Refer a Future Blazer and kickstart the next generation of UAB students

The Refer a Future Blazer Program gives UAB employees the information needed to support an undergraduate student who may be considering UAB.

Rosie InsideRosie and Aidan O'Beirne, mother and son, both graduated from UAB.
Photo credit: Rosie O'Beirne
When Birmingham native Aidan O’Beirne was looking at colleges as a prospective student, the University of Alabama at Birmingham was a school that he was long familiar with, but not one that he instinctually thought to apply to. Aidan’s parents, Rosie and Ronan O’Beirne, were both longtime employees of the university. When it came to learning more about and considering UAB as an option at the recommendation of his mother, Aidan was surprised by what UAB had to offer.

“Financially it made sense to come to UAB, but then I realized I had opportunities available to me that I wouldn’t find on other campuses — notably a network of people my parents knew who could help me, along with really receptive professors and researchers who encouraged me to find my place on campus and expand my love and knowledge of physics,” Aidan recalled.  

Sharing Blazer pride with prospective students

For UAB employees, sharing their support and pride for the institution with their child or a family friend helps kickstart the next generation of UAB-educated Blazers who can make an impact in the world. UAB’s Refer a Future Blazer Program gives employees the platform and tools to be able to easily refer potential students to UAB.

The Refer a Future Blazer Program is designed to give UAB employees the information needed to support an undergraduate student who may be considering UAB. For students who are accepted and who enroll, a one-time $250 scholarship is applied to their account, a win for the student and proud UAB employee alike.

A bonus: Children of UAB employees receive 50 percent savings on in-state tuition for undergraduate coursework.

With more than 22,000 students enrolled across UAB’s 12 schools and colleges and access to 55 majors and 88 minors, there is a program or course study to be found that piques the unique interest of any prospective student. As employees already serve as ambassadors for the university and the areas they support, sharing their Blazer pride with the next generation is a cornerstone goal of the Refer a Future Blazer Program.


In their unique experiences, Rosie O’Beirne, UAB’s chief digital strategy and marketing officer, and Felicia Tigner, administrative associate in UAB Retention Initiatives, found it to be an easy task to encourage their children to consider UAB for their education.

Both graduates of UAB and current employees, they were able to connect their sons with information about UAB because of their shared experiences as Blazers themselves.

“I always tell people that, as a parent, it really is about fit, and you and your child will know when it is,” Rosie said. “UAB is a nurturing place — it is small enough that you can have a community, but the infrastructure is there to facilitate getting to know other people and find what area of study you really want to pursue. UAB does a great job of pulling you in quickly as a student and helping you explore and grow. I saw that firsthand with Aidan.”

Have someone in mind who would make a great future Blazer? Refer them to UAB today.

Felicia learned personally what it was like to be a student at UAB, which is what influenced her to encourage her son, Dwight, to seek his master’s degree in public administration at UAB. Beginning her degree in 1987 and stepping away from school to raise her family and work, Felicia achieved her goal of returning to her studies when she graduated with her degree in general studies in 2018. Seeing the campus as a student, she knew it would be a place where Dwight could thrive.

“It is so important to get that degree, not only for you personally but to get the job you want and to really be successful,” Felicia said. “I was able to share so much about UAB with Dwight and was excited that we could have a shared educational experience.”

Mother and Son Stream 2Felicia and Dwight Tigner, mother and son, both graduated from UAB.
Photo credit: Felicia Tigner
For Dwight, a 2019 graduate of UAB’s graduate school, he — like other children of UAB employees — was always familiar with UAB but found that the campus’s location and status were major selling points when considering where to pursue his graduate education.

“I gravitate toward and enjoy being in downtown areas in cities, and UAB’s location is pretty dynamic,” Dwight said. “There are always a lot of activities happening on campus, people walking around and an overall energy that I really enjoyed. The vibe of UAB was a good fit for me.”

UAB’s campus accessibility and offerings were attractive to Dwight as he also worked as a GIS contractor technician at Alabama Power during graduate school, making for an easy commute with UAB, also located in Birmingham’s city center. It did not hurt that he got to see mom Felicia often and share meals together in between classes and their overlapping hours on campus.

Like Dwight, Aidan, a 2017 graduate of UAB who majored in physics, quickly found aspects of UAB’s community that made him feel that it was a perfect fit. Not only did he find a home in the Science and Technology Honors Program, Aidan worked in different research labs on campus and was able to sink his teeth into a future career in physics with the support of professors and researchers who went out of their way to mentor a young student. As a result, Aidan quickly found that the community fostered by UAB was one he felt could not be replicated elsewhere.

“What made UAB so great for me was the diverse community in both culture and thinking, and the close relationships I was able to form with experts — experts that I don’t think would take the time to mentor me at another institution,” Aidan said. “Part of the reason I was able to form these relationships was due to the systems in place at UAB that pushed me out of my comfort zone and the willingness of others to help students really hone their interests and skills — that’s what made UAB such a success for me.”

Have someone in mind who would make a great future Blazer? If a referred student enrolls at UAB, a one-time $250 scholarship will be posted to the student’s account.

UAB and beyond

Now both live outside of Birmingham — Aidan pursuing his Ph.D. at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and Dwight living in Baltimore, Maryland, working as a GIS analyst for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council — UAB’s impact is something that has stuck with both as they move forward in their careers and lives.

“There are a lot of situations I have found myself in where I am able to look back and see that being a student at UAB prepared me for what I am doing now,” Aidan said. “I have come to the realization that what I was able to accomplish as an undergraduate at UAB and the resources that were at my disposal have set me up for success and lifelong connections.”

Employees interested in referring a future UAB student should visit the Refer a Future Blazer Program website to begin.