Brittney CrainTo call Brittney Crain “determined” would be an understatement. A 2009 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, this avid runner has completed six marathons to date—including the 2015 Boston Marathon, which she finished despite a partially torn quadriceps tendon.

“I worked hard for years to be able to run this race,” Crain says. “Aside from being one of the most prestigious elite running events in the world, the Boston Marathon is like the Super Bowl of amateur running. I fought injury just to make the trip, and I treated it as a victory lap. Since I’d been injured, I had one goal: to finish, running and not walking.”

Whether physically, academically, or professionally, Crain just can’t stop moving forward. So it’s no surprise that she’s returned to the School of Health Professions to pursue the Graduate Certificate in Health Focused Patient/Client Management for PT and OT.

Camille SchneiderWhen Camille Schneider applied to the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she didn’t know that she would end up jointly enrolled in both the Dietetic Internship and Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences programs.

“I’d mentioned in my personal statement that my ultimate goal was to get a Ph.D., but I was not aware of a combined DI/Ph.D. program at UAB,” Schneider says. “I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call from Susan Miller, the Dietetic Internship program director. I came to visit UAB and absolutely loved it.”

Schneider completed her Dietetic Internship in June 2013 and became an RD in September 2013. Now she’s using her clinical training to bring a fresh perspective to the Ph.D. experience.

Sarah GrahamSarah Graham aspires to be a tenure-track professor at a major university.

“I believe that a successful tenure-track professor is one that sets competitive goals in the areas of research, teaching, leadership, and service, and effectively balances efforts across these areas,” she says. “The education and experiences I am receiving in my program will position me well to be a competitive candidate for these positions.”

Graham, a second-year student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science program (co-sponsored by the UAB Departments of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy), advises prospective students to pursue education that supplements their future careers—even if that means waiting to return to school.

Sherri PeeteSherri Peete, 46, always dreamed of working in healthcare. But unlike her classmates, she took a few detours before entering the M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“During undergraduate, I considered pursuing medical school,” Peete says. “However, at the time, the thought of many, many more years of school was very unappealing. So I got married, had my children, worked, and just lived my life. As the years continued to pass, I assumed my dream was slipping away and that I had to just let it go.”

Then she found the UAB School of Health Professions.

Kayra White small“Communication is key,” Kayra White, an M.S. in Occupational Therapy student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced on December 13, 2014. “If our voices are not heard, how can we expect them to understand what it is to be a farmer?”

White delivered her speech in the recent Ag Communication Award competition, sponsored by the National Young Farmers Education Association (NYFEA) and John Deere. She placed second overall, earning a trip to Washington, D.C. where she met with U.S. legislators and their aides to discuss the effect of current policies on the farming community.

“I am the 5th generation on our century-old family farm in Rehobeth, Alabama,” White says. “As an occupational therapist, I plan to stay in rural Alabama to practice.” White plans to harness her background in farming and her B.A. in Psychology to bring client-centered care to her future patients.

Lisa CalhounLisa Calhoun saw an opportunity and took a chance. The journey wasn’t easy—completing school while raising three children and working fulltime never is—but now, poised to graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with her B.S. in Health Information Management, she is glad she took the risk.

“I know I would not be in the position that I currently hold if I were not actively working on obtaining my B.S.,” Calhoun, a native of Pell City, Alabama, says. “I do feel that continuing my education has helped me advance in my career.”

Calhoun joined St. Vincent’s Health System in 2010, after graduating junior college with her two-year degree. “I was hired into an entry-level position,” she recalls. “Since enrolling in the B.S. program at the UAB School of Health Professions, I have been promoted into several other positions within the organization.”

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.

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."

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.