Two individuals, two groups and one student organization were honored with the President’s Diversity Champion Award Feb. 20. The annual award recognizes employees, students and organizations that have helped create a more culturally diverse, inclusive university community through their achievements.

Nominations are solicited from the UAB community for all categories, and awards are given in each of five categories for projects or activities that best reflect the implementation of unit and/or campus diversity goals. 

Congratulations to the 2020 recipients: 


farah lubin headshotFarah Lubin, Ph.D.

Farah D. Lubin, Ph.D

Faculty, School of Medicine

Farah D. Lubin, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology in UAB’s School of Medicine, Associate Scientist in the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, Associate Scientist in the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and co-director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Neuroscience Roadmap Scholar (RMS) Program. The goal of the RMS program is to enhance engagement and retention of underrepresented graduate trainees in the neuroscience workforce. She is also co-Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction, and Teaching (MERIT) Program for postdoctoral fellows. She is a past recipient of a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIMH) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)Award.

Dr. Lubin values mentorship and was also the recipient of the 2017 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship. Her main research focus is investigating the epigenetic basis of learning, memory and its disorders, including memory deficits associated with normal aging and neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. She received her undergraduate degree from Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama and her Ph.D. in Cell/Molecular Biology and Immunology from Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York.





student counseling services 2(L-R) Kierra Walker, Herbert Wilkerson and April Coleman

April Coleman, LPC, NCC

Kiera Walker, ALC, NCC

Herbert Wilkerson, ALC, JSOCC

Staff, Student Counseling Services, Division of Student Affairs

Collectively, April Coleman, Kiera Walker and Herbert Wilkerson have worked to create a safe space on UAB’s campus for black students to discuss issues around race, mental health and wellness, self-care and more. Their idea: a group focused on the Black Experience, particularly the experiences one has as a Black/African-American student on a predominantly Caucasian campus. “Hey, Sis, Hey” and “Fellas, Let’s Go There” provide an opportunity for candid, open conversation. Since its inception in the Fall of 2018, the Black Experience groups have been successful in meeting needs and connecting students who identify as Black/African-American.

Coleman earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  In her current role, she provides individual and couples counseling and coordinates and facilitates the department’s mental health outreach events and presentations across campus. April is a skilled crisis interventionist, group facilitator (The Black Experience) and QPR facilitator. She has presented at several national conferences and local workshops and has also developed and implements a campus-wide resiliency initiative program, “Blazers Bounce Back Building Resilience”.

Walker earned a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In her current role as Triage Coordinator, she manages the triage team services through oversight of the stepped care service-delivery model and initial consultations. As Assessment Coordinator, she is responsible for managing and leading the assessment of groups, outreach programs, and user evaluations, as well as assisting in the decision-making of programs and services based on data gathered through assessment measures. Kiera has presented at local, state and national conferences, and is a certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist.

Wilkerson has been working in the mental health field for more than a decade. He is passionate about working with Black students and other students of color to decrease the stigma of mental health in underrepresented communities. In his current role, he works to connect with student groups on campus to make sure that students are aware of counseling services. Prior to working at UAB, Herbert worked in the community as a therapist in residential, foster care and mental health center settings with all ages. Something he tells himself routinely is, “It’s not about me”. Meaning his role is to serve the underserved and marginalized populations while treating them with human dignity and respect.




Denise Dixon

Morgan Gordon

occupational therapy students 2Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD)Chukwuemeka Ikejiani

Carissa Jones

Andrea Reed

Carl Robinson

Graduate Student, Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD), School of Health Professions

The collective work of occupational therapy (OT) graduate students Andrea Reed, Carissa Jones, Denise Dixon, Morgan Gordon, Carl Robinson and Chukwuemeka Ikejiani began in their spring semester of 2019 at UAB. They were inspired to make an impactful change within their cohort and future cohorts regarding diversity sensitivity and awareness. Their motivation to effect change was inspired by presentations regarding social injustice, biases and inequities in the healthcare field given by Dr. Carmen Capo-Lugo and Dr. Zena Trost during their “Barriers” course instructed by Dr. Sarah Dos Anjos and Dr. Gavin Jenkins. These presentations encouraged the graduate students to reflect on their individual experiences of racial bias as students at UAB and share their collective concerns. Together they felt a new conversation was necessary to promote and enhance diversity sensitivity and awareness within the occupational therapy graduate program. The idea was proposed to Dr. Sarah Dos Anjos and the OT department chair, Dr. Jenkins, to create a safe place for open dialogue between occupational therapy staff and students to discuss social injustices and biases in the OT field and within their cohort. They desired to have the discussion be a catalyst to promote and inspire individuals to look beyond their own biases and encourage being open to experiencing the unfamiliar realities and perspectives of classmates and future clients. This push resulted in the implementation of an all-day diversity training for the OT department staff and students in Summer2019. Each student was an active participant in establishing the UAB chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) in Fall 2019. Together they continue to advocate for diversity training that will improve cultural awareness and sensitivity, and create more diverse, equitable and inclusive students and professionals within the occupational therapy community.







Renuka SrivastavaRenuka Srivastava



Renuka Srivastava

Undergraduate Student, College of Arts & Sciences

A native of Meridian, Mississippi, Renuka Srivastava has a passion for the progression of social justice issues in the South. A senior with a double major in Political Science and International Studies, she has registered thousands of students, faculty and staff to vote, and has arranged rides to the polls from campus during every election cycle. She has shown her commitment to helping improve UAB’s campus culture towards social justice issues through her leadership roles in the Social Justice Advocacy Council, International Mentors, College Democrats, Leadership and Service Council and the Student Government Association. She regularly works with advisors and students to advocate for core policy changes at UAB to make the campus a safer space for all students.

Srivastava also advocates for inclusive policy changes internationally through Kulture City, a non-profit allying with individuals with sensory processing needs. She has also been active in the local Birmingham community, working on campaigns, interning at the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham and interning under Congresswoman Terri Sewell(D-Alabama) to improve the lives of Birmingham citizens. Renuka is the proud recipient of the President's Volunteer Service Award, a Truman Scholarship finalist, a UAB Outstanding Student Leader and a USGA Outstanding Senator. Renuka aspires to go to law school next year, and return to the South following law school to litigate for disadvantaged individuals and advocate against unjust public policy.






Active Minds

Student Organizationactive mindsActive Minds Student Organization

Active Minds is a student organization whose mission is to reduce stigma about mental health on college campuses. The organization’s goals are for college students to know that mental health conditions are common, that experiencing those conditions is not their fault and that help is available. Active Minds works towards these ends through tabling with information on mental health resources, hosting educational events with UAB’s Student Counseling Services, fundraising for the national Active Minds movement and spreading information through social media. The organization frequently partners with identity-based student organizations to speak about mental health at their chapter meetings. Each year, Active Minds places 1,100 objects (such as glow sticks or paper cranes) on the Campus Green, attached with stories of suicide awareness and messages of hope. The team strives to increase the accessibility of these conversations in communities experiencing mental health-related stigma. The commitment to this goal has resulted in the annual Mental Health and Cultures Panel and Men in Mental Health Panel.