University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Nutrition Sciences, volunteered to lecture at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility on January 20, 2015. Her visit was part of the UAB Donaldson lecture series providing inmates bimonthly college-level lectures each year from September through May.
“It was just like a regular classroom at UAB where you walk in, greet students, make them feel welcome and make sure they are comfortable interjecting and asking questions – which they did and I was pleased with that,” said Miller, director of the UAB Dietetic Internship Program in the UAB School of Health Professions.
The Donaldson lecture series was created in 1988 by Ada Long, Ph.D., former director of the UAB Honors Program, today known as the UAB Honors College. UAB has sent dozens of faculty members to lecture hundreds of prisoners since then. So far this year, the lecture series has featured Pulitzer Prize winner Joey Kennedy discussing “The Rise and Fall of Journalism” and former UAB Honors Program Director Michael Sloane talking about “Altruism: Genetics and Epigenetics.”
“They are hungry for information. Absolutely hungry for it,” said Miller. “Living in a correctional facility should not restrict anyone from continual learning. They should still have the ability, the capability and the right to learn.”
Miller’s discussion, titled “What the Body Needs: New Research in Nutrition,” discussed the physiology of aging which everyone, no matter where they live, can relate too. She discussed vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that impact the body. And she took questions about digestion, absorption and the quality/quantity of supplements.
“Their past did not matter to me. I never felt threatened,” said Miller. “They were simply students with eyes forward and focused attention. You could see the brains clicking and that’s always exciting to me when I’m teaching.”
Miller’s fellow Nutrition faculty member, David Allison, Ph.D., director of the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center, will discuss “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts of Obesity: Science as the Sifter” in April and William Dahlberg, membership manager, WBHM Radio, closes this year’s series by presenting “Learning to Play the Democratic Way: How the American Military Used Sports in Occupied Japan.”