Steven DupontSteve Dupont spent 10 years as an advertising copywriter, freelance journalist and author. He published a novel, “Therein Lies the Problem,” and a nonfiction book, “Alabama Sports.” But times were getting tough. He was having a hard time gaining new business and even getting existing clients to pay. At the same time, he was getting very interested in nutrition.

“I was spending an inordinate amount of time reading and researching on my own,” says Dupont. “It was to the point where it seemed foolish not to get some credit for it, and pursue a career that I was truly passionate about.”

Dupont entered the UAB Dietetic Internship. Although it had been years since he graduated from his undergrad, he said it was better the second time around.

Matt RousculpOn paper, Matt Rousculp, Ph.D., looked like he was on his way to a life working in academia. He earned a Biology degree at Rutgers, a master’s degree in public health at UAB, spent seven years in research in basic science and epidemiology and then received a doctoral degree in Administration-Health Services in the Department of Health Services Administration at UAB.

“My career after graduation went a different route,” said Rousculp. “Instead of going into academia, I went into the bio-pharmaceutical industry to work in the area of Health Outcomes and Health Economics.”

Rousculp is the senior director of comparative effectiveness and health policy research at GlaxoSmithKline in North Carolina. He joined the company in 2011 to develop a coordinated approach related to comparative effectiveness research with GSK’s matrixed environment. He was also tasked  to lead the U.S. Health Policy Research team.

sheila RocheOccupational Therapist Sheila Roche of Ireland was attending a workshop in London, England when she heard a presentation from Mary Warren, director of the Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation at UAB. It was a topic she was not very familiar with.

“At the time, I was working in stroke rehabilitation and did not have any knowledge or experience of low vision rehabilitation outside of this area,” said Roche. “I was very unsure about committing to a program about which I knew very little, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

The distance learning and being able to work full-time was a huge selling factor for Roche.

Taha GhannoumGrowing up in Lebanon, Taha Ghannoum has lived through several wars and saw his country being torn from it. He saw the affect it had on people and knew he wanted to make a difference.

“My major goal had always been to work and live helping people and making sure I provide the best health services available,” said Ghannoum. “I grew up wanting to be in the health field, following in my father footsteps, and wanting to help people the best way I can.”

Eleven years ago, he left his family and friends to go to college in the United States to achieve that goal. He graduated with a pharmacy degree from Auburn University in May 2006 and began working as a full-time pharmacist two months later. At the same time, he entered into the UAB Clinical Laboratory Sciences graduate program.

Rhett WheelerRhett Wheeler, PT, DPT, can’t stop smiling when he talks about the new expansion facility at Children’s of Alabama. He even helped plan for the new space and equipment.

“We are all like kids in a candy store or at Christmas as we are now able to utilize this awesome new facility that we have been watching go from the ground up for the last several years,” said Wheeler, a graduate of the UAB Physical Therapy program in 1999.

Mark CopeMark Cope, Ph.D., was six months into his Postdoctoral Fellowship in Nutrition and Biostatistics at UAB when Solae, a DuPont Nutrition and Health Company, approached him about a job opening. Unfortunately, they didn’t end up filling the position.

The Warrior, Ala. native continued his fellowship developing animal models of obesity through an F32 National Institute of Health Training Award. He worked closely under David Allison, Ph.D., and Tim Nagy, Ph.D., in the Department of Nutrition Sciences which is where Cope received his doctoral in 2001.

Three years later, Solae called again and this time offered a job. Cope accepted a position as Clinical Nutrition Scientist overseeing weight management and sports nutrition products.

dave BledsoeDavid Bledsoe did what a lot of children do; follow in the footsteps of their parent. In 1986, he became an accountant, just like his Dad, even though he had no passion for it. Then a year later, a life-changing experience happened.

“My sister was badly burned in a house fire and had a lengthy hospital stay in the UAB burn unit,” said Bledsoe. “It was there I met a certified occupational therapy assistant who told me about a developing area of occupational therapy called industrial rehabilitation.”

The seed was planted and he decided not too long after the incident to quit his accounting job to start a career in occupational therapy. However, he never assumed he wouldn’t be accepted into the program at UAB.

Johanna GilstrapAs far as respiratory therapists goes, Johanna Gilstrap has a pretty impressive resume. She is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Services (USPHS) stationed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In fact, she’s the first respiratory therapist to be commissioned. She serves as the Respiratory Therapy Program Manager within the Office of Safety, Health and Environment.

“Anyone who is required to wear a respirator to protect from airborne contaminants on the job must come through the program for training and fit testing of the respirator(s) prior to initial use and annually thereafter,” said Gilstrap.

Jennifer PerryIn 2000, Jennifer Perry was working as a receptionist/transcriptionist in the Urology Department of Norwood Clinic in Birmingham when she decided she wanted to move into the administration side. Fortunately, she discovered our Health Care Management program offered night and online classes to allow her to continue to work.

“I was able to apply practical knowledge I had learned on my job to my studies at UAB and apply the knowledge I gained at UAB to my work,” said Perry.

Fran WedgeA physical therapist since 1978, Fran Wedge of Joliet, Illinois has always wanted to pursue a higher degree. But family obligations and even self confidence held her back. After staying on her mind for years, she decided to take the plunge getting her master’s degree from the University of Greenwich in London.

“There comes a time when you reflect on what you are doing and you realize that you could be doing more, not only on a personal level, but for your clinical practice and most importantly the patients that you treat,” said Wedge.

She quickly learned how much school had changed over the years.

Kristi CroweA famous quote by Hippocrates fueled Kristi Crowe’s passion to understand the role of bioactive food compounds in maintaining health and mitigating chronic disease. 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates. 

“With my research focus, I am always in pursuit of a better understanding of the truth within this ancient quote,” said Crowe, Ph.D., RD, LD.

Crowe earned her Dietetic Internship in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB in 2010. She has an interesting dual research background in food chemistry and nutrition.

Diane ColemanDiane Coleman had her 15 minutes of fame. The occupational therapist from UAB Highlands Hand Therapy Clinic was on NBC’s Today Show last October. Her patient, Cary Ramey, became a media sensation after a groundbreaking, twelve hour toe-thumb transplant at UAB.  He lost his thumb and half his index finger after a car crash two years prior.

“Meeting someone who refused to give into his disabilities and wanting to move forward to face his challenges to attain independence in all areas of self-care, work and leisure was an inspiration,” said Coleman, a UAB Occupational Therapy alumnus.

Michel Statler headshotIn her field, Michel Statler has done it all. She spent 14 years as a surgical physician assistant working in cardiovascular surgery, ENT and neurosurgery. Then she worked in academia as a faculty member with Physician Assistant (PA) programs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. She’s now the director of professional affairs and education for the Physician Assistant Education Association.

“I am the first PA and PA educator that they have on staff with the association,” said Statler.