On Friday, January 21st, Auburn University hosted the 2023 NASPA Region III Alabama Drive-In Conference. The NASPA-AL Drive-In is a one-day conference that brings together Student Affairs professionals from across Alabama and neighboring states. This year's conference theme was Wellbeing Champions: Creating Health-Promoting Campuses.

UAB had one of the largest delegations, with 17 representatives in attendance. Three UAB Blazers (Meredith Kahl, Lauren Cotant and Alex Bushery) were recognized for their contributions to the student affairs profession. 

M. KahlMeredith Kahl received the Outstanding Mid-Level Student Affairs Professional Award. This award category recognizes a mid-level student affairs professional who has demonstrated professional responsibility for the direction, oversight, and/or supervision of one or more student affairs functional areas and staff members. The recipient of this award should demonstrate a record of innovative programming that has had a significant impact on their respective campus. Additionally, the recipient of this award should demonstrate service to NASPA through volunteerism and/or leadership roles held at the state, regional, national, or international level. The nominator described Kahl as someone whose approach and leadership within the department are inventive and strategic. Early in her time at the University, Meredith initiated contact and developed strong relationships with strategic offices and individuals who shared the mission and vision of the office. Her impact goes above and beyond her respective department at UAB. She has a reputation for being a dedicated team player and someone you can rely on to lend support no matter what is needed. The nominator wrote she had demonstrated this dedication through volunteer roles on the University’s Conduct Hearing Board, COVID Response Team, and Alternative Break Trips. Whether it’s helping build the Division’s homecoming parade float or serving as a staff facilitator for alternative spring break, she makes every effort to provide support and assistance when she can.

lauren cotentDr. Lauren Cotant received the Outstanding Contribution to Student Engagement Award. This award recognizes a professional’s work at the campus level in student programs. This recipient makes contributions above and beyond the assigned duties of her position and significantly impacts student programs. Cotant was described by her nominator as committed to assigned leadership and service initiatives that align with student needs and revamping existing programs to ensure that UAB keeps up with current trends while addressing our Division’s priorities. The pandemic revealed a need to focus more heavily on student wellbeing. She took the initiative to design and incorporate student wellbeing into the student leader learning cycle, which she also developed and led the charge. She has done all these things in addition to directly advising several student organizations and providing them with leadership development opportunities. The recipient consistently seeks ways to support student learning and growth while supporting the rest of the team and growing professionally.

Alex resized dbdee4193cb406df9da10a5daff6a2c3Alex Bushery received the Rising Star Award. The Rising Star Award recognizes outstanding contributions by a new professional in student affairs. Nominees demonstrate initiative, contribute to programs that address the needs of students and the institution, and create campus environments that promote student learning and personal development.