Undergraduate Neuroscience Program's Outstanding Seniors: Sullivan Hanback

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

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

Ever since elementary school, I have had a profound interest in science. Knowing this and growing up in Alabama, it was an easy decision for me to choose UAB to further my education. I entered UAB as a freshman majoring in Biomedical Engineering because I was interested in the medical aspect and believed that I was interested in engineering at the time as well. I quickly realized that engineering was not the correct career path for me, so I started searching for another major. At the time, I was taking my first psychology class and found the material extremely interesting so I started looking for a related major. After talking to Dr. McFarland about the Neuroscience program and deciding that I wanted to go to medical school, it became abundantly clear that neuroscience was the path for me.

Sullivan Hanback. The Neuroscience program has given me so many opportunities that I would have not had otherwise. For example, I had the pleasure to conduct research in Dr. Parpura’s Neurobiology lab. My research focused on gliomas, which are brain tumors. I treated these cells with several different agents and assessed if they changed their morphology or proliferative rate in order to see if these agents could be used as treatment to kill the cancerous cells or slow down the tumors’ growth. The neuroscience courses have also greatly increased my understanding of brain function as well as science as a whole. The program opened so many doors for me around the Birmingham area that I would have never thought of myself.

Joining the Neuroscience program also served as a stepping stone for me to increase my campus involvement in many other aspects. One of my favorite experiences has been being an active member of the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program. This program has greatly increased my understanding of the social issues and humanitarian crises that plague our world today. My world views have completely changed since I graduated high school and I believe this program has had a great influence on me. Being able to interact with other like-minded students that see a propensity for change in the world kept me motivated to keep pursing my dreams. Currently, I have the pleasure of serving as the president of the Leadership Council, which plans events for our program. I am also acting president of UAB’s chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger. Through this organization, I have had the opportunity to travel to the annual summit, which outlines ways people around the country are working to end hunger. I have also worked to make Universities Fighting World Hunger a partner for the new on-campus food pantry called Blazer Kitchen.

I have also served as a supplemental instruction leader for six semesters. I have been the leader for courses such as General Chemistry and Psychology 101. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to assist students in their learning over the course of my undergraduate career. Like my mother, I realized I have a passion for teaching others and this experience helped me work on and refine that skill. I also had a wonderful experience as an intern for a non-profit here in Birmingham during the summer after my junior year. The organization, PEER Inc., served the East Lake community by providing them with access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Their flagship program that I worked with was a farmers market for the community. Through this internship, I also worked with local children in the area teaching them about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. I have also had the pleasure to volunteer at many different locations in the Birmingham community like the UAB 1917 Clinic, Children’s Hospital, and the Firehouse Shelter. All of these experiences have made me a more humble person and contributed to my growth. It has become abundantly clear to me that I should be thankful for everything I have had so far in my life and therefore, I need to give back and help people that have not had the luxuries that I have had.

UAB has equipped me with the knowledge and provided me with opportunities to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. I have never regretted my decision to join the Neuroscience program or my time here at UAB. I have changed so much since the beginning of my undergraduate career and the diverse environment at UAB has facilitated many of these changes. I have interacted with so many different people during my undergraduate career and learned from each and every one of them. I want to thank UAB and the Neuroscience program for helping me realize my full potential. I am elated that during this time next year, I will be pursing my goal of becoming a physician at UAB’s medical school.

Student Achievement

Back to Top