University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate student Jerome T. Higgs, Ph.D., is the recipient of the first scholarship presented by the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization.
CACAO, founded in 2011, has a twofold mission — to share Caribbean culture and to serve as a resource for students coming from the Caribbean to attend school in central Alabama. Board members include Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the Collat School of Business at UAB and a native of Trinidad and Tobago, and Pauline Jolly, Ph.D., MPH, a professor of epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health and a native of Jamaica. Higgs was born in The Bahamas.
Higgs is a student in the UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the Department of Physical Therapy, UAB School of Health Professions, with the goal of helping bridge the gap between clinical/translation research and health care. He previously earned a Ph.D. in the UAB Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, working in the laboratory of Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Ph.D., professor of pathology, UAB School of Medicine, studying how to therapeutically apply the cytokine receptor osteoprotegerin to treat myeloma bone disease.
Higgs is a member of the Blazer Male Excellence Network, which offers peer mentoring to black male UAB students to improve retention and graduation and also provide opportunities for leadership. He takes part in physical therapy outreach efforts and is a past co-director of the Equal Access Birmingham/Church of the Reconciler student-run clinic that provides free health care to the underserved.
The CACAO board includes members from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, the Virgin Islands of the United States, Dominica, Guyana, and Panama. Other board members with UAB connections are Pauline Ford-Caesar, coordinator of the Neuroradiology Fellowship Program in the UAB Department of Radiology; Dnika Joseph, a research assistant in the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases, UAB School of Medicine; Tavane Lewis, a UAB alumna; and Kendell Jno-Finn, DPT, who is in private practice and works part time at UAB.