2016 diversity2Yildirim, who has been with UAB since 1999, devotes a significant portion of his time every week to working with low-income, disadvantaged, and minority students in the Birmingham area. He helped create a non-profit organization designed to bring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction to kids who may not get the exposure they need during the regular school day. Those efforts led to the creation of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s (ECE) Continuous STEM program, which brings students to UAB’s campus every month for STEM training.

Additional projects Yildirim either leads or supports—including Girls Incorporated, Lawson State Community College, Carver High School, and the Birmingham Public Library, among others—reveal a wide network of students who have an enhanced understanding of STEM because of Yildirim’s efforts. “It is impossible to give a full picture of all that Dr. Yildirim has done and continues to do to promote and develop a more culturally diverse and inclusive community,” says ECE Department Chair Murat Tanik, Ph.D. “He truly understands and believes in diversity and its inherent ability to make the world a better place for everyone.“

2016 diversity3Although Sarah Owens is in just her second year at UAB, she has compiled more than 280 hours of volunteer service at Children’s of Alabama, beginning as a teenager long before she enrolled at UAB and continuing as a college student. Since 2012, the Fairfield native has served as a greeter who escorts and assists patients, families and guests to their desired locations on campus. She also works as a nursing ambassador, interacting with patients by reading, playing games, and by holding and rocking babies while parents take a break. Additionally, Owens also served last summer as a “Giving is Good” United Cerebral Palsy volunteer at LincPoint.

On campus, she has served as assistant team coordinator of Rast Hall Councill, and she is a recipient of the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholarship Recipient.

“Sarah truly epitomizes what a diversity award recipient should be: understanding, compassionate, dedicated and intelligent,” says Carolyn Braswell, Ed.D., Associate Vice President of Equity and Diversity.

“I am impressed with the willingness of our faculty and students to commit their time to give back to the community,” says Iwan Alexander, Dean of the School of Engineering. “Sarah Owens and Dr. Yildirim and are deserving of this honor. They have championed diversity and given their time selflessly to the community. They represent the face of UAB’s commitment to diversity and equality.”

For more photos from the awards ceremony, click here.