Blaudeau named recipient of 2011 Woolfolk Award

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Tamilane Blaudeau, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor in Human Studies, but she has many other titles: mother, grandmother, scientist, teacher, dancer and an ambassador of wellness and the arts. 

tamilane_blaudeau_rsDespite her commitment to work and her family, Blaudeau finds the time to volunteer countless hours of service throughout the Birmingham community promoting wellness and the arts. Most recently, she has used her education and experience in her hobby, ballroom dance, to introduce the art as a unique, fun way to encourage healthy exercise for all ages.

For the past three years, Blaudeau has met weekly with seniors to promote health, good nutrition and wellness at senior centers in Hoover and Alabaster and the Rocky Ridge Retirement Center, where she also performs for events. At the Concordia Club’s “Alzheimer’s Dance to Remember,” she performed in an exhibition to raise money and awareness of the disease.

Blaudeau’s peers honored her years of service by nominating and selecting her as the recipient of the 2010 Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award. This award will be presented during the annual Faculty Awards Convocation at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23 in the Alys Stephens Center Sirote Theatre. Eleven faculty members also will be honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during the ceremony, and the winners of the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching and 2010 Alabama Professor of the Year Award will be recognized.

“When the people who nominated me told me what a big deal this award was, I told them I did not think that my community service was high-profile enough to be of interest or recognized,” Blaudeau says. “This is mostly because I believe that I have benefited far more than any of those I have been privileged enough to work with.

“I’ve always thought that when you’re given opportunities and talents, those are blessings. If you don’t share them, they’ve been wasted because they’ve only served you,” she says.

Blaudeau is a mother of five children ages 14-32 and six grandchildren. She joined UAB in 2002 after her youngest child was settled in school. “I thought I needed to put my Ph.D. to use,” she says. 

A research professor, her interests at UAB lie in fitness and nutrition.

Three years ago she took up ballroom dancing for personal fitness. She loved it and decided to compete and extend her love of this form of art and fitness to others.

Blaudeau secured a grant from Coca-Cola and provided a summer program in ballroom dancing for inner-city children ages 11-18 at the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club. She also taught classes in nutrition and wellness and coordinated the volunteer efforts of five professors from UAB who taught classes and supported the summer program.

Blaudeau also helped promote arts in the community by recruiting and judging auditions for “Chocolate Nutcracker,” an African-American version of the “Nutcracker” ballet.

And she worked numerous hours with the Cahaba Girl Scout troop to choreograph film and produce an aerobic dance video.

“Tami is tireless in the service of education, health-care delivery and the arts,” says David Allison, Ph.D., head of the section on statistical genetics and director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “To put it in more human terms, she gives people of all ages who may feel unhappy about their bodies, their age or agility a way to exercise that is fun and strengthens their bodies and their self-esteem. Her enthusiasm and sincere support for their efforts is infectious, and she often receives a round of hugs before she leaves.”

In addition to her teaching assignments in exercise physiology, Blaudeau also volunteers as a guest lecturer every semester for two Introduction to Dance theatre classes and as an assistant in the PE 116 Ballroom Dance course.

And she loves to dance for others, both to teach and entertain. She and her dancing partner often perform at local senior citizen centers multiple nights per week.

“They’re so gracious and so interested,” Blaudeau says. “For some of them, where they may not remember their spouse’s name, they may remember steps to a dance or words to a song. It’s still a way to engage them and keep them active. They want you to come, and they are so thrilled to see you. You just ask ‘how could I not want to do this?’ And the kids are the same way. They all really seem to enjoy it, and the metabolic benefits are well-documented.”

Blaudeau takes her fitness regimens seriously — she trained for the Olympics in Judo many years ago — and her ballroom dancing is no exception. As proof, when she teaches youngsters and senior citizens, they are being instructed and entertained by the recent U.S. Rising Star Circuit Rhythm Dance Champion. She won that title this past fall.

All that will do is open more doors for her to teach others. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s a blessing and a gift to be healthy and to have talent in an area, and more than that, to have opportunities to share it with others,” she says. “There are exceptional people who came before you with those gifts, and they took time to share those things with you. It’s an obligation for you to do the same. As a mother you do that every day. When you become an educator or someone who’s in the public eye, it presents great opportunities.

“I’m really very excited to have the chance to do these things. I consider it a great privilege to receive recognition for doing something that I truly love to do, and I appreciate the support of my peers in selecting me for this award.”