Tell us your story in six words: that’s what UAB undergraduate, graduate, professional (Medicine, Dentistry and Optometry) and nondegree students and postdoctoral fellows were challenged to do for UAB Graduate School’s inaugural Say It In 6 competition. Participants submitted an image and six words depicting any story they wanted to tell –about their life, their experiences, things they love or have learned. The possibilities were endless!

The Graduate School received 187 creative, moving entries from UAB students and postdoctoral fellows. Images ranged from photographs to drawings and paintings that all complemented their six-word stories perfectly.

Judges picked a finalist and an honorable mention for each category, which was no easy task. The categories were knowledge, UAB, America, identity, talents, humor, resilience, family, health, and love. The first and second place winners were chosen by the judges from the category finalists, and the UAB community voted online to pick a People’s Choice winner. These top three winners received cash prizes: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place, and $500 for People’s Choice.

Finalists’ entries were displayed in the 2017 Say It In 6 Reception at Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts (AEIVA) on April 14. Entries will soon be moved to the Hill Student Center where they will be displayed in a permanent Say It In 6 section, which will feature the current year’s winning entries.

Nada AlAssiPicked a great year to travel. Category: Humor | By Nada Al-AssiThis year’s first-place winner — Nada Al-Assi, a sophomore in Public Health — almost didn’t participate because she thought it would be impossible for her to tell a meaningful story using six words and an image. Fortunately, she took on the challenge. Nada had planned to travel this year to see her extended family for the first time in six years. However the executive order that President Trump signed in early 2017 blocking U.S. entry to people from six countries — which some have called the “Muslim Ban” — created uncertainty for the hijab-clad traveler. Instead of being discouraged, Nada saw the irony in the situation, which inspired her to submit an entry to create a dialogue about the issue. “I think that it is important to be able to laugh about something bigger and darker than most people think, while also getting more people to talk about the issue,” Nada says. “If I don't find humor, then all there would be is fear, and although something such as traveling to see my family can be much harder simply by what I choose to wear, I still refuse to let fear stop me from doing things everyone has the right to do.” She was pleasantly surprised that so many people understood and appreciated her entry’s message. During the reception, Nada was delighted to speak with people about her entry and the story behind it.

Believe there is good in Bham.Believe there is good in Bham. Category: Love | By Tyler FurgersonSecond place went to Tyler Furgerson, a graduate-level nondegree student who works as a graphic designer in the UAB School of Medicine. In his job and beyond, Tyler uses designs, messages and photography to tell stories and inspire others. The beauty of design, he says, is taking a complicated message and making it simple and easy to understand. In his Say It In 6 entry, he tackled the large and complex topic of Birmingham in six simple but impactful words. “If you look at the big picture, you can see there is a lot of good happening in our community,” Tyler says. “You see hurting people being helped. You see old neighborhoods being restored to vibrant life. However, when you focus in, you see the “you” and the “I” in community. It takes each of us doing more than just believing there is good, and this message serves as a reminder that we should serve our community every day, even in the smallest ways.”

UAB to MD, green bears fruit.UAB to MD, green bears fruit. Category: Knowledge | By Ryan HaddenRyan Hadden is the People’s Choice winner. Say It In 6 allowed him to “sum up my time at UAB, while acknowledging and giving thanks to the guidance provided by those who have helped me along the way.” He worked as a medical illustrator for a medical board review company in order to avoid the out-of-state tuition cost of attending UAB after moving from his home state of Oregon. He contributed several illustrations that were published in 2016 edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, a board-review book. One of those images was his Say It In 6 submission. “The image highlighted the intricacies of placental blood flow,” Ryan says. “I added a green hue to represent UAB.” UAB has been like a mother providing essential nutrients that a fetus (or, in this case, a student) requires to survive and grow into a medical doctor and eventually become a professional medical illustrator. Being a medical illustrator, Ryan can “give back to the medical community through the creation of technical images for an internationally acclaimed board-review book.” Ryan enjoyed this competition because students from various backgrounds can share their story in a way that tests “wit and challenge[s] you to eloquently and repeatedly evoke the imagery that you intend.”