Self Portrait

Meet UAB's Class of 2017

By Matt Windsor


class of 2017 infographic teaserClick the image above to learn more about the Class of 2017. The fall semester always brings fresh faces to campus, but this year's UAB freshman class was one for the record books. There are 1,773 students in the Class of 2017, a 5.8 percent increase over 2012 and an all-time high for the university. The boom in baby Blazers has also pushed on-campus housing to capacity, with 69.1 percent of freshmen now living on campus—another record total. Digging into the demographics reveals increases among in-state students, out-of-state students, and international students.

There was also a gain in students from Jefferson County, due in part to a new partnership between UAB and Birmingham City Schools that encouraged students such as Angela Roper, a freshman with an interest in nursing, to stay in their hometown for higher education.

1113 frosh7Angela Roper"I researched the nursing program and loved the atmosphere when I visited UAB Hospital," Roper says. She also gives high marks to the Blazing Start program, part of the UAB-Birmingham City Schools partnership, which includes dedicated advising and mentoring for incoming freshmen. "It's a great program to be part of if success is a part of your future," she says.

Roper and the rest of the Class of 2017 will see plenty of changes to campus during the next four years, including a new student center, residence hall, and health and wellness facility. But this group is looking to make some changes of its own—on campus, in Birmingham, and around the world. Meet a few of the new faces:


Joseph Thornton

1113 frosh5Why UAB? "Atmosphere. The people here are very diverse, but at the same time, everyone respects and wants to befriend one another. You don't have to be a stereotype to be comfortable and happy here. That's what I took away from touring the school and talking to students who were already here, and it turned out to be true."

What are you planning to study? "Spanish. I have a passion for the language and the various cultures that go along with it. I promised myself I'd be fluent one day and experience those cultures firsthand."

How are you getting involved on campus? I'm on UAB's Mock Trial Team, I'm a volunteer for the Birmingham Education Foundation, and I'm a volunteer at the Desert Island Supply Company" [a writing outreach organization co-founded by UAB writing instructor Elizabeth Hughey—see UAB Magazine's story on the program here].


Vanessa Velasquez

1113 frosh2Why UAB? "I really wanted to go to a university with great science programs and research opportunities, and when I visited the campus, all of the people I met made me feel like I would be comfortable and happy here."

How are you getting involved on campus? "I am a new member of Delta Gamma sorority, I have joined two groups for Hispanic students on campus—Manos Juntos (a mentoring program) and SALSA (Spanish And Latino Student Association)—and I hope to be involved in Hall Council. During my time here at UAB, I hope to take a semester abroad and be a part of actual research with professionals."


Malik Pegeas

1113 frosh8Why UAB? "I love the way the campus is integrated into the city. It makes everything seem much livelier. I'm from New York, so I naturally feel comfortable in the city. The atmosphere is great."

Career goals? "I'm a math guy, so accounting and I go hand in hand. My current career goals are to go on to graduate school and obtain my certification to become a public accountant. Long term, I plan to open my own business and become an auditor."

Favorite class so far? "Developing the Leader Within, with Dr. Andrea Gage. We're learning about developing our interpersonal skills, which will definitely come in handy during my time here at UAB, and in the future as well."


Andrew Hall

1113 frosh1What are you planning to study? "I have an interest in either pre-med, pre-law, or some sort of criminal science field. Biology gives me a wide range of options in different career paths."

Favorite class so far? "Bioethics with Dr. Bungo. I have always enjoyed ethical discussion and heated debates. Something about discerning truth and finding a solution to ethical dilemmas interests me. Finding clarity in difficult situations is rather appealing."

Favorite part of campus life? "The diversity. Meeting new people with different backgrounds and stories is so much fun and plays a great part in my involvement in new activities and new organizations."


DeAnnjanae Herlong

1113 frosh6Career goals? "I firmly believe that the medical field is my calling and that nursing is the perfect fit for me. I am very compassionate and patient, and I absolutely love helping others. I would like to become a nurse practitioner with a specialty in pediatrics. My dream job is to work at UAB Hospital as a pediatric nurse practitioner."

How are you getting involved on campus? "So far, I have joined the Student Alumni Society, Campus Civitan Club, UAB Dance Marathon, and Student Activities Council. I am currently a member of the Experiential Learning Scholars Program and plan to volunteer at Children's Hospital.

Favorite class so far? "My English 102 class [a service learning course]. This semester our service work will be exclusively with the 1917 Clinic, which is UAB's HIV/AIDS clinic. While there, we will attend storytelling sessions with patients who will share with us their true stories about living with HIV/AIDS. We will apply what we learn to our writing tasks."


Julia Minopoli

1113 frosh4Why UAB? "The size of the student body and campus. I enjoy being able to know a lot of people as I walk to different classes."

Career goals? "My current plan is to be a child psychiatrist, but in whichever career I end up, I want to be able to help people and make their lives better."

How are you getting involved on campus? "My goal is to graduate with a great GPA, but in addition I want to be involved in as many ways as possible. I just pledged Alpha Gamma Delta, which I believe will get me more involved in volunteer work and campus events."

 


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