Christian Service Mission 1Students in the UAB School of Health Professions’ Doctor of Physical Therapy program coordinated local service events in honor of the 2nd annual Global PT Day of Service which saw nearly 50 volunteers from Alabama State University, Samford University join UAB students and faculty serve others across the Birmingham.

Volunteers supported:

  • Special Equestrians (helping with horse therapy sessions)
  • Grace House's 3rd annual Pumpkin Festival (working game stations)
  • Christian Service Mission (organizing food donations in food pantry and equipment in workshop)
  • AMBUCS (organizing supplies, restoring adaptive trikes)
  • Athleta at the Summit (fitness screenings and talking with people about the #ChoosePT campaign)
  • UAB Hill Center (collecting clothing for patients in need at UAB's Spain Rehab's Inpatient Department)

PA ChildStudents in the UAB School of Health Professions’ Physician Assistant Studies program spent a portion of their summer on a medical mission in Guatemala. The second-year students served more than 700 patients in the rural village Chiquimula. For many of the patients, their encounter with the UAB PA students will be their only healthcare check up this year.

“Their village is very remote and there are no clinics or hospitals nearby so their access to health care is extremely limited,” said Bellamy Hawkins, a student in the Physician Assistant Studies program. “Plus, the families struggle to find work which keeps them impoverished and leaves them unable to afford to travel or pay for healthcare.”

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Billie and Marvin Racowsky (pictured left)Billie and Marvin Racowsky (pictured left)Marvin Racowsky developed an interest in medicine while serving in the air force. After service, he was looking for opportunities in medicine and discovered UAB’s PA program in LIFE magazine.

At this time, UAB PA was one of only two programs in the United States so Marvin moved to Birmingham where he met his wife Billie (who also became a PA) and gained invaluable support and experience from the faculty team at UAB.

Marvin and Billie have been practicing PA’s for more than 40 years, with their first 10 years of practice in rural areas. In that time they established eight thriving urgent care facilities in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised two wonderful children, Samdon and Layme.

Welcome to SHP Justin Kirk No SignHometown: Jacksonville, Alabama
Program: Doctor of Physical Therapy

SHP: What attracted you to your program?

Justin: I was attracted to the Physical Therapy program because it gives meaning and purpose to my interests and skills. It takes who I am and makes it less about me, and more about bettering others. I think it’s attractive and unique that Physical Therapists get to spend a lot of time with our patients and are given the opportunity to build relationships with them.

SHP: Why did you choose UAB?

Justin: I came to UAB for undergrad because I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist, and my ultimate goal was to go to UAB’s Physical Therapy program. I chose UAB due to its stellar reputation. Now an alumnus and graduate student, I can say I thoroughly love UAB and Birmingham, and I would choose this university and this city over and over again. Both have provided countless opportunities for personal growth and professional development.

SHP: Who inspires you?

Justin: My parents inspire me to work hard and care deeply. My dad has a steadfast work ethic and a humble wisdom. My mom is the most caring, sacrificing person I know. Together they inspire me to be the best I can be, and all I want out of life is to make them proud. I owe everything to my mom and dad.

Welcome to SHP Joshua Rocha No SignHometown: Mobile, Alabama
Program: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

SHP: What attracted you to your program?

Joshua: The primary thing that attracted me to this field is the unique holistic approach OTs take toward healing. They focus on making individuals functional mentally and physically. These health care professionals use creative thinking to solve problems and improve functionality. They are only limited by their minds.

SHP: Why did you choose UAB?

Joshua: I chose to attend UAB due to the outstanding reputation credited to the health care professionals that have come from this institution.

SHP: Who inspires you?

Joshua: I draw inspiration from my family, and the fact that I am the first person in my family to receive a college degree and pursue a professional degree. I have goals that I have set for myself which motivate me to get up every day and continue to work toward bettering myself.

Welcome to SHP Gigi CarterHometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Program: Master of Science in Nutrition Sciences, Lifestyle Management and Disease Prevention Track


SHP: What attracted you to your program?

Gigi: It was both the Lifestyle/Disease Prevention track as well as being online.

SHP: Why did you choose UAB?

Gigi: UAB has a good reputation in the region.

SHP: Who inspires you?

Gigi: Anyone who practices and spreads a message of kindness. Gandhi and the Dalai Lama are two of my favorites.

SHP: What has been your greatest challenge?

Gigi: Making the decision to give up my six-figure salary to go back to school full-time and pursue my passion.

Welcome to SHP Whitehead No SignDresden Whitehead, Nutrition Sciences LMDP TrackHometown: Born in Heidelberg, Germany; raised in Granite City, Illinois; currently in Argo, Alabama
Program: Master of Science in Nutrition Sciences, Lifestyle Management and Disease Prevention Track

SHP: What attracted you to your program?

Dresden: I first observed the impact food had on disease state after working with the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Disease Program (GEDP), a multidisciplinary team at Children’s Hospital of Colorado that treats eosinophilic GI diseases. After seeing what a profound difference diet made in the quality of life of some of the kids treated I knew I wanted to study nutrition more in depth. After researching various programs, this program was the best fit for the background I have and where I hope to take my career in the future.

SHP: Why did you choose UAB?

Dresden: In addition to feeling like this program was a perfect fit for me, majority of my family now lives in Alabama and making the move down here to Alabama was best for both my personal and professional life.

Welcome to SHP Andrew Dees No SignAndrew Dees, Dual MSHA / MSHI programHometown: Hueytown, Alabama
Program: Dual Program Master of Science in Health Administration / Master of Science in Health Informatics

SHP: What attracted you to your program?

Andrew: The MSHA Program is one of the oldest and is consistently ranked as a top 5 program in the country. It is currently ranked 2nd by US News & World Report. The Faculty and staff are truly committed to advancing the next wave of healthcare champions and the alumni network is proof that this program equips healthcare leaders.

SHP:Why did you choose UAB?

Andrew: UAB has a proven record of equipping leaders to positively affect change in healthcare for over 50 years. Its commitment to excellence and a developing the next generation of healthcare professionals is truly a one of a kind experience.

Welcome to SHP Alexis AndersonAlexis Anderson, MSBHSHometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Program: Master of Biomedical and Health Sciences

SHP: What attracted you to the MSBHS program?

Alexis: It is my long-term goal to become a physician and I needed a program that would assist in preparing me for the medical school admissions process. My program has just the right tools to do this: a preparatory course for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), mock interviews, rigorous courses designed to mimic the demands of the medical school curriculum and a nurturing environment with dedicated leaders who are passionate about my success. These are the main foci that attracted me to my program.

SHP: Why did you choose UAB?

Alexis: While completing the application for my program, I read so much about the institution. I delved into its history and realized that UAB has always been committed to making advances in the STEM field, as we know it today. I decided that here is where I need to be! Also, after visiting UAB for the first time for my interview, I fell in love! Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming; this definitely solidified my decision.