Analytical student to start becomes a Blazer at heart

A decision made with his head leads a UAB student to find his passion and love for being a Blazer.

Trailblazer and soon-to-be University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate Sawyer Summers selected UAB to continue his education because of a pros and cons list. For Summers, the university checked all the right boxes.

“As I entered my college search, people told me that, once I walked onto the campus that was right for me, I would have an epiphany,” said Summers, a senior in the UAB Collat School of Business. “But I never felt that.”

Summers has always been a logical thinker. He has always used t-charts, or pros and cons lists, to make decisions and reason with himself, so this seemed to be the logical way for Summers to choose a school. UAB was drivable from his family home in Fairhope, Alabama. In-state scholarships were available to him. And UAB had a vast array of possibilities for a young man who was unsure of what his future held.

“I liked that UAB was in a larger city,” Summers said. “I saw that as an opportunity, while I could still get the benefits of a traditional campus. I could explore a city while trying to find my way as an adult and discover my career calling.” 

Blazing a career path

Engineering was a natural fit for Summers. He spent his childhood hanging out in the garage, tinkering with his dad’s tools. He would take apart his toys to figure out how they worked. But he took calculus during high school and decided this was not his passion.

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Out came another t-chart, mentioned Summers. “UAB had so many options. Did I want to go into the sciences or maybe history? The sky was the limit, and I could do anything. But I had to go back to my analytical strengths and another t-chart.”

Summers changed his major to business just two months before starting at UAB, because he knew it was versatile degree with major opportunities. Toward the end of his freshman year, Summers shifted his degree to industrial distribution, which mixes the two disciplines. Summers was also pre-medicine for three semesters, so a focus on medical industrial distribution became a natural fit.

As a student in the Honors College, Summers was in the Global & Community Leadership Honors program. The program focuses on community engagement, and students can contribute to society through service.

“I’ve already started taking MBA classes as part of the fast-track program,” Summers said. “Because of this, I’ll graduate with high distinguished honors. I’ve never felt so special and really feel like this recognizes the hard work I’ve put into the past four years.”

Summers has participated in several internships and found that working in medical sales and distribution is where he wants to land. He spent a summer interning with a small distribution company, where he learned about properly tracking inventory and the important role this plays in selling and the bottom line of a business. Currently, Summers is pursuing his master’s degree in business administration with a planned graduation date of August 2020.

A Blazer at heart

Summers came to UAB to pursue a degree, but never realized the impact that extracurriculars and tight knit group of friends would have.

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“My first few weeks, I kept to myself,” Summers said. “I am typically good at making acquaintances, but those first few weeks were hard. So, I made myself get involved. I found a good group of friends and started attending sporting events. This is what made me a true Blazer.”

In 2017, UAB Football was invited to the Bahamas Bowl. The university was looking for student ambassadors to attend the game. Summers applied and was selected to attend with alumni, donors, faculty and staff.

“What a unique experience,” Summers said. “I never thought I would be selected. I enjoyed attending the game and watching the Blazers play in a bowl game in their first season back.”

During his sophomore year, Summers became a resident assistant, where he used his knowledge of campus and freshman experience to help other students get through the unknowns of becoming part of the Blazer family. Summers continued to be involved in extracurriculars across campus, including the American Marketing Association and the UAB Trailblazers, where he gets to share his college experience with potential students. 

“Deciding to come to UAB was a choice I made with my head,” Summers said. “Being a loyal Blazer is a choice that came easily with my heart. UAB has shaped the first steps into my adult life, and I am so grateful for the experiences and people who have brought me here today.”