National Alumni Society Member
Name: Ashley M. Jones
Degree and Graduation Year: BA in English, Creative Writing Concentration, Spanish Minor - 2012
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Current town: Birmingham, Alabama
Current employer and job: Alabama School of Fine Arts, Creative Writing Faculty Member
What is your favorite UAB memory? I had a lot of great moments at UAB, and it’s hard to pinpoint one as my absolute favorite. So I’ll give you two. First one: Every year, the University Honors Program, of which I was a part, put together a float and building decorations as a part of UAB’s Homecoming celebration. I was on the committee, and I remember spending countless hours after school creating a huge Blaze poster, using chicken wire to create some sort of green and gold apparatus, and even waking up early to tie green and gold streamers all over the Spencer Honors House. We also got to ride in the Homecoming Parade, which was absolutely fantastic! Throwing candy to cheering Blazer fans, laughing with my classmates, and trying not to fall off the back of the truck was so much fun, and it was a great way to show our Blazer pride! Another one that definitely stands out is when I spoke at my commencement ceremony. I was honored to have been chosen, and I was proud to represent my family, my department, and my graduating class. I felt like my four years at UAB had truly culminated in something magical as I looked out over the crowd at Bartow Arena.
How has UAB impacted your life? UAB has impacted me significantly in my personal and professional life. Personally, I learned how to be a functioning adult while I was at UAB, whether it was braving the dorms and the prospect of cooking my own meals, managing my own money, or powerwalking across the Green in any weather to get to class on time. I met friends and colleagues who supported me as I grew and developed, and I learned what kind of citizen I wanted to be. I learned that I wanted to be hard-working and useful to my community, and I’ve continued living by that philosophy since graduating UAB. Professionally, I was able to develop career skills that I still use today—my English/Creative Writing degree is put to work every single day. The education I received at UAB built upon the exemplary education I received in high school, and it propelled me onward to graduate school and now to my career.
What made you choose your current profession? I’ve always been a writer—I have been writing stories and poems since I was seven years old. I always knew that would be a part of my career. Teaching came to me in high school, when I did creative writing outreach and team-taught summer camps. My time at UAB again found me in classrooms as an America Reads Tutor at Glen Iris Elementary and as a volunteer at Arrington Middle School in conjunction with the University Honors Program. Working with students made me feel fulfilled as a person, and it enriched me as a writer. I also taught in graduate school at my university and in the community, and that really solidified my desire to be a teacher of writing. Now, I’m teaching at my alma mater, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and working with these talented students honestly makes me feel like I’m walking in my purpose, and that I’m making a difference in the lives of some very special young writers.
What would you do if you were given more time in each day? I would probably make more time to read the ever-growing stack of unread books on my bookshelf. People think that when you’re a writer, all you do is write and read, and that’s just not true for me.
If you could have three wishes, what would they be? I’d wish for good poetry, love, and peace.
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? I think the problem in the world is that people don’t know how to chill out and let others live their fullest lives. If I could solve that, and create a world full of people who respect and value the lives of others—meaning no colonization, no racism, no sexism, no classism, no ageism, no patriarchy, etc—I would be so happy, and I’m sure the rest of the world would be, too.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? I would absolutely love the ability to really sing, like Patti Labelle or Fantasia or Luther Vandross or Whitney Houston. Something about a song sung well can lift spirits and touch hearts, and although poetry can do the same things, I want to be able to do that with my voice.
What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? I value honesty and a great sense of humor—if we can’t laugh and tell each other the truth, we can’t be friends!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Literally anything my parents have ever told me. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but my parents are truly the greatest guiding forces in my life. One thing they always impressed upon me and my siblings is to work hard and be good to others—that advice has followed me throughout my life, and it really pays off. Working hard for what you want and being a kind, humble force in the world makes life sweeter.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I have a lot of places I’d like to go in the future, but the one place I really can’t wait to go to is India. I’ve always wanted to see India, and not just because I love Bollywood. I want to see a place that’s completely on the other side of the world, and whose culture is so full. But, by that same token, I’d love to visit Africa, too, and get a better sense of the place my distant ancestors called home.
What is something you are proud of and why? I’m proud of my family because they are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given, and they’re a constant source of support and friendship. My siblings and my parents are some of the smartest, most unique, funniest, and most artistically talented people I know, and I’m just so proud to be one of them!
What is the last book you read? I’ve been reading a lot of books this summer as I prepare for classes in the fall, so I’ll give you the last few: Fences by August Wilson, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, MAUS by Art Spiegelman, American Born Chinese by Gene Yang, and MARCH Book 2 by John Lewis.
What things do you not like to do? Grading, washing dishes, and resetting my car seat after someone else has driven.
What 3 items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? I would definitely take a radio (like, one that can communicate with other radios), a flotation device (because I can’t swim), and a machete.
Student Alumni Society Member
Name: Rena Lim
Graduation Year: 2018
Major: Health Care Management
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Why did you choose to attend UAB? I loved the atmosphere the first time I visited. It felt like home. UAB is the perfect balance of academics and fun in the best city.
Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? Dr. Roger Gilchrist. He’s hilarious. The way he presents the material makes it interesting, which makes it easier to learn.
What is your favorite UAB memory? The Gurney Derby. It was exhilarating. I used to run races when I was in high school but the adrenaline rush at the start of the Gurney Derby is unparalleled to any other experience I’ve ever had.
How has UAB impacted your life? UAB has given me opportunities I never thought were possible. I’ve met friends that have become like family in a short period of time. As a TrailBlazer, I have a chance to change a prospective student’s life while showing off the university I have so much love for.
What is your current state of mind? Sleepy
What do you do for fun? Using hashtags while speaking and binge watching Netflix while eating chips!
Who are your heroes in real life? My Honors College advisor is a real life superhero. She takes every opportunity to get to know each student in the Honors College despite having over a thousand of us. She does whatever it takes to make sure that her students are successful. When I wanted to go to nursing school but found out I couldn’t because I had too many credit hours, she fought for me and made sure that I could apply.
If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? I would find time to paint and do some crafty things.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? To have a strong willpower
What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? Netflix, because what else would I do in between classes?
What are your future goals? I hope to attend grad school at UAB for my MSHA or MPH. After that, I want to eventually run a hospital.
What would be your ultimate dream job? Hosting the Today Show, with Hoda Kotb
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fiction, with whom would it be? At the moment, I would switch places with any student participating in the Disney College Program. It seems like such a great opportunity!
What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? A floppy hat, my swimsuit and a book
If you had a theme song, what would it be? “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? Finding funding for furthering education
What’s the best advice you ever received? “Wake. Pray. Slay”