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.”