Abby Fox '15

Abigail FoxAbby Fox believes in a hands-on approach to education. A first-year student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Dietetic Internship program, Fox is taking an active role in her education by building strong relationships—and houses?

“I volunteered for Habitat because I wanted to help provide a family with something I often take for granted,” Fox says. “I also saw this volunteer opportunity as a chance to build positive relationships with my classmates and the SHP faculty. I can honestly say that I never thought I would learn how to put siding on a house during my dietetic internship.”

Of the 400 UAB volunteers that participated in the recent University-wide Habitat for Humanity build, 120 came from the UAB School of Health Professions. Fox takes full advantage of the opportunities that are offered by SHP and the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences.

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Jason Vice ‘15

Jason Vice smallerIn 2009, Jason Vice’s father suffered a stroke that stripped him of the ability to perform basic tasks, including walking.

“Watching my father struggle to do seemingly simple things, like brushing his teeth or putting on his shoes, made me realize how important it was for him to participate in these everyday activities for himself,” Vice says.

Motivated by his father’s tragedy, Vice entered the M.S. in Occupational Therapy program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions.

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Katie Rushdi ‘16

CatharineRushdi 0435Katie Rushdi was overjoyed when she learned that she’d been accepted into the M.S. in Health Administration program at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Collierville, Tennessee native had always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but things quickly changed when her father was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, just two weeks after entering the program.

“Adjusting to a new city, coming into a program without knowing anyone else in my class, and just beginning graduate school in general became significantly more overwhelming in a single instant,” Rushdi recalls.

Rushdi found strength in her faculty and classmates in the Department of Health Services Administration, as well as within herself.

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Simone Ridgeway ‘14

Simone Ridgeway PictureSimone Ridgeway’s father was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes shortly after he was honorably discharged from the military. Inspired by her father’s struggle, Ridgeway, a graduate student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program, is determined to improve lives by advancing the quality of diabetes healthcare.

Ridgeway earned her B.S. in Chemistry from UAB in 2012. Immediately applying to the M.S. in Biotechnology Program at the School of Health Professions, she says, was a no brainer.

“I chose the Biotechnology Master’s Program because I saw its potential for advancing my career in industry,” she explains. “In today’s time you need to be versatile enough to change with the economy. Having a background in both business and science makes me more competitive for my career in industry.”

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Dominique Forte ‘15

Dominique ForteDominique Forte prides herself on her drive and passion for helping others. Forte devotes most of her spare time to Equal Access Birmingham (EAB), a student led pro-bono clinic created by UAB’s School of Medicine in 2012. EAB‘s mission is to provide care to all individuals in the Birmingham area that lack adequate insurance to cover healthcare expenses.

“So many people in the Birmingham area do not have enough benefits to receive the healthcare that they deserve,” Forte says. “As a student physical therapist, I apply the knowledge I have gained in order to deliver services to individuals who may not have access to healthcare otherwise. I strive to use the skills and knowledge acquired from a great set of professors and clinicians whenever I volunteer with Equal Access Birmingham.”

A second-year student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Forte earned her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from UAB in 2012. “My transition into graduate studies was very manageable,” she explains. “The School of Health Professions provides numerous opportunities for students to be involved in groundbreaking discoveries. Here, I am able to develop the skills needed to be proficient in my chosen profession.”

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Wei Zhang ‘14

wei zhang small“Every international student comes to the United States with an American Dream.” So says Wei Zhang, a candidate for the Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Born and raised in Changsha, China, Zhang dreams of becoming an expert who will improve the management and treatment of patients suffering from obesity and diabetes.

Zhang earned his M.D. from Wuhan University in Wuhan City, China in 2009. “I decided to apply to the Ph.D. program at UAB’s School of Health Professions in order to get more research training and learn how to generate better treatment for diseases,” Zhang explains. “The Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences is a plus to my medical training, enabling me to better understand the processes of disease from the viewpoint of nutrition and lifestyle.”

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Michael Pugh ‘14

Michael PughMichael Pugh bleeds green and gold.

“I chose the UAB School of Health Professions because it has some of the best medical programs around,” says the fourth-year Nuclear Medicine Technology student. “It has the only nuclear medicine program in the state and one of the few physician assistant programs in the nation that offers a specialty in surgery.”

Pugh will graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s NMT program this Spring and enter the Physician Assistant program in Fall 2014. Both programs are housed in UAB’s Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences. The Hueytown, Alabama native plans to work in surgery once he completes his Masters.

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Katie Henley ‘16

Katie HenleyA fall from a ladder in 2008 left Katie Henley’s father with a high-level, cervical spinal cord injury. Now a first-year student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science program, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Department of Physical Therapy, the Hollis, NH native is exploring the possibilities of exercise as a form of medicine.

“Having a father with tetraplegia is a very personal driving force behind my work,” Henley says. “He was a champion of education – always reminding me to do my best and extremely supportive of my endeavors. He taught me that hard work, kindness, and faith go a long way.”

Henley was drawn to UAB by the work of James Rimmer, Ph.D., the Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences at the Lakeshore Foundation. “He is a leader in the field of disability and exercise,” she explains. “I was also drawn to the research collaborative he directs between UAB and Lakeshore Foundation.”

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Pravin Pant ‘15

Pravin PantWhat’s in a name? For Pravin Pant, UAB student and successful manager at a local business, it’s a source of inspiration. He’s the Senior VP and co-founder of a healthcare technology company called Napochi, LLCa word that, according to Pant, means “frontiersmen” in the language of one of Alabama’s native tribes. Living up to his company’s name, Pant strives every day to step beyond conventional boundaries and reach for new solutions.

Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, Pant spent his teen years growing up in Omaha, NE. He recently returned to UAB after a six-year hiatus from the M.S. in Health Informatics program. “Back then we did not have the luxury of doing everything online,” he explains. “It was tough to be in school twice a week every week and also try to run a business. The program is now 100% online and it works really well with my schedule. I can be in a different city for a business meeting and still be able to attend class and complete my assignments.”

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Amanda Majors '15

Amanda MajorsWe all know the saying: “Work smart, not hard.” But according to Amanda Majors, the 2013 recipient of the competitive Michael Thompson Memorial NMT Scholarship, it’s possible to do both. “I’ve always given 110% in everything I’ve done, especially my school work,” says the third-year Nuclear Medicine Technology student. “In the end, I just want to know everything I can in order to contribute to my chosen profession.”

A native of Mount Olive, Alabama, Majors always knew that she wanted to go into medicine. “But I wasn’t sure which aspect I wanted to pursue,” she admits. Then, in 2006, her mother underwent neck surgery to have three cervical vertebrae fused together. “My mom showed me her x-rays, and from there I looked up more pictures and found nuclear medicine technology. I researched it and knew that I’d found the part of medicine I desired to study.”

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