Carla Rigo Lima

Carla Rigo Lima, a PhD in Rehabilitation Science student expected to graduate May 2023, has been awarded a UAB School of Health Professions Blazer Forever Scholarship. She is one of five SHP students selected during Homecoming Week based on their answer to an essay question. Here is the question and Carla's answer.

What makes you most proud to be a UAB Blazer?

The values that I am most proud about being a graduate student at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) include the diversity present on UAB’s community, the commitment to making scientific advancements in healthcare, and the socioeconomic support the university offers to the Birmingham community.

As an international student, I have been welcomed to the Birmingham area with all the good descriptors that define “Southern Hospitality”. Before choosing Birmingham as my “home away from home”, I had my concerns on how this community would welcome a foreigner mainly due to the city’s historical background involving the fight for civil rights.

Today, I have been a UAB student for two years and I must say that UAB has done an exceptional job on fostering an inclusive and diverse environment for international students. I am a firm believer that the university’s efforts on building a respectful and welcoming environment for international students as well as for minorities has positively impacted the Birmingham community over the years. I am proud to be part of a university with such strong values.

As a graduate student and future scientist in the healthcare field I am proud to be part of a university which has been awarded over $600 million in research funding and has proven each year its commitment to conduct meaningful and sound research. One of the core values of research is to include and value stakeholders in the process of scientific discovery.

The graduate school at UAB, through its “cafes” hosted at public libraries and its “Discoveries in the Making” hosted at public environments, has shown its efforts in disseminating this scientific knowledge to the people in our community. I am proud to be learning from and be part of a research group that aims to improve healthcare while valuing the individuals in our community.

Lastly, now considerably a resident of Birmingham, I am proud to be part of a university which offers a wide variety of services and job opportunities to the community. Before becoming the first president of UAB, Dr. Joseph Volker said: “I see a city and a university and their lights and where there are no lights right now, I know there will be.” and today nearly 60 years later, with approximately 23,000 employees and 22,000 students, UAB has transformed Birmingham’s socioeconomic reality.

In addition to the job opportunities offered, UAB hospitals were ranked number one in Alabama offering cutting-edge, high quality healthcare to the entire state. I am proud to be part of a university that has gradually changed its surrounding community for better and strives every day to be more inclusive, diverse, knowledgeable, and supportive.

The reasons I listed here enable the embers, ‘the lights,’ in young investigators like me to grow into blazes that will keep burning brightly and carrying on Dr. Volker’s prediction for our community in the future years.