UAB Ethics Bowl Team Contends for National Title

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Ethics Bowl team traveled to California to compete in the 19th Intercollegiate College Ethics Bowl in February.
UAB Ethics Bowl teamThe University of Alabama at Birmingham Ethics Bowl team traveled to California to compete in the 19th Intercollegiate College Ethics Bowl in February.

The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics sponsors the annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. After advancing through the Southeast regional competition in November, UAB moved on to a round of the nation’s top 32 college teams.

This year’s team was selected from a College of Arts and Sciences Department of Philosophy class, “Contemporary Moral Issues,” taught by department chair Gregory Pence, Ph.D. The team selection process mirrored the strategy of the national championship-winning team in 2010. Two UAB teams attended the Southeast regional competition in 2012, with the senior team advancing to nationals.
  • Departments host Constitution Day experience

    The overarching theme for this year was “Public Health and the Constitution.” 13 student teams participated in the event representing 38 students.

    On Friday, September 17, 2021, in honor of Constitution Day and to fulfill the requirement of Public Law 108-447 (enacted in late 2004, which requires an educational institution receiving federal funds to hold an education program on the United States Constitution on this day for its students) the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Department of Criminal Justice sponsored a scavenger hunt across campus. The overarching theme for this year was “Public Health and the Constitution.” Thirteen student teams participated in the event representing 38 students.

    Students were provided questions and a resource bank ahead of time to prepare for the event. Students competed in teams of three. Stations were posted throughout campus. Participating units included:

    At each station, students were asked a specific question for which they were required to provide the correct answer to advance. Station masters initialed the team’s score card before the team could leave for the next station. To avoid guessing, students received reduced points for each attempt at the question. Students also received points for their finishing time.

    One team was a clear winner with both the number of correct answers and the fastest time. That team was Maya Crocker, Roshan Dahale, and Anthony Venesia. Two teams tied for second place and three teams tied for third place. The 17 students representing the winning teams are invited to an educational encounter with Judge Elisabeth French. Judge French will make a presentation on her path to the judiciary and will be available to answer questions from the students. All students who participated, as well as station masters, received a pocket Constitution, which contains the entire Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Each member of the first-place team will also receive a Black’s Law Dictionary. All student participants enjoyed Steele City Pops on the Campus Green after the event.

    Students commented that this event was fun, made constitutional law relevant to current events, and provided an opportunity for them to see parts of campus that they had not seen before. We also noted the significant exercise that students received in accumulating approximately 7,600 steps in completing the scavenger hunt. Professor Brandon Blankenship, director of UAB’s Pre-Law Program, stated, “I can't imagine an area of American life that is not impacted by the Constitution. It was encouraging to see students engage it in an energetic and physical way, some for the first time.”

    Stacy Moak, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, commented, “I wanted students to see the Constitution in a practical way with a significant contemporary issue. Each of the 10 questions dealt with some issue of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as with federalism, separation of powers, and individual rights.”

    The departments intend to make this an annual event. The theme will change from year to year depending upon current events.

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  • Supporting a global classroom

    A world traveler’s planned gift helps students embark on journeys of transformation.

    William Doggett III, M.D., had an insatiable desire to travel and to learn. In fact, he believed that traveling was learning, says his brother David Doggett.

    “Foreign travel was not just a vacation or adventure to Bill,” David says. “It was a way to explore and understand more of the world and more about himself, and knowing how to speak even a little of another language helped him do that.”

    Study abroad was a critical component of William’s education. He spent a semester in France while pursuing his undergraduate degree, and after earning his medical degree from UAB, he attended summer institutes in England and France. William, who passed away in 2012, spent 35 years as an internist and pulmonary specialist in Birmingham. During his career, he took more than 40 courses at UAB on all sorts of topics—German language, Russian literature, piano, art, astronomy, and more. “His learning experiences at UAB were probably his greatest source of delight,” David says.

    To share his passions and to thank UAB for the many ways it contributed to his quality of life, William left a bequest to establish the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Support Fund for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and to support the existing Grace Lindsley Waits Endowed Scholarship, which he had previously established. “My brother wanted his gift to enable others to expand their experience of the world through the study of language,” David says.

    The fund is accomplishing that goal, says Erika Rinker, Ph.D., assistant professor of German at UAB. “Dr. Doggett has given a gift greater than the monetary value of international airfare when he made possible the transformative experience of a summer, a semester, or a year in another country,” she says.

    “Students who feel supported in their study of another language, and especially those who enjoy the privilege of enriching their educations abroad, serve as ambassadors and return as advocates voicing their own support for the very initiatives and priorities identified by the College of Arts and Sciences,” Rinker notes. “They become our most genuine global citizen-scholars, and I am grateful to be able to work with the Doggett family to help extend our students’ worldviews.”

    Two students who have benefited from William Doggett’s generosity describe experiences abroad that have advanced their education and prepared them for successful careers:

    Leah Perz: Study abroad in Paris, France

    “My first study abroad experience was a month in Paris on a UAB faculty-led trip. I was awarded the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship in Foreign Languages and Literatures, and that helped make the trip a reality by offsetting many expenses. My mornings were spent in French classes at a language institute in the heart of the city, and I had the afternoons to explore Paris and immerse myself in the culture.

    During my last full day in the city, I explored the area near the Arc de Triomphe. I walked along the Champs-Élysées and located the underground tunnel that gives access to the Arc, which sits on an island surrounded by four lanes of traffic. To get to the top, I climbed the tiniest spiraling staircase, which was full of people—and I can get claustrophobic. But I was rewarded with the most incredible view of the city. A lot of people think the view from the Eiffel Tower is the best, but I loved this panoramic view because I could also enjoy that iconic landmark while taking in the City of Lights.

    That month made me realize how much I want to improve my language learning and spend more time in France. In the fall, I’m planning to spend a semester in Lyon, France. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to afford the trip, but then I was awarded the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Scholarship for Foreign Languages and Literatures. It will be my main source of financial aid during the semester and has allowed me to feel comfortable making this decision. Because of Dr. Doggett’s generosity, I can keep working toward my goal of fluency and a greater understanding of another culture.”

    Leah Perz graduated May 2020 with a B.A. degree in international studies and a B.A. in foreign languages with a French concentration. She’s from Moody, Alabama, and plans to pursue a master’s degree and eventually work in transnational anti-human trafficking endeavors.

    Meghan Ballard: Study abroad in Salamanca, Spain

    “I spent five weeks in Salamanca this past summer, thanks to the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship in Foreign Languages and Literatures. I had taken about five years of Spanish, but I wasn’t sure how I would do talking with people who didn’t speak any English. I got to live with a host family, and that experience helped me tremendously. I feel a lot more accomplished and able to speak confidently now.

    My roommate and I—another UAB student who ended up becoming one of my best friends—would have lunch and dinner with my host family every day. And on the weekends, we occasionally would join them on hikes. One was especially memorable. It was 12 miles long—quite far for us, but for my family who is used to walking everywhere, it was nothing. By the end of the hike, my friend and I were exhausted. We could barely move. But I’ll never forget that day because we got to see parts of the Spanish countryside we’d never seen before. And we got to experience what my host family does for fun.

    I had been saving money to make this trip happen, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford it until I received the scholarship. Living abroad gave me an education I never would have had in the classroom. I experienced food, people, culture. Plus I improved in my Spanish-speaking abilities. I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone studying a foreign language.”

    Meghan Ballard graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in foreign languages with a Spanish concentration. She's from Arab, Alabama, and plans to pursue a career in federal law enforcement or intelligence.

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  • Translating with the future in mind

    During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received an unexpected invitation.

    Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D.During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received an unexpected invitation.

    At the time, public health experts and campus communicators across UAB were working swiftly to share information about the emerging pandemic with faculty, students, staff, and the community. The effort — now known as UAB United — was instrumental in raising awareness of the pandemic and prompting people across UAB and beyond to take measures to limit risk and exposure to the virus. That said, the team behind the campaign recognized one substantial gap in its communications assets — everything was in English.

    Sánchez-López is an avid proponent of making Birmingham a more equitable and inclusive community for Spanish-speaking residents. So, when UAB reached out and asked for her assistance in translating the COVID-19 messages for those residents, she did not hesitate to offer her expertise and support. She, along with her colleague María Antonia Anderson de la Torre, Ph.D., translated the website content and signage in a relatively short period of time and learned a lot along the way.

    Through this experience, Sánchez-López was inspired to take a broader, systems level view of the issue presented by the UAB United campaign. As she contemplated future translation projects, she looked to her service learning courses (FLL 333 – Foreign Language Service Learning and SPA 485 – Spanish for Leadership in the Workplace) in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Historically, the courses included significant capstone projects where students worked alongside nonprofit organizatiosn to address a challenge or opportunity — clearly, there was a need to reimagine the capstone component of the courses during the pandemic.

    "I knew students could not be in the community due to COVID-19," said Sánchez-López. "I decided to ask my students to help nonprofits that serve the Latinx community and translate their website content, therefore addressing the disparity in our linguistic landscape."

    Emma Kate Sellers was one of the students in Sánchez-López's Foreign Language Service Learning class and is also pursuing her Spanish for Specific Purposes Certificate. For her capstone, she translated content for the 1917 Clinic at UAB, the largest HIV health care unit in Alabama and one of the country’s leading HIV clinics. Sánchez-López encouraged Sellers to work with the 1917 Clinic because she knew the institution aligned with Sellers's interests and passions. Her project was entitled, "Improving Access to HIV Care for Spanish-Speakers at UAB's 1917 Clinic," which she presented at the 2021 UAB Expo and garnered her the first place award in the service learning category.

    "Service-learning allows students to apply the content we learn in the classroom to real-life situations, which is what I was able to do by working with the 1917 Clinic to translate their website," said Sellers. "In class, we covered the importance of translation and interpretation in making healthcare more accessible to non-English speakers, which I was able to apply through my service-learning project."

    Other students in the Spanish for Leadership class partnered with nonprofit organizations outside of UAB, including the Coosa Riverkeeper, Cahaba Valley Health Care, and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

    For each student, Sánchez-López aimed to illuminate potential career pathways.

    Through the capstone projects, some students, including Sellers, actually discovered they do not wish to pursue careers in translation, which, according to Sánchez-López, is a valuable insight to uncover before graduating and entering the workforce.

    "While I do not want to be a translator in the future, this course did solidify my passion for health equity and collaborating with community partners, and I am grateful that myself, the clinic, and patients all benefitted from this partnership," said Sellers.

    According to Sánchez-López, these first-ever website translation projects deepened relationships with community partners and catalyzed long-term change for Spanish-speaking residents in Birmingham and the community’s linguistic landscape. "It's a sustainable approach," said Sánchez-López.

    Visit the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures website to learn more about the Spanish for Specific Purposes Certificate.

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  • Parker Rose, UAB’s first Beinecke Scholar, accepted to UCLA's doctoral program in philosophy

    On May 1, Parker Rose graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's College of Arts and Sciences. Rose navigated rigorous coursework and built long-lasting relationships while pursuing her degree – those experiences, according to Rose, substantially impacted her approach to living and learning in the world.

    On May 1, Parker Rose graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's College of Arts and Sciences. Rose navigated rigorous coursework and built long-lasting relationships while pursuing her degree – those experiences, according to Rose, substantially impacted her approach to living and learning in the world.

    During her time at UAB, Rose served as president of the UAB Philosophy Club for two years, was the student representative for the Department of Philosophy, and was also an opinion columnist for Kaleidoscope, UAB’s student-run news outlet. Rose plans to pursue her Ph.D. in philosophy and was accepted into the esteemed doctoral program at UCLA beginning this fall.

    Rose credits UAB for providing an environment that ensures the growth of its students.

    "It was this environment that really allowed me to flourish and in which I learned what I was truly capable of," she said.

    Rose made a profound impression on faculty members across the Department of Philosophy, including department chair David Chan, Ph.D. and Brynn Welch, Ph.D., a recipient of the 2021 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

    "Parker is exceptional in every way: brilliant, hard-working, reflective, and just such a wonderfully kind person," said Welch, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy. "I'm over the moon about her success but not the least bit surprised by it. UCLA is very lucky to have her. We certainly have been."

    Rose was awarded the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship in 2020 to pursue graduate education, becoming UAB’s first-ever Beinecke Scholar. The scholarship provides awardees $4,000 immediately before entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

    The Beinecke Scholarship Program encourages and enables exceptional students to pursue a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Each participating institution in the Beinecke Scholarship Program may nominate only one student and Rose was chosen as UAB’s 2020 nominee.

    Rose also expressed thanks to her mentors and advisors in the Department of Philosophy and the College of Arts and Sciences.

    "My mentors in the philosophy department taught me the value of collaboration, openness, and encouraging one another towards getting to the truth over winning an argument," said Rose. “In my experiences at UAB more broadly, I was consistently impressed by the level of care and attention that advisors put into ensuring an ideal environment for the growth of their students.”

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  • Double major Veronica Mixon has a passion for mental health advocacy

    Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort, and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.

    Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort, and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.

    Veronica Mixon, a graduating senior in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences who will earn a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology this spring, navigated the experience with grace.

    “Since I’ve been at UAB, I’ve learned the importance of self-care and community. I’m on the spectrum for Autism, and, before UAB, I always felt isolation and exhausted from masking 24/7,” said Mixon. “However, I learned how to manage my self-care and create boundaries that made it easier to feel comfortable in social settings. My experiences in the African American Studies Program really helped lay the foundation of my growth through the support I received from my mentors, professors, and friends.”

    According to her professors and mentors, Mixon did in fact lay a strong foundation from which she grew and thrived. Her hard work garnered her both praise and scholarship opportunities throughout her tenure at UAB. She is a McNair Scholar and earned both the College of Arts and Science’s Dean’s Leadership Scholarship and the African American Studies Director’s Award. Also, she won the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Dean’s Award and the Outstanding Student Award for African American Studies, and, last April, she was initiated into the historic Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

    “Veronica is passionate about learning and an advocate of social justice. She is not afraid to speak out on issues affecting the quality of life in our society or show compassion towards those who need a ‘voice,’” said Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., director of the African American Studies Program. “In my academic career, I have encountered students who are certain to succeed and sure to make a difference. I find myself grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the educational experience of these students. Veronica is one such student.”

    Alongside her academic pursuits and achievements, Mixon is also the President of the African American Studies Organization, a Research Assistant in C.L.A.Y.S Lab in the Department of Psychology, and a mental health advocate. Her commitment to and interest in mental health will lead her to become one of the first students to attain the Certificate in Mental Health from the Department of Psychology this spring. Also, as a result of her work as an intern, mentor, and suicide prevention advocate, UAB’s Student Counseling Services named her a Mental Health Champion.

    Through courses like Black Psychology and an emphasis in global health and justice studies, Mixon has found numerous points of intersection between African American studies and psychology. Recently, she shared her insights at a panel entitled “Breaking Down Barriers: Supporting Marginalized Communities During COVID-19,” which was sponsored by Kognito, a health simulation company. By building her critical thinking skills with an interdisciplinary focus, she is now in a position to pursue her career goals.

    Mixon looks to the future with both optimism and excitement. “After graduation, I will be attending the Community Psychology Master’s Program at Florida A&M University,” said Mixon. “I plan to do a thesis and focus on mental health, racial identity, and social connectedness among people of African Descent. After my master’s, I plan to apply to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs!”

    Dr. Morgan is also optimistic about Mixon’s future. “She achieves excellence in everything that she does, and I know, without reservation, that she will be excellent in her future endeavors,” said Dr. Morgan.

    As Mixon prepares to graduate magna cum laude with distinguished honors and reflects on this past year, she has many thoughts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think UAB students did an amazing job of being resilient,” said Mixon. “It’s important for us to give ourselves grace and not put ourselves to an unrealistic standard when we had so many negative things come our way. I genuinely believe that everyone overcame the semester in the best way they could.”

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  • Musical Theatre grads look to the future

    This academic year has been unlike any other. Students and faculty have navigated unprecedented complexity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, over the course of the past 14 months, they have exemplified resiliency and creativity.

    Justine Grace Nelson, Laurel Floen, and Diego Villanueva

    This academic year has been unlike any other. Students and faculty have navigated unprecedented complexity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, over the course of the past 14 months, they have exemplified resiliency and creativity.

    In the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre, three graduating seniors are preparing for their next steps, while taking some time to reflect on their experiences over the past year.

    "Obviously, this was not the senior year any of us had planned,” said Justine Grace Nelson, a senior who will earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre this spring. “We have taken advantage of technology and created professional online presences showcasing our work and learned so much about the business side of the industry this year.”

    By leveraging technology and an adaptable spirit, the faculty in the Department of Theatre have ensured students still receive a world-class educational experience even when they are remote and/or wearing masks and socially distanced.

    “I have been so inspired by these strong and resilient students and artists,” said Valerie Accetta, Head of Musical Theatre at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This is not at all the senior year they envisioned when they started at UAB, but even in the midst of a global pandemic, they have continued to do committed work and claim their unique artistic voices.”

    One of Accetta’s inspiring students is Laurel Floen. As she approaches graduation, Floen recently reflected on her experience in the musical theatre program and uncovered an eye-opening discovery. “When we turn the spotlight off ourselves and use it to shine light outwards through our work, that’s when we hit gold,” said Floen.

    Floen also feels a deep and unwavering bond with her fellow musical theatre seniors, including Nelson and Diego Villanueva.

    For Villanueva, the pandemic did not stop him from envisioning a future that is dynamic and bright. “Once I graduate, I will be headed to Rehoboth, Delaware joining Clear Space Theatre in their summer season,” said Villanueva. Afterwards, he will participate in a year-long apprenticeship with the Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers, Florida, then he will be off to New York City.

    Nelson is also pursuing her dreams in the Sunshine State. “I am currently in Florida already working on my first professional post-grad production as Peppermint Patty in ThinkTank’s production of Snoopy," said Nelson.

    In August, Floen plans to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to start an internship with Good to Go Theater. Philadelphia also presents Floen with an added benefit – proximity to New York City. “I might even take the two-hour train ride to New York City to visit friends and audition more once everything opens again,” said Floen.

    All three students note their appreciation for the faculty in the Department of Theatre for providing immense support and mentorship during this unpredictable year. For Accetta, creating such a nurturing environment was a pleasure. “Laurel, Justine, and Diego are simply beautiful humans, and I feel so lucky to have shared in their journey,” Accetta said.

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  • Sociology professors and students partner with Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service

    When Battalion Chief Tobias Jones was collecting information for a Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) strategic planning project, he thought of the UAB Department of Sociology.

    When Battalion Chief Tobias Jones was collecting information for a Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) strategic planning project, he thought of the UAB Department of Sociology.

    Jones had once taken the department’s research methodology course when he was a UAB student and knew the Department of Sociology would have the resources to conduct a study that would cost the BFRS thousands of dollars if they hired a commercial firm. So, working with Birmingham Fire Chief Cory D. Moon, they contacted Verna Keith, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Sociology. It was precisely the type of community engagement service the department seeks to provide.

    “I saw Chief Moon’s request as an excellent opportunity to contribute to the community and to expose our students to a collaborative and impactful research experience. That he reached out to the department for this project speaks highly of our faculty and their excellent instruction,” said Dr. Keith.

    Cullen Clark, Ph.D.Soon after, students and professors from two courses had signed on to conduct two studies. Under the supervision of Elizabeth Baker, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Sociology, students in her Research Experience course developed a quantitative survey designed to measure community knowledge and perceptions of BFRS. Additionally, a team of capstone students from the department’s online Master of Arts in Applied Sociology program worked with Cullen Clark, Ph.D., teaching assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, to conduct a series of online focus groups with members of selected neighborhood associations to gather their perceptions and knowledge of BFRS.

    With key support from Chief Moon, Battalion Chief Kenneth Mines, Lieutenant Brian Pernell, Firefighter Jeffrey Hall, the Strategic Plan Committee, and Battalion Chief Jones, the project was an opportunity for students to take the skills they learned in the classroom and put them to work.

    “This project allowed the students to participate firsthand in the research process and provided them with an opportunity to show potential employers the diverse skill set that a degree in sociology can afford,” said Dr. Baker. “At the end of the class, they had produced a report from data derived from a survey they designed, disseminated, and analyzed.”

    Elizabeth Baker, Ph.D.It was a great opportunity for the graduate students as well, recalled Dr. Clark. “We always tell students in our online M.A. program that every sociologist works with a toolkit that consists of social theory, research methodology, and what sociologists call the ‘sociological imagination,’ or the ability to see how broader social and historical forces shape individual lives,” said Dr. Clark. “Projects like this one enable our students to see firsthand just how versatile these tools are and that they can be used to provide insight and information for any organization,” said Dr. Clark.

    Together, the quantitative and qualitative studies provided a greater depth of insight than either could have provided alone. One finding that clearly stood out in both studies was the high esteem in which respondents held BFRS.

    “I don’t think I have ever done focus groups where no one has anything negative to say,” said Dr. Clark.

    Another interesting finding was the extent to which respondents said they had used BFRS emergency medical services at some point. Forty-one percent of the respondents to the quantitative online survey indicated they had used these services. This finding was reiterated by moving personal accounts of focus group members’ interactions with emergency medical services.

    The UAB Department of Sociology is happy to conduct projects like this as resources permit. Community, charitable and civic groups who would like this type of assistance should contact Dr. Verna Keith at vmkeith@uab.edu.

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  • Student Spotlight: Levi Sanford

    Senior Levi Sanford changed his major and found both inspiration and a career path.

    Photo: Macey HobsonChoosing one’s major, like making art, takes an open mind. Levi Sanford, a senior art major focusing on graphic design, knew he wanted to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham but his heart was not always set on graphic design. Before transferring to UAB, Sanford was a nursing major at Bevill State Community College.

    Emily Schumann: You mentioned that you always knew you’d end up at UAB. Why?

    Levi Sanford: I always saw myself going to UAB for their medical school. When I changed my major to general studies at Bevill, I decided I wanted to go into art as I got more into my creative side. I saw an ad for a graphic design program online and wondered whether or not UAB had one. I saw that they did and it felt right. It was what I really wanted to do and what I felt like I’d be a lot happier doing.

    ES: Was there a particular class or teacher in CAS that was especially formative to who you are as a creative person?

    LS: The first class I had at UAB was a Digital Imaging class, ARS 103, with Doug Barrett. I remember being really nervous for his class and he was a very helpful instructor. I mean, all of the instructors in the College of Arts and Sciences are so helpful, it’s amazing. They really do push you to be better. Before UAB, I had never opened Illustrator or InDesign and didn’t know anything about Photoshop, but now I can whip up shirt designs in Illustrator. It was so helpful and inspiring because they pushed me as a creative. I appreciate that now. Self-doubt is the biggest thing. You’re so hard on yourself but they help you push past that.

    ES: How have you developed your professional eye and creative style at UAB?

    LS: It’s definitely developed over time. I have friends in classes I [took in previous semesters]. It’s nice to see that I was once at that point, and now I’m able to help them. One of the biggest parts of being an artist is discovering your style. I’m a very retro, vintage-oriented person with a modern edge. A UAB t-shirt designed by Levi Sanford. Photo: Emily Schumann

    Art is subjective, so what someone likes might not be what I like. It’s a trial-and-error process. That applies to most art. Most experiences, really.

    ES: How has UAB helped you identify your career goals?

    LS: When people first asked me what I wanted to do with my degree, I had a hard time answering because the possibilities are so broad. Hearing [faculty] experiences has helped me narrow my options. The variety of projects you complete also helps you sample different paths. Bloom Studio [run by Doug Barrett in the Department of Art and Art History] is technically a class but it’s like an internship because we work with real clients. We are currently helping rebrand Klein Arts and Culture, a non-profit based in Harpersville, AL.

    Personally, I like the idea of working for one of the larger marketing/advertising agencies in Birmingham. It’s fast-paced, but the idea of constantly being able to put out work and different projects in an intense environment seems like a great way to gain experience.

    ES: Would you say UAB was the right choice?

    LS: UAB has been a great call. I don’t want to say everything happens for a reason because that’s such a broad thing, but I’m glad that this happened. It’s hard to picture where I’d be if I wasn’t here. I’ve grown so much as a person here and I’ve developed so many skills. The UAB campus is diverse and there are so many people to learn from and connections to be made. It’s not an art school, but I feel like you get almost the same education while saving the money you would spend at an art school.

    Photo of book cover and artwork by Levi Sanford

    ES: Do you have any advice for incoming UAB students?

    LS: Be open-minded. Be open to hearing opinions from other people because it is so vital to hear what others have to say. Don’t assume your ideas are better than what others might have to offer. Come ready to learn, to be yourself, and be prepared to be humbled.

    Interested in graphic design? Learn more about our majors and concentrations in the Department of Art and Art History.

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  • Jasmine Cunningham receives Dream Award Scholarship

    Undergraduate Neuroscience student Jasmine Cunningham has been awarded the Dream Award Scholarship after overcoming significant barriers to make it to college.

    Jasmine Cunningham, a student in UAB's Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, has been awarded the Dream Award after overcoming significant barriers to make it to college.

    She is one of 22 Dream Award scholarship recipients this year and more than fits the description of "sheer determination" that Scholarship America looks for when identifying qualifying students.

    According to a profile published on al.com, Jasmine has battled a pituitary brain tumor that led to Cushing Disease, which causes stress, severe fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches and cognitive difficulties, and other challenging symptoms. Despite all of this, she has finished her first year of college at UAB, studying neuroscience and psychology with the goal of becoming a doctor.

    You can read more about Jasmine on the al.com website.

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  • Social Work students, faculty, and partners recognized on Social Work Day

    The UAB Department of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month with students and their families, community partners, and faculty members on March 27, 2019.

    The UAB Department of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month with students and their families, community partners, and faculty members on March 27, 2019, at the Hill Student Center Ballroom.

    Wes Akins, Coordinator of Mental Health/Counseling at UAB 1917 Clinic, was the keynote speaker. We recognized the Social Work Outstanding student, Eggleston Scholarship awardee, SSWO officers, students who went to Kenya, graduating BSW and MSW students, adjunct faculty members, field supervisors, service learning community partners, and students who went to D.C. Fly-in, Alabama Conference of Social Work, and Alabama Arise Legislative Day. Twenty-six students were inducted into Phi Alpha Honors Society.

    Pictures of our awardees can be seen below, and more of them can be found on the College of Arts and Sciences Facebook page.

    [widgetkit id="47" name="SOCIAL WORK - SW Month 2019"]

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  • Student trip to Kenya focuses on health, girl's empowerment in the Maasai community

    Over spring break, Stacy Moak, Ph.D., from the Department of Social Work and Tina Reuter, Ph.D., from the Institute of Human Rights led a study abroad trip to Kenya.

    Interested in supporting projects that keep Kenyan girls in school? Donate to the Lady Pad project, sponsored by the UAB Institute for Human Rights and the College of Arts and Sciences.Over spring break, Stacy Moak, Ph.D., from the Department of Social Work and Tina Reuter, Ph.D., from the Institute of Human Rights led a study abroad trip to Kenya. This is the second year that Social Work has offered this special topics course for students.

    The course is geared toward understanding women's rights, HIV awareness, and health issues in Kenya with particular attention to the Maasai community. Students focused on four specific projects:

    1. HIV awareness, prevention, and intervention;
    2. girl's empowerment;
    3. trauma informed care for social workers; and
    4. menstrual health management for adolescent girls.

    These focus areas were developed in collaboration with partners abroad, specifically Nashulai Conservancy and CARA rescue center for girls. A grant from the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation provided resources to donate more than 800 pieces of underwear, 20 yards of fabric and sewing essentials, and a sewing machine to the project. Social Work plans to continue to develop international efforts that provide exciting opportunities for students.

    [widgetkit id="45" name="SOCIAL WORK - Kenya 2019"]

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  • Undergraduate Neuroscience Program's Outstanding Seniors: Sid Chandra

    Sid Chandra, a senior majoring in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, writes about his experiences in the program and at UAB.

    Sid Chandra, a senior majoring in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, writes about his experiences in the program and at UAB.

    When I was a freshman in high school, my grandfather was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, an untreatable neurodegenerative condition. Over the years, I watched my grandfather lose the ability to recognize and communicate with the people closest to him. It was frustrating to watch him suffer and not be able to do anything to help him. I began to read about his condition and similar neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. To understand disease research articles, I needed to understand the basic biology of the brain, so I read Neuroscience for Dummies by Frank Amthor, a UAB neurobiologist. I began to become fascinated by the brain and diseases that cause it to malfunction.

    When deciding where to attend college, UAB attracted me because of the strong neuroscience research, the well-established Undergraduate Neuroscience Program (UNP), and the resources available to students from the UAB Honors College. Soon after joining UAB, I began to seek out research mentors. With help from Dr. Cristin Gavin, co-director of the UNP, and Dr. Diane Tucker, director of the Science and Technology Honors Program, I was able to join the lab of Dr. Andy West, an expert in Parkinson’s disease. In the West lab, I focused on studying the role of a protein kinase called LRRK2 in rodent models of Parkinson’s disease and strategies to target LRRK2 for therapeutic benefit. After three years of working with Dr. West, he moved to continue his career at Duke University, and I joined Dr. Talene Yacoubian’s lab. In Yacoubian lab, I have focused on understanding how modulation of the 14-3-3 protein influences neuropathology in rodent models of Parkinson’s disease. I have been fortunate to publish my results in peer reviewed journals, communicate my science across the country at several regional and national conferences, and win competitive fellowships to support my research during the summers. My experiences in the West and Yacoubian labs have solidified my interest in basic and translational research and affirmed that I want these practices to be a significant part of my career.

    Outside of the lab, I have been heavily involved with UAB Student Multicultural and Diversity Programs as a Free Food for Thought facilitator, board member of the Social Justice Advocacy Council, and a SMDP retreat leader. Through these endeavors, I have had the opportunity to advocate for marginalized groups and help educate my peers on social issuing plaguing our world. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work substantially with the UAB Honors College as a communications chair for the Honors College Leadership Council and as an Honors College Ambassador. Through my experiences with SMDP and the Honors College, I have grown as a person and as a leader. I intend for advocacy to be an important part of my career going forward.

    All of my experiences and success at UAB could not have been accomplished without the help of several mentors — Drs. West, Gavin, Tucker, and Yacoubian (and many more). UAB is truly a unique university in that students here do not learn only in a classroom, but they are given experiential opportunities to grow professionally and personally. My experiences at UAB have inspired me to become a physician-scientist, so that I may investigate the molecular basis of disease, develop mechanism-based therapies, and treat patients directly in the clinic. By providing research opportunities, coursework, and fantastic mentorship, the UNP has fully prepared me for the challenges that lie ahead. This summer, I will begin an M.D.-Ph.D. program to start my journey of becoming a physician-scientist and join the fight against incurable disease.

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  • BSW mentor program launches

    The first mentor group includes four students paired with four mentors.

    With the help of Grace Dugger, our Social Work Alumni Society President, we launched our Bachelor of Social Work mentor program.

    Our first cohort includes four mentees and four mentors! Three of the students and two of the mentors were able to come to the first meeting. We had a great time meeting each other while sharing a meal.

    We are very excited to have mentor program and offer our students an opportunity to learn and grow beyond classroom setting.

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  • Christmas gifts for AIDS Alabama child

    The Student Social Work Organization sponsored a 10-year-old girl who loves Disney princesses.

    This year the Student Social Work Organization sponsored a 10-year-old girl who loves Disney princesses for Christmas through AIDS Alabama. She asked for nail kits, Disney lip gloss kit, Auburn twin bedding, a Visa gift card, and hair products (headbands, bows, and more). SSWO and faculty were able to collect everything she asked for and much more!

    The department thank everyone who participated for their support in making this girl's holiday bright and filled with joy and blessing.

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  • Master's students win Best Graduate Paper at 2018 ACM Mid-Southeast conference

    The paper predicts the probability of basketball players achieving the prestigious honor of being granted access to the Hall of Fame. 

    Two Department of Computer Science master's students, Trupesh Patel (M.S. in Computer Science) and Andrew Schatz (M.S. in Data Science), won the first place for the best graduate paper at the ACM Mid-Southeast 2018 conference. The paper, "Classifying Basketball Players by Hall of Fame Merit," predicts the probability of basketball players achieving the prestigious honor of being granted access to the Hall of Fame. This project was done using various machine learning strategies and data mining skills, under the guidance of Professor Chengcui Zhang.

    Patel and Schatz's project was an obvious choice for best graduate paper at the conference, as it demonstrated a solid analysis and evaluation framework and pursued a unique goal. It was also one of the only projects at the conference that was not funded by any third-party organization, meaning that it out-performed many well-funded research projects.

    Participating in the ACM Mid-Southeast conferences is one of the most rewarding experiences for computer science students at UAB, and the department encourages current and future students to submit their projects to upcoming conferences. It is not only for graduate students — undergraduate students have their own category and this year greatly outnumbered graduate students. The conference encourages creativity in student projects, as seen by this submission and the undergraduate champion for best project, which was a 2D-style video game created by five students from Middle Tennessee State University.

    In addition to the rewarding experience, the conference location of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is beautiful place and offers entertaining activities to conference attendees. So make sure to submit your projects to ACM Mid-Southeast 2019 conference, where hopefully you will have as much fun as Trupesh and Andrew!

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  • Health and Hygiene Drive

    The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) hosted a health and hygiene supplies drive.

    The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) hosted a health and hygiene supplies drive for a non-profit organization run by our own MSW (former BSW) student, Caroline Richey.

    SSWO collected bars of soap, toothpastes, toothbrushes, rolled gauze, Neosporin, deodorants, medical tapes, and more for DominicanKids.

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  • Students collect baby items

    SSWO was able to collect a car-seat, a stroller, diapers, wipes, clothes, and other baby goods.

    After thieves stole baby items and other personal items from a new mother, the Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) hosted a successful baby goods drive. The Department of Human Resources client lost all of the baby supplies that she had purchased. SSWO was able to collect a car-seat, a stroller, diapers, wipes, clothes, and other baby goods. It was very encouraging to see so many items collected on such short notice and seeing the impact first hand!

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  • Social Work students fundraise for Youth Towers

    Youth Towers organization connects young homeless persons to the resources they so desperately need.

    One of the Social Work foundation courses, SW 222: Social Work Values, allows students to become familiar with working in the field of social work while being as imaginative as they wish. This freedom opened up many doors for students Haylee Frazer, Khawlah Abdein, Claudia Watring, and Lynn Bass. These students decided to organize a fundraiser for Youth Towers where they were fulfilling their service learning hours. Youth Towers organization connects young homeless persons to the resources they so desperately need. Alice Westery is Youth Towers' executive director.

    The fundraiser was put on in the Roots and Revelry parlor. Haylee, Khawlah, Claudia, and Lynn made many phone calls and sent emails to companies asking for sponsorships and donations. They had meetings that lasted hours organizing the event, and spent many hours contacting each other with ideas and updates. As they were doing so, they found each other’s strength: Lynn is more adept in correspondence; Claudia is a professional with proposals and documents; Khawlah contributes engagement and creativity; and Haylee is a strategist in organizing the group relations and the oversight of the event's many parts. These students learned the importance of team work, without which they would not have been nearly as successful.

    The event featured a services booth, which donated services to those who purchased raffle tickets. These services were donated by local entrepreneurs who have businesses in photography, massage, ballroom dancing, art, and cooking. On the terrace attendees could find gospel, rap, spoken word, transgender poetry, grilling, and testimonials from clients who struggled with homelessness before they found Youth Towers.

    Haylee, Khawlah, Claudia, and Lynn are extremely grateful for this experience and proud of the $2,500+ they raised in the process. These students, as a group, went into this project uncertain but optimistic of the change they could make. They kept working toward their goal, and it was a fun and entertaining event which was put on to relieve homelessness.

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  • Department of Energy selects UAB graduate student for esteemed studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Graduate student expands knowledge of beamlines within physics through 20th National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering.

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  • Undergraduates fight on cybercrime’s front lines

    UAB students aid authorities in cybercounterespionage day in and day out, giving them “the best start on their careers that we can.”

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