Agnes_McKowenDuring her clinical rotations, Louisiana native Agnes McKowen will tell you she is always the first one to help a Hispanic patient. She enjoys working with the public especially underserved areas and Hispanic populations. She learned to speak Spanish while working at a medical clinic in Trujillo, Perú with an organization called Peru Mission. Her passion to help others increased during her time there.

“This amazing experience affected my outlook on medicine and life in many ways,” said Agnes. “The clinic is an extension of this Christian organization that is intimately invested in the welfare of its patients and the surrounding community. I now have an understanding of how different the Peruvian healthcare system is from our own in the U.S.”

Agnes is earning her master’s degree in the UAB Physician Assistant Program. Being a PA allows her to interact with patients, diagnose illnesses and design treatment plans that will have a direct, positive impact on the lives of patients.

“The role of a PA is essential to patient education and eliminating health care disparities that exist in certain populations,” said Agnes.

With graduation in sight in December, she already knows where she wants to put her skills to use.

“My dream job would be using my knowledge and language skills to work in Latin America with a NGO (non-governmental organization) that is helping to provide medical care and operations to underserved populations,” said Agnes.

William_D_EnglishWilliam D. English is the first generation in his family to graduate from a four-year university. He grew up in the small town of Uriah in southwest Alabama with a graduating class of 17. But coming to the University of Alabama at Birmingham wasn’t intimidating for him thanks to being a part of Upward Bound. The program allowed him to visit colleges across the state and get exposure outside of Alabama as well.

William earned his bachelor of science in health sciences at UAB’s Department of Health Services Administration. It was during his internship at University Hospital that made him realize how much he enjoyed “working” there and decided his future career was a hospital administrator. He expects to earn his master’s degree in health services administration in May 2013.

“The coursework is rigorous and relevant to what is happening in the industry and really implants one into the field with a wealth of useful practical knowledge,” said William. “Also, the program was very attractive because of its close proximity to and networking/collaborative ties with the various hospitals in the city of Birmingham.”

William says he feels a sense of responsibility. “I truly feel that it is my responsibility to serve my community, state, and country in such a way as to impact lives, which I feel health care is my mechanism for achieving that.”

William won’t forget his humble beginnings either. He hopes to one day move back to his home in Monroe County.