UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Campus Life
Blazer Juggles Basketball, Graduate School
By Grant Martin
UAB basketball player Karl Moton Jr. earned an athletic scholarship, a bachelor's degree, and a postgraduate scholarship to study exercise science at the UAB School of Education. He was honored in the Blazers' final home game of the 2012-2013 season as one of three departing seniors. The easy thing to do would be to accept the applause and say goodbye to basketball—to concentrate on his graduate degree and a future career in physical therapy. But those who have followed Moton's career already know that he doesn't do things the easy way.
After spending most of his time at UAB as a non-scholarship role player, Moton decided to resurrect his basketball career as a graduate student. With one year of eligibility remaining, Moton has laced up for a final season, rejoining the Blazers as a fifth-year walk-on, bringing some much-needed maturity to a team that was big on talent but short on experience.
"We try to recruit guys who have the whole package, and Karl is that whole package," says head coach Jerod Haase. "He is a great person, a great student, a great teammate—and anyone who knows him knows that he loves UAB and loves the program."
Birmingham BoundA native of Atlanta, Moton was recruited out of high school by some smaller colleges where he could have received a scholarship—schools where he might have become a starter and might even have become a star. But after a visit to UAB, Moton realized his dreams of playing college basketball might not line up with his other life goals—and if he had to choose, his academic interests were paramount, he says. "I talked to the coaching staff when I visited, but they didn't have a spot available," he recalls. "I talked to my mom about it, and we agreed that a degree from UAB would be worth more to me in the long run than a degree from any of the other schools I was considering."
|After paying his way as an out-of-state undergraduate, Karl Moton was awarded the Jim Castañeda Postgraduate Scholarship in 2013 to begin his studies toward a master's degree in exercise science. Moton is one of 12 recipients of the award, which is voted on by Conference USA faculty representatives and approved by the conference's board of directors.|
Balancing Books and Basketball
"I struggled with some classes early on, and so I had to put in extra work," Moton says. "When I got an 'A' in one of those classes, it opened my eyes. Once I realized that I could make 'A's, I started pushing myself harder. It became like an addiction." On road trips with the team, Moton often sought out quiet corners in hotel lobbies where he could study. That dedication paid off. After finishing his freshman year with a 3.6 grade point average, Moton continually improved throughout his undergraduate career, graduating in spring 2013 with a 3.92 GPA.
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See highlights from UAB's upset win over then-#16 North Carolina at Bartow Arena on Dec. 1.
During his fourth year, Haase awarded Moton a scholarship for his final semester. This was no symbolic gesture, Haase says. "When you talk leadership, the character part is more important than how many minutes you play or how many points you score," Haase notes. "Karl is a leader, and that's clear when you see how much his teammates respect him and look up to him for his character and his loyalty to the team."
Calling it the "highlight of his career," Moton says the scholarship offer left him speechless, but he adds that in hindsight, it was just one of the many rewarding moments in his time at UAB. "Once I saw that my future with the team was going to be as a role player, kind of behind the scenes, I embraced it and did all I could to make myself an integral part of the team's success," Moton says. "I went through long stretches where I didn't play at all, but [UAB athletic director] Brian Mackin and [faculty athletics representative] Dr. Frank Messina gave me a lot of encouragement and support. That's one reason I wanted to come back on the team this year—to try to give something back to this program."
Meet Students, Faculty Featured in New UAB PromosBy Matt Windsor
What do you want to be? What do you want to change today? That’s the call to action delivered by UAB faculty and students in two new 30-second advertisements focused on student recruitment (click here to watch) and philanthropic support for the university (above). The ads mark the second phase in the university’s branding campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world,” and the launch of The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything, the university's largest-ever fundraising campaign.
Once the cameras finished rolling, UAB Magazine talked with several participants in the new commercials to learn the stories behind their star turns. (Read how music student Kevin Peek wrote the music for these commercials in this related story.)
Olaf Kutsch, Ph.D.
Co-Director, UAB Center for AIDS Research
Many scientists struggle to explain their work in layman’s terms. Olaf Kutsch can accomplish the task in three words: cure HIV-1 infection. “We are trying to identify means to eradicate the virus from infected patients,” Kutsch says.
Antiretroviral medicines block the production of HIV-1 in the body, but reservoirs of the virus live on in immune cells known as memory T cells. To create a cure, scientists must find a signal that can reactivate these dormant viruses and then destroy the infected cells. Kutsch’s laboratory is trying to discover drugs that may be able to provide that signal.
“The most exciting part of my research program is that it gives me the possibility—hopefully one day in the near future—to make a difference for many people," Kutsch says. "Finding a cure for HIV-1 infection would end the hardship for many affected individuals and families.”
Read more about Kutsch's research in this UAB Magazine feature.
Music Student Supplies Soundtracks for New UAB TV CommercialsBy Matt Windsor
You won’t see Kevin Peek in UAB’s new student recruitment ad (above), but the senior music technology major plays a prominent role. Peek’s rippling, piano-driven score propels the fast-moving commercial, which launched the second phase in the university’s new brand campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world.” (Learn more about the faces behind these commercials in this related story.)
Peek is no stranger to high-profile gigs. In 2012, he won a national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival sound design award for the 20 original songs he wrote for UAB Theatre’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and he has composed music for a host of films produced for UAB Digital Media. So the 30 seconds of music required for the new TV commercial was no big deal—which was a good thing, because he didn’t have much time to work with.
Learn more about Digital Media fellowships and internships.)Following recommendations from Scott L. Phillips, Ph.D., co-director of UAB’s music technology program, and Rosie O’Beirne, director of Digital Media and Learning, Peek was commissioned by BLR Further, the advertising agency producing UAB’s new commercials. Because the project was part of his UAB Digital Media Fellowship, he earned course credit as well. (
“Deadlines were pretty tight,” Peek says. He wrote a first draft in five days, but it “didn’t end up working when the editing process began,” so Peek went back to the piano, creating a new piece in “about 24 hours,” he says. (His original piece wasn’t wasted however; it forms the soundtrack for a new commercial for the recently launched Campaign for UAB.)
Meet UAB's Class of 2017
By Matt Windsor
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.
"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:
"A More Convenient Season" Shares Birmingham's Story
By Matt Windsor
Alys Stephens Center (ASC) in the world premiere of composer Yotam Haber's "A More Convenient Season."On September 21, Birmingham's past will engage its present in a unique conversation. For 75 minutes, the words of civil rights legends and footsoldiers, FBI agents and Klansmen, will echo through UAB's
The three-movement musical work, commissioned by philanthropist Tom Blount and produced by the ASC, caps Birmingham's commemoration of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963.
Speeches, oral history transcripts, and FBI interviews supply the text of a multi-faceted work that combines the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, a chorus from dozens of local choirs, electronic music, and a documentary film. (The work's title comes from a line in Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail.") The ambitious project might best be described as an opera, says Haber. "There are no sets or costumes, but in every other respect, this is an opera."
"A More Convenient Season," Saturday, September 21 - 8 p.m.
Jemison Concert Hall, Alys Stephens Center
Book online or call (205) 975-2787.
Tickets: $10 with promo code "positivepeace"
"A More Convenient Season" is the first world premiere in the ASC's 17-year history—a dramatic gesture that is "UAB's gift to Birmingham," says Theresa Bruno, chair of the ASC's corporate board. For Haber, a project that began as a 15-minute string quartet has been his constant companion for two years, evolving into what he says is "the most meaningful work I have ever made."