INTO UAB celebrates first graduate

Kevin Wang of Taiwan joined the UAB School of Health Professions’ biotechnology program as an INTO UAB student in fall 2016, and will receive his master’s degree at commencement Aug. 12.

into flags 2017After completing his master’s degree in just three semesters, Kevin Wang will graduate Saturday, Aug. 12, as the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s first INTO UAB graduate.

Wang, of Taiwan, joined the UAB School of Health Professionsbiotechnology program as an INTO UAB student in fall 2016. He came to UAB with a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech. He will walk in the university’s commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at Bartow Arena.

Founded in 2016, INTO UAB is an initiative to increase the global diversity of the student body, increase globalization opportunities for domestic students, and provide opportunities for faculty to expand international teaching, research and service activities. INTO UAB provides English language training and pathway programs for international students who may not meet the requirements for direct entry in order to succeed in an undergraduate or graduate program at UAB.

Upon successful completion of an INTO UAB Pathway program, students gain full admission into one of UAB’s undergraduate or graduate programs to complete their studies.

“We are very excited to celebrate the accomplishments of our very first graduate from the INTO UAB program,” said Suzanne Austin, Ph.D., senior vice provost and senior international officer. “Our successful partnership with INTO and the creation of the INTO UAB Center, and the talented students who are coming through the center, are an asset to the university and the community. We look forward to much future success for them.”

INTO UAB students can come into the program in one of two pathways. Wang chose the accelerated pathway, which required him to take nine hours of biotechnology and three hours of English for one semester. If students make a B or above in all courses, they become full-time students their second semester.

kevin wang intoKevin Wang“Right off as an INTO UAB student, Kevin decided he would take every credit hour,” said Professor Tino Unlap, Ph.D., biotechnology program director. “That is why he finished in three semesters.”

Wang was an excellent student, coming to every class and arriving early and prepared, Unlap says. Unlap asked him where he wanted to be when he finished, and Wang wanted to be in dental school. They decided to meet every semester. Students in the program are trained in lectures for the first phase, then labs and, finally, internships.

Wang’s interest is to work as a dentist in the future, and he has worked hard to make this goal a reality.

“I chose UAB because this biotechnology program would really build my knowledge and get me more prepared for dental school or other science-related works,” he said. “My academic goal is to get higher grades in order to make me more competitive among other dental school applicants, and the INTO UAB programs and Professor Unlap all helped me a lot, pushing me to the next level. I studied hard and also practiced hard in lab so I’m more prepared for what I’m doing now.”

Wang is already working at the University of Southern California as a chemistry lab assistant for a year. During this year, he is also studying for the dental admission test to apply for next year’s entry to dental school.

Staff and students with the INTO UAB program made him feel welcome, Wang says.

“I feel like INTO UAB is a very good program because they helped me adapt to the community when I first came here by having lots of events,” he said. “Academically, they have tutors, which is very helpful in answering any questions I have regarding English or classwork.”

Unlap supported Wang in his classwork, labs and building his resume, as well as by writing recommendations for dental school applications and giving job search advice.

“He is always there to help,” Wang said. “My internship lab assistant, Deborah McCombs, also helped me practice lab works, so it didn’t take me too much time to fit in the new lab now in USC. Overall, I’m thankful to all the people I have met in this big UAB community.”