Carlos JohnsonFor years the United States Air Force slogan was Aim High. Chat with Carlos Johnson, the child of a USAF serviceman and a Doctor of Physical Therapy student in the UAB School of Health ProfessionsDepartment of Physical Therapy, and you quickly realize it could be the slogan for him and his family.

“What drives me is advice I received from my super successful brother who always told me: ‘It's hard but it's fair and if it were easy, everyone would do it!’," said Johnson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in the UAB Respiratory Therapy Program. “It takes a lot of work to be part of a certain profession so there is no sense in complaining because it's what you sign up for and one day you'll reap the benefits from all the struggle.”

Emily FalkEmily Falk Libby is a cum laude graduate of Yale University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She began her career as a mergers and acquisitions analyst on Wall Street, and has since worked in fields ranging from orchestra management at The Kennedy Center to market research in corporate healthcare.

“My husband and I were living in Birmingham for his work and I decided to take advantage of UAB’s strengths in research and in its Comprehensive Cancer Center to pursue a long-standing interest in cancer research,” said Libby, a native of Washington, D.C.

Libby is a third-year predoctoral student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. She is focused on investigating the role of autophagy, a cellular process of self-eating, in breast cancer metastasis.

Laura Hampton NanceLike many students, Laura Hampton Nance packed up her life and moved to Birmingham to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). However, unlike most students, the 20-something age kids Nance said goodbye to were not her classmates - they were her children, a 22-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son.

Nance originally earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and spent the past 17 years as a banker in Chattanooga, Tenn. She held a secure position as a portfolio manager at First Tennessee Bank when she decided to give it all up and become an occupational therapist (OT). It is a career move that is reflective of Nance’s personal objectives.

AshleyMarianoAshley Mariano’s academic career has taken her from the University of Connecticut (bachelor degree), to Duke University (ASCP certification), to UAB (first year genetic counseling), to the Mayo Clinic (Genetic Counseling Laboratory internship) and back to UAB (scheduled to finish genetic counseling master’s May 2014).

Never one to shy away from new experiences and new challenges, part of the draw to the UAB School of Health Professions for Mariano, a native of Prospect, Conn., was the fact that the genetic counseling program enrolled its first class only three years ago. She wanted to be part of the growth and the excitement that surrounds a newer program.

Todd Jenkins editedTodd R. Jenkins, M.D., is director of the Division of Women’s Reproductive Healthcare in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UAB School of Medicine. While some may envision the role of division director as the pinnacle of a career, Jenkins, a 1994 graduate of UASOM, saw himself somewhere around mid-career when he decided to go back to school.

“I am well along in my career and even though I have already achieved many of my career goals, if I want to go any further, I know I need to obtain a new set of skills,” said Jenkins. “As I took on more leadership roles within my department and within UAB, I found that I needed business, leadership, and human resources skills that I did not possess.”

Hurston WWade Hurston has never been one for auto-pilot. Not in education, career or life. He has always set, and navigated the path carefully.

So it is not a random wandering from the assigned course that Hurston, who has a baccalaureate AND a master degree in aerospace engineering, is a doctoral student in the Department of Physical Therapy. He was looking for a career where he could soar.

Lauren CogginsLauren Coggins of Huntsville has accomplished a lot in the short amount of time she’s been an occupational therapy student at UAB. She was inducted into the OT National Honor Society (Pi Theta Epsilon), she currently serves as public relations chair for the Student OT Association, and was director of last month’s “Run and Walk with OT 5K race.” This is coming from a student who didn’t know that much at all about her chosen profession until a few years ago.

“After learning more about the profession, I can see how the field uses my talents and gifts I have been given and allows me to make the most of those,” said Coggins.

Candice HudsonFor once, being from a small town has its advantages especially for Candice Hudson. The West Blocton, Ala. native earned her bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from UAB in 2010 and worked in a hospital and long-term care facility. She was still paying her undergraduate loans and acquired more when she entered the Physician Assistant (PA) program.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and I researched hospitals on careers in medicine that would allow me to help others suffering from similar conditions,” said Hudson. “I was intrigued by the Physician Assistant profession.”

JustinWilliamsonJustin Williamson is not your typical senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He’s considered a non-traditional student because he works full-time while attending school part-time. Williamson earned an associate’s degree, but wanted to find a school that would transfer his credits and allow him to continue to work full-time.

“UAB was a natural fit, and the School of Health Professions reached out to me and helped me get on track with my educational goals,” said Williamson.