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February 2017 - College of Arts & Sciences
National Alumni Society Member

Bates WEBName: Johnny Edward Bates, M.D.

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Bachelor of Science in Mathematics; 1979 and MD in 1983

Hometown: Sipsey, Alabama

Current town: Columbiana, Alabama

Current employer and job: I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of Quality Correctional Healthcare located in Birmingham, Alabama, which provides inmate healthcare to facilities in the Southeast.

What is your favorite UAB memory? The professors, without a doubt. I had so many excellent instructors. Also, for the most part, my classes at UAB were fairly small. My sociology class had the largest number of students and I believe that class had around 100 students. The best way I can describe UAB is as a very comfortable learning environment.

How has UAB impacted your life? UAB has impacted my life in so many ways. I was accepted into medical school with my math degree, which was somewhat unusual. Most importantly, it instilled in me a life-long desire for learning. Since my time at UAB, I have earned a Master’s Degree in Medical Management and have taken everything from machine shop courses to engineering courses. UAB taught me that there is something to be learned every day.

What made you choose your current profession? When I was thirteen months old, I developed TB meningitis. This happened just a few years after the introduction of INH, which is an antibiotic that treats tuberculosis infections. I have no recollection of these events. However, my mother instilled in me a love for medicine by the fond way she described the physicians and nurses who took care of me.

What lessons has your professional life taught you? Adaptability and humility. I think these two things go hand in hand. In order to be successful, it is crucial to be open to new ideas and opportunities.

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? The most important invention I have seen in my lifetime is not really an invention but rather a discovery. When I was in medical school, there was limited knowledge about genetics and many people lost their lives to leukemia. Due to discoveries in genetics and molecular biology, some types of leukemia can be managed as a chronic illness rather than being considered a death sentence.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? 1) To be a better Christian; 2) To be a better teacher; and 3) To be a better innovator.

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? There is not a particular age that interests me as much as what I experienced during those time frames. I’m old enough to remember the fun of growing up in Huntsville during the space race and the way it felt when they tested the Saturn V at the arsenal. (The ground would shake and you thought the windows would fall out.) I was around to watch the landing on the moon. So, I would go back to a time when everything seemed possible if we just dreamed big enough. I would also go back to a time when both of my parents were alive.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why? I would frame this in terms of time periods and not a particular historical figure. I love the Renaissance period because of the music and the awakening to the world.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why? Jack Nicholson because he can do crazy really well.

Take a look back at previous National Alumni Society Minutes with a Member segments by selecting the month below:

January 2017 - Collat School of Business

Michael LynamName: Michael Lynam, CFP, MBA

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s):
2010 Bachelor of Science, Finance 
2013 Master of Business Administration

Hometown: Trussville, AL

Current town: Trussville, AL

Current employer and job: Principal Financial Group - Investment Advisor Representative/Financial Advisor

What is your favorite UAB memory? Working on the Green and Gold Fund.

How has UAB impacted your life? Not only have I gained a great education from this institution but have made great personal and business relationships throughout the years. 

What made you choose your current profession? My father passed when I was just 10 years old. My mother was left to raise my brother and me. Had my father not had a solid financial plan, my mother would have struggled to raise us. I’m not saying it was easy for her, but she was able to provide for us. So, from very early on, I saw the importance of making sure your affairs are in order and how having a plan can work. It made me want to help others in the same manner. 

What lessons have your professional life taught you? Far too many to list here and many are things you just can’t learn in a text book. I’d say the most valuable lessons, though, are to never underestimate the importance of people skills, good relationships and a solid work ethic. If you have a healthy mix of these skills, it can take you anywhere you want to go in life.

If you were given the opportunity to spend 48 hours with absolutely anyone (living or dead), who would you spend it with and what would you do? My father. I have a lot of unanswered questions and would certainly like to have known him better.

What song (if any) are you listening to? I Giorni or Divenire to start. Anything by Ludovico Einaudi. I find it relaxing and peacful which helps me unwind.

If you could have a new talent, what would you want? I'd like to learn to play the piano.

Describe your favorite pair of shoes you own now: My Allen Edmonds Grayson loafers. They're comfy for dress shoes which I end up wearing five out of seven days.

I really wish            hadn't been invented. Cell phones...sometimes

Describe your day in a six word sentence: Be thankful for what you have.

What do you love most about what you get to do every day? I get to help people reach their financial goals and make sure their legacy doesn't end just because their life did.

What's the closest thing to you that is green? The money...in my wallet.

December 2016 - School of Education

December 2016 - School of Education
National Alumni Society Member

Sandra Sims headshot 7 23 2013 210x265Name: Sandra Sims

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Master of Arts, August 1986; Education Specialist, August 1997

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Current town: Birmingham, AL

Current employer and job: UAB School of Education, Associate Professor in Physical Education Teacher Certification

What is your favorite UAB memory? Being a GA working with Peggy Harrison and Donna Hester.

How has UAB impacted your life? UAB was the perfect place to get my MA and EdS.  I received both degrees while helping at UAB.  I was a GA for my Masters and a Teacher in Residence for my EdS.  My teaching practices improved because of UAB and my experiences here.

What made you choose your current profession? I knew I wanted to be a Physical Education teacher since I was a freshman in high school.

What lessons have your professional life taught you? I was a public school teacher for 20+ years before coming to UAB to teach future teachers. The main lesson I have learned from my professional life is that it is important to love what you do.  I love teaching, no matter who the students are.  I believe we all should love going to work every day.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? I would take more time with family and friends.

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? The cell phone.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? Place all children in a good, loving environment; give activity equipment to everyone in need, and provide food to all that are hungry.

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I love where I am in life now.  I just wish my body was a little younger and I could move a little faster so I could be more competitive in sports again.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? Play a musical instrument.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? Kindness

What is your motto? Find JOY in the JOurneY

What is something you are proud of and why? My high school teaching days.  I loved teaching and coaching.  Jemison High School was a great place to spend the majority of my career.

November 2016 - School of Health Professions

Madison IIName: Dr. Vivian Yvonne Madison

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): BS Occupational Therapy - 1973, Master of Arts in Education - 1977, Master of Science in Criminal Justice - 1986

Hometown: Columbiana, AL

Current town: Birmingham, AL

Current employer and job: JLT Therapeutic Services, Inc., President

What is your favorite UAB memory? Being in the charter chapter of the Iota Lambda Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is at the top of my list and also being a part of other historic events at UAB.

How has UAB impacted your life? I received an excellent education at UAB. I feel UAB encourages its students to be agents of change and to pursue opportunities in creative and professional ways. With this in mind, I have worked in various agencies, developed programs, sat on community boards, written professional articles, presented at state and national conferences, and started my own business.

What made you choose your current profession? I have always been interested in science, math, and mental health. While in high school, I received college catalogs to assist me in determining where to send college applications. In one of these catalogs was a description of Occupational Therapy. I had not heard of the field; however, it sounded very intersting. I knew this field met all of my criteria and would afford me the opportunity to grow as a professional. I have never regretted my decision.

What lessons have your professional life taught you? The most important lesson is that life can be fragile and that people sometimes need assistance when navigating the ups and downs of their lives.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? Write more books for children and volunteer.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? To revisit special life moments, write and produce a movie that positively impacts the lives of others, and witness the cures of some chronic medical conditions.

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I would go back to my high school graduation, because this is when the next stage in my life started.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? The ability to compose music.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? Honesty and compassion.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why? Although now deceased, Lena Horne, because she was a versatile actress.

What is your motto? "To thine own self be true"

What is something you are proud of and why? I am proud of starting my own business, because this was one of my dreams.

What things do you not like to do? I don't like to wait in backed-up traffic.

October 2016 - School of Engineering

Name: Tequila Smith

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): BS in Mechanical Engineering 1999 and MBA in 2003

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL

Current town: Trussville, AL

Current employer and job: Southern Company, Renewable Energy O&M Manager

What is your favorite UAB memory? Becoming a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

How has UAB impacted your life? My time at UAB resulted in 20 plus years of friendship with some pretty awesome people.

What made you choose your current profession? I was a good math and science student and I did not want to go into the medical field. Engineering was the next best option for me.

What lessons has your professional life taught you?
1) Do not make decisions when you are emotional.
2) Do not take business decisions personally.
3) Make time to mentor others.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? Spend time with Mark Sr, and our children MaKayla - 14, and MJ -11.

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? Definitely the iPhone!!!!

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
1) The ability to spend more time with my grandparents
2) To invent Google or Facebook
3) Three more wishes

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? 10; because my grandfather was alive then and he was my best friend.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? Free education for every child in the world

What natural gift would you most like to possess? Dream Interpretation

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? My friends are nonjudgmental, loyal and forgiving

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why? Gabrielle Union; because she is funny on and off the big screen. I love her energy.

What is your motto? Live, Love, Laugh

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Do what is right. Treat people right.”

If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why? I am currently a member of the Imogene Baswell Society, which provides funding for female engineering students, but I would like to start a non-profit that focuses on increasing the following values and skills in at-risk middle school girls: self-confidence, dignity, charity, communication and leadership.  There would be a strong emphasis on education in STEM fields.

What is something you are proud of and why? I am most proud of my children because they are God-loving, loyal and kind.

What is the last book you read? Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

What things do you not like to do? I do not like driving.

September 2016 - School of Public Health

Alex Ream NASName: Alex Ream

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): MPH in Environmental Health Sciences (2015)

Hometown: Millbrook, AL

Current town:  Birmingham, AL

Current employer and job:  Vulcan Materials Company

What is your favorite UAB memory?  There were many positive memories created during my UAB tenure.  The one event that stands out the most is the “Snowpocalypse” event in January 2014.  The winter weather created hazardous conditions in the Birmingham community.  The University canceled classes quickly before icy sleet advanced into the city.  Traffic was gridlocked.  I walked out of class that morning in hopes of a southern “snow day.”  However, my experiences ranged from a vehicle near-collision, a long trek in snow to get home, resting at a warm church with plenty of hot cocoa, and forming new friendships along the way.  The weather event caused a lot of grief, but the community banded together to reduce the crisis burden.  Many stories appeared shortly afterwards about strangers helping other strangers by sharing resources including transportation, food and supplies.  These stories are what make me most proud to be a part of UAB and Birmingham.

How has UAB impacted your life?  UAB provided me with the skills and confidence to seek a rewarding career in health and safety.  The educational tools and resources helped carve a path for my current and future success.  The academic facilities, students and staff created a unique and diverse environment for me to grow, develop and launch my career.

What made you choose your current profession?  I have an insatiable desire to help people by installing and/or maintaining management systems in the workplace geared towards risk reduction in behaviors, processes and equipment that return employees home to their families in the same, if not better, condition prior to their work shift.

What lessons has your professional life taught you?  I’ve learned valuable results don’t happen overnight.  You don’t have monthly examinations that grade your level of success at work compared to school.  So time management and relationships are vital to my success.  Thus, managing my time tackling delicate situations or tough projects is important. I attempt to provide well constructed solutions to arising problems in the workplace by being respectful of my peers and approachable.  Sometimes finding an answer takes longer than a few minutes.  An “I’ll get back to you,” or “let me sleep on it” is sufficient in most cases.  I’m learning valuable lessons on how to proportionately spend quality time at work and build relationships professionally.

What historical figure do you most identify with and why? I’d love to team up with Bernardo Ramazzini who’s known as the “father of industrial hygiene.”  Ramazzini was a Italian physicist in the 1600s who first linked occupational exposures to chronic illnesses and disease, thus creating a need for industrial hygienists.  He identified a relationship between hazards such as dusts, chemicals, heavy metals and ergonomic risk factors to poor health.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?   A close friend once mentioned to me that, “at the end of the day, your personal accomplishments and wealth are meaningless.  A person’s heaviest weighted attribute is their character.  One day when you’re gone, you will be remembered by not what you’ve done, but how you made people feel.”  I’ve taken that to heart in my personal and professional life.

August 2016 - School of Nursing

BeswickName: Melinda Duke Beswick

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): BSN 1975; MSN 1976

Hometown: Enterprise, AL

Current town:  Manhattan Beach, CA

Current employer and job:  Retired since July 2011

What is your favorite UAB memory?  In 1981, I was teaching Maternal Child Nursing in the undergraduate nursing program at UAB.  I was fortunate to be selected as “Favorite Faculty” during one of the Academic quarters.  The recognition was very special to me as I was still learning what it takes to be a worthy educator.  I had much more to learn after the recognition, but having these students choose me as their favorite faculty gave me hope that I could continue to improve and contribute to their and others’ nursing education.

How has UAB impacted your life?  I credit my education at UAB as preparing me for a career in healthcare that surpassed any expectations I had when I received my degrees. I would never trade the years that I spent as a bedside nurse, but I have also been fortunate to enjoy positions in nursing leadership and healthcare and hospital administration.  The leadership positions would not have been possible without the UAB BSN and MSN.  On a personal note, I probably would not have met my husband had it not been for UAB as he and I met on the indoor running track in the then new UAB gymnasium!

What made you choose your current profession?  My profession actually chose me.  I had never aspired for a nursing career, but I received a full scholarship from the Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing when I graduated from high school in 1963.  My parents weren’t wealthy and I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible for me to go to a university.  Fortunately for me, I loved nursing from day 1!!!  Thus, I began my nursing profession as a diploma graduate and I was then fortunate to be working at University Hospital in Birmingham, AL, where I learned about the UABSON and decided to pursue my BSN and MSN degrees.

What lessons has your professional life taught you?  I have learned humility first and foremost.  As a newly graduated RN, I quickly learned that I was never in a position where I knew everything about any particular issue or situation.  There was and continues to be always more to learn, just as there are multiple ways to approach and resolve a problem.  I have learned that you can lead only if you are willing to put yourself in the shoes of those you aspire to lead.  I have learned to always strive to be better at whatever I do.  I hope I have learned to understand and respect those who are different from me. 

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important?  When I think back to the myriad of inventions that I have seen in my lifetime, it is truly difficult to choose only one.  If I consider only my bedside profession as a labor and delivery nurse, the most important would be the fetal monitor.  But if I consider the invention that seems to have played the most important or ubiquitous part in the life of all, it has to be the cell phone and the personal computer that preceded it.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?  As trite as it may sound, I would begin with wishing for a world free of strife and characterized by peace and plenty for all.  A second wish would be for our world leaders to get serious about methods to address global warming before it is too late.  My third wish would be that my 9 nieces and nephews will all be healthy, happy and successful individuals, as they live long and beneficial lives!

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why?  I would go back to my 30’s.  During that time I was enjoying career advancement.  I could do a much better job knowing what I know now versus what I knew then.  I would be a nicer person, more patient with others who might not be as quick as I thought they should be.  I would make more time to spend with family and friends and I would make sure that I didn’t lose contact with friends as life choices took us in different directions.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  I would want to find a way to resolve the racial divide that continues to exist in our country, a divide that seemed to be heading toward healing a short few years ago, but now seems to be more an open wound than a healing injury.  As some of our politicians say time and time again, we truly are better together than we are apart, but we can’t seem to figure out how to be together.  A mechanism for open and honest dialogue has to be found at all levels in our population and among all people, coupled with a legitimate and pervasive desire to truly listen to one another while working toward necessary compromise.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends?  Honesty, loyalty, humor, compassion, and tolerance head the list.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why?  Julia Roberts because she is so beautiful and is a fabulous actress…no other reasons.

What is your motto? Try to make the most of every day, enjoying the moment!

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?  When I has the CNO of a large inner city hospital, my CEO told me that he was pursuing a promotion within the corporate structure, leaving his CEO position open.  He challenged me to apply for his position.  He told me that I had to earn the position on my own, convincing the Board and the medical staff that I would be the right choice.  He said if I didn’t pursue the position, I would quite simply end up “training” the individual who would be the next CEO.  I accepted his challenge and was selected by the Board and the medical staff to be his successor.  I have tried to pass along this particular advice to those whom I have had the privilege to teach and/or mentor, e.g. accept every challenge presented, especially when you have to stretch your abilities beyond what you thought you could do.  You will rise to the occasion or you will learn more that will enable you to succeed the next time.

What 3 items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water?  I don’t know that I can keep the list to only 3 items if people are to be included.  I would want my husband and my brother and his entire family…a lot of people!  As for inanimate objects, I would have to have my Kindle (lots of books), a computer so I could stay in touch with the rest of the world, and an ocean going boat so I could leave the island when I tired of it.  Bottom line, I wouldn’t do well on a deserted island no matter what 3 items I had with me.  Seriously, I suppose the best 3 items if I had no choice would be a knife, a tent and a book about how to survive on a deserted island!  

July 2016 - Honors College

Jones WEBName: 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. 

June 2016 - School of Dentistry

Mark BronskyName: Mark J. Bronsky

Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): DMD, MS (DMD degree 1987)

Hometown: Binghamton, NY

Current town: New York, NY

Current employer and job: Bronsky Orthodontics NYC (Mark J. Bronsky, DMD, MS, P.C.)

What is your favorite UAB memory? The friends I made at UAB SOD (fellow students, staff, and faculty) and developing relationships with the professors. The close friendships I was able to develop outside of the dental school community have also been transformative and meaningful in the long-term.

How has UAB impacted your life? The SOLID dental education serves me well every day of my life. The friends I made in Alabama continue to be some of the best friends of my life.

What made you choose your current profession? Family association. My father was an orthodontist!

What lessons has your professional life taught you? In addition to learning the joys of helping my patients get healthier and live better lives, the profession has taught me how to function in the business world and the world at large.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? I would spend more time with my family. Our boys are only a few years away from college and there never seems to be enough time with them or my wife, Jodi. I would also spend LOTS more time exercising and seeing friends/relatives, reading books, and TRAVELING!!!

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? All things APPLE -iPhone, Laptops, iMacs, iPads, etc.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? 1. Health and happiness for my family and friends, 2. To be able to take care of my family - to optimize their lives in every way. 3. (To quote Steve Jobs) “To make a dent in the Universe.”

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? Probably 15. That is when my awareness of the world started and it would be interesting and fun to return there with the knowledge and experience that I have now.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why? Winston Churchill - he found ways to persevere and work through monumental problems and ultimately succeed against all odds.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? To cure cancer of all types, specifically pancreatic cancer, as I could have kept my father alive longer and eliminated his pain and suffering.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? Loyalty.

What is your motto? “You can do this.”

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Frame every difficult situation as an opportunity to learn and grow."

If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why? A foundation to fight child obesity and promote healthy food awareness to patients of all ages.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I would go to Iceland to hike and experience the natural beauty.

What is something you are proud of and why? I am proud of our boys. They are thoughtful, respectful, and diligent young men. I am also proud of my ongoing relationships with my mom (Shirley), wife, relatives, and lifelong friends.

What is the last book you read? The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

May 2016 - School of Optometry

Geo Lake GeorgeName:  George N. Eischens

Degree and Graduation Year:   OD, 2001, Optometry, UABSO

Hometown:  I grew up on a little island in the Pacific Ocean called Adak, Alaska.  That is the closest place I have to a home town.  Otherwise, my home town is now Prattville, AL.  I have lived here for the last 21 years.

Current town:  Prattville, AL

Current employer and job:  I’m the owner of Fountain City Eyecare, a primary care optometry clinic where I am also the optometrist.  I started the practice in 2002, a year after I graduated from UABSO.  I am also a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.  I retired in 1997 after 23 years of service, about one week after I began my optometry education at UABSO.

What is your favorite UAB memory?  Studying in the library on the upper floors.  I would go there for an hour or two in the evening to study while waiting for the traffic to subside.  The sun streamed in, the chairs were comfortable, and it was a nice quiet time to reflect on things.

How has UAB impacted your life?  Attending the UAB School of Optometry opened up a wonderful second career to me.  Fifteen years after graduation, I’m still enthusiastic about the opportunities to make a positive impact on my patients and in my community.  The faculty provided superb mentors for my profession and instilled a deep responsibility to use my professional skills to improve the medical condition of those in my community.  As a result, I’m more tuned to those needs and more proactive in seeking solutions.

What made you choose your current profession?  Multiple factors led me to optometry.  I started my college years considering dental and veterinary medicine, but never entered those fields.  As I was wrapping up my career in the Air Force, I decided I would like to pursue something more rewarding than management of computer systems and software development.  I wanted to get back to being on the front lines of resolving problems and helping people.  As a result, I kept going back to the medical fields for a second career.  The optometry field was the best match because I could practice independently and I would work directly with patients to manage their medical conditions.  In addition, it offered a variety of ways I could continue to practice into my 70’s if I desired.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? I would spend more time with my family.  It seems that my professional life and community commitments gobble up the time I have to spend with my parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren. 

What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important?  The internet.  It has enabled almost instant connectivity and collaboration between individuals and groups.  In the simplest example it helps scattered families, such as our military service families, maintain their family bonds and support for each other.  On a larger scale, it allows research groups to coordinate their study to achieve faster results.  It has truly transformed the way people interact.   

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I would go back to the late 1800s.  It was an age of rapid growth and scientific breakthroughs, but there was still a sense of mystery to our world. 

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  I would change the focus of individuals from a “me” orientation to a “community” or “we” orientation.  I realize we are fighting against years of evolution and survival instincts, but we can achieve much greater things as a society if we work together. 

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  I would like to be more empathetic.  If I could better understand the motivations and concerns of those around me, I would make better decisions about my own actions.

What trait(s) do you most value in your friends?  Loyalty – someone to stick with me through thick and thin.  Honesty – the ability to tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why?  Probably Matt Damon.  I like his roles and he is not too extravagant. 

What is your motto?  “Move forward with purpose”

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?  “Concentrate on doing the job in front of you to the best of your ability and the rest will take care of itself.”  A general officer I worked for said this when discussing military career planning. 

If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why?  Our children need more opportunities to grow up in a safe nurturing environment.  My charity would support and expand the capabilities of organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, YMCA, Big Brothers and Sisters.  With many single parent and two working parent households in our country, our children need more positive learning experiences.  The parents also need support in providing those experiences.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  I’d like to visit Mongolia.  It is about as far away from the modern world as I can get and is a very unusual geographic region.

What is something you are proud of and why?  I am proud of the role I played coordinating the evacuation and transportation of approximately 21,000 American military personnel and their family members from the Philippines during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.  My team provided the communication links between the on-site Joint Task Force and the support resources elsewhere.   We arranged for Navy ships to evacuate the family members, which included my own family; and then later to evacuate the military personnel. I left the Philippines on the USS Midway one week after the primary eruption.

What is the last book you read? Start with Why by Simon Sinek.  A very enlightening discussion about how to clarify why we are in business and how to focus on the key reasons the business exists.

April 2016 - College of Arts & Sciences

James Wesley CalhounName: James Wesley "Wes" Calhoun

Degree and Graduation Year:  BS in Criminal Justice - 1987

Current employer and job: Shoe Corp (President)

What is your favorite UAB memory? Being part of a group of young men who started the colony chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity at UAB.

How has UAB impacted your life? I am proud that I have come full circle by utilizing my major in criminal justice and minor in studio art to evolve my career.

What made you choose your current profession? After over 20 years in the advertising business, wherein I owned and operated my own communications firm, my father asked me to return to the family business in 2008 and assist him in growing Shoe Corp.  

What lessons has your professional life taught you? To treat others with fairness and make a WIN-WIN situation for all.

What would you do if you were given more time in each day? Play more tennis.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? 
1. To live a healthy, full life.
2. To have my father back on Earth.
3. To be able to put the 3rd wish in my pocket for necessity.

If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I would go back to 13/14 years old when I made a transition from a small, private school to public school.  I wore my father out begging him to let me go to public school and he finally acquiesced.  I was excited and overwhelmed when I got there.  I definitely would go back to this time to be a better student.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? World peace - and end to the violence for our future generations.

Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why? Gene Wilder would be the best actor to portray this magical adventure.

What is your motto? Lead with your head, judge with your heart.  

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? The best piece of advice I received was from my father, “Don’t stop at 90%, finish the task at hand and make it 100%.”  I use this as motivation to this day.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Punta Arenas, Chile - a.k.a Patagonia.  This is the southernmost point of South America and one of the world’s oldest seaports.  My wife and I travel a lot.  We haven’t been there yet!

What is something you are proud of and why? I am proud to continue the family business with my sister, Michelle.  Shoe Corp stems from a single retail shoe store opened in 1950 in downtown Homewood by my grandparents and has evolved over the years from retail into one of the country’s largest suppliers of inmate footwear serving all 50 states and Canada.

Where would you go in a time machine and why? I would go back to the night in 1961 when my parents were walking 3rd Avenue North in Birmingham to catch a movie at the Alabama Theater.  My father heard his unit called to report to duty the next morning on the handheld radio he was carrying.  He and my mother then decided to skip the movie and go to my grandparents house to let them know he was leaving for France in the morning AND that he and my mother were already married.  I would love to go back to that time to see all that go down first hand.

What 3 items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water?
1. Bug spray
2. Sunscreen
3. Commercial-grade spot light


Student Alumni Society Member

Almond WEBName: Camilla Almond

Graduation Year: 2020

Major: Musical Theatre

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Why did you choose to attend UAB? The musical theatre program here is new within a seasoned theatre department, so there is an exciting element of opportunity and growth while remaining within a strong department that understands what they are doing.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far (and why)? I’ve loved every class I’ve taken here! My favorite professor would probably have to be Marlene Johnson, who I’ve been taking Voice and Movement I and II from. She shares an unbelievable amount of knowledge with us and her class has transformed me the most thus far.

What is your favorite UAB memory? Within the theatre department, we have bigs and littles like you would in greek life. We spent an entire week trading letters back and forth with our bigs, and at the end of it we had a huge big/little reveal where we had to follow clues to our bigs!

How has UAB impacted your life? I have already made amazing friends I know I will keep for a lifetime, as well as connections with outstanding faculty and upperclassmen who I hope to keep in touch with once I am out in the real world.

If you were on a plane beside your favorite celebrity, what would you do? I’d like to think I’d play it off like I don’t know who they are and then strike up a casual conversation, but realistically I’d probably choke on my own spit.

What is one of your favorite song lyrics (and who is it by)?One of my favorite verses from a song by Julian Casablancas: Forgive them even if they are not sorry/All the vultures, bootleggers at the door waiting/You are looking for your own voice, but in others/While it hears you, trapped in another dimension

The store I frequent most is __________: Target. All the time.

Describe your day in a six word sentence: Overslept and ran to my 8AM.

What word do you overuse most? Precious

The best kind of cake is __________: Red velvet

What's the closest thing to you that is green? The starbucks straw in my cup of iced coffee.

Who are the people who make your life better?My dog (not a person?) and the students and staff of the theatre department.

What is the best advice you ever received? To always be my truest and most authentic self, without trying to be someone I’m not.

Take a look back at previous Student Alumni Society Minutes with a Member segments by selecting the month below:

January 2017 - Collat School of Business

Claire Warren headshotName: Claire Warren

Graduation Year: 2019

Major: Industrial Distribution

Hometown: Glencoe, Alabama

Why did you choose to attend UAB? I chose to attend UAB because of all the great opportunities I saw within the Collat School of Business. I was scared to attend a school that none of my friends were attending, but I have met so many great people because I came to UAB. 

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far (and why)? The best professor I have had at UAB so far has been Jordan Bauer, my history professor freshman year. Prior to this class, history was my least favorite subject. The way she spoke in her lectures put the subject in a whole new light for me. She genuinely cared about the material and taught in a way that made it easy for me to understand and follow. 

What is your favorite UAB memory? My favorite UAB memory (so far) was living with my roommate freshman year in our dorm. I was lucky enough to have an awesome roommate who ended up becoming one of my best friends! 

How has UAB impacted your life? I grew up in a small town, so attending UAB was a major change for me to say the least. I love how diverse the student body is. I have learned to be more open minded, but also to stay true to what I believe. Choosing UAB was the best decision I have made in my life so far. UAB has given me so many great opportunities and friendships!

If you were on a plane beside your favorite celebrity, what would you do? I would most likely spend the first part of the flight in shock (and a little upset I am on a plane and cannot share the event with everyone I know).  Once I finally built up the courage to start a conversation, I would of course take a few selfies! 

What is one of your favorite song lyrics (and who is it by)? My favorite song is I lived by One Republic. I love the entire song, so I cannot just pick one line of the song!

The store I frequent most is __________: TJ Maxx (I love the store so much I decided to work there).

Describe your day in a six word sentence: Eat, work, nap, eat and sleep.

What word do you overuse most? The word I overuse most would be "great." I use it most working in retail with customers checking out at the register and checking up with them as I walk throughout the store. I tend to use it frequently in everyday conversations as well.

The best kind of cake is __________: Chocolate (of course!).

What's the closest thing to you that is green? My Christmas tree (it is December 20th as I write this)!

Who are the people who make your life better?My family, friends and pets (the animals in the Warren house are always treated like humans) make any day better and I am very thankful to be surrounded by such wonderful people!

What is the best advice you ever received? While my mother has given me great advice over the years, one piece in particular has always stuck with me. She always told me to be kind to everyone because you never know what someone is really going through. Throughout high school, I worked with my elementary school's afterschool program with children from kindergarten up to sixth grade and now I am working at TJ Maxx. With both of my jobs, I have learned my mother's words to be true. Each day, I try to make a positive impact on someone, even if it is just a gentle smile. 

December 2016 - School of Education

Student Alumni Society Member

El Husari AName: Yasmin El-Husari

Graduation Year: 2017

Major: History and Secondary Education double major

Hometown: Hoover

Why did you choose to attend UAB? My father, uncles, and aunt all graduated from UAB. I simply wanted to carry on the tradition.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? My best professor was Professor Veronique Zimmerman-Brown from the School of Education. She had a lot of experience and was good at transferring that information to her students. She was also very good at explaining assignments and major requirements to us. Her class was the first Education class that I took and it helped confirm my choice of major.

What is your favorite UAB memory? I don’t have just one. My favorite memories of UAB are all of spending time in the library with my friends. It’s a place for great conversation and a great place to make new friends.

How has UAB impacted your life? My time at UAB has really expanded my view of the world. I’ve learned to talk to different people and become more confident about my academic abilities.

What is your current state of mind? Stressed out. I hope to graduate next semester so I’m trying to tie up a lot of loose ends this semester.

What do you do for fun? I like to read, garden, and spend time with friends and family.

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents. No one has given me better advice or supported me more.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? I would spend more time outside like hiking and gardening.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Invisible flight. There’s something very attractive about flying, but with all these planes and drones in the sky, I want to be able to enjoy it.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? The internet (made available to the public). It has made it possible to connect with the world without leaving the house.

What are your future goals? I hope to teach high school level history once I graduate. Eventually, I’d like to become a college professor.

What would be your ultimate dream job? To be a top child psychology/ parenting expert with a show like Supernanny.

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? Jo March from Little Women.

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? I would take a Quran, a first aid kit, and a good knife.

If you had a theme song, what would it be? “One of Those Days” by Joy Williams

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? Water shortage. Water is life for so many people, and people need their basic needs covered before they can worry about other problems like economics or education.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Trust is the binding force in all relationships. It is difficult to build but can be lost in a second. Guard it carefully.

November 2016 - School of Health Professions

Name: Shairoz Sultan Patel

Graduation Year: 2016

Major: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Why did you choose to attend UAB? Steel city pops – just kidding! To be very honest, my soon to be husband at that time had already committed to a training program at UAB which made Birmingham and the extraordinary UAB PA Program a top choice for me. Retrospectively, Birmingham and UAB being in our destiny has been one of our greatest blessings.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? Each one is fabulous and brings a unique teaching style, experiences and knowledge, but IF I had to pick a favorite, it would be Mr. Kris Maday! His enthusiasm while teaching has been so contagious that I was actually motivated to study after his classes; additionally, his love for continually expanding his own knowledge bank and being up-to-date with current medicine is not only inspiring but also empowering.

What is your favorite UAB memory? Seeing our wonderful faculty members in their “element” at the PA Ball ;)

How has UAB impacted your life? It has equipped me with knowledge and skills in medicine to serve my patients with utmost care. Additionally, each of the PA program faculty members has been so generous with not only their knowledge but giving students their time that I feel like I will be walking away in December with some amazing colleagues cheering us on!

What is your current state of mind? To work out or not? #dailydebate #orangetheoryfitness

What do you do for fun? Satisfy my travel bug (goal in life is to visit all of the continents around the globe); Run 5Ks; Twin it up with my twin sister; Pretend like I can hike strenuous trails; Eat flavorful food; Bug my husband to take me shopping

Who are your heroes in real life? My Parents: for a million and one reasons but these two individuals have been and continue to be my role-models through every stage of my life (glamorous or not).

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? Eat, Pray, Serve

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Power Mimicry so I could copy Beyonce’s dance moves without making a fool out of myself.

What are your future goals? To get as many A+ Red Apples on my desk from my students as I can in the future – I would love to join a PA program as a faculty member down the road!

What would be your ultimate dream job? It is a tie between Chocolatier or an Ice-cream taster.

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? Princess Diana because she embodied grace, servitude, love, elegance, purity, knowledge, modesty, etc.

If you had a theme song, what would it be? Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

What's the best piece of advice you ever received? “No honor is like knowledge, no belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation.” –Hazrat Ali

October 2016 - School of Engineering

Name: Joanna Fallen

Graduation Year: 2017

Major: Civil Engineering

Hometown: Prattville, Alabama

Why did you choose to attend UAB? I started playing softball when I was 4 years old and have always wanted to play in college.  When I turned 15 I was recruited by UAB.  UAB was my first softball unofficial visit, and I knew when I saw the campus that this was where I wanted to be.  I had other offers to play softball for other schools, but UAB seemed like the best fit.  I wanted to play softball while pursuing a degree in engineering, and I knew my coaches would work with me and allow me to do that here.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? My favorite professor at UAB is Dr. Hosch.  He goes above and beyond what is expected of him as an instructor to ensure students really understand the material.  If you don’t understand anything in class or on the homework, he will go out of his way to teach it to you and help you during his office hours.  He doesn’t make his classes easy, he makes students work hard.  The majority of students leave at the end of the semester prepared for the next class and with great knowledge of the course he taught.  Dr. Hosch is one of the most organized professors I have ever had at UAB which is incredibly helpful to students trying to follow and learn the material.  He has great knowledge of the courses he has taught and prepares his students to be successful in the future.  

What is your favorite UAB memory? My favorite memory has been attending the UAB Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board Scholarship Reception.   At the reception I was able to meet and have dinner with people on the engineering advisory board who chose me as the recipient. I was so thankful for this scholarship and being able to have dinner with such influential people in the engineering world.

How has UAB impacted your life? UAB has impacted my life in more ways than I could describe.  Being a student-athlete at UAB has prepared me for my future.  Through UAB, I have received scholarships such as the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board Scholarship that have helped me tremendously.  I have also been able to participate in an internship with Southern Nuclear.  These are just a few ways UAB has impacted my life.

What is your current state of mind? Don’t count your days, make your days count.

What do you do for fun? I love to travel. I have been to Australia, England, and Ireland and plan to make many more trips. I also love doing anything outdoors and playing other sports. Camping, hiking, golfing, and playing basketball are some of my favorite things to do.  I also enjoy reading in my down time.

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents are my greatest heroes and role models in my life. Through 27 years of marriage, countless moves, and many obstacles they have overcome every challenge and sacrificed a lot. I would not be where I am today without them.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? Study and read more books.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? The power to heal others.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? Google.  It saves time researching, and answers a lot of questions.

What are your future goals? My future goals are to graduate in the fall of 2017 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.  I plan to obtain my Master’s in Business Administration and my professional engineer license.  I want to work for a big construction company as a project manager.  Then, one day I would like to start my own construction company.

What would be your ultimate dream job? To start my own construction company.

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? A boat, a water filtration device, and a satellite phone

If you had a theme song, what would it be? Trust In You by Lauren Daigle

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? I would want to come up with the solution to cure cancer because it affects way too many people in the world and takes way too many lives.

What’s the best advice you ever received? In everything you do, do it all for the glory of God.

September 2016 - School of Public Health

Keller SASName:  Caroline Keller

Graduation Year: December 2016

Major: Masters of Public Health in Health Behavior

Hometown:  Medina, OH (Cleveland area)

Why did you choose to attend UAB?  I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school out of state in order to get a new experience. UAB’s MPH program is ranked high nationally and thus caught my attention. I read about the university, program and faculty, visited and decided to apply! 

How has UAB impacted your life?  UAB has impacted my life by introducing me to a different part of the country and extensive research experience in my area of interest.

What do you do for fun?  For fun I enjoy spending time with my dog (an adopted 4.5 year old pit bull/boxer/bulldog mix named Belle), gardening, and watching movies.

Who are your heroes in real life?  My heroes in real life include my parents and Jesus. My parents because they work hard every day to ensure I can have access to any opportunity or resource I need in life and Jesus because without my faith I wouldn’t have the strength to continue during challenging times.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  If I could have a superpower it would be teleportation. This would enable me to go back and forth between my life in Birmingham and my friends and family up north much easier. It would also make traveling to new places much more affordable!

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why?  I would have to say that the best invention during my lifetime would be the smartphone. They enable us to communicate faster than ever and allow us to have endless information at our fingertips. Although, with those benefits come drawbacks such as poor concentration, lower quality of sleep, etc. 

What are your future goals?  I hope to be admitted to a Health Psychology PhD program and to complete behavioral research relating to eating, exercise, and stress management.

What would be your ultimate dream job?  My ultimate dream job would be performing the research described above for the government, or a university/hospital network.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  If I had the power to solve one world problem it would likely be war/conflict. I would choose this issue because it is often the large contributing factor to other important world problems such as starvation, mass killings, and lack of medical care.

August 2016 - School of Nursing

HuntName:  Maggie Hunt

Graduation Year: 2016

Major: MSN, Nurse Anesthesia

Hometown:  Woodstock, GA

Why did you choose to attend UAB?  I was moving to Birmingham to be with my husband and I applied to UAB because of it’s great reputation and clinical experience.

What is your favorite UAB memory?  Sitting down next to an unknown classmate at orientation the first day and she became one of my best friends in Birmingham!  She’s been a great support system. 

What is your current state of mind?  I’m focused on studying and learning as much as possible from books and during clinical before I graduate this December and start putting patients to sleep without a preceptor by my side.

What do you do for fun?  Travel, hike, find adventure

Who are your heroes in real life?  My mom

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do?  Exercise and study more!  I’d also like to cook nice meals more often. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  Photographic memory

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why?  Smartphones.  It makes life so much easier!  You can look up a question immediately, download apps for just about anything your heart desires, listen to music, take amazing pictures… it’s a mini computer that fits in your pocket.

What are your future goals?  Once I start working again, my husband and I want to travel as much as possible, visit family in different parts of the US, pay off student loans, and start a family.

What would be your ultimate dream job?  I start my dream job in January as a nurse anesthetist!

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? Chapstick, a hat, and sunblock… I’m being quite literal!

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why?  Find the cure for cancer

What’s the best advice you ever received? There’s never an excuse to be unkind – my mom

July 2016 - Honors College

Lim WEBName: 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” 

June 2016 - School of Dentistry

Morgan BlalockName: Morgan Blalock Taylor

Graduation Year(s): 2014, 2018

Major(s): Biology, Dentistry

Hometown: Athens, AL

Why did you choose to attend UAB? UAB is always growing, always changing. The first thing I noticed about UAB is its push for research and innovation. That was both exciting and motivating for me. There is no excuse to ever be static or bored here.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? Dr. Thane Wibbels. Within five minutes of meeting Dr. Wibbels, it’s clear that he is passionate about what he does. He is so excited to lecture you at 8:00 in the morning, that you can’t help but be excited to go to class and chime in.

What is your favorite UAB memory? We had a snow storm in January of my junior year. Classes were cancelled and everyone was outside all day playing in the snow. We had so much fun!

How has UAB impacted your life? UAB has given me the confidence, capability, and the opportunity to pursue my lifelong dreams. I am grateful for the challenging undergraduate classes and wonderful teachers who made the transition to professional school so much easier.

What is your current state of mind? Hanging on until summer break!

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents and my husband.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Ability to converse with animals.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? Whitening strips. I’ll never kick my tea habit!

What are your future goals? Make a difference in others’ lives while practicing dentistry, host a family Thanksgiving or Christmas, develop a green thumb.

What would be your ultimate dream job? Dentist!

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? Any of the twelve disciples.

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? A historical fiction novel, camera, and a toothbrush.

If you had a theme song, what would it be? Beyonce’s “I Was Here”

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? I’d put an end to all child abuse and domestic violence. Our children are our hope for the future. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? My parents have always taught me I can be anything or anybody I want. Don’t settle and never give up. Also if you’re going to do something, do the best you can. If you’re not going to do your best, don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. 

May 2016 - School of Optometry

Lindsey GaskillName: Lindsey Gaskill 

Graduation Year: 2017

Major: Doctor of Optometry

Hometown: Chapel Hill, TN

Why did you choose to attend UAB? I wanted to stay in the Southern region, and I knew that UAB School of Optometry had a great reputation among the professional community.

Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? Dr. Tammy Than has been such a positive inspiration to me. She is so involved with her students and truly wants each and every one of them to be great. She puts in so much extra time and effort to make sure that each student has the opportunity to succeed. She has a powerful presence not only in the classroom, but also with involvement in the AAO. She is strong, disciplined, determined; she is my professional role model.

What is your favorite UAB memory? I don’t think I can choose one. The past 3 years have been the hardest years academically, but I am proud to say that I have had an amazing group of people to share the entire experience with.  My classmates and I have grown so close over the past few years and I can’t imagine getting through this journey without the UABSO Class of 2017.

How has UAB impacted your life? It has totally changed it! When I first started, I was just 21 years old. Within the past 3 years I have seen myself transform into a totally different person. I have learned a great deal of self-discipline and have come to realize that we are capable of much more than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Without the hard work and dedication that optometry school has demanded, I don’t think that I would have the same confidence to reach my goals.

What is your current state of mind? Excited! I’m one year away from graduation and looking forward to all of the opportunities ahead of me!

What do you do for fun? Read; isn’t it sad that a student likes to read in her spare time? But after spending hours looking at textbooks and PowerPoints, it’s really nice to get lost in another world for a little while. I also like to spend time outdoors, whether it’s hanging out by the pool, going for a hike, picnicking, or just going for a walk, it’s nice to feel the sun and get some fresh air.

Who are your heroes in real life? My hero is my fiancé, Ja. He came into my life not long before starting optometry school and the timing couldn’t have been more awkward or more perfect. He has been my motivation and my backbone. Within the past few years, Ja has saved me from myself by bringing laughter and peace into my life when all I could find was stress, anxiety, and worry; this is why he is my hero.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? Spend time laughing. I tend to get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. If I had more time, I would take it doing things that make me smile.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I would choose flight.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? Google Maps … without it I’d probably be lost right now.

What are your future goals? My future goals include moving back to Tennessee, marrying my fiancé, working as an optometrist, starting a family, and eventually owning my own practice.

What would be your ultimate dream job? A musician; I was never good enough at French horn though!

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? I would trade places with someone much less fortunate than myself. I would hope this would give me a better perspective on all the things I have to be grateful for and how lucky I am. Then, I could be more satisfied with the rest of my life, rather than happy for just 1 week.

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? I would take a hammock, flint, and the biggest book of stories I could find.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? World peace…I know that sounds like such a beauty pageant answer, but it’s truly what I would want. There are so many issues in the world that could be avoided if people were more tolerant and understanding of one another.

What’s the best advice you ever received? When I was told by an instructor that I was capable of more than I believed, that I had set my goals too low. This was a huge turning point in my life, and this conversation caused me to make major changes in my future plans and goals and is the reason I am now at UABSO.

April 2016 - College of Arts & Sciences

Jignasha PatelName: Jignasha Patel

Graduation Year: 2018

Major: Biology

Hometown: Dadeville, AL

Why did you choose to attend UAB? UAB had the challenging curriculum I was looking for and opportunities I never received before.

Who is the best professor you have had at UAB so far and why? Dr. Raut in the Biology Department is one of the best professors at UAB. She teaches biology in a way that if you are not interested in biology, which I could not imagine, she relates it to each person and how it relates to that person and their lives. She also cares a great deal about her students and how they do.

What is your favorite UAB memory? My first visit to the campus is my favorite memory of UAB. From the first step I made on campus, I knew I felt comfortable here. Walking around the campus I could see myself shuffling to class.  Stepping into the dorms I remember planning how I wanted my room to look, and by the end of the visit I knew this is where I belonged.

How has UAB impacted your life? I never thought I would be able to strive for my dream and have so much support and opportunity; UAB has given me both. Because of the great people I have met through classes, organizations, events, and my family, I have a support system behind me that I thought I would never have! With that support and the endless opportunities UAB has given me, UAB has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

What do you do for fun? I love reading novels and watching old movies.

Who are your heroes in real life? I know people say this all the time, but my parents are my heroes. They have been through so much and have never wavered. They have always kept me happy and never let me settle for less than I deserve. And even when I made decisions they did not agree with, they are there for me when I need them.

If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? If given more time in the day I would volunteer at Children’s and maybe fit in a couple of chapters of a great book.

What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? While I believe people my age, including me, have become too dependent on our technology, I think the best invention of my lifetime is smartphones. Smartphones of any type allow for easy access to basically every part of our lives. Whether it is staying in touch with family, researching for a lab report, or streaming a movie on Netflix, smartphones are a game changer in my lifetime.

What are your future goals? My future goals professionally involve volunteering with children and animals in hospitals and animal shelters. My future life goals include travelling to places like Honduras and Spain, becoming more independent, and being a more caring and aware individual.

What would be your ultimate dream job? My ultimate dream job is to become a primary care pediatrician.

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? Since I was young, I always had a crazy dream about being a spy. I once read a book series where the main character, Cameron Morgan, went to a spy school and became a spy.  She would be the person I would love to trade places with.

What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? My Polaroid camera, a volleyball and my Ganesha idol.

If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? If I had the power to solve one problem in the world it would be the need to find a sustainable, renewable resource that is multi-versatile. I feel like it is important for everyone to take care of the environment and preserve it for future generations. Also, we would not have to fight over where to drill for oil.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Let nothing and no one stop you from achieving your dream.