Freeman says UAB has ‘inspired me to be better’

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cheryl freeman insideCheryl Freeman, material transfer specialist in the Office of the Vice President for ResearchIn three short years, Cheryl Freeman has cultivated a passion for UAB that would take some decades. She began as a temporary employee in 2015 in the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) before moving into a position within the Office of the Vice President for Research, where she still works today.

As the material transfer specialist, Freeman works closely with principal investigators (PIs) and others involved in research, so she has a good idea of the great work happening at UAB; plus, her son is an attending freshman. All of that has made her quite the Blazer fan in just a few short years.

“UAB is a very impressive institution,” Freeman said. “Its reputation is global, its education opportunities are endless, its diversity is enriching, its research is life-altering and I’m excited to be a part of that educational phenomenon in one small way.”

Her colleagues, however, see her contributions as anything but small. They say she is diligent, prompt, professional and efficient, and she isn’t afraid to work late to finish a project or complete an urgent request.

“UAB’s reputation is global, its education opportunities are endless, its diversity is enriching, its research is life-altering and I’m excited to be a part of that educational phenomenon in one small way.”

“Cheryl has gone out of her way to make sure odd problems were dealt with quickly and efficiently,” said Gwendalyn King, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology. “I had an email exchange with her once at 10 p.m. at night. We were both still working with a coming holiday, and she wanted to make sure one of my issues had been addressed completely before the break.”

“Anyone who knows Cheryl knows that she is genuine in her support of our research, she is thorough and encouraging in her guidance and education of the material transfer process and she is always willing to go over and beyond to meet our demands,” agreed Sheila Wallace, program manager in the School of Nursing.

About one year ago, Freeman was promoted to her current position from another in the office. Since then, colleagues say she’s taken on double duties, still doing those of her old job while assuming those required of her new role. Freeman, however, doesn’t see this as a problem, because her parents raised her to be prepared.

“I have always worked very well under pressure, and I believe that to tackle any task you must think through it thoroughly,” she said. “My parents taught me the value of hard work. My mother instilled in me an amazing work ethic while my father stressed the importance of treating others with respect.”

One colleague of Freeman’s, Research and Safety Specialist Melanie Pittman, said that Freeman is a kind and caring individual to whom people know they can turn.

“Cheryl always cares. She thoroughly listens and supports researchers’ needs as best she can,” Pittman said. “Cheryl has a great rapport with all the PIs within the UAB community due to her excellent communication skills and has earned the respect and gratitude of those for whom and with whom she serves here at UAB.”

Freeman said she has many fond memories of UAB, but one that stands out in particular is the small snowstorm in Birmingham in 2015, one year after the city shut down for what is now popularly referred to as Snowmageddon. Freeman said she had been at UAB for about a week and wasn’t ready to let snow stop her from getting to work.

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“Personally, I was excited to be here and asked if I could come into work despite the closure. For safety reasons, they graciously declined,” she joked.

She added that her role at UAB has inspired her to go back to school for a law degree, which she hopes will help her be even more efficient at work. Material transfers often require a “legal mind,” she says. She received her bachelor’s degree at age 48, a success that inspires her to continue her education through law school.

“I think UAB has inspired me to be better, to push forward, to set both work-related and personal goals and to truly be powered by will,” Freeman said.