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Running her own race, Tolliver graduates with honors and future dreams as a Blazer

  • December 10, 2021
Ebony Tolliver’s love of running and passion for health sciences led her to both successful academic and athletic careers while a Blazer.

tolliver 2Ebony Tolliver
Photography: UAB Athletics
When Ebony Tolliver was a prospective high school student in Montgomery, Alabama, looking at colleges, she knew she wanted to go to a university with a vibrant campus community and one that had strong medical and health ties. To her excitement and surprise, the University of Alabama at Birmingham checked off many of the boxes on her college wish list.  

“UAB really just drew me in the whole experience — the proximity to a medical center, a strong campus life, excellent academics,” Tolliver remembered.

Enrolling as a student in 2017 in UAB’s Honors College, Tolliver came to Birmingham like many students, not quite sure of her academic direction. She had a firm understanding of her interests, including health and human sciences with an emphasis in athletics — a nod to her decorated high school athletic career as an accomplished Alabama state record holder in sprinting.

“I had this broad idea of what my interests were; but once I looked deeper and really worked with an adviser who pointed me in the direction of kinesiology, I knew that was the fit for me.” 

Parallel to finding a passion and home in the School of Education and working toward her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, Tolliver’s passion for track and field renewed as well. She contacted the UAB women’s track and field coach and walked on the team, even obtaining an athletic scholarship.

“Being a student-athlete definitely was a balance, but it was so rewarding because I really feel like I got a well-rounded community experience at UAB — a community within my team and another with my academic peers in the classroom,” Tolliver said. “It was truly the best of both worlds to have athletics and my studies to grow alongside one another.” 

Tolliver excelled academically at UAB, and her hard work will culminate as she graduates with honors in the fall 2021 UAB commencement ceremony Dec. 11. Athletically, she helped her 4x400 relay team to a second-place finish at the indoor 2020-2021 and outdoor 2021 Conference USA Indoor Championships. She placed first overall in outdoor sprinting in her sophomore season, among her other collegiate athletic accomplishments. Her interests in health and its environmental application in running led her on the career path toward physical therapy.

Learn how to become an Honors College student, like Ebony, here.

“It was such a natural progression to fall into physical therapy as a potential career field. I didn’t even realize it at the time,” Tolliver said. “I was just so interested in the body from an athletic perspective — particularly since running is such an individual sport — that having to be so in tune to one’s body and having a wealth of understanding of the whole anatomy just made sense for me.” 

Tolliver has one more track and field season to finish, which will coincide with her first semester in the UAB School of Health ProfessionsDoctor of Physical Therapy program, and she is proud to continue to represent UAB and grow both in the classroom and on the track.

“Birmingham is home now, and so is UAB — it just is,” Tolliver shared. “To enroll in a nationally ranked DPT program, serve as a Blazer in Athletics once more, and stick around to see UAB keep developing and changing: It really is amazing. I can’t wait to see how UAB continues to grow and to be a part of that too.”