Lakey wins annual Honors College art contest, receives Dean’s Scholarship Award

Inspiration, creativity, and innovation – the power of imagination. Honors student Amber Lakey drew on these strengths to create her imagery of what it means to be part of the UAB Honors College.

Dean Shannon L. Blanton and Amber Lakey with Honors College Art Contest CertificateDean Shannon L. Blanton presented Amber Lakey with the Honors College Art Contest CertificateAmber Lakey, a senior majoring in mathematics, won first place in this year’s Honors College Art Contest. “My inspiration for this idea came from UAB’s home, the city of Birmingham,” Lakey said. “One of my favorite things about UAB is the incredible privilege its students receive by living in such a wonderful place, and how it is such an important part of our culture, so I felt it was necessary to include some element of Birmingham, and I chose the city skyline. And of course, I had to shout out the Honors College slogan, “set your world on fire,” both in the imagery and text.”

Every spring, honors students are invited to submit designs for an opportunity to display their artwork on promotional material for the Honors College New Student Experience, a three-day student retreat that welcomes incoming students with a variety of events and activities. Students were given specific guidelines on how to submit their artwork, which included adding the Honors College mantra, Set Your World On Fire, in either imagery or text. After receiving 48 submissions, the Student Mentor and Retreat Team (SMART) Leaders reviewed and selected the final design.

The Honors College Art Contest started as a fun way to engage students, while creating unique designs to kick off the new academic year. After the first year in 2018, it became a tradition based on the response of current and prospective students about the distinctive and inviting designs. This year, an Honors College Dean’s Scholarship Award was given to the contest winner.

“We are always looking for opportunities to enhance the honors student experience in ways that embrace our vision, mission and values,” said Shannon L. Blanton, Ph.D., UAB Honors College Dean. “It was a delight to see so many different artistic designs from our honors students, and they clearly had fun creating an image that reflects the essence of our UAB HonorsAmber Lakey's Design for the HCLC's Drive-in and Dine eventAmber Lakey's Design for the HCLC's Drive-in and Dine event College. It is a neat way for our returning students to have a hand in crafting the experience for those who are coming this fall semester as first-year honors students.”

Lakey is no stranger to designing heartfelt and creative artwork. She also participated in the Honors Drive-In and Dine event, where she was selected as a finalist for her design of a car made of a cardboard box. This event was hosted by our Honors College Leadership Council (HCLC) this past spring. 

Although she spends most of her time calculating and crunching numbers, Lakey uses art as a hobby to cope, self-express, and relieve stress. “As a math major, most of my time is spent thinking really deeply about abstract problems, so it’s nice to do something productive with my hands and create something that makes me happy,” Lakey said. “That could mean painting, doodling, sketching, or coloring. I plan to always make art, even if it’s something I may never show the world. Although hopefully, I can make something that will bring others joy too.”

Amber Lakey's winning design for the Honors College Art ContestAmber Lakey's winning design for the Honors College Art ContestWhen it comes to making art, she uses a similar design process that is familiar to engineers – ask, research, imagine, plan, create, test and improve. “I begin my art-making process by imagining what I want people to think when they see my art, and then I consider what images, colors, and other elements I can use to invoke those thoughts or feelings,” Lakey said. “Then I get to work combining elements, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then trying again until the final product is what I want. My works are ongoing products that I will edit and improve over and over until I think that they are complete.”

Lakey is the first recipient of the Honors College Dean’s Scholarship Award, which includes a $500 scholarship. “I am humbly honored to have been chosen; my art is personal to me, so for others to enjoy it and validate my creation makes me thrilled,” Lakey said. “I am even more thankful to be the first recipient of such a generous scholarship. Every day, I benefit from being a part of the UAB Honors community and it is exciting to be able to give back with my art.”