keystone fellows group shot

Founded in 2017, the Keystone Fellowship Program (KFP) aims to cultivate the next generation of engaged scholars whose doctoral program, research and career interests align with solving problems with direct implications on diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education, our surrounding Birmingham communities, the nation, and the world. Specifically, the program seeks out students who have a demonstrated interest in developing and implementing innovative and sustainable approaches to address complex social needs affecting historically underserved and marginalized communities.

Since its establishment, KFP has been especially effective in enabling students from underrepresented groups to complete their doctoral studies and further their career interests. In addition to receiving monthly stipends, Fellows enjoy access to a rich array of activities that promote their holistic development through mentoring relations with faculty, collaboration with peers, and the exchange and implementation of ideas with a broad audience of academic and community leaders. Furthermore, Fellows from a range of disciplines support one another's research, make presentations at conferences and colloquia, participate in community engagement projects, and publish working papers.

Meet our Keystone Fellows

Ghislaine Celine Atkins

Ghislaine Celine Atkins

Ghislaine Celine Atkins

Ghislaine Celine Atkins, who goes by her middle name, Celine, hails from sunny South Florida. She is currently a second-year doctoral trainee in the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Program. She holds a Master’s in Social Psychology from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida (where she also minored in African-American Studies). Celine’s research interests are HIV-related stigma, intersectional stigma (e.g. marginalization by one’s race and one’s sexual orientation), structural and psychosocial barriers to HIV medication adherence, and social support. After graduation, Celine plans to pursue a post-doctoral position to continue her work on intersectional stigma, HIV-related stigma, and social support that will eventually lead to an academic tenure track position in psychology at a competitive research institution. Celine believes it is of the utmost importance to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia. And she believes that it is so important that young scholars see people who look like them doing extraordinary work in their fields of choice so they can, in turn, inspire the next generation to greatness.

Joydan Jones

Joydan Jones

Joydan Jones

Joydan Jones is a second year Ph.D. student in the Materials Science & Engineering Department. She was born in Macon, Georgia and moved to Birmingham to attend UAB after completing high school. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2016 in Materials Science & Engineering with a minor in Medical Sociology During her time at UAB Jones worked in the Materials Processing & Applications Development (MPAD) Center where she conducted several research projects focusing on the use of composite and advanced plastic materials. While working in the MPAD she conducted materials research on numerous projects supplied by several varying industries, including automotive, transportation, defense, infrastructure and energy industries. She is actively involved in several research projects in a number of areas, including Improvement of Syntactic Foams for deep sea oil drilling, optimizing pessary device to reduce risks of pre-term labor, high-performance natural fiber composites for automotive applications.


Become a Keystone Fellow

Only registered UAB doctoral students who have completed at least their first year of graduate study are eligible for this program. While it is not a firm requirement, most of the Fellows have solidified their research agenda. Each aspiring Fellow is expected to serve as a paraprofessional in Campus & Community Engagement (CACE), a unit of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), to assist with the development and implementation of innovative and sustainable approaches to address complex social needs affecting historically underserved and marginalized communities around UAB.

  • Building on the work from your previous coursework and ongoing research agenda, Fellows will:

    • Work with CACE to develop and promote ODEI programs and initiatives
    • Explore new and foster existing relationships with community, campus, business, and faith-based organizations/ entities to identify opportunities for partnerships to increase awareness of ODEI’s work
    • Catalyze UAB partnerships by using your research to connect theory to practice and increase awareness and provide practical solutions to community problems
    • Recruit local volunteers (including students, faculty, staff, and organizations) to participate in ODEI initiatives and lead orientation(s), meetings, and trainings around our signature initiatives, and work in the field
    • Develop and deliver customized workshops & presentations on ODEI’s work and issues affecting higher education and its surrounding communities
    • Represent ODEI in the community at relevant convening, events, and coalitions
    • Find creative ways to engage targeted audiences
    • Through weekly meetings, bi-weekly reports, updated project plans, and participation in monthly ODEI meetings, the CACE staff will monitor progress and assist Fellows in meeting their own personal and project objectives. Periodic workshops, activities, trainings, and other professional development activities will be a part of the Fellow's continuing education and support structure.

    The Keystone Fellows Program also offers:

    • A deep understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion issues impacting higher education and its surrounding communities
    • Training in program and curriculum design, metrics and reporting, relationship building, group training, and consensus building
    • Leadership skills development in problem-solving, volunteer engagement, community outreach, event planning, communication, public speaking, creating and implementing workshops, and program management
    • Hands-on project implementation experience
    • Extensive personal and professional networking opportunities
  • To be eligible, students must:

    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
    • Be currently enrolled as a full-time second year (or above) graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham;
    • Must demonstrate financial need; and
    • Meet the diversity criteria listed below:
      • Be a member of a historically underrepresented group in higher education (African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic-American, and/or
      • Be a first-generation college student, and/or
      • Have a history of overcoming a significant disadvantage (e.g. socio-economic, geographic, physical or invisible disability)
    • Extensive knowledge of the community for which the candidate is applying.
    • Experience engaging in community outreach and community education, including leadership development.
    • Demonstrated experience making presentations and leading trainings to small and large groups.
    • Excellent interpersonal skills and attention to detail is essential.
    • Must be a creative thinker with the ability to proactively develop new ideas and outreach strategies.
    • Demonstrated ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities while consistently meeting deadlines and working across teams.
    • Strong communication skills, both oral and written.
    • Event planning experience preferred.
    • Ability to work a flexible schedule that includes weekend and evening commitments and travel.
    • Expertise in Microsoft Office (Outlook- 2010 preferred, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).

    All Keystone Fellows will retain funding as long as they remain in good standing and meet satisfactory academic progress in accordance with UAB’s policy for merit-based aid.

  • The following material are required to complete the Keystone Fellowship application:

    • Complete Keystone Fellowship Program application
    • Curriculum vitae, listing address, contact information, education, teaching experience, outreach and engagement activities, and research abstracts, presentations, and publications;
    • Provide a short research statement that summarizes your research. Your statement should be double-spaced and no longer than 1,000 words. This statement should demonstrate a link between your work and historically underrepresented and marginalized populations. Your statement should also link your specific research project with a specific research location(s) or place(s), (e.g., gentrification in Birmingham, immigration, criminalization, inter-ethnic relations, the social history of blue-collar neighborhoods in Ensley).
      • The 1,000 word statement should include the following components:
        1. title (25 words or less) describing your research focus;
        2. a short narrative description of your research focus;
        3. description of the research problem that your current research is addressing;
        4. short description of key concepts, theories, or findings that help guide your research effort;
        5. description of your current or proposed research methods;
        6. statement on the contribution that your research will make to addressing diverse and historically marginalized populations; and
        7. a description of how your current research effort is related to your previous or planned future research activities. You may outline a broad research agenda, but be sure to specify what you are planning to accomplish during the academic year, including the gathering and analysis of empirical data (e.g., new data that you will be collecting or analyzing, data you have already collected, writing up your research results, etc.). If you are part of a collaborative research team, specify your contribution to the research.
    • Recommendation letter from your advisor or major professor, highlighting your qualifications for this award and an agreement to serve as a mentor in support of your research; and
    • An essay of no more than 700 words answering the following question:
      • How do you envision your research, practice, and career aspirations addressing disparities created from social constructs in an attempt to oppress others and widen already existing disparity gaps?
    • Applicants will be invited to interview. Interviewees will be ranked and the top candidate(s) will be extended an opportunity to join the Keystone Fellowship Program.

    All application materials must be completed and submitted by no later than 5:00 pm on August 31, 2021, to 401 Campbell Hall located on 1300 University Boulevard, Birmingham, Alabama 35233.