UAB president honors leaders in diversity

UAB students, faculty and staff pave the way for diversity in the areas of health, justice and education.

University of Alabama at Birmingham President Carol Z. Garrison, Ph.D., recently honored seven outstanding UAB community leaders during the 2012 President’s Awards for Diversity. Awards for contributions to inclusion on campus and beyond were given in five categories:


Undergraduate student – Elizabeth Casswell
Casswell, a senior with an individually designed major in non-profit management, is noted for her innovative contributions in advancing the cause of justice and equality on campus. The Denver, Co. native is dedicated to the pursuit of fairness and has served to strengthen UAB as an institution. 

Graduate student – Michelle Cardel
Cardel, a doctoral student in nutrition sciences in the UAB School of Health Professions is committed to driving diversity initiatives within the community. She is an Orlando, Fla. native who uses her bilingual skills to further her research and public service that includes studying Type 2 diabetes and its effects on the Hispanic community.

Professional student – Natasha Varma
Varma, a senior in the UAB School of Dentistry, has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua where she carried out an oral health-education program. The Mobile, Ala. native organized and implemented a series of lessons for low-income Alabama youth and their parents. And, she is noted for inspiring others to pursue higher education as a means to achieving their goals.

Staff – Michael “Josh” Carter
Carter, director of the UAB Office for Study Away, has been described as a master of cultural competence. His passion for educating students about international culture has given them a greater appreciation and sensitivity to their global neighbors and makes the UAB environment more diverse, friendly and open for all.

Faculty – Waldemar A. Carlo, M.D.
Carlo, a professor of neonatology in the UAB Department of Pediatrics, is devoted to improving outcomes for low-birth-weight infants in Alabama. He works to combat infant mortality in developing countries and has mentored more than 50 postdoctoral trainees of diverse cultural backgrounds. Carlo is also responsible for bringing a number of minority fellow and junior faculty to UAB.

Faculty – Kay Emfinger, Ph.D.
Emfinger, an associate professor in the UAB School of Education, has facilitated a number of diversity projects that include work with the LBGTQ student organization, preschoolers and homeless children, the School of Education’s diversity committee and more.  She is committed to research in the area of diversity, writing and presenting on under-represented groups. 

Faculty – Marilyn Kurata, Ph.D.
Kurata, director of core curriculum enhancement, is noted for her work on the One Great Community Executive Committee, UAB Diversity and Equity Council and the Commission on the Status of Women Planning. She has been heralded for demonstrating an exceptional commitment to educational excellence and enrichment to the UAB campus.