Pooja Nagaraj ‘16

Pooja NagarajFor Pooja Nagaraj, the 9,000-plus-mile move from Bangalore, India to Birmingham, Alabama, felt more like fate than a choice.

“My encounter with the area of Genetic Counseling was rather serendipitous,” she says. “In retrospect, I believe most of my academic, professional and personal experiences, in an unintended yet organic process, have laid a strong foundation for me to enter genetic counseling training and pursue it as a career.”

A first year student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Pooja is the very first international student to enter the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program in the UAB Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.

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Susan Wilbanks ‘15

Susan Silverman smallerFour years after arriving at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Susan Wilbanks—formerly Susan Silverman—is poised to make UAB history.

“I am the first student to graduate from the Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science program!” she says.

The program, co-sponsored by the Department of Physical Therapy and the Department of Occupational Therapy, accepted its first cohort of students in the spring of 2011. “We couldn’t have asked for a better person to be the inaugural student in the Rehab Science PhD program,” says Wilbanks’ research mentor, Scott Bickel, PhD. “Susan has been self-motivated, disciplined, and committed to excellence in her work.”

“It makes me feel like I’ve done something pretty special,” says Wilbanks. “When I look back to see how much I’ve done in the last four years, I can’t believe I’ve made it to this point."

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Fred Gilbert ‘15

Fred GilbertFred Gilbert, a student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Doctor of Physical Therapy program, believes that small acts lead to huge impact.

“When I was in high school, my boss had a single plaque sitting on his desk,” Gilbert explains. “It read: If a customer comes in without a smile, give them yours. I try to use that advice every day.”

Gilbert has followed this advice to a T, throwing himself heart-first into the university, local, and national physical therapy communities. Most recently, he was elected president of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Student Assembly Board of Directors—the first UAB student ever elected to the assembly’s top office.

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