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AAFA awards third scholarship on the road to endowment

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  • April 29, 2011

The African American Faculty Association (AAFA) established a scholarship fund in 2006 with goals that included raising $25,000 to endow it.

Carolyn Walden, chair of the African American Faculty Association (AAFA), says junior Erica Jackson and freshman Jesse Strickland — AAFA scholarship recipients — have a bright future.

The reason was simple: They wanted to affect young lives beyond the classroom.

“We wanted to show we are involved with the next generation coming through UAB, and this fund personifies the commitment to our youth,” says Loucrecia Collins, Ed.D., vice president of the AAFA and associate professor of educational leadership. “We’re not just here doing a job; we’re empowering the next generation.”

Five years later, the group now is close to making the endowment dream a reality. Almost $20,000 has been raised — primarily through pledges and gifts from African-American faculty and other supporters. The AAFA is kicking off a new campaign among its members to raise the $5,000 needed to reach the minimum $25,000 scholarship endowment before soliciting pledges from the larger UAB community.

Contributions can be made to the AAFA in two ways. Checks can be made payable to the UAB AAFA Endowment, Attn: UAB Gift Records, AB1230. Payroll deduction also is an option employees can choose. A pledge form is online. For more information on the scholarship, contact Daphne Powell, major gifts officer, at 934-1807 or

The AAFA has been in existence informally on the UAB campus for many years and an official organization since 2003. Its members voted in 2006 to endow a scholarship to encourage graduates of public high schools in the Birmingham metropolitan area to pursue their educational goals at UAB.

The AAFA has awarded $1,000 scholarships to one student each of the past three years, including freshman Jesse Strickland, a Minor High School graduate honored April 7.

“It’s an honor to receive such a scholarship,” Strickland says. “It lets you know people who have succeeded are looking out for the younger generation and providing us an opportunity to succeed.”

Powell has worked closely with the AAFA in its efforts to endow the scholarship and attended Strickland’s reception.

“Jesse is an outstanding young man, and I know he will continue to achieve success in his academic endeavors and his career. Carolyn Walden, chair of the scholarship committee, and all of the members of the AAFA deserve a big thank you for all of the work they have done to see this endowment to fruition and for all they do to enhance it for future generations.”

Strickland is pursuing a degree in nursing and plans to specialize in emergency or adult care. He earned a 4.0 GPA during his first semester this fall.

“The scholarship will give me an opportunity to fulfill my goals, including graduating from college, and it’s definitely lifted a burden from my family,” Strickland says. “I’m blessed and privileged to receive it.”

Past recipients echo his sentiment.

Erica Jackson, a junior majoring in exercise science, received the 2010 scholarship, which she says enabled her to stay in school.

“I come from a single-parent home, and my mom has worked really hard, but she hasn’t been able to save enough money for me to go to college,” Jackson says. “This scholarship has given me an opportunity to pursue a career in occupational therapy.”

The 2009 scholarship recipient LaTavia McCall, a junior majoring in materials science engineering, is an intern in a new steel-testing lab at Mill Steel.

She says the scholarship enabled her to focus on her studies and motivated her to continue to excel.

“It gives a student recognition and shows other hopeful students it is possible to be rewarded for going to class, getting good grades and studying,” McCall says. Providing financial help, she says, can keep students from being discouraged and distracted by the cost.

Walden, head of cataloging and collection management at Sterne Library and chair of the scholarship committee, says these students are a shining example of the way financial aid can positively affect someone’s life.

“We’ve had three impressive students win these initial awards,” Walden says. “They’re all excellent students, and their accomplishments have been remarkable. We’re so pleased to have had the opportunity to be a part of their education, and we’re excited about the future students we will be able to help.”