Recent UAB graduate Veronica Mixon has a passion for mental health advocacy

Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.
Written by: Chris McCauley
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

Videography: Laura Gasque, Jeff Myers, Carson Young and Steve Wood

Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex. University of Alabama at Birmingham Spring 2021 graduate Veronica Mixon navigated the double major experience with grace.

“Since I’ve been at UAB, I’ve learned the importance of self-care and community. I’m on the spectrum for autism, and at UAB, I learned how to manage my self-care and create boundaries that made it easier to feel comfortable in social settings,” Mixon said. “My experiences in the African American Studies Program really helped lay the foundation of my growth through the support I received from my mentors, professors and friends.” 

According to her professors and mentors, Mixon, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American studies and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, did lay a strong foundation from which she grew and thrived.

Her hard work garnered her both praise and scholarship opportunities throughout her tenure at UAB. She is a McNair Scholar and earned both the College of Arts and Science’s Dean’s Leadership Scholarship and the African American Studies Director’s Award. She also won the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Dean’s Award and the Outstanding Student Award for African American Studies and, last April, was initiated into the historic Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

“Veronica is passionate about learning and an advocate of social justice,” said Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., director of the African American Studies Program. “She is not afraid to speak out on issues affecting the quality of life in our society or show compassion toward those who need a ‘voice.’ In my academic career, I have encountered students who are certain to succeed and sure to make a difference. I find myself grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the educational experience of these students. Veronica is one such student.”

Alongside her academic pursuits and achievements, Mixon is also the president of the African American Studies Organization, a lab research assistant and a mental health advocate. Her commitment to and interest in mental health led her to become one of the first students to attain the Certificate in Mental Health from the Department of Psychology.

As a result of her work as an intern, mentor and suicide prevention advocate, UAB’s Student Counseling Services named her a Mental Health Champion.

Outdoor headshot of Spring 2021 graduate, Veronica Mixon.Photography: Steve WoodThrough courses like Black psychology and an emphasis in global health and justice studies, Mixon has found numerous points of intersection between African American studies and psychology.

Recently, she shared her insights at a panel titled “Breaking Down Barriers: Supporting Marginalized Communities During COVID-19,” which was sponsored by Kognito, a health simulation company. By building her critical thinking skills with an interdisciplinary focus, she is now in a position to pursue her career goals.

Mixon looks to the future with both optimism and excitement.  

“After graduation, I will be attending the Community Psychology Master’s Program at Florida A&M University,” Mixon said. “I plan to do a thesis and focus on mental health, racial identity and social connectedness among people of African descent. After my master’s, I plan to apply to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs.” 

Morgan is also optimistic about Mixon’s future.  

“She achieves excellence in everything that she does, and I know, without reservation, that she will be excellent in her future endeavors,” Morgan said.

As Mixon — who graduated with distinguished honors — reflects on this past year, she has many thoughts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think UAB students did an amazing job of being resilient,” Mixon said. “It’s important for us to give ourselves grace and not put ourselves to an unrealistic standard when we had so many negative things come our way.”