mentor, Dr. Gower provided numerous opportunities for me to succeed,” says Paula Chandler-Laney, Ph.D., a post-doctoral mentee of Gower’s. “It did not matter to her that our research interests were not completely aligned. She encouraged me to use the opportunities presented through work on her projects to develop the skills and background necessary to foster the development of my own research niche. Concurrently, she encouraged, and fully supported, my efforts to obtain funding to support my own fledgling research program, even though it took time away from the work I was doing on her studies.
“Dr. Gower has been a very positive influence on my career development, and she definitely has made it easier for me, and for other women, to succeed.”
Gower says mentoring is the most enjoyable part of her job.
“Working with bright, motivated, energetic individuals keeps me motivated in research, and excited about coming to work every day,” Gower says. “The students I work with are like my family; I feel their pain when the manuscripts get rejected, and experience an absurd level of elation when their grants get funded, or they win an award at Graduate Student Research Day. To see them do well, and to see the smile on their face when they have achieved success and recognition, is the best reward I could ask for.”
Outstanding Woman Staff Member
Joan Stelling: Stelling, a strategic sourcing specialist in the Department of Contracting & Sourcing, is known as an example of leadership for women in the UAB community. She is an advocate for women, animals, the arts and people with disabilities. Stelling serves on the board of Terrific New Theater, Hand in Paw and AIDS Alabama; she helps the latter with its presentation to the United Way Visiting Allocation Team each year.
Stelling also has been an active member of the development committee of AIDS Alabama as an ambassador for Dining Out for Life and Red Hot for the Cause.
Her commitment to Hand in Paw, an organization with an all-female staff and more than 90 percent female volunteers, has been shown in the success of fundraising events and the young women she has mentored.
Colleagues and friends say Stelling is eager to help those in need.
“When Joan met a woman who was released from prison, she jumped into action,” says Kathie Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama. “In the two to three years that followed the women’s release, Joan helped her get a car and employment. She eventually helped this woman purchase her first home. Joan is a much-beloved friend and role model.”
Stelling also has devoted her professional abilities to UAB. She is a dynamic health care supply chain professional with more than 33 years of experience in health care and more than 15 years as supply chain professional and is well known nationally in the academic medical center arena. She has been a key cog in driving clinical and operational performance improvement initiatives and is known as energetic, perceptive and tenacious, as well as a strategic thinker and problem solver.
As a health care supply chain leader in an industry made mostly of men, Stelling has spoken on a national level regarding her success in her creation of the UAB value analysis team and process. Known as a pioneer in the field among women, she is still admired today because she continues to strive for additional improvement in her career, community and personally.
“I have always tried to surround myself with strong, intelligent women,” Stelling says. “I believe trust and respect is earned, not given, and it’s important to live that and be a role model every day. If you persist and persevere, you can conquer challenges. And if you reach out to others and give back to your community, it will truly be rewarding and will make you a better person.”
Outstanding Woman Post-Doctoral Fellow
Bertha Hidalgo: Hidalgo, a post-doctoral fellow in UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), earned her doctorate in epidemiology from UAB in May 2012.
Hidalgo was supported by UAB’s National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program as a doctoral student and is not one to shy away from taking a stand on serious public health issues —nor from advocating for them.
Her passion is addressing issues of health disparities as they pertain to foreign-born Hispanic populations living in the United States. Hidalgo’s research has focused solely on women Latina immigrants in order to better understand the etiology of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection and the prevalence of cervical neoplasia in this population.
“Immigrant populations are under-studied and are sometimes ignored for many reasons,” says John Waterbor, M.D., Dr.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology. “But Bertha feels strongly that in order to best address health disparities in the United States, all populations — regardless of nativity status — must be included in our own research and then covered by our health policies. With further achievements, Bertha can become a national leader in studying and addressing the important public health issue of health disparities among Latinas.”
Hidalgo has participated in public health-related organizations including Susan G. Komen for the Cure, United Way and Habitat for Humanity. She has participated in activities that have helped women receive family planning services and information about cervical and breast cancer screenings. She also has helped build homes for single women striving to become first-time homeowners.
“One of the ways I’ve been able to expose myself to these community projects is through the Public Health Student Association (PHSA) that I joined at UAB,” Hidalgo says. “There is a lot of community work involved in that organization. I found out about Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity through PHSA, both of which are addressing disparities. Because of this, I have been able to extend my research in health disparities to my work in the community.
“humbled and flattered by this award, and I cannot think of a better environment than here in Public Health at UAB,” she says. “I can’t say enough about the people who have mentored me and been such positive influences in my life here. They have more faith in me than I have myself sometimes. That’s the kind of environment you want to be in to be able to flourish. I hope to be able to use these experiences and all that I have learned to help advance the careers and success of other women in the future.”
Outstanding Women Graduate Student
Fan Xiong: Xiong has been actively involved in both the UAB and Birmingham chapters of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) since she started classes at UAB in 2009. She has been an active collegiate member, interim president and outreach officer of the UAB chapter and has helped girls from middle school to college through volunteer activities and career development events.
As a doctoral student, Xiong has utilized her professional skills to help women students in the electrical and computer engineering department with course problems. She also has actively volunteered in UAB SWE fundraising event to help send more women students to the national conference, which has a number of seminars, a career fair and more than 6,000 women participants.
Xiong also has initiated grant applications for the UAB SWE chapter in an effort to benefit more women students. She has accomplished all of these things and more as a full-time graduate student, wife and mother.
“Fan has tried hard to achieve her academic and personal goals,” says Zhiyong Li, graduate assistant in biomedical sciences. “She’s experienced a lot of hardship during her graduate studies, including a funding cut and losing her advisor. But she has managed to get through all of the difficulties while maintaining good academic records and serving in the community.”
Outstanding Woman Undergraduate Student
Rachael Rosales: Rosales, a student assistant in philosophy, is a leader and organizer on UAB’s campus who has shined since arriving as a student in 2009.
In her first semester, Rosales auditioned for the UAB Ethics Bowl Team and bumped a senior off the team. She carried the team in three of five cases at the Florida regional in 2009 and was a leader of the 2010 and 2011 teams that won national championships.
A child of a Mexican-American father, Rosales speaks Spanish and understands cultures in developing countries, having frequently traveled to Mexico. She spent one summer in Guatemala learning about biomedical research among impoverished people while living on her own.
As a research assistant of Gregory Pence, Ph.D., chair of philosophy and director of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, Rosales helped write his book How to Build a Better Human in 2011. She also had her own op-ed essay published in the Birmingham News arguing against profiling Mexican-Americans by police in Irondale.
Rosales became a volunteer at the Crisis Center several years ago and quickly moved from the Teen Line to the Adult Crisis Line, where she aided people who were suicidal, had overdosed on drugs and experienced other emergencies. Rosales recruited six fellow students who went through the training and also became Crisis Center volunteers.
Rosales is a dual biology-philosophy major with a 3.95 GPA. Her Medical College Admission Test scores were high enough that she has been interviewed by Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Baylor medical schools, and she has a scholarship available to her if she chooses UAB Medical School.
“Rachael can handle anything,” Pence says. “She will be a great physician. She cares about social justice and the world. She wants to do great things and, by word and deed, has shown that she really cares about people. In 37 years of teaching undergraduates and medical students at UAB, she is — quite frankly — the most extraordinary undergraduate I have ever mentored.”
Outstanding Woman in the Community
Gillian Goodrich: Goodrich, the chair of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Board of Directors, has worked tirelessly with many nonprofit organizations to open doors for women in the Birmingham community.
She is a member of the Woodlawn Foundation’s Board of Directors and past president of the Junior League of Birmingham, an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is improving the lives of women and children by working with community agencies to deliver services and assistance to those in need.
Goodrich is past president of the board and historian of the YWCA Central Alabama, where she continues to be a board member.
“Through her various humanitarian roles, Ms. Goodrich has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to bettering the community and specifically the lives of Birmingham-area women and children,” says Shirley Salloway Kahn, UAB vice president for Development, Alumni and External Relations.
Goodrich and her family have committed to the redevelopment and revitalization of Woodlawn, and the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation was created in 2008 with the primary purpose of engaging in activities that strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for residents of the Birmingham metropolitan area and the state of Alabama at large. The Goodriches started the Woodlawn Foundation in 2010 and purchased entire blocks of a Woodlawn neighborhood in order to provide safe housing for disadvantaged families, including many single mothers.
“Her work in Woodlawn has had a tremendous impact and will be a part of her legacy,” Kahn says. “In all of the areas which she has served, Ms. Goodrich has been a voice for the underprivileged and less fortunate, and she bravely embraces the challenges she faces with significant forethought, ingenuity and courage.”
Goodrich also has been heavily involved in ArtReach, one of ArtPlay’s newest charitable endeavors. ArtReach provides high-quality arts programming for the residents of Woodlawn through a series of classes and programs benefiting children and adults. The program was begun with seed money from the Goodriches and enables ArtReach to bring dance, music, theater and the visual arts to Woodlawn, enriching lives and filling residents with a new and exciting enthusiasm for the arts.
“As a woman and mother, Ms. Goodrich has faced personal trials like many others, but she has never exploited her position or touted her own accomplishments and feats for personal gain,” Kahn says. “Instead, she focuses her efforts on others and on the teamwork it takes to improve the lives of all in her community. She provides leadership in this regard, where she is able to motivate and inspire those around her to work toward a common goal.”
Outstanding Service to Women at UAB and in the Community
Carol Garrison: Garrison, who was named UAB president in July 2002, stepped down in August 2012 as one of the university’s longest-serving presidents. She and S. Richardson Hill (1977-1987) both completed 10 years in office.
An alumna of UAB, Garrison began her first full-time job at UAB Hospital in the 1970s.
During Garrison’s tenure as president, the institution enjoyed remarkable growth and development. Recent years have seen the opening of state-of-the-art facilities such as the North Pavilion of UAB Hospital, Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building, UAB Women & Infants Center and Hazelrig-Salter Radiation-Oncology Facility. A burgeoning Campus Green along University Boulevard is now home to a campus recreation center, dining commons, residence halls and Heritage Hall. A new Alumni House hosts many campus and alumni events. Soon to be completed is the renovation of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and construction of the new Abroms-Engel Visual Arts Institute is under way.
Likewise, UAB has seen record enrollment for three consecutive years, reaching 17,575 in fall 2011, and recently was among only 11 universities nationwide (and the only Alabama university) to receive the prestigious Beckman Scholars Program Award, which provides scholarships for promising undergraduate researchers at universities that have demonstrated exceptional mentoring and training. In recent years, UAB has boasted Rhodes, Goldwater and Truman scholars and winning teams in the national ethics and bioethics bowls. The Princeton Review has ranked the university among the top 10 nationally for student diversity for three consecutive years (currently fifth).
The growth of the physical campus and academic programs has been guided by UAB's strategic plan, called UAB21. Developed with campus-wide participation, the plan has led to the recruitment of internationally known faculty and physicians, and the creation of innovative new curricula and honors programs for undergraduates.
Under Garrison’s watch, UAB received its largest grant in history — a $66.8 million grant to the School of Dentistry.
During her tenure as president, Garrison was named to the Alabama Academy of Honor and served as president of Operation New Birmingham and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, as well as on the boards of numerous other civic organizations.