Young Alum Gets Firsthand Look at Hurricane Irma

Cameron Edgeworth, a Trussville, Alabama native and 2015 graduate in mass communications/broadcasting, recently flew into the eye of Hurricane Irma.

Cameron Edgeworth, a Trussville, Alabama native and 2015 graduate in mass communications/broadcasting, is a reporter with  WKRG News 5 in Mobile. He recently flew into the eye of Hurricane Irma with the Biloxi, Mississippi-based Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the Air Force Reserve, or “Hurricane Hunters.” We talked to Cameron about his experiences in the eye of the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, and how UAB prepared him for his news career.

""Arts & Sciences Magazine:

Why did you choose UAB?

Cameron Edgeworth:

I initially chose UAB out of affordability, but I quickly fell in love with the university.

A&S:

What attracted you to a major in mass communications/broadcasting? 

CE:

I wanted to major in mass communications/broadcasting to be a television/digital news reporter. Initially, I wanted to be an entertainment news reporter, but minoring in social work pushed me into news because it made me want to tell people's stories and report about what impacts them in their communities. My parents gave me the nickname "CNN" (Cameron News Network) because I was always reporting to them what was going around the house or the neighborhood.

A&S:

Is WKRG your first job out of school?

CE:

As a student, I was part of a paid internship and training program through a company called LIN Media and as part of the program, they paid for my last two years in school in exchange for me committing that I would work for two years at one of their stations when I graduated in April 2015. I was placed at CBS 42 in Birmingham as an Associate Producer in June 2015. Eventually I had the opportunity to do news reporting occasionally. I left CBS 42 in July of 2017 for the full-time reporting job I now have at WKRG News 5.

A&S:

Did you feel UAB prepared you for your career?

CE:

I did feel prepared because I had two internships at different news stations while in college. I also worked part-time at CBS 42 during my senior year in college as a videographer and writer. As a reporter or multi-media journalist you are most likely editing and shooting your own stuff. UAB did a great job at teaching me the art of shooting with different cameras, lighting, and using various editing systems and techniques. Alan Franks did a wonderful job teaching the students about the equipment, and Dr. Jaquelyn Shaia was excellent writing teacher.

A&S:

Did you volunteer to fly into Irma, or was that assigned to you? 

CE:

I guess I volunteered. I had just gotten back from my story assignment around 3:30 on Friday afternoon and heard my boss going around the newsroom asking different reporters if they wanted to fly on a Hurricane Hunters flight into the eye of Hurricane Irma. Everyone quickly said no, and for a minute I thought it was a joke. Once I realized he was serious, I volunteered. I had to finish my story and report live at 5:00 p.m. Then I headed to Biloxi to leave for Hurricane Irma. It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot about the life-saving science that happens on those flights.

A&S:

What advice would you give to prospective students considering UAB? 

CE:

I would say you will get out of it what you put into it. Take every class seriously, and realize by majoring in the field you are in fact a social scientist. When it comes to classes specific for your major, put in the extra time to learn your craft. If you do all those things, you will be prepared for whatever field you enter.

  • A Limitless World

    Makayla Smith wants to use poetry to create spaces of joy and representation for Black, queer audiences.

    Photo of Makayla by Tedric Davenport
    Illustration by Caitlin Du

    Makayla Smith wants to use poetry to create spaces of joy and representation for Black, queer audiences.

    Growing up in the rural South, Smith struggled to find her identity as a writer and as a person. But studying literature, creative writing, and African American Studies at UAB has clarified for Smith what role she wants to play in the world as an academic and creator. Now, as an adult and recent graduate, Smith has a clearer understanding of herself.

    “I feel like there aren’t enough works on the market really exploring that for my age group,” Smith said. “My sexual orientation is such a big part of my writing.”

    Smith also hopes to explore these realities without commodifying Black pain. She worries about the misconception that creating work is only profitable and valuable if the process is painful for the audience and creator.

    “[Writing] does not have to be traumatizing in order for it to sell and it will literally have the same impact,” Smith said. “I want people to feel joy. I want people to feel happy to be themselves and safe.”

    During her final semester at UAB, Smith compiled a poetry manuscript called I don’t believe in mermaids. In the manuscript, she uses her childhood and personal memories as a way to broach the topics of how community, family, and one’s surroundings can affect an individual’s relationship with their sexuality and perception of self. Smith writes about the experience of growing up with her grandparents, particularly her relationship with her grandmother and how that impacted her identity.

    “In poetry, you’re limited in some senses of style and formatting,” Smith said. “It was very meticulous [work] trying to convey a clear picture while also trying to not give it away at the same time, to be metaphorical.”

    Before attending UAB, Smith attended Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery. Smith had the opportunity to write with the Alabama Writers Forum and as a journalist for the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. Writing with and for her community confirmed for Smith that writing was what she wanted to do professionally.

    “Essentially, what I’m trying to teach people is that you don’t have to be in one specific place, like New York or San Francisco, to really learn about yourself or to be proud of your identity,” Smith said. “I want Black, queer people in general to feel proud of themselves.”

    In High School

    In high school, Smith had felt adamant that attending school or living in a major city was necessary to achieve a career in writing. She ultimately chose to attend UAB instead of going out of state since it was the best option financially. Looking back, Smith is grateful for how her time at UAB allowed her to grow as a writer and person.

    “It ended up being a very introspective, very needed last four years,” Smith said. “I didn’t need to go out of state to find all these great things out about myself.”

    Smith is especially appreciative of the relationships she was able to foster with her professors during her time at UAB. She describes the Department of English and the African American Studies Program as a family. Smith hopes to carry that dynamic with her as she continues in academia.

    “It felt safe and like I could show up 100 percent as myself. There was no white gaze to interfere with,” she said. “It feels good knowing that people are going to be there for you and stand up for you.”

    Smith is also thankful for the confidence that her African American Studies minor and literature studies has given her. Before UAB, Smith was unfamiliar with the idea of intersectionality. Exploring that, along with critical race theory, allowed Smith to understand herself better.

    “I was able to really analyze the systemic and historical context of my existence, of Black people’s existence. It makes sense why I am the way I am and now I can work on myself,” Smith said. “That’s the best thing both departments could have ever given me.”

    New Opportunities in New York

    Since graduating from UAB, Smith has flourished professionally and academically. Currently, Smith is attending the New School of New York for her M.A. She is also on staff at the school as a tutor and as an intern for “One Story,” a literary magazine based in Brooklyn. Over the summer, Smith also announced on social media that she won a Gilman Scholarship. The scholarship will cover her travel and living costs while she studies television and film production in London for three weeks.

    “I was with my brother at the time [of receiving the scholarship], screaming at the top of my lungs. I’ve never been overseas a day in my life, owned a passport, or anything like that so I’m just really grateful,” she said.

    However, Smith acknowledges that rejection is a large but often hidden part of the application process. In the same social media caption announcing her Gilman Scholarship, Smith admitted that receiving this award came after multiple rejected scholarship and job applications.

    “There are so many different ways to get to where you want to be,” she said. “That is my healthy way of dealing with being turned down from so many opportunities and scholarships.”

    Currently, Smith is studying children’s literature at the New School and has workshopped several short stories. She hopes to publish more illustrated editions of her work in the future. She hopes that her experiences inspire others to persevere, even through rejection.

    “One person’s no will be another person’s yes. The world is limitless.”


    If I Could Buy Love in the Marketplace

    Grandma used to make tea cookies that left sweet fantasies in the air
    But the texture was brittle and bleak and rock-like as if it had been -
    apart of a canyon
    She used to say, "Do right by me and right shall follow"
    To which I respnded with irate sadness and irate confusion
    How dare she place God where they need not be?
    Between hard boiled cookies and my sweet, little fantasies
    But God was her love for all seasons and her love for all reasons
    And I, too, was fascinated with that idea of unconditional love
    From an unconditional savior like Jesus Christ
    But instead, I was warped with thoughts of buying vases of love
    In its glass cylinder as it refracted the Moon
    Christ had nothing to do with this equation
    And Grandma's tea cookes had left me toothless and heartbroken
    I, too, was to do right by myself
    Amen

    Read more...
  • Five Questions with Alumni: Shelby Morris

    Shelby Morris earned her B.A. in Professional Writing with a minor in Spanish in 2016 followed by a M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition in 2018.

    Shelby Morris earned her B.A. in Professional Writing with a minor in Spanish in 2016 followed by a M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition in 2018. She is currently attending law school at Samford University, Cumberland School of Law.

    Why did you choose professional writing?

    Originally, I thought I would be going to Dental School and I had always enjoyed English in high school so I decided to major in English. It wasn’t until I took a Document Design class by Dr. Bacha that I realized I really enjoyed professional writing and decided to pursue that instead.

    I definitely get skeptical looks from people who believe you can’t get a job with an English degree, but I constantly look at the market and see how untrue that really is.

    What made you want to attend law school?

    My mother is a lawyer so it was always in the back of my mind as a career path, but it wasn’t until graduate school that I realized this was something I wanted to pursue. I didn’t really feel the part of a teacher and when volunteering at the literacy council, I realized I wanted to help others and advocate for those who couldn’t.

    What do you like best about law school so far?

    I really enjoy all my classes and how logic based everything is. Some very challenging things have been learning how to write in a legal sense. I’ve recently been able to take an intellectual property class and I really feel like this mixes the both of best worlds: creative arts and law. I feel like I’ve been able to apply principles I’ve learned in my professional writing classes to legal concepts I’m learning now.

    What advice would you give to current UAB students?

    Internships. Experience. These are some of the most important things to do before leaving college. Now is the time to find out what you really want to do and internships will really help with that. Experience in the field is necessary, especially when it comes to landing that marketing role. The English faculty is awesome and are there to help you in whatever capacity you need so don’t be afraid to reach out to them!

    What question do you want us to ask our next alumni we interview?

    Have you been able to use your degree or experiences from UAB in an unexpected way?

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  • Alumni Honored as 2020 Rising Stars

    The College of Arts and Sciences is proud that three of the five honorees are our graduates.

    The UAB National Alumni Society celebrated the accomplishments of the 2020 UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Award winners during a special virtual ceremony on Thursday, September 17, 2020. These outstanding young alumni have been deemed rising stars in their careers and are exceptional role models for the students and graduates who follow them.

    The College of Arts and Sciences is proud that three of the five honorees are our graduates.

    Dr. Ameen Barghi, B.S., Neuroscience, 2015

    Barghi was an accomplished undergraduate. He combined a major in neuroscience with a second individually designed major in translational research and worked in the lab of Dr. Edward Taub in the Department of Psychology. In 2013, he was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a national fellowship for juniors pursuing research-oriented careers in math, the natural sciences, and engineering. A year later, he was selected as the inaugural Summer Research Scholar for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UAB. In 2015, he was named a Rhodes Scholar, awarded to just 32 American students to pursue fully funded graduate studies at the University of Oxford, England. Barghi was in the Science and Technology Program in the Honors College, was a member of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program and the Collat School of Business Honors Program, and was on the national championship Bioethics Bowl team, housed in the Department of Philosophy.

    He graduated from Harvard Medical School and is currently doing his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Wake Forest University.

    Barghi is also involved with mentoring UAB students who are applying to competitive national fellowships. He also takes time to mentor pre-med students considering applying for out-of-state medical schools or doing gap years internationally.


    Jessica Lopez, B.S., M.S., Biology, 2015 and 2016

    Jessica is an Associate Athletics Director for Academics at Northern Arizona University, where she is building a department to provide academic support for student athletes. The goal is to achieve the national standards of excellence in NCAA-mandated internal academic services through advising, specialized support for under-prepared students, and interactions with coaches.

    While a student at UAB, Lopez worked as a graduate assistant for the Women’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer programs. She also served as a mentor for the football team and a tutor within the athletics department. From 2012 to 2016, Jessica was a University Academic Success Center Instruction Leader and worked as a biology department representative and Blazing Start co-director.


    Erika Rucker, M.P.A., 2009

    Earlier this year, Erika began her position as 21st Century Community Learning Center Program Coordinator at Auburn University, where she works with grant-funded after-school and summer programs throughout Alabama.

    While pursuing her masters’ in public administration, Erika worked as an after-school teacher for fifth graders in the Birmingham Regional Empowerment and Development Center (BREAD), then called Bethel Community Learning Center. After receiving her MPA, she was promoted to adult education coordinator at BREAD/Bethel.

    In time, she was promoted to Project Director for BREAD, where she provided oversight for three 21st Century Community Learning Center sites, two child nutrition sites, and 12 summer food service program sites.

    She has been a part of the Alabama Community Education Association, Jefferson State College Child Development Program, and Alabama Afterschool Community Network. In 2014, she was named the Extended Day Director of the Year by the Alabama Community Education Association.


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  • Spanish alumna is chief of UAB Hospital Medicine

    Kierstin Cates Kennedy, M.D., chief of UAB Hospital Medicine and clinical associate professor, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish at UAB.

    Kierstin Cates Kennedy, M.D., chief of UAB Hospital Medicine and clinical associate professor, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish at UAB. She says speaking more than one language has been incredibly beneficial, in her ability to both connect with patients and better understand their experience. Having learned as an adult, she says she understands how difficult it is to learn a second language after so many years of speaking only one, and how much effort it takes to master all of the quirks of another language.

    “Imagine being in a country where you don’t speak the native language, or don’t speak it very well, and the discomfort that would bring,” Kennedy said. “Now imagine being sick, in the hospital and literally afraid for your life — you would want to communicate in your native language to be sure that you fully understand and that the care team fully understand you. I would imagine that our being able to speak Spanish helps bring a level of comfort to patients when they could use it most.”

    Speaking English and Spanish has made her more marketable professionally because she has a skill that many other applicants may not. It has also allowed her to participate in mission work with a mentee, in the mentee’s home country of Nicaragua. Personally, she says it has given her an appreciation for other cultures that she did not have before her foreign language studies; it has also been incredibly helpful with travel out of the country, she says.

    UAB Hospital offers dual-handset telephone consoles in patient care areas to reach interpreters, with access to 150 languages, which has been incredibly helpful in caring for patients during hospitalization. But there is still a need for robust resources in Spanish for post-discharge care and follow-up, Kennedy says.

    “We also need more case managers and social workers who speak Spanish to help with care transitions,” Kennedy said.

    Keep Reading: Need for professionals who speak a second language greater than ever

    Learn how you can add language skills to your resume with the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. 

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  • UAB National Alumni Society Top 25 Excellence in Business Awards

    The 2020 UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 event was a little different this year, but the celebration, held via Zoom on Thursday, June 25, was just as meaningful as previous award ceremonies.

    The 2020 UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 event was a little different this year, but the celebration, held via Zoom on Thursday, June 25, was just as meaningful as previous award ceremonies. Nine College of Arts and Sciences alumni were honored as members of the 2020 class—we are very proud of their achievements.

    These deserving graduates were among 25 UAB alumni recognized for their success at a company they founded, owned, or managed. The UAB National Alumni Society has ranked and verified the nominated companies based on the annual growth rate for the three most recent reporting periods.

    Companies being considered for an Excellence in Business Award must meet the following criteria:

    1. The company must be owned, managed or founded by a UAB graduate (or group of graduates) who meets one of the following:
      • Owned 50 percent or more of the company during the most recent eligible period.
      • Served on the most senior/division leadership team (chairman, CEO, president, partner, vice president, broker, etc.) during the eligible period.
    2. The company has been in operation for a minimum of three years prior to December 31, 2019.
    3. The company has verifiable revenues of at least $150,000 for its most recent 12-month reporting period.

    Congratulations to our deserving graduates!

    ADAM ALDRICH

    Aldrich is the president and co-founder of Airship, a software development firm in Birmingham. Airship deploys a wide array of technologies to service clients in 11 states and across a range of industries, including healthcare, construction, retail, insurance, real estate, non-profit, and fitness. Aldrich graduated with a B.S. in computer and information sciences in 2008.

    JOSHUA BAKER

    Baker is the owner and managing director of Baker Camp Arnold Capital Management, a premier, full-service financial advisory firm located in Hoover, Alabama, with a nationwide presence. The firm offers clients concierge-quality advisory and planning services customized for their individual needs and goals. Its approach is to centralize clients’ diverse financial strategies and life plans to provide a coordinated, efficient, and effective road map for financial security. Baker graduated with a B.A. in history in 2004.


    JOHN BURDETT

    Burdett graduated with a B.S. in computer and information sciences in 2000. Today he is the CEO of Fast Slow Motion, which offers expert Salesforce guidance for growing businesses. The company focuses on implementing Salesforce as a platform to run businesses so companies can focus on growth—not managing technology or worrying about operations. Its team has expertise across a wide range of businesses and industries.

    DAVID FORRESTALL

    Forestall founded SecurIT360 in 2009. The full-service, cybersecurity and compliance consulting firm has grown consistently year after year. With offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Birmingham, SecurIT360 has partnered with hundreds of organizations nationwide and abroad to measure, monitor, and respond to cyber risk. Forrestall graduated with a B.S. in physics in 1996.


    JOE MALUFF

    Maluff graduated with a B.S. in Psychology in 1996. Today, he is an owner of Full Moon Bar-B-Que, one of the Southeast’s most popular restaurants. Joe and his brother David bought the original restaurant and have grown the business while still maintaining the landmark restaurant’s family feel. Full Moon employs 345 people across Alabama.

    BRADY McLAUGHLIN

    McLaughlin is CEO of Trio Safety CPR+AED, a family of four life-saving brands designed to prepare the general public to save lives with AEDs, CPR, first-aid training, and bleeding control kits. They employ 13 team members in Birmingham and have nearly 40 contractors nationwide. McLaughlin graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication Studies.


    CHRISTINA SMITH

    Smith graduated in 2009 with a Masters in Public Administration, and today she is the owner and principal of Smith Strategies Association Management, which provides resources to help member associations succeed. Smith began in 2016 with the Alabama chapter of the American College of Cardiology. Four years later, the company manages seven membership associations that collectively have more than 3,500 members and a budget of more than $7 million.

    CORY WAGGONER

    Waggoner is CEO of Higher Yields Consulting, a cannabis consulting firm located in Denver, Colorado. Higher Yields provides assistance for businesses seeking guidance and advice in this highly competitive industry. The company provides government support, compliance training, garden management, commercial facility build and design services, branding, and business development services. Waggoner graduated with a B.S. in Justice Sciences in 2009


    JAMES WU

    Wu is Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMap, which has a goal to provide the world’s best HD mapping and localization services for autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Founded in 2016, DeepMap employs about 140 people, including a growing team of experienced engineers and product visionaries. It partners with global companies including Ford, Honda, SAIC Motor, Bosch, Daimler, and Einride. Wu graduated with an M.S. in computer and information sciences in 2001 and a Ph.D. in 2003.

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  • Ellyn Grady: Alumni Service Award 2020

    This award honors alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the local, national, or global community.

    Ellyn Grady: M.P.A., 1992The College of Arts and Sciences annual alumni awards highlight the diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service of our alumni. The Alumni Service Award honors alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the local, national, or global community.

    Ellyn Grady has over thirty years of successful experience in public administration, youth development, and community education. Trained in the performing arts, special education, adult instruction, and community planning, she retired from her position as Senior Vice President of Resource Development at the United Way of Central Alabama in 2019.

    While at the United Way, Grady directed the Agency Impact Department and in 2009, was named Senior Vice President overseeing their annual campaign, which raised more than $38 million.

    Prior to 2002, Grady was the Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Central Alabama, a youth development organization that provides programs for more than 7,000 inner-city girls. Before moving to Birmingham in 1989, she managed one of the nation's largest community education programs in Fairfax County, Virginia.

    She holds a degree in drama and speech from Furman University, continuing education course work from George Mason University and the University of South Carolina, and a Master of Public Administration degree from UAB.

    Grady served as a council member of the MPA alumni and president of the United Way Executive Director’s Council. She is also a member and past board member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, past president of The Women’s Network, and a Paul Harris Fellow.

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  • Amanda Keller: Distinguished Young Alumni Award 2020

    This award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Amanda Keller: B.A. Philosophy, 2009The College of Arts and Sciences annual alumni awards highlight the diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service of our alumni. The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College. In 2020, we recognized two winners in this category: Amanda Keller and Michael Chambers II.

    Amanda Keller is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Alabama in 2006. She is the Founding Director of the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC), a direct-service social supportive space for the LGBTQ community in Birmingham that opened in the spring of 2014. In her five years as director, she has been instrumental in expanding services to over 1,060 local LGBTQ and strongly allied youth, ages 13-24.

    Amanda also manages Family Matters: LGBTQ Youth Perspectives, a photography exhibition by Carolyn Sherer. Family Matters premiered at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in April 2014, and was selected as a Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery finalist in 2016. Prior to MCAC, Amanda served as Finance Director at Birmingham AIDS Outreach.

    Amanda serves on the Board of the Children’s Policy Council, and Mayor Woodfin’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. She was also an honoree of AL.com’s 2017 “Women Who Shape the State”, one of the 2018 Birmingham Business Journal’s “Women to Watch,” and a member of the Leadership Birmingham Class of 2020.

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  • Michael Chambers II: Distinguished Young Alumni Award 2020

    This award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Michael Chambers II: B.A. African American Studies, 2007The College of Arts and Sciences annual alumni awards highlight the diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service of our alumni. The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College. In 2020, we recognized two winners in this category: Michael Chambers II and Amanda Keller.

    A native of Washington, D.C., Michael Chambers II has worked at the local, state, and national level, managing and developing programs across a variety of arts and humanities organizations. He has produced living history vignettes, curated panel discussions, and led cultural youth development programs. In his latest role in the Director's Office at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, he manages board relations, a national philanthropic professional network, and special projects.

    Chambers also leads a cultural consulting practice, Humanities in Public, which uses a humanities lens to foster new ways of thinking, presenting history, and connecting new audiences. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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  • Christopher Edmonds: Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award 2020

    This is the College’s highest honor, and is awarded to prominent alumni who have achieved distinction through exceptional contributions to their professions.

    Christopher Edmonds: B.A. Political Science, 1992The College of Arts and Sciences annual alumni awards highlight the diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service of our alumni. The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the College’s highest honor, and is awarded to prominent alumni who have achieved distinction through exceptional contributions to their professions. This award highlights the diverse talents, notable accomplishments and extraordinary service of our alumni and is reserved for those with a history of excellence in their careers.

    Christopher Edmonds has built an impressive career in the energy, financial, and commodity markets.

    Today, Edmonds is the Global Head of Clearing & Risk at Intercontinental Exchange, known as ICE. In his role, Edmonds provides executive oversight for all six Intercontinental Exchange clearinghouses. These duties include regulatory engagement for clearing-related matters, operational and risk management oversight, and clearing member education.

    Before being named to his current position, Edmonds was Senior Vice President of Financial Markets with responsibility for all client-facing activities for the fixed income, credit and commodities asset classes. Prior to that, Edmonds was President of ICE Clear Credit (formerly known as ICE Trust). Before joining the Trust in December 2009, Edmonds was the Chief Executive Officer of the International Derivatives Exchange Group.

    He has also been the Chief Development Officer for ICAP Energy, where he led the company’s external growth efforts within the energy and commodities space. He also served as ICAP Entergy’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Software Architect, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of ICAP Futures.

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  • Linguistics alumni profile: Jeff Hodges

    Words matter. No one knows that better than alumnus Jeff Hodges who has made a career out of helping others, most recently in his role as Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion Talent Program Manager for Regions Bank.

    Alumnus Jeff Hodges never would have imagined that his English degree in linguistics would take him into the world of human resources. And, yet, he has made a career out of helping others, most recently in his role as Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion Talent Program Manager for Regions Bank. He maintains that he wouldn’t be nearly as effective without his linguistics background.

    “Words really matter,” said Hodges. “One of the things we talk about a lot in my line of work is impact versus intent. So often, we may mean to say something, but the way we said it impacted someone differently than what we intended. Choosing words — all of that — is rooted in the foundation that I have in English.”

    His career path started in college while working at CVS, where he began as a tech. When an opportunity came to train others, he jumped on it. Working his way up at CVS, he was able to develop his experience in all aspects of HR and earn his Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. Hodges, who originally intended to attend law school, encourages others to also follow opportunity and embrace learning:

    “When I was in school, I never would have envisioned that I would be doing what I am now. It didn’t exist yet. Most of the jobs we have now will be obsolete in the future, so don’t get too hung up on what you want your career to be. Plan instead to be a lifelong learner — that is what has positioned me to evolve my career to where it needed to go.”

    By 2019, having transitioned to Regions Bank in HR, Hodges was ready for a change. This coincided with Regions Bank ramping up their efforts to support diversity and inclusion. Now Hodges is focused on implementing strategies to attract and develop diverse talent. He works to tear down barriers to people’s success and build strategies so that everyone may have fair and equal opportunities.

    “We’re spending a lot of time building new programs, which allows me to be creative,” said Hodges. “I get to move the needle on things that haven’t been in place before.”

    One of his team’s more recent projects include Regions Military Recruiting, which supports military hires through veteran-to-veteran mentoring and other services. They have also already begun work on building out employment programs for people with disabilities. For Hodges, his role is all a part of that lifelong learning process.

    To continue his professional growth in diversity and inclusion, Hodges also recently completed the Georgetown University Executive Diversity and Inclusion Management Program, an intense six-month graduate certificate program.

    “What I love about what I do is that you can never know everything there is to know about diversity and culture,” said Hodges. “This has helped me to continue to grow and learn things that I didn’t know about myself and others, meet new people, and be a better person in how I walk through the world.”

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  • Professional Writing alumni profile: Marie Sutton

    Alumna Marie Sutton has worn a lot of hats throughout her educational and professional career.

    Newspaper reporter. Radio show host. Author. Mother. Minister’s wife. Magazine editor. Freelance writer. UAB graduate student. Blogger. Director of Student Media. Alumna Marie Sutton has worn a lot of hats throughout her educational and professional career. Her current one? UAB’s own Director of Marketing and Communication for the Division of Student Affairs. Sutton serves as the head cheerleader for transformative student events, programs, and initiatives.

    “I get to tell the story of how students come to us all wide-eyed and new, and then slowly, but surely experience transformation into leaders, professionals, and community advocates,” said Sutton. “It’s wonderful to watch and to tell the story. I also get to mentor young people, which is a passion of mine.”

    Not only does Sutton use her professional writing skills as a voice for UAB but she has also written books on the African American experience in the south. Her first book, A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham: A Civil Rights Landmark, delves into the hazardous traveling conditions African Americans faced in the 1950s. The A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham became a refuge for traveling African Americans entertainers, activists, and artists and the headquarters for Birmingham’s civil rights movement.

    “While working for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, I learned about the motel and its significance,” said Sutton. “I was stunned that no one had ever written a history about it. I set out to write it. I pitched it to the publisher and they loved it. They asked me to write it in eight months, which was crazy, but I did it. I turned the manuscript in just shy of my fortieth birthday!”

    Just recently, Sutton signed a contract to write a book on the historic Magic City Classic, the largest historically black college and university (HBCU) event in the country. Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University play in the annual battle that is bookended with a parade, parties, music, and food. This annual game is fast approaching its eightieth year and currently no book-length history exists.

    Sutton believes that it is her English degree and writing ability that has helped move her career forward. Indeed, she calls the degree a “stamp of approval” that shows future employers and graduate schools that you can communicate and write efficiently and effectively. As a first-generation college graduate, Sutton found that her family was unable to help her navigate the world of academia:

    “No one in my family had attended college before me. They didn’t speak the language and could not help me navigate that world or my dreams, which were foreign to them. The process of getting my degree gave me a voice – one that I have used to tell my story and the stories of others.”

    She encourages current students to take advantage of all the resources that UAB offers including access to professors, built-in communities, and regular events to inspire and connect with others.

    “While you are here, create a style of communicating that is signature and set apart,” said Sutton. “Work hard now. Create a brand that is so compelling that people will seek you out. Sleep after graduation (just kidding, but not really). And, good luck!”

    Find out more about Marie Sutton at marieasutton.com.

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  • Why I Give: Stephen Odaibo, M.D.

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters—including Stephen G. Odaibo, M.D., (B.S., 2001; M.S., 2002)—to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

     

    Arts & Sciences magazine: What do you do for a living?

    Stephen Odaibo: I am a retina physician, computer scientist, AI Engineer, and healthcare AI startup founder and CEO. I am also on the clinical faculty of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the No.1 ranked cancer center in the U.S. My company, RETINA-AI Health Inc. builds artificial intelligence (AI) systems to improve healthcare. We developed the world's first mobile AI app for eye care providers, and our autonomous diabetic retinopathy AI screening system is currently in independent validation testing in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

    A&S: Did you benefit from scholarships when you were a student?

    SO: Yes, I did. I was a recipient of the Mathematics Fast-Track Program Scholarship, which was supported by the National Science Foundation and was directed by Prof. John Mayer and Prof. Lex Oversteegen of the Mathematics Department. I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from the College in 2001 and 2002 respectively. These launched me to Duke University for medical school and graduate school in computer science. My career took me to Duke University Hospital for an internal medicine internship, Howard University for residency, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor for a retina fellowship. I had an academic advantage everywhere I went. It was the UAB Math advantage.

    A&S: What made you decide to make a gift to the College of Arts and Sciences?

    SO: Much of the success I am now enjoying in my career can be traced back to the opportunities that were granted me through the Mathematics Department at the College of Arts and Sciences. The opportunity to build AI to shape the future of healthcare not just in the U.S. but globally, is one for which I am truly grateful. It was only natural for me to give something back to the College. And I hope to have more opportunities in the future to give more back to UAB.

    A&S: Where do you see the College of Arts and Sciences in the next ten years? Fifty years?

    SO: I see the College of Arts and Sciences taking its rightful place amongst the most renowned colleges in the world in terms of measurable impact of its ongoing research and development. And also in terms of the quality and impact of its graduates across industries the world over.

    Read more on Dr. Stephen Odaibo in his alumni profile.


    Donor support is invaluable in ensuring that our students receive the quality education that, regardless of their course of study, will set them on the path to success. For additional information regarding gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact Camille Epps at camilleepps@uab.edu or call (205) 996-2154.

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  • Why I Give: Elizabeth and Charlie Scribner

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters—including Charlie (M.P.A., 2015) and Elizabeth Scribner (M.S., 2011; Ph.D., 2017)—to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

     

    Arts & Sciences magazine: What do you do for a living?

    Elizabeth Scribner: I'm an analyst in model risk management and validation at Regions Bank. Charles is executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper and president of Waterkeepers Alabama.

    A&S: Did you benefit from scholarships when you were a student?

    ES: Yes, I was the recipient of a year-long fellowship through the Department of Mathematics, as well as a two-time recipient of the James Ward Memorial Award for Research in Mathematical Biology.

    A&S: What made you decide to make a gift to the College of Arts and Sciences?

    Charles Scribner: UAB is a pivotal force in Birmingham’s renaissance, and the College of Arts and Sciences is the heart of UAB. In two very different CAS graduate school programs, the classes that Elizabeth and I took and the relationships we made have all been invaluable to our careers. I also have the pleasure of now working with College of Arts and Sciences staff in my role as president of the UAB MPA Alumni Society and see their incredible skill and passion for serving the College and the community.

    A&S: Where do you see the College of Arts and Sciences in the next ten years? Fifty years?

    CS: The College of Arts and Sciences does not simply cover an amazingly wide range of important fields, it also connects them through one impeccably organized institution and alumni network. As society is increasingly challenged by division and hostility, the networking and collaborative opportunities the College provides students, faculty, and alumni from many backgrounds and curricula will be crucial for UAB, Birmingham, and the world.


    Donor support is invaluable in ensuring that our students receive the quality education that, regardless of their course of study, will set them on the path to success. For additional information regarding gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact Camille Epps at camilleepps@uab.edu or call (205) 996-2154.

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  • Professional Writing alumni profile: Luke Richey

    Alumnus Luke Richey believes being open to new experiences and change will help you decide your path.

    Alumnus Luke Richey believes being open to new experiences and change will help you decide your path — it certainly served him well in deciding his. When Richey started at UAB, he was on track to major in Psychology, but eventually found that he was much more at home in the English Department, working toward a degree in Professional Writing. Richey found classes with Associate Professor Jeffrey Bacha to be particularly memorable.

    “Definitely listen to Dr. Bacha,” said Richey. “He is one of the best teachers! He teaches practical skills that really prepare you for both graduate school and a career.”

    Following UAB, Richey was accepted to graduate school at Auburn University, where he earned a Master’s of Technical and Professional Communication (MTPC) and served as a Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Harbert College of Business. Currently, Richey is a Copywriter and Content Strategist at McNutt & Partners, LLC, a local ad agency, where he drafts copy for multiple clients on a myriad of social media platforms. The job allows him to not only be creative but also critically analyze a variety of different topics for a wide audience.

    “Writing is like a puzzle,” said Richey. “I have to find the best words and phrases that are coherent and compelling to get people to take action. I would be bored to tears not getting the chance to be creative. I don’t know how others do it. I get to do what I love every day.”

    This creativity has led to big opportunities. Though his English degree provided a great foundation, Richey has learned a lot on the job, from HTML to JavaScript to using the best tags in social media writing to get optimal views. In just the past two months, the team that Richey is a part of was able to onboard 30 new clients. Looking ahead, Richey hopes to eventually springboard his current position into being a creative or content director, managing a team. He advises current UAB undergraduates and graduates to also keep an eye on their future.

    “When you graduate, you might not immediately get the job you want, but always look toward the future and your goals. Search for internships to diversify your skill set and make connections inside and outside of academia. Try to get as much as experience as possible, and be open to taking chances.”

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  • I am Arts & Sciences: Forte'

    Criminal justice alumna Forte’ received the UAB National Alumni Society's Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 for dedicating her time and effort to improving the university.

    Name: Forte’
    Degree earned: B.S. in Criminal Justice
    Graduation year: 2002
    Current profession: Chief Joy Officer, Birmingham Education Foundation


    In 2019, College of Arts and Sciences alumna Forte’ received the UAB National Alumni Society's Volunteer of the Year Award for dedicating her time and effort to improving the university. Currently, she works at the Birmingham Education Foundation as the “Chief Joy Officer” and assistant to the executive director. In her spare time, she leads the UAB National Alumni Society Black Alumni Chapter as its president, engaging alumni through service events, socials, and more. Forte’ is also a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1996 to 2006.

    Congratulations on being the UAB Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal this year! What was it like?

    The experience was phenomenal for #UAB50. Green and gold filled the streets everywhere. As the 2019 National Alumni Society Volunteer of the year, the honor will always be remembered. Even cooler? My team [at the Birmingham Education Foundation] participated in the parade.

    Why did you decide to attend UAB and pursue a degree in Criminal Justice?

    Growing up in the Black Belt region of Alabama, I had my own unique style. The style left me misunderstood by school leaders. In 8th grade, I committed to studying criminal justice and being the change I wanted to see. Education and crime have a complex correlating relationship. My goal is always to extend a helping hand and share hope with students. After living in Birmingham for a short time in high school, I knew I’d return home one day to attend good ole’ UAB.

    How have your experiences at UAB helped you in your career?

    Thanks to UAB and a job listing in the Kaleidoscope, I landed my first job in education 22 years ago. While at UAB, I stayed on campus the entire time and witnessed diversity at the core; I worked on a paid federal research project in the local jails. UAB is large; I learned to build networks and cultivate support systems. UAB is the gift that keeps on giving: I’m part of the Leadership UAB Class of 2016 and in 2018, I was selected as a Birmingham Business Journal Veteran of Influence.

    What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at UAB?

    1. Please don’t graduate with a degree and no experience. The labor market is challenging and competitive.
    2. I directly sought opportunities to distinguish me as the best candidate in the workforce, leveraged the UAB Career Center and attended versatile workshops across campus.
    3. Creating meaningful relationships is key; my first full-time GEARUP teaching job was catalyzed by my UAB Math Professor. Go Blazers!

    Read more "I am Arts & Sciences" alumni profiles:
    Dr. Stephen G. Odaibo of RETINA-AI
    Sarah Randolph of Birmingham Audubon
    Dr. Johnny E. "Rusty" Bates

    Read more...
  • Alumni Spotlight: Eric Meyer, Owner and Founder of Cahaba Brewing

    Cahaba Brewing is one of the most popular and successful breweries in Birmingham. “When I began brewing, I started looking at what the science of brewing is,” says Eric. “A lot of people relate brewing beer more to cooking than anything else, but there’s so much more to it.

    by Morgan Burke

    In 1996, Huntsville-native Eric Meyer arrived at UAB with his sights set on a career in medicine. Like any good pre-health track student would do, he registered as a biology major and started on the path to medical school. In the Biology Department, he was introduced to professors who broadened his experiences and introduced him to new ways of thinking. Dr. Dan Jones and Dr. Ken Marion shared their love of botany and wildlife with Eric and included him in field research studies.

    “As a young person, you just have to hold on and be ready to grab hold of small bits of what Dr. Marion has to offer,” Eric says.

    Photo credit: Cary Norton.By his junior year, Eric had a change of heart. Over the past two years, he had fostered his passion for the environment, botany, and natural sciences and had developed a curiosity in geographic information systems (GIS). With dwindling interest in medical school, Eric worked with his academic advisor to create an Individually Designed major with a minor in Biology. This new course of study landed him an internship with the Jefferson County Storm Water Management Authority canoeing and hiking the Cahaba River while mapping the entire river with GPS. Eric graduated in 2001 and continued his GIS work with Jefferson County while completing Emergency Medical Technician classes at UAB to be a firefighter. For the past 16 years, Eric has worked as a full-time firefighter in the city of Mountain Brook.

    When he wasn’t at the firehouse, Eric spent his downtime experimenting with home beer brewing. After years of refining his craft, he and a group of friends devised a plan to open a brewery. In 2011, Cahaba Brewing Company was born. Eight years in, and Cahaba Brewing is one of the most popular and successful breweries in Birmingham. At Cahaba, Eric is able to put his scientific background to good use.

    “When I began brewing, I started looking at what the science of brewing is,” says Eric. “A lot of people relate brewing beer more to cooking than anything else, but there’s so much more to it. Any little change [in ingredients or process] can alter the beer’s flavor and appearance.”

    He relies on research methods honed during his years at UAB to improve upon the production process and create a clean and consistent product.

    Though Eric’s two full-time jobs and family life keep him busy, he has continued to stay active in the UAB community. Over the past couple of years, he has collaborated on beer-related grant proposals and research with Dr. Jeff Morris, Microbiologist and Assistant Professor of Biology, and Elliott Greene, a recent graduate of the Department of Biology. Elliott now works in Cahaba’s lab running tests on beer to search for wild yeast and bacteria that can harm their product.

    In 2015, Eric was recognized by the UAB National Alumni Society as a member of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class. In 2017, he was honored with the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Distinguished Young Alumni Award, and he is a current member of the UAB CAS Alumni Board. Eric also regularly provides a lending ear and mentorship to UAB undergraduate students aspiring to be entrepreneurs and scientists.

    In addition to supporting UAB, Eric supports the greater Birmingham community by donating a portion of Cahaba’s proceeds to local charities and organizations during their ‘Goodwill Wednesdays’ and other special events. Eric appreciates the support and foundation he received as a UAB undergraduate student, and now he’s doing his part to pay it forward and help his community.

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  • Arts and Sciences alumni honored at UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 event

    Ten alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences were honored as members of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class of 2019.

    Left to Right: Adam Aldrich, Brady McLaughlin, Julie McDonald, Kristen Greenwood, John Boone, David Brasfield, Carol Trull Pittman, Dustin Welborn, and Jennifer Smith (not pictured: John Burdett)On June 20, ten alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences were honored by the UAB National Alumni Society as members of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class of 2019. The dinner and awards ceremony took place at the UAB National Alumni Society House.

    The annual Excellence in Business Top 25 program is designed to identify, recognize, and celebrate the success of the top 25 UAB alumni-owned or UAB alumni-managed businesses. In addition to our ten honorees, two alumni won top honors in Fastest Growing Companies Under $10 Million: John Boone of Orchestra Partners, 2198% growth; and David Brasfield of NXTsoft, 317% growth.

    Congratulations to our deserving graduates!

    • Adam Aldrich, president and co-founder of Airship, graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • John Boone, principal of Orchestra Partners, graduated in 2010 with an M.A. in History.
    • David Brasfield, CEO of NXTsoft, graduated in 1984 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • John Burdett, CEO of Fast Slow Motion, graduated in 2000 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • Kristen Greenwood, executive director of GirlSpring, graduated with a B.A. and an M.A. in Art History in 1999 and 2006, respectively.
    • Julie McDonald, Ph.D., co-founder of McDonald Graham LLC, graduated with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1993 and 1995, respectively.
    • Brady McLaughlin, CEO of Trio Safety CPR+AED, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2009.
    • Carol Trull Pittman, founder and CEO of RedKnot Resource Group, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2001.
    • Jennifer Smith, director of operations of Down In Front Productions LLC, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2016.
    • Dustin Welborn, president of Down In Front Productions LLC, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2013.

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  • UAB in Norway: Fulbright Seminar Weekend

    "It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing."

    From left to right: Shruthi Velidi, Adam Wise, Remy Meir, Anna Schwartz, and Arunima Vijay

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018, at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    I normally don't care for Valentine's Day, but this year I had a very special day (well, weekend). On February 14, all of the Fulbrighters in Norway got together to host a seminar where we all gave 10-minute presentations on the work we have been doing for the past six months. And when I say all, I mean all of us. We had those doing research grants, study grants, English teaching assistant grants (ETA), roving scholars, and everyone in between present at the event.

    The great thing about the Fulbright Scholarship is that grant recipients aren't forced to pursue any particular project on any particular timeline. There are several students like me who have recently completed a bachelor's degree and wanted to pursue an in-depth research experience or complete a master's program. There are also scholars who may be professors at a university in the U.S. who are using the Fulbright Program to teach a class abroad or collaborate with an exciting research partner. Then there is an assortment of people who are working as ETAs or roving scholars. These Fulbrighters may have just completed a bachelor's degree, have been working in their career for a couple years, or are currently working as teachers in the United States and wanted to see how the education system differs abroad.

    So, even though we share a grant title, our projects and experiences have been vastly different. And on Valentine's Day, I got to hear talks spanning from how my friend Adam is modeling the aerodynamic wake interaction between multiple utility-scale floating wind turbines to how my friend Kelly is working in Ås as an ETA but spends most of his time talking to Norwegian high schoolers about American government and culture. Twenty-five of us presented that day, and all 25 had different projects and experiences to share. It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.

    Following the day-long seminar, we continued the festivities into the evening with a reception at the American Ambassador's house. It was a delightful evening filled with two more talks from Fulbrighters and intermingling between the grantees, political officials, and notable guests. The house was beautiful, the food was exceptional, and the company was unparalleled.

    The following day we all loaded onto a bus and headed into the mountains. We spent Friday through Sunday tucked away at Skiekampen in Lillehammer, Norway. We spent the days indulging in downhill or cross-country skiing, which was followed by a trip to the sauna and hot tub. At each meal, we would sit together and share in our experiences. It was fun to come together as a group and not only talk about our work, but actually get to know one another. This weekend allowed me to build lifelong friendships with some truly amazing people. I am so thankful to Fulbright Norway, especially Rena, Kevin, and Pedder, who organize these events where we get to build bonds and see the work that is coming to fruition with this scholarship.

    This weekend will go down as my favorite Valentine's Day celebration and I'm not sure that anything will top it.

    Pictured below: Photos from our Fulbright Seminar Weekend, from a selfie taken at the U.S. Ambassador's house to the top of a ski run in Lillehammer, Norway.

    Read More from Remy Meir in Norway:

     

    [widgetkit id="44" name="Remy Meir Fulbright Seminar Weekend"]

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  • The College Honors 2018 Alumni Award Recipients at Annual Reception

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service.

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service. Congratulations to our three deserving winners!

    Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

    David Brasfield, B.S. in Computer Science, 1984

    This is the College’s highest honor, and is awarded to prominent alumni who have achieved distinction through exceptional contribution to their professions. This award highlights the diverse talents, notable accomplishments and extraordinary service of our alumni and is reserved for those with a history of excellence in their careers.

    David Brasfield is the current founder and CEO of NXTsoft.com. Over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated a track record of success in creating and developing several technology companies from inception through to successful exit.

    David has successfully developed and implemented strategies for sales, marketing and software product development. He is the founder and former CEO of Tri-Novus Capital, LLC, SBS Corporation, SBS Data Services, Inc., Brasfield Technology, LLC and Brasfield Data Services, LLC, all of which were providers of automation technology solutions for community financial institutions. He has been a director of a community bank and is currently a member of other boards in the Birmingham area, including our Department of Computer Science Advisory Board.

    Distinguished Young Alumni Award

    Ashley M. Jones, B.A. in English, 2012, UAB; M.F.A. in poetry, Florida International University

    This award honors alumni age 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Ashley M. Jones is a poet, organizer, and educator from Birmingham, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UAB and an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. She is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned local and national awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award.

    Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at UAB and at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival here in Birmingham.

    Alumni Service Award

    Isabel Rubio, B.A. in History, 1987, Southern Mississippi University; B.S. in Social Work, 1993, UAB

    This award honors alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the local, national, or global community.

    Isabel Rubio was born in Mississippi and is a second-generation Mexican-American. After graduating from UAB, she went to work in the social work field in the greater Birmingham area. After eight years, she founded the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!) in 1999, where she has served as Executive Director since 2001.

    ¡HICA! is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Alabama’s Hispanic community through its educational, leadership, community development, and advocacy work. ¡HICA! has engaged thousands of Hispanics across Alabama to increase opportunities and, as the only Latino-serving organization in Alabama, is a bridge builder with many local, regional and national organizations.

    Isabel is deeply involved in her community and serves on numerous local, statewide, and national boards, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Business Charitable Trust, and the Regions Financial Corporation Diversity Council.

    As a result of her many years of experience, Isabel is now a nationally recognized speaker on the issue of immigrants in the South.

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  • UAB in Norway: Full of thanks for Fulbright

    In Norway, the holiday season passed in a blur. The days were short, dark, and cold. However, that did not stop me from creating some of my warmest memories.

    Remy Meir standing in the Oslo City Hall before the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony began.

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature blog posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018 at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    Here in Norway, the holiday season passed in a blur. The days were short, dark, and cold. However, that did not stop me from creating some of my warmest memories.

    A Fulbright Thanksgiving. From left to right: me, Ann Lin, Tyler Chapman, Kelly Fisher

    Thanksgiving crept up on all the Fulbrighters in Norway. The five of us in the greater Oslo area decided we should come together to celebrate. So, I invited everyone over to my student apartment with the requirement that they make their favorite Thanksgiving dish. We gathered around my candlelit table and shared our favorites foods and what we were thankful for that year. I was thankful for the chance to come together with these wonderful people and talk about what we had accomplished in 2018 and what we will go on to achieve. All of the people I have met through Fulbright constantly inspire me to push the boundaries of what I am doing and to do so with passion. We all have such unique projects and interests, but one thing we share is our eagerness to try to solve the problems we see in the world. I am so thankful for nights like that when we come together and share not only a meal but a good time.

    December was filled with even more inspiration. As a Fulbrighter, we get entered into a ticket raffle to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. This year, I had the honor to attend the 2018 ceremony. The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize awarded in Oslo, Norway. This year the prize was split between two winners, Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. The focus of the 2018 award was ending sexual violence as a weapon of war. Dr. Mukwege works in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a gynecologist who specializes in treating women who have been raped or suffered sexual assault as a result of war. Nadia Murad was only 19 when she was captured by the Islamic State from her village in northern Iraq and forced to be a slave who suffered heinous acts by her captors. (I encourage all to read Nadia Murad's memoir, "The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.")

    Listening to their stories and hearing their calls to action was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. These individuals have dedicated their lives to fighting the injustices they see in their countries and they are not afraid to point fingers or call for help. This experience served as a reminder that we cannot solve all the world's problems alone, we must come together to pursue the justices we believe in. I hope the powerful words spoken by Dr. Mukwege and Nadia Murad were able to reach and inspire the world as they inspired me.

    UAB alumni and friends in Amsterdam. From left to right: Aaron Landis, Marena Leisten, Reid Ballard, me, and Cooper Crippen

    The rest of the holiday season continued to be filled with special experiences. I spent December in Norway continuing to work on my project until my family came over to celebrate Christmas. It was exciting to show them around my new home and have them experience Nordic life-from dog sledding to watching the northern lights. After my family left, my UAB friends—who have all pursued different passions and paths—came to visit. Cooper Crippen, my close friend and fellow Blazer, is currently completing a master's program in environmental chemistry in Amsterdam and offered to host a New Year's reunion of UAB alumni. Our group was made up of Reid Ballard, a post-bac researcher at the NIH; Aaron Landis, a first-year UAB medical student; and Marena Leisten, a recent UAB grad who secured a job with Red Bull. It filled me with so much joy to see how all my friends from university have gone on to chase their goals. UAB prepared us to go out into the world with passion; this was yet another encouragement to go into the new year with an appetite for success. I'm so thankful UAB provided me with such amazing friends who continue to show me that everyone has their own version of success and that it can always be achieved.

    These past couple have months may have been cold and dark, but they have filled me with so much light. I have immense gratitude for every person I have encountered in my journey—from my fellow Fulbrighters and UAB alumni to Nobel laureates. They continue to challenge me to be better and do better.

    Read More from Remy Meir in Norway:

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