Finding a Second Home in Peru
featured p. 8 From Far and Wide p. 18 The Scholar-Athlete p. 32 Green Research in Iceland
Photo Essay: A collection of photos on a specific subject shot by each of Mosaic’s six photographers. Student Submission: Artwork or photography by a featured Honors College student. Pieces: Stories written by Honors College students about an exciting experience they have encountered in their college career.
from the editor Mosaic is a publication produced at The University of Alabama Honors College. The magazine is completely Honors College student-generated through the efforts of the staff, contributing writers and contributing photographers. The publication material may not always reflect the views of The University of Alabama. Content is controlled and edited by the staff editors. The purpose is to serve as a publication to inspire, inform and entertain past, present and future students at The University of Alabama. It showcases the spirit of the Honors College through diverse accomplishments of honors students both inside and outside the classroom. The publication is comprised of features and profiles on students and activities within the various programs of the Honors College, including University Honors, international Honors, Computer-Based Honors, and the University Fellows Experience. By covering a broad range of students, professors and alumni, the magazine will fulfill its mission of showing the diversity within the Honors College.
Editor in Chief Managing Editor Features Editor Features Editor Features Editor Features Editor Features Editor Creative Director Assistant Creative Director Photo Editor Editorial Adviser Graphic Design Adviser Photography Adviser Publisher Publisher
Sarah Massey Anna Pendleton Gina Cook Danielle Drago Drew Hoover Angel Everett Meridith Shook Matt Williams Kellie Hensley Kayla Evans Chris Bryant Laura Lineberry Chip Cooper Dr. Shane Sharpe Dr. Jacqueline Morgan
The Univeristy of Alabama Honors College Box 870169 Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-0169 firstname.lastname@example.org
From Freshmen Year Experience activities, such as hikes to Sipsey Forest and service projects at Lake Lurleen, to the first Honors Convocation and the introduction of the Honors College Assembly, there have been a host of opportunities to get involved in the Honors College this year. Not a single week went by when friends did not ask me whether I was participating in this activity or if I wanted them to sign me up for another Honors College outing. And at almost any time, my roommates and I were out, participating in the mentoring program at Holt Elementary, engaging in one of the 15-person seminars, shadowing an ENT through the inaugural Honors College Shadowing Program or giving tours to prospective Honors students. With each program, people from every corner of the campus were gathered together, establishing a strong foundation for the Honors College and, ultimately, the community. To say that the Honors College has grown in numbers over the past year is an understatement. Remarkably so, despite its large growth, the Honors College has continued to shrink the distance between administrators and students, implementing programs that bridge this gap and allow members to grow as scholars, engaging citizens, world travelers and inquisitive students. And, like the Honors College, Mosaic has grown this year. With continued support from Honors College administrators, faculty and students, Mosaic has increased its staff size, page number and content, allowing us to cover all aspects of the College. For this issue, the magazine is divided into five sections: Honors Community, Scholarship, Cultural Interaction, Research and Civic Engagement. Each section includes articles on students and faculty, pieces written by Honors students who have had a unique experience during their time at The University of Alabama, photo essays by our staff photographers and art submissions by students in the College. Whether it be the feature on Elizabeth Jones who established the SpeakUp debate program (page 66) or the story on Theresa Mince, a Computer-Based Honors student pursuing her dream of being a fashion designer (page 22), the stories in this issue highlight both the growth of the Honors College and the Honors student. And, as always, the students, faculty and experiences featured among the pages are only a small sampling of the outstanding pieces that make up the Honors College. With each new member comes an exciting addition to the growth of the Honors College.
The University of Alabama | 1
Letter from the Editor HONORS COMMUNITY Living the College Life Honors Connections From Far and Wide Paving the Way Half Crazy A Photo Essay by Quint Langstaff Titled: “It’s Not Art” Submissions: Photography by Courtney Dragiff Titled: “Emma” SCHOLARSHIP The Scholar Athlete The Second Life From HTML to Gucci and Chanel Kyle Scott: The Power of Flight More Than Grades Drum Circle A Photo Essay by Sumerlin Brandon Titled: “Champions” Submissions: Art by Jacquelyn Pitts Titled: “Jalnar with Flowers”
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1 3 4 7 8 10 12 14 16 17 18 20 22 24 25 26 28 30
contents CULTURAL INTERACTION Green Research in Iceland Bhutia, the Buddhist Lama From Schnitzel to Sweet Potato Pie New Words, New Opportunities Capturing Culture Studying Abroad Submissions: Photography by Olèsèa Voloshin Titled: “Afternoon Nap” Finding a “Second Home” in Peru A Photo Essay by Lauren Lassiter Titled: “The Big Easy” Submissions: Photography by Grant Luiken Titled “Charqui” RESEARCH Digging Up a Cure Stress and Strain John Phillips: Poster Child for Excellence Overcoming Obstacles A Photo Essay by Jerrod Seaton Titled “Silicon and Steel” A Photo Essay by Charlie Bice Titled: “The Colors of Guanajuato” Submissions: Art by Leah Livingston Titled: “Light at the End of the Tunnel” CIVIC ENGAGEMENT Cleaning Up the Creek Speak Up! Alabama Action Setting a Blueprint for the Future A Photo Essay by Kayla Evans Titled: “Ephemeral Colors of Nature” Staff Contributors
31 32 36 38 40 41 42 45 46 48 50 51 52 55 56 58 59 60 62 63 64 66 69 70 72 74 76
The University of Alabama | 3
hen fellow faculty-in-residence participants warned the Dowlings about pranks students enjoy playing on new families, Rick Dowling thought twice about agreeing to his wife’s decision to decorate for Halloween. Disregarding their worries, the Dowlings decorated their Riverside West backyard, a fenced-in block of grass, with imitation spider webs and fun Halloween decorations. Instead of pranks, they noticed a more heartwarming and welcoming response from the students residing in the Riverside Community. In the weeks and days preceding the yearly festival, pumpkins began appearing by their lawn, carved and decorated with a variety of designs. The miraculously appearing pumpkins were one of many wonderful experiences for the Riverside Community first time facultyin-residences, Rick, Suzanne and Sam Dowling. Rick, an adjunct instructor in the department of telecommunication and film, is “having a great time” living in Riverside and hopes to renew their contract for the three year maximum. Suzanne, a communication specialist in the Office of University Relations, has been amazed at the family’s warm welcome into the community. As for Sam, a senior at Northridge High School, the experience is summed up in one word, “Hooah!” Perhaps the greatest success of their experience has been that Sam is having a positive reaction to the move and has yet to ask to return back to their permanent home. Diagnosed with autism as a young child, Sam functions most successfully in comfortable and familiar settings, without extreme 4 | Mosaic 2010
“I DON’T KNOW IF I EXPECTED ‘ANIMAL HOUSE’ ... BUT IT’S A NICE ATMOSPHERE!” —Suzanne Dowling
changes in location or scheduling. As defined by the Autism Society of America, autism is “a complex developmental disability … that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.” Working through Tuscaloosa City Schools program, “World of Work,” and hopefully on-campus next year at “Crossing Points,” Sam’s living in the Riverside Community will give him what Suzanne hopes will be an authentic college experience. Suzanne’s attempt to give Sam a college-like experience began two years ago. The initial idea was born after Suzanne talked to a friend who was a faculty-in-residence in another community. Knowing that Rick enjoyed being on campus and around students further incited her to investigate potential faculty-in-residence openings. After researching the Honors College residential program, the decision, both personal and professional, appeared to be the perfect fit for their family. The family packed their bags early in the summer and settled into the apartment in mid-July. “The set-up is really nice,” Suzanne says. Rick chimes in that they are “having a great time living here and being around students. Sam is diggin’ it.” Indeed, the Dowlings note that Sam is adjusting successfully;
“WE’RE STILL LEARNING THE ROPES, BUT EVERYONE HAS BEEN A BIG HELP.” —Rick Dowling
The Dowling Family, Rick, Sam and Suzanne, outside their Riverside West residence.
The University of Alabama | 5
“[IT] FEELS LIKE A HOME. IT REALLY DOES.” —Suzanne Dowling
albeit slow to interact and enjoy large crowds, he is “taking it all in.” He is most successful in conducting one-on-one social meetings, becoming truly engaged when discussing his favorite topic - the military. Besides Sam’s personal growth, living as faculty-in-residence has shown the Dowlings how college students live and interact in the present age. Suzanne’s biggest learning experiences have been the introduction to both the high level of living quarters a dormitory can offer and the late hours students keep. “The noise is like that of a normal apartment, and I love walking out and seeing students,” Suzanne says. “I don’t know if I expected ‘Animal House’ … but it’s a nice atmosphere!” Scheduling programming has lead to the realization of the strange hours college students plan. Although it is sometimes challenging to work with everyone’s late-night schedules, the resident advisers
Residents of Riverside West pose for a group picture outside their residence hall with their faculty-in-residence family, The Dowlings (center).
6 | Mosaic 2010
have been a huge help in organizing and conducting programs. “We’re still learning the ropes, but everyone has been a big help,” Rick says. In addition to the concern over whether the transition would be positive for the family, the Dowlings feared that their big move to on-campus housing would negatively affect their cat, Pearl. “We weren’t really thinking if the cat didn’t like it we would move back, but it’s been a big plus that she likes it here,” Suzanne says. Enthusiastic about future appointments and the way Sam has transitioned into his new settings, Suzanne and Rick both agree that the experience has been a plethora of positive adjectives: wonderful, heartwarming and amazing. Suzanne marvels at the comfortableness of their new setting. “[It] feels like a home,” she says. “It really does.” n
honorsconnections “How do I become a Truman Scholar? “How do I get to Target?” New program fields questions that run the gamut Interview by Anna Pendleton
ilson Boardman, a senior majoring in Spanish and international finance, and Anna Foley, a junior majoring in English, recently updated Mosaic’s Anna Pendleton on the progress of a new program, Honors Connection, designed to help Honors College freshmen adjust to campus.
Honors Connection is a new program. Where did the idea come from?
Wilson: I wish I could take credit for this idea, but that came from Dr. Morgan (Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College, director of University Honors Programs) and the Honors College advisory board—a group of students including Anna Foley. Anna: I have been on the Honors College Student Advisory Board since my freshman year. This is a group of students selected to consider the Honors College as it is and come up with innovative ideas to improve it. We threw around the idea of a peer mentoring program. Wilson and I then came up with the logistics of it and implemented it during the summer and fall of last year.
What was that creation process like?
Wilson: Anna and Dr. Morgan collaborated last fall and spring to create a program that would help foster a community feel in the growing Honors College. Together, they made applications and recruited mentors for this school year. Anna: We put out advertisements for applications and described the general idea of the program. Then we trained the mentors, gave them topics to discuss with their mentees during each meeting and continued to stay in contact with the mentors throughout the semester.
What needs do you see the program fulfilling for new Honors College students?
Wilson: Honors Connection is a way to get upperclassmen to pass on their wisdom from their years at UA and in T-town to incoming freshmen who are trying to get their feet under them. We encourage questions from “How do I become a Truman scholar?” to “How do I get to Target?” Also, by having small groups meeting often and larger events specifically geared toward entering freshmen, students have the opportunity to get to know one another and build relationships. Ideally, this will connect more students to one another, further enhancing the Honors College experience. Anna: Freshman year is hard and getting plugged in academically and socially is a daunting task. The Honors College has so much to offer to freshmen if we can just get them over to Nott Hall. The best way to get students to come around is through developing relationships, and this is where Honors Connection comes in.
How are the mentors chosen?
Wilson: Mentors are chosen by an application and interview process. Anna: The application process includes two essays and then an interview. We have mentors that come from all different corners of this campus who represent the variety that we have at this university.
What were some of the successes for this first year?
Wilson: We had great outings like our clean-up trip to Hurricane Creek and our football watching party. Though we can’t quantify it, Honors College students undoubtedly interacted and built the network within the HC. Anna: The most notable success that I have been encouraged by is the number of mentors who are returning to do the program again for next fall and the number of mentees who now want to serve as mentors. This is an indication that the program is sustainable and that people are getting enough value out of it to want to reinvest in it.
Were there any difficulties? Things you would like to work on?
Wilson: As you may have guessed, it can be rather difficult to get in touch with some entering freshman, many of whom aren’t on the e-mail band wagon, yet. We also are looking at ways to improve the attendance of students to meetings, especially later in the semester. We’ve restructured the schedule completely for next year so that students have more contact with mentors in the first few weeks, but can choose to meet less as the semester progresses. We’re working on ways to continue the program, which has the potential to be an essential part of the Freshman Year Experience as it grows and improves. Anna: Next year the program will be an hour of honors credit for both the mentors and the mentees, and they will meet at a pre-arranged time.
How do you feel about the results after this first year?
Wilson: Some mentors have told us that they still regularly hang out with some of their mentees. All four of the freshmen in my group continue to call me on a regular basis to have dinner. I still hang out with my group and eat with them when we can get our schedules aligned. They call me every so often to ask me for advice ranging from what is Blackburn to what courses to take for given majors. Anna: A lot of things definitely turned out differently than we planned, but that is just part of starting something new. n The University of Alabama | 7
Story by Jessica Cheek Photography by Jerrod Seaton
he number of out-of-state students enrolling at The University of Alabama has almost doubled since 1999, according to the University Fact Book. Many of these 5,000 plus students from across the country have received scholarships and are members of the Honors College. In 2008, for example, 284 out-of state students made up the freshman class of the Honors College. Hannah Watson is a freshman majoring in musical theater from Little Rock, Ark., which is a six-and-a-half hour drive from Tuscaloosa. She auditioned at universities all over the country, but finally decided on UA because of the strength of the musical theater department and academic scholarships. “I really wanted a big school with Southern culture and a good musical theatre program,” Watson says, sitting cross-legged at her kitchen table wearing black dance pants and an Owl City T-shirt. “It was a decision of, do I want to do what I love, or do I just want to settle for something and stay in-state and kind of do what’s easy.”
over, making all new friends and getting involved with something because I want to do it, not because all my friends are doing it,” she says. “It’s really made me more independent.” With Watson’s bubbly, friendly personality, she has had no trouble making new friends. “The people in the department are really great and we’ve gotten really close since there are so few of us,” she says. “We have classes together all the time, and we’re together all the time.” Watson is also involved with the Campus Crusade ministry and is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. “When I meet new people and tell them where I’m from, a lot of them make the Southern comments like ‘Oh do you wear shoes down there?’ which is funny because we’re in Tuscaloosa.” Ultimately, Watson says she would like to share her love of musical theater with others. “My tentative plan is to either move up to New York and try my luck at that world, which is really scary, or I might try to double
“...WHAT HAS BEEN CHALLENGING
BUT REALLY GOOD FOR ME HAS BEEN HAVING TO COME TO A COMPLETELY NEW PLACE AND START OVER ...” Watson did not have any friends at UA when she decided to attend the university, but she says that meeting new people has been a positive growth experience. “I think a lot of what has been challenging but really good for me has been having to come to a completely new place and start
8 | Mosaic 2010
major in education or business. I would love to start an organization overseas that works with underprivileged children to make a theater program where they do voice and dance and experience the theater community,” she says animatedly, stretching her back.
Kelsey Dueland, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and hospitality management, is from Canandaigua in upstate New York. Like Watson, Dueland has experienced cultural differences at UA, and some aspects of Southern culture have surprised her. “Boys wear very short shorts here,” she says as she eats from a bowl of fresh fruit. “I was not ready for that. Also, dating is different here. In New York you don’t just go on dates with a guy unless you seriously plan to make him your boyfriend.” Also, like Watson, Dueland has encountered various stereotypes about her hometown. “People usually assume I’m from New York City and ask me if I know famous people, if I’ve ever seen a deer and if I have my driver’s license,” she says. Dueland says she has, in fact, seen “many” deer, and she does have her driver’s license, though she does not know any famous people. For the spring semester, Dueland is studying abroad in Palma de Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. “As a foreign language major, I felt it was really important to get native experience with that language,” Dueland says. “I’ll probably never get another chance equal to this opportunity to explore Europe.” Eventually, Dueland says she would like to direct a cruise ship for a few years after college before settling down to manage hotels. Dueland also did not know anyone other than her sister when she came to UA. She has made most of her friends through other students in her classes. “Honors Southern Memoirs and Culture was by far my favorite class,” she says. “My honors classes are a way for me to branch out, since, as a double-major, most of my schedule is full of required classes.” When she misses the North, Dueland participates in activities with the Tri-State Area chapter of the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow Association. This is a social group for students from the Tri-State Area around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“I call it my Yankee group,” Dueland says. Megan Cotton, a junior majoring in public relations from north Virginia near Washington, D.C., has had many of the same experiences. “People do dress differently here,” she says while sipping a Dr. Pepper and wearing jeans and a sorority sweatshirt. “But they are a lot nicer, because in the city you don’t stop and talk to people or make eye contact with strangers, but here you’ll talk to random people that live on your hall.” The transition to a new place was not easy, but Cotton says she is glad she decided to branch out from her high school friends by coming to UA. “In the beginning it was hard because I’d see pictures of my friends from high school hanging out on the weekends and I was 12 hours away, so I didn’t ever get to drive anywhere,” she says. “But I love it now, and I’m so happy I’m here.” Cotton also says she loves the way the Honors College provides students with the opportunity to learn in a smaller environment. “It’s really nice to have smaller classes, especially classes like accounting and economics, which would have been really hard otherwise,” she says. In addition to her academic life, Cotton is active in a number of campus organizations. She has played on the women’s lacrosse team since her freshman year, and she is now the organization’s vice president. “That was one of the biggest ways I met new people,” she says. “I have played lacrosse since the fifth grade, and I joined the Alabama team immediately, as soon as I found out we had one.” Cotton is also a member of Alpha Phi sorority, an ambassador for the Communications College and a peer mentor. She came to UA to experience something new, and her campus involvement has given her plenty of opportunities. “I wanted to go out of state because I didn’t want to stay in the same place with a bunch of the same people. I toured a bunch of different schools, but I liked Alabama the best,” Cotton says. n
Freshman Hannah Watson (left), an Arkansas native, and junior Megan Cotton (right), from Virginia, have adjusted to life at UA as out-of-state students with ease.
The University of Alabama | 9
Story by Gina Cook Photography by Sumerlin Brandon
Junior Angela Armstrongâ€™s experience as a University Fellow has helped her get closer to her career goals by alloweing her to intern at the University Medical Center.
10 | Mosaic 2010
radition is a mainstay here at The University of Alabama, but select juniors in the Honors College had the opportunity of being a part of something brand new when they joined the University Fellows Experience in 2007. As the first class of Fellows, the 28 students were not sure what to expect of the program, but they knew it would be amazing. Fellow Marshall Houston says the faculty did not even have a definition for the program and told them to take ownership of the experience. “Of course we were all wide-eyed freshmen looking around like, ‘Wait, you want us to take control of this?’” Houston says. Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College and director of the University Honors Program and University Fellows
but he never expected all of the opportunities it would bring. The connections he has made through Fellows have allowed him to do things he would have never considered. “It’s just that amazing wellspring of ideas and opportunities that really comes forth through discussions with other Fellows,” Angela Armstrong says. Armstrong says that although three years have passed since she joined the program, she is still very close to the group. “I feel like I have 28 friends who I could call in a crisis, and they’d be there in a heartbeat,” she says. These juniors have also appreciated creating relationships with their mentors.
“WE’RE ALL PEOPLE FROM REALLY DIFFERENT DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY I THINK WE’RE PEOPLE WITH
VERY DIVERSE FUTURES ...” Experience, says she and Dr. Bob Halli, dean emeritus of the Honors College, were inspired to start the program after she had learned about a similar program at the University of Georgia. “For me, personally, it really boiled down to seeing extraordinary students coming our way,” Morgan says. The inaugural year focused on the students getting to know one another and the program’s development through a faculty mentor, dinner discussions and a service learning and citizenship class, which involved mentoring to elementary students. “Now it is really becoming more individualized as the students are really thinking toward post-college,” says Wellon Bridgers, coordinator of University Fellows Experience. With each new Fellows class have come changes to the program, but as the inaugural class, the juniors still remember just how important that first year was and what an impact it has made on their college career. “We’re basically guinea pigs,” laughs Richard Cockrum. “Freshmen year as a University Fellow was a really unique experience.” Cockrum adds that one unique aspect of the program is that it has allowed him to make connections. For example, when he took an organic chemistry class that had around 200 students, he stood out because he had already met his professor through the Fellows program. For these juniors, “unique” does not even begin to cover it. With students from all over the country and with different majors, the program has created a distinctive group that is both close-knit and diverse. “We’re all people from really diverse backgrounds, but more importantly I think we’re people with very diverse futures. We’re all headed in different directions,” says David Kumbroch, a telecommunication and film major. Kumbroch is from Memphis and says he got into the Fellows program almost accidentally when he took a tour of the campus and met Gina Miller, former coordinator of the Fellows program, who encouraged him to apply. He says the program was one of his reasons for choosing UA,
Cockrum, a chemistry major, says his mentor Dr. David Dixon, a chemistry professor at UA, has not only helped him with his classes, but also has helped him research different careers in chemistry. With Dixon’s help, Cockrum realized that research was not the best route for him and that he would rather go into medicine. Armstrong’s mentor helped her get an internship with the University Medical Center, and she cites that as one example of how mentoring helps the Fellows turn their aspirations into reality. Since the program started in 2007, University Fellows Experience has expanded its contacts across not only the state, but the nation, allowing members to meet CEO executives of Fortune 500 companies and a former congressman, as well as network with UA alumni. As these Fellows look back on the past three years, they all agree that the University Fellows Experience has been a significant part of their lives, and they expect the program to only get better. “I am very grateful for the ownership our juniors have taken in helping us shape this program,” Morgan says. Morgan adds that there will still be another three to five years before they know the true components of the program. By then she hopes to have in place a curriculum and books specifically targeted for the freshmen in University Fellows. “[I] just foresee some wonderful things continuing to happen as each person has their own individual little niche, and each of them are so different but they have these deep bonds with each other,” Bridgers says. “When I think of what my college experience has been like, and who I am, and what I’ve done, and how I’ve grown through it, one of the first things I think of is the Fellows Experience,” Cockrum says. “As [the program has] grown, it’s really just been growing the family.” In regard to the expanding family, Kumbroch jokes, “The junior Fellows are definitely better than all the other Fellows. The sophomores and freshmen Fellows, they got nothing on us.” n See pg. 25 to learn about the University Fellows Experience application process.
The University of Alabama | 11
d an n l l a to tov Sea S en od ist Jerr r y K by b ce aphy e i r P A otog Ph
Kristen Stovall Before coming to The University of Alabama, I could count the number of people I knew who had completed a half or full marathon on one hand. To those who are not accustomed to running long distances, the idea of completing 13.1 miles in 75 degree weather is a crazy thing to consider. That was how I felt, at least, until I had lunch with a friend and the words “country music, Nashville and half marathon” were used in the same sentence. Call me crazy, but the idea of having country bands playing at every mile marker, running down the famous Music Row in Nashville and being a part of an event with over 30,000 participants suddenly seemed like something I was willing to work into my schedule. Sports have always been a large part of my life, but long distance running was never my aspiration. The determination and work ethic I acquired growing up as an athlete on tennis and volleyball teams played a large part in my decision to embark on one of the most physically and emotionally demanding things I have ever done. Runners often say that their sport is one that requires as much mental strength as it does physical ability. I initially thought that was an insane claim; however, as I came close to the double-digit runs in training, I realized the amount of truth in the statement. Having the mindset and determination to finish no matter the 12 | Mosaic 2010
situation carried my legs farther than any amount of endurance or strength could. Not to mention, with 30,000 other people going toward the same finish line as me, I knew I wouldn’t give up . How could I possibly back down when encouragement was coming from all directions and “Livin' on a Prayer” was being played at the halfway mark?
Running around the Quad, listening to my iPod and taking time to reflect on my day is not only therapeutic, but it also keeps me in shape and sane during busy weeks. Running has always been a hobby of mine; however, I never fathomed running for longer than 60 consecutive minutes. That mindset pervaded until I met with Dr. Sharpe (Dean of the Honors College) to discuss my major last spring. Dr. Sharpe had recently found his passion: running half and full marathons. As we discussed his new hobby, he mentioned us organizing a group of students to run the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I quickly dismissed the idea, as I had recently ran a 6.2 mile race vowing to never attempt anything longer. Thirteen and one-tenth miles early one Saturday morning did not sound fun, exciting or enjoyable. However, the seed was planted in my mind and after talking with friends about the idea, the Honors College HalfMarathon group came to life.
Through the Crimson White, Honors College Newsletter and word of mouth, we grew to 25 devoted students led by Dr. Sharpe and Dr. Jacqueline Morgan (Associate Dean of the Honors College). The group embarked on one long run weekly and trained individually on the weekdays, beginning with only three miles and working our way to 10 miles before the race. We held brown bag lunch lectures on how to stretch, eat and prepare your body to prevent injury and ensure a safe and fun training experience. Engineers, accountants, political minds and education majors joined together outside the classroom and became friends through runs across the Northport bridge and countless times around the Quad. After these runs, I would head to Publix, pick out my favorite
to accomplish the same goal. We all crossed the finish line and are now part of the 3 percent of Americans who have completed a half marathon race. Not only have many of the friends we made last year returned to run with us again, but we have grown from 20 to 40 students who will conquer Nashville in 2010. Overall, our first experience with the Honors College HalfMarathon group was well worth the training in all climates, knowledge of every running trail around Tuscaloosa and pain from our hips down. After the race, we felt accomplished, ate anything we wanted and attended a free concert by Billy Currington, who ran the whole marathon earlier that day! Some of our friends stood next to the
“HOW COULD I POSSIBLY BACK DOWN WHEN
ENCOURAGEMENT WAS COMING FROM ALL DIRECTIONS AND
‘LIVIN' ON A PRAYER’ WAS BEING PLAYED...?” energy bar or sports drink, ice my knee and then plop on the couch to finish homework and relax the rest of the afternoon. The training was long, but the feeling of accomplishment, the friendships I made and the frequent laughing sessions stand out more in my mind than the physical challenge.
Even though running is an individual sport, tremendous teamwork was instrumental in helping everyone in the group cross the finish line. The Honors College treated us to Amerigo’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Nashville, the night before the race so we could carb-load guilt free and maintain the weight of our wallets. We rose at 5 a.m. on Saturday planning to arrive a few minutes before the 7 a.m. start, but ran into trouble on the way to the race. Because 30,000 people were attempting to merge to a central location, we were in traffic for one hour to travel two miles from the hotel, and we were nervous we would miss the buses that were to take us to the start line. We had country music playing in the car to keep us cognizant, motivated and sane. Luckily, we arrived at the parking area within minutes of the last bus, made it to the start line and found creative ways to bypass the first six miles by speaking loudly in British accents to strangers passing us by. We endured the remaining 7.1 miles by singing with the bands at each mile, admiring the variety of costumes and taking pictures of each other in motion. As the finish line approached, we looked forward to a Gatorade, the finisher’s medal and rest. In the last two miles, encouragement came from all directions; we encountered free food, cheerleaders dressed as Disney characters with signs saying “Not Minnie More Miles” and an abundance of fans. Needless to say, our friendships grew exponentially throughout the training and fulfillment of this race. Our teammates now share a feeling of unity, as we all came from a variety of majors and backgrounds and joined
stage and touched his hand (and then neglected to wash their own the rest of the night). As we prepare this year, we are looking forward to a hotel two blocks from the start line, working to beat our times from last year, practicing new accents and, of course, having another half crazy experience with some of the best minds on campus. n
The University of Alabama | 13
The University of Alabama | 17
(Far Left) Photography by Jerrod Seaton. Photography by Kayla Evans
The Scholar Athlete Story by Sarah Massey Photography by Kayla Evans, Jerrod Seaton
n the first day of Honors College professor Betty Florey’s course “Behind the British Mask,” she walked in the classroom, immediately noticed a student whose finger was in a metal splint, and asked ‘How did you hurt your finger?’ The young man simply responded ‘playing football,’ and Florey thought nothing else of it, as many of her students play intramural football. When class introductions eventually reached the young man, Florey said he “hurt his finger playing intramural football.”
18 | Mosaic 2010
“No ma’am, football,” he responded. “Oh, you mean ‘real’ football,” Florey said in class. “And then, especially after he stood up, I knew who he was,” she says, as she fondly recalls the first day of class. Towering at 6 feet 5 inches, Barrett Jones is difficult to miss standing up. But his performance on both the field and in the classroom, as well as his demeanor toward his peers, make him altogether, impossible to miss. A red shirt freshman on the field as an offensive lineman, a junior
in the classroom and a second-year student at The University of Alabama, Jones, an accounting major, says that UA was a good fit from the beginning. “I’ve been an Alabama fan for a lot of my life. My dad went here, but that’s not really why I came … I chose it because I felt like it
great feeling to achieve all your goals in a season,” he says. “And that’s exactly what we set out to do – win a National Championship. We did that. It’s definitely a rewarding feeling to know that you’ve achieved something that you put so many hours into.” Following his redshirt year, Jones earned the starting right offen-
“BARRETT LOVES LIFE, AND HE WOULD HELP ANYBODY IN THE CLASS THAT NEEDED HELP WITH ANYTHING.
HE’S JUST THAT KIND OF GUY.” was the best university for me,” Jones says. “I prayed about it a lot and just assessed where I thought I’d fit in best and really where I thought I would want to go to school, even if I couldn’t play football, and I just felt like Alabama was that place.” So UA he chose, and since attending the University, he has been busy juggling two roles: scholar and athlete. Jones admits that it is “very difficult” and that “it’s all about time management,” especially for someone taking a 15-hour semester. A normal day begins with morning classes until noon, and then he heads straight to the football complex until about seven p.m. Following this, he comes home, studies until 10, maybe fits in an hour of TV and finally goes to bed. Despite such a tight schedule, Jones is on track to graduate in three years, but plans to continue his studies and either work toward a master’s or double major. On top of his major and athletic requirements, Jones, the only football player in the Honors College, is nearly finished with the 18-hours of credit required for Honors College students. Jones has enjoyed his time thus far in the College. “It’s given me a chance to meet people who I feel are similar to me and really want to excel academically,” he says. “It’s given me a chance to be around some great teachers who have these situations and small classes and really get to know their students.” For spring 2010, Jones is in “Behind the British Mask,” taught by Florey, who says it is “pure pleasure” to have Jones in her class. “Barrett is a scholar and a gentleman,” Florey says. “He’s also a catalyst for group discussions. He always has pertinent answers, and he always respects the comments of other students.” Jones loves the class, citing the group discussions as being one of the main reasons. He also points to Florey as the one who encourages the group discussions and someone who “values [the students’] opinions.” Jones’s eagerness to participate in the classroom and enthusiasm toward academics is something Florey has noticed. “He has chosen to go for the gold in academics, because his schedule, as I understand it, is pretty well-defined in the football program,” Florey says. “And he’s made the extra effort to say that he wants to be an honors student and have the honors experience.” While this honors experience has made an impact on his time at UA so far, what Jones experienced outside of the classroom, this year specifically, has made an even stronger impact. Jones says that winning the National Championship was “very rewarding.” “We work really hard all year, and that’s our goal, so it’s just a
sive guard position, earning Freshman All-American honors in the Crimson Tide’s National Championship season. Jones says that head coach Nick Saban demands the utmost performance from his players in all aspects of their life: athletically, personally and academically. “He demands 100 percent. He demands it all from his players at all times, which I love, because it really makes us play at a higher level and practice at a higher level, and just be better men in general,” Jones says. “He demands 100 percent in the classroom, on the field, and as a person in general. And I just think that it makes us all better men, as well as better athletes.” Winning the National Championship was not the only unique experience Jones took part in this year, nor was it the trip to the White House, although he says it was “pretty cool to get to see the president.” Over spring break, Jones traveled to Haiti where he worked in an orphanage full of children that had been affected by the January 12 earthquake. “I just knew that I had really been wanting to do something like this for a long time, and when I saw Haiti, I just really felt like God called me and this is where he wanted me to help out or wanted me to use my time to assist the people of Haiti,” Jones says. After making calls to people he knew who were involved in mission work, Jones and a few friends made their way to Pignon, Haiti. During the time, Jones did work in the orphanage, such as building showers, but he also got to spend time with the kids and “show them some love because a lot of them had lost their parents or didn’t have their parents there.” Jones says the trip put things in perspective for him. “It gave me a really different perspective on life. It just taught me [that] every time I get frustrated or I complain about a little thing in life, just to really think about how much I really do have, and how much God has blessed all of America with,” he says. “We all have so much, and the people of Haiti, most of them don’t have anything. They’ve lost their families, they’ve lost their homes. They were already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and now they’ve had this earthquake happen to them. It’s just so extremely sad, and it makes me extremely grateful that I live in this country.” Jones’s sense of compassion toward the people of Haiti is a strong reflection of his personality, according to Florey. She says he “likes helping his fellow man. He has a fine-tuned sense of morality.” Florey says his compassion shows in class. “Barrett loves life, and he would help anybody in the class that needed help with anything,” she says. “He’s just that kind of guy.” n The University of Alabama | 19
The Second Life Story by Anna Pendleton Photography by Kayla Evans
20 | Mosaic 2010
arah Young, a senior New College student majoring in activism and social change, does not have purple eyes and red and black streaks in her hair. In reality, this blonde-haired, blue-eyed University of Alabama student decided to take a bit of a walk on the wild side when constructing her Second Life avatar for an honors seminar about the virtual world. Drs. Rick Houser, the department head of educational studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling, and Steve Thoma, a professor in the same department, offered a seminar in fall 2009, titled “Second Life,” which utilized a popular online world as a platform for discussion about ethical decision making, thereby presenting a situation in which honors students could go everywhere without going anywhere, be anyone, and meet anyone, with a few clicks of a button. “I was attracted to the class because in an age where communication is becoming conducted more and more through the virtual medium, I wanted to explore how ethics and morals vary once you wander into the digital realm,” Young explains. Second Life users create avatars, or virtual representations of themselves, and participate in a three-dimensional virtual world that mirrors the real world by purchasing land, building houses, marrying and even attending church services. Students in the seminar created their own avatars and even went to class online in a Second Life lecture hall at a mock University of Alabama setting. Houser illustrates the primary benefit of holding a class entirely in Second Life. “There are people all over the world who are on Second Life. Rather than students going around and looking for ethical situations, they can experience them by being in a situation,” he says. “There’s a place called Philosophy Island and students went there and actually chatted with people from all over the world about ethics and philosophical issues.” For Young, the benefits of class in Second Life were numerous. “There's the obvious convenience of not having to actually attend class, and then there's also this strange lack of inhibition because you're interfacing with other avatars, not people. Even the professors are avatars so the intimidation that might come with a rigid academic setting is gone,” she says. Seminar students studied the differences between Second Life users’ real life choices versus those of their avatar to determine whether or not morality in the virtual world mirrored morality in the real world, and whether or not online behavior could affect behavior in real life. The students’ final projects consisted of a presentation examining an aspect of ethics in the virtual world, including the morality of participating in online marriages when a participant is married in real life. “We introduced students to a range of ethical theories,” Houser says. “They then talked with users and tried to apply them to real life and Second Life issues like abortion, suicide, morality and family.” “It's a really interesting study of human morality and ethical codes because there is this kind of ‘Lord of the Flies’ complex that takes over, where the base nature of individuals is revealed by virtue of the fact that there are relatively zero consequences as there is no ‘police’ or established governing body, and you are virtually anonymous,” Young expands.
The benefits of Second Life were not limited to the exploration of ethics, however. Second Life is an extensive online world including a variety of retail options, church services and replicas of universities and real-world historic sites. The University of Alabama even purchased land on Second Life and has an island that includes a toscale representation of Clark, Garland, Manly, Graves and Carmichael buildings. “There's so much going on in Second Life,” Young says. “At any given moment, you can transport to the London island to chat with Second Life users there. It's a really interesting network of individuals and the advantages for academia is that all of it is freely at your disposal.” Second Life even has an accurate replica of the Sistine Chapel for those who desire to explore the world but don’t have the budget to do so, and it is all user-created. “That’s what makes it different from a computer game where everything’s constructed for you. You build everything, and all you’re given is this flat island. You have to design everything,” Thoma explains. “There is also this thriving economy, so if you build something that is in demand, you can sell it for Second Life dollars and you can convert that to U.S. dollars.” Students in the “Second Life” seminar participated in a unique classroom environment that opened their minds intellectually, ethically and technologically, and gave them the opportunity to present themselves however they chose. Young reflects on the benefits of the seminar. “I guess that as much as I’d dismissed Second Life as ‘that computer game Dwight from ‘The Office’ was playing that one time,’”she says, “there really is this complex society of individuals interacting with each other: romantically, financially, academically or otherwise.” n
The University of Alabama | 21
From HTML to
Gucci and Chanel Story by Danielle Drago Photography by Kayla Evans
heresa Mince hurriedly skips along the bustling streets of New York City, her arms full of designer clothes. She ducks into a dorm-room sized boutique on West 38th Street, where dresses line the walls and customers await her advice. Though she navigates the subway system like a native New Yorker, her roots extend further south. With an internship at plus-sized clothing boutique Monif C, Mince’s summer more closely resembled an MTV reality show than her usual stint as a sophomore apparel design major and Computer-Based Honors Program minor at the Capstone. The change of pace allowed for Mince to gain real-world experience and combined her two diverse areas of study. “I wanted to do an internship to get the experience and make sure it was what I wanted to do, because you take four years of major classes and never get the real-world experience, and it’s like, you get out and suddenly you hate it, and it’s like you’ve wasted the past four years,” she says. “I just wanted to make sure that I loved it.” Mince’s days were spent assisting customers with fittings, going back and forth between the sewing room and boutique and even modeling dresses in a buyer’s market for the first annual Plus-Sized Fashion Week. “She got a chance to do pretty much everything,” Brandon Coates, intern director at Monif C says. “Our internships are very comprehensive so she was able to work with us on designs on the spring collection.” Her experience in New York helped shape her ideas about her future in plus-size fashion by watching how Monif, the designer, interacted with clients. “I learned how I wanted to run my business,” she says. “I love how she knows her clients so well, but I think I would like to expand beyond that. I also learned that I really want to be in New York.” Although combining the Computer-Based Honors Program with apparel design is an unprecedented choice, Mince says that she is happy with her decision. 22 | Mosaic 2010
“It’s unique because I’m the first one, but when it comes to finding a project, it became tricky because there weren’t plans already set. I had to go find one,” she says. “I think I’m getting a really unique experience. To be the first is special, and I like to mix it. I’m doing what makes me happy. I thought, I’m going to take a chance and do what makes me happiest. For me, that was fashion design.” Mince uses her Computer-Based Honors courses to hone her fashion skills through various projects: most notably designing the Web site for “Project Runway” contestant and UA graduate Anthony Williams. Milla Boschung, Dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, says she was impressed with the effort that Mince put forth in constructing the site for Williams. “It’s a marvelous Web site,” she praises, “Theresa worked with Anthony regarding his design philosophy, and she was on the telephone one evening all night [with] him. She worked on the Web site to get it just right.” Mince says the construction of the site was simplified due to the self-teaching that the Computer-Based Honors Program provides. “CBHP taught us to teach ourselves. Learn how to get the most out of what you are doing. I dove right into it, and I owe all of that to CBHP,” she says. “It taught me if you want it, you have to go for it.” According to Coates, this initiative aided Mince in her work. “I think she did very well, took direction well and took constructive criticism well. She is always wondering about the next step and at an internship that is very important,” he says. Her outlook on hard work extends beyond the confines of New York City as well. “She’s a self-starter, and she is always looking for opportunities to not only further her own education, but open up opportunities for others,” Boschung says. Her love of the Computer-Based Honors Program extends further than the computer lab. “In the future, I hope to use CBHP in all areas of my life, not just
“SHE HAS THE COMPUTER SKILLS AND
A CREATIVE COMPONENT
THAT GIVES HER SOME
UNIQUENESS. SHE PUSHES A LITTLE
FURTHER THAN THE OTHERS.” —Milla Boschung web-design or computer language, because it’s so much more than that. I just love the program,” Mince says. Her Computer-Based Honors skills have informed her classroom experiences, especially involving apparel design technology. “I think Theresa is a wonderful student,” Boschung says. “She has the computer skills and a creative component that gives her some uniqueness. She pushes it a little further than all the others.” Ideally, Mince wants to have her own plus-sized fashion line due to her own shopping frustrations and because of her belief that all women should have access to exceptional fashion. “Plus-sized fashion is an untapped market, which many people don’t realize. Everyone wants to be a size 0 or a size 2 like we see on the runways, but that’s not the average woman. The average woman is plus size. In this day and age, a 12 is considered plus size,” Mince says. “Just because you are not the ideal size doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to look fabulous. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful, regardless of what size you are.” n
Mince (right) is pursuing her passion for fashion design, as well as incorporating the ComputerBased Honors Program into her fashion-related work. (Far right) A dress Mince designed.
magine a quiet neighborhood scene. A lady gardens in her front yard. Little girls jump rope in the driveway. A young boy walks his dog on the sidewalk. Suddenly, the silence is ripped as a group of teenage boys careens onto the scene on their bikes, and they’re going a little faster than a bike should go. Visitors doubletake at this scene, wondering if they really just saw what they think they saw, but residents have seen it before. The sight of boys riding bikes with rockets attached to the back is nothing new to them; they have come to expect these scientific shenanigans from neighborhood kid Kyle Scott. Scott, who hails from Crystal Lake, Ill., always knew he wanted to spend his life building new things. Even as a child and teenager, he was interested in engineering, participating in amateur rocketbuilding clubs and attaching the rockets to his bike for some extra speed. “I liked toys a lot when I was little, and I always thought making toys would be cool. As I got older, my toys of choice changed a little bit,” Scott says with a smile. He found little difficulty selecting his college. Already knowing what he wanted to study and attracted to The University of Alabama’s hands-on programs and proximity to Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center, he enrolled in UA as an aerospace engineering major, pursuing a minor in the Computer-Based Honors Program in the fall of 2006. Through his engineering classes, he met aerospace engineering professor Dr. Paul Hubner, who eventually took Scott on as a research assistant. “The Computer-Based Honors Program was the vehicle by which I got connected to professors with innovative projects,” Scott says. “I wanted to do the most hands-on work that I could find and have the most fun with engineering that I could, and CBH lets me do that.” Hubner’s project takes Scott’s love of making new toys to a new level. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, has been working since 1996 on developing a technology known as micro-air vehicles, or MAVs, which are tiny airplanes, with a maximum dimension of 15 mm. These miniscule planes carry cameras on them and are used by the U.S. Military for surveillance purposes. The military wants bat-sized MAVs developed by 2015 and insect-sized MAVs developed by 2030. Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Hubner and his team, including Scott, perform fundamental research to develop low technology readiness level MAV components. Their current task centers around characterizing and optimizing flexible membrane airfoils or applicability to MAVs. An airfoil is the specific shape of the wing that creates lift. Using a wind tunnel, Scott and the other members of Hubner’s group test various airfoil designs, which are often modeled after bats and other naturally oc-
24 | Mosaic 2010
curring MAVs, to compare their performance against conventional designs. Their research consists primarily of measuring each airfoil’s lift and drag, thus facilitating comparison of aerodynamic efficiency (lift-to-drag ratio) between their designs and conventional configurations. All these tests generate a daunting amount of data and require significant in-lab experimentation time, but for Scott, this task is now one of the most streamlined parts of the development process. He uses LabVIEW, a graphical computer programming language used for interfacing hardware and software, to collect the experimental data and then automate routine post-processing data analysis. “You want to be in the lab taking all the data,” he says. “The hands-on work is one of the best ways to spend my free time.” Not surprisingly, the biologically-inspired bat wing design’s aerodynamic efficiency trumped the conventional airplane wing design in the wind tunnel tests at relevant MAV flight regimes. The bat wing shape, with its thin membrane, supporting bone structure and unique scalloped trailing edge, improved the lift-to-drag ratio by minimizing drag. The bat wing design allows the MAV to carry more on smaller wings and works toward the ultimate goal of making the unit insect-sized. So what comes next for an aerospace engineering major that has already co-oped with NASA engineers and defense contractors and works as an undergrad on developing new military technology? Scott has several options for life after the tassel is turned: graduate school, pursuing MAV research with a dynamic small business, signing on with NASA on big budget research. However, Scott’s ideal long-term career path would be owning his own engineering company and working on non-GPS based navigation and automation of flight. Currently, non-GPS navigation and automation of flight research is controversial due to the possibility of invasion of privacy by private interests. If Scott can make a remote-controlled flying vehicle the size of a beetle, it stands to reason that there are a lot of concerns once someone figures out how to attach video and audio recording devices. Though the research may be controversial, Scott is undeterred from pursuing his passion. “I just want to keep working with the newest technology to make even newer technology,” Scott says. “As long as I’m doing that, I’ll be happy.” From rocket-powered bikes to bat wings on insect-sized cameracarrying airplanes, Scott loves his toys, and will continue to develop new ones, thanks to his experience in the Computer-Based Honors Program and his love of finding the next new technology. Keep an eye on the skies, you just might see a bat-sized airplane keeping an eye on you ... or, wait, maybe that’s just a bird. n
Story by Lauren Heartsill
utstanding grades — check. Excellent test scores — check. Use of those brains to bring about a change in the community? It is this initiative that separates the smart from the Fellows. The University Fellows Experience consists of about 74 students. This four-year program is designed to provide emerging experiences, mentoring opportunities, leadership development and interaction with various community issues. Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College and director of the University Fellows Experience and the University Honors Program, co-founded Fellows, which started in the 2007-08 school year. Last year, the Fellows selection committee received over 500 applications. “It’s very hard to get in,” Morgan explains. “The purpose is to select students who are very motivated, academic students who also have a real heart for being part of ... change for community problems. We invest in them as young people.” The committee looks for high school students with strong academics who made a 32 on the ACT or a 1400 on the SAT and a 3.8 GPA. Their school also can nominate them if they do not meet these requirements, Morgan adds. Applicants must then send in a resume, two essays and a letter of recommendation. “We’re really looking for students with a passion to learn and to give of himself or herself in a unique way,” she says. From the applicant pool, 50 students are selected to come to UA in February and meet with current Fellows and faculty members in their area of interest. The students also have interviews during their visit. “These students have really not done just your traditional service work,” Morgan explains. “They’ve done that, but they’ve also taken some initiative to find some creative solutions to problems. Morgan believes that the University Fellows Experience offers students the opportunity to be a member of a small group of their equally motivated peers. “It provides an intimate community in which you can grow as a scholar and a community leader,” she says. Wellon Bridgers, coordinator of the University Fellows Experience, says her main priority is helping the students, whether it is with scholarships, awards, internships or personal matters. As a member of the selection panel, Bridgers says the committee looks for students who show consistency and are passionate, but they consider much more than that. “At the core of who they are, they are an individual who really are
committed to using their gifts and talents and interests to making an impact in the lives of other people,” she says. “Whatever that interest is, we want to support that and encourage the student to continue to go out and make an impact.” Sassy Saint, a sophomore double majoring in English and psychology looks through the nomination and recommendation letters. After reviewing these letters, Saint sends out congratulation letters to nominees. Saint, who is also an intern in the Honors College, is a member of the Fellows selection committee where she reads the applicants’ essays. “In the essays, I look for students who are not afraid to share their quips and quirks,” Saint says. “Cookie-cutter essays are not appropriate for an honor as great as being selected to be a University Fellow.” Saint says the committee wants students who focus on the needs around them. “I look for students who are dedicated to one or two community service commitments — not for students who do a can food drive here or there,” Saint explains. Having current Fellows on the selection committee allows for a student perspective in the application process. “We are Fellows, so we know what it is like to be a Fellow and who we think will make it as Fellows once starting their college careers at UA,” Saint says. “We just got out of high school, so we know exactly what so many of these students are going through right now, and we can tell who is a good fit for the program.” Austen Parrish, a freshman majoring in Spanish and finance and a member of the selection committee, says Fellows “helped me develop as a person more than I could imagine ... and it inspires you to become something bigger than yourself.” This “tight-knit family,” which is his favorite part of being a Fellow, encouraged Parrish to work toward implementing a microfinance program, which is the first in the United States, to help people with their finances and building credit. “We see a problem, and we have a passion to go out and implement it,” he says. Annie Ostrow, a sophomore majoring in international studies, says Fellows take on projects not for the recognition, but for the change that occurs as a result of their work. She says she feels honored and inspired to be a part of this “little family.” “It changes your experience on campus,” she explains. “It changes it for the better.” n
The University of Alabama | 25
A Piece by Daniel Marbury Photography by Kayla Evans
part of the culture of Ghana is flourishing in Tuscaloosa. In the spring of 2009, I founded an African drumming chamber ensemble in The University of Alabama School of Music, and I continue to serve as a teaching assistant in the course. After spending a month at the Volta Center for the Arts in southeastern Ghana, I returned for my junior year with a set of drums, a suitcase of brightly patterned African clothes and an experience of the music of the Ewe culture which I was eager to share. That fall I performed traditional Ghanaian music at several events across campus, and close to the end of the semester, I was invited to Jennifer Caputoâ€™s New College creativity course to demonstrate Ghanaian dance. Coincidentally, Professor Caputo had her degree in ethnomusicology and had studied a number of music cultures, including Ewe music from Ghana. We quickly agreed on a proposal to The UA School of Music directors for the institution of African drumming as a chamber ensemble for course credit and were granted permission to start in the spring. In accordance with my hopes and expectations, African drumming has provided a unique experience on our campus. I am extremely proud that although most of the School of Musicâ€™s resources must be used to meet the needs of music majors, our course can accommodate and attract diverse students pursuing majors ranging from business to education. Since the Ewe music that we perform has different layers of difficulty, which are divided among performers, it offers an excellent pedagogical tool for introducing beginners to percussion performance, while still challenging more experienced players. Unlike the typical social-science investigation or comparative study course, our hands on musical performance offers an immersive and integrative approach to cultural understanding. By committing to weekly rehearsals and a variety of campus performances, students have the opportunity to integrate Ewe culture as lived experience, rather than simply learning about it as a distantly observed tradition. Furthermore, our performances are requested at a number of campus and community events, allowing our ensemble to serve as an
| Mosaic 2010 1626 | Mosaic 2009
“I RETURNED FOR MY JUNIOR YEAR WITH
A SET OF DRUMS, A SUITCASE OF BRIGHTLY PATTERNED AFRI-
CAN CLOTHES AND AN EXPERIENCE OF THE MUSIC OF THE EWE CULTURE WHICH I WAS
EAGER TO SHARE.”
—Daniel Marbury active contributor to the art and entertainment of Tuscaloosa. Through this shared public aspect of our endeavor, even those not in our course are able to have an intimate experience of our cultural representation of Ghana. Given the interconnectedness and interdependence of our global society, I feel an increasing commitment to lead others to consider our role as global citizens. I am drawn to the abstract expression of art because it provides a context which allows for an alienation of one’s own prejudice, reluctance and fear in which new perceptions and ideas may flourish. The full mind-body-social experience of performing music is an especially effective means of empowering and immersing individuals in the construction of international identities. It is my hope that by providing students an opportunity to find meaning and happiness in the expression of another nation’s artistic tradition, they will begin to acquire a perspective which acknowledges universal human desires for joy, expression, creativity and community. Ultimately, the more we each see the sameness by which every other person experiences joy through acts of creation, the more fully we can collectively and sincerely desire peace and prosperity shared by all nations. n The University of Alabama | 27
The University of Alabama | 35
Story by Taylor Burley Photography Courtesy of Mason Overstreet (Right) Sarah Masterson, Dr. Michael Steinberg, and Dr. David Oakes (CELL professor) on Mt. Hekla.
32 | Mosaic 2010
he “environmental hot spot of the world” has ice in its name, and 14 University of Alabama students recently found out just how cool it is. These students and Dr. Michael Steinberg, faculty coordinator of the group and an assistant professor of New College and geography, spent some three weeks last May in Iceland. There, they experienced a different cultural perspective on the environment. “The majority of Iceland’s energy is renewable, environmentally friendly and carbon-free,” says Mason Overstreet, a senior majoring in environmental studies, conservation, and policy through New College, who served as Steinberg’s teaching assistant on the trip. It is the “environmental hot spot of the world right now,” Overstreet says. “There are hydroelectric plants and geothermal plants. Iceland is also extremely sustainable in the sense of the
island’s food production; many of the small communities have greenhouses and produce much of their own food.” While in Iceland, the group, which included several International Honors students, worked with the Center for Ecological Living and Learning, known as CELL. It is an educational group that teaches students about sustainability and environmental issues, and its educational philosophy is that people learn most effectively through hands-on experiences. Hands-on indeed. “We did lots of really intense hikes and participated in a reforestation effort,” Steinberg says, “where the group planted over 6,000 trees. We did some kayaking and attended some lectures.” Overall, it was “an intense outdoor experience,” with visits to both geothermal and hydroelectric plants mixed in. The University of Alabama | 33
Mason Overstreet drinks glacier water during one of the group’s glacier expeditions near Thorsmork in South Iceland.
The group was based at Solheimar, the oldest eco-village in the world, for the first part of the trip. Steinberg explains that an eco-village “decides that they’re going to live sustainably. They use alternative energy, they raise their own crops and [do] other green activities.” From their stay at Solheimar, the group went on a week-long expedition hike in the glaciers and mountains, where they stayed in small Icelandic huts. The group also had the chance to experience a few unique parts of Icelandic culture, such as when they tasted whale, a traditional Icelandic meal. “We slept in a pen of sheep one night. That was kind of interesting ... it was crazy,” Steinberg says, laughing. “We had to put this big tarp on top of all the hay, and the sheep were all in the stalls around us. It was wild! We didn’t get much sleep that night.” Although the group certainly shared many fun adventures, 44 | Mosaic 2010 34
Steinberg had set educational goals for the trip as well. “My first goal was for them to understand development and the environment from a different culture’s perspective ... I also wanted students to feel challenged physically. I wanted them to feel like it was hard work and that they had earned it,” he says. “I think that was really important - to understand different perspectives about how the environment works and how the world works from a new cultural background.” Ryan Lund, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, says experiencing the information rather than just reading about it was beneficial. “You could probably learn the same course material [studying abroad] that you do [at UA], but the biggest part is going and seeing the different culture,” he says. “You can learn the same stuff but it wouldn’t impact you in the same way as if you were in a place like Iceland.” n
“WE SLEPT IN A PEN OF SHEEP ONE NIGHT. THAT WAS KIND OF INTERESTING.”
c o -Vil la e im a r E lh o S in s q u a r te r und. ’s li v ing in t h e Bac k g ro p u o r G is Th e o u n t a in “Tro ll” M
“M t. H es o ve r lo o t u r.” o r “H o r k s S o lh e im a r E s e Mo u n t a in,” c o -Vil la ge . The University of Alabama | 35
Bhutia, the Buddhist Lama Story by Isabela Morales Photography by Charlie Bice
Buddhist lama with a partiality for Hank Williams Jr., Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia isn’t your average UA professor. Born in Sikkim and educated at Delhi University in India where he received his masters, Bachelor of Law and Masters of Philosophy (his Ph.D. is forthcoming) — Bhutia found himself in fall 2009 as a faculty member in the history department and International Honors Program at The University of Alabama. It’s a radically different world of football fans, sweet tea and country music, though perhaps less different than one might expect. “I love new places, but as a place, Alabama was not quite new to me,” he explains. “I was always actually a big fan of listening to country music, and so many times the word ‘Alabama’ comes up.” Poring over maps, this “growing kid,” already interested in foreign cultures, began to speculate about the faraway land. “I would imagine all these country-song places, and I started wondering if maybe, someday, I might see them,” Bhutia says. Laughing, he adds, “And it came true!” At the same time the music of the American South sparked his imagination, Bhutia was also learning the practices of the Dzogchen lineage, the Buddhist tradition his family has followed for generations. This Dzogchen lineage form of practice is a branch of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, purportedly the oldest of the four schools — Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. “We have a master-to-disciple relationship,” he says, detailing
36 | Mosaic 2010
the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. “My father, he himself is a lama, a practitioner, so that’s how I was raised, learning all my teachings straight from my dad.” But Bhutia makes it clear that the practices and responsibilities of a Buddhist teacher should not be confused with their cognates in other religious traditions. “The word for practitioner or teacher is ‘lama’,” he clarifies. “It’s not exactly a monk. I belong to the Nyingma school, and since my tradition need not be celibate, I can at the same time be married.” The elucidation is necessary, as Bhutia’s move to Tuscaloosa is due mainly to his wife’s position as a history professor at UA. Sharing an office stacked with books and correspondence in ten Hoor Hall, Bhutia and Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa are an engaging and complementary couple, often finishing each others’ sentences. In the near future, Bhutia and Holmes-Tagchungdarpa plan to organize a study abroad program together — Alabama in the Himalayas — in which they can share their love of new places with inquisitive students. “I have a real interest in taking students to a different field,” he says, encouraged that “I’ve talked with some of the students, and they’re very positive about it.” Enthusiastic student support for such a program is not hard to believe. Describing the course IHP 105, “Human Culture and Experience,”
“I LOVE NEW PLACES, BUT AS A PLACE,
ALABAMA WAS NOT QUITE NEW TO ME. I WAS ALWAYS ACTUALLY A BIG FAN OF LISTENING TO COUNTRY MUSIC, AND SO MANY TIMES THE WORD ‘ALABAMA’ COMES UP.” —Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia
freshman Ariel Fink comments that Bhutia’s knowledge of, and sensitivity to, foreign cultures made for a particularly enjoyable class. “Because he is from abroad,” she notes, “he has a much better understanding than most people do about traveling and interacting with different people of different customs.” Another complimentary student, freshman James Jones, mentions Bhutia’s sincere interest in his students as an admirable trait.
Kalzang Bhutia, a professor in the Honors College, shows a Tibetan artifact.
The time and consideration Bhutia devotes to his students is even more impressive in the context of his own extensive academic research. Notably, last winter Bhutia presented a paper on Buddhist nuns at an international conference in Vietnam. “The conference, the one that’s in Vietnam, regards the importance of women in Buddhism. The paper which I presented on was a woman from the era of the 17th century, Jetsun Mingyur Paldron,” he gushes, eagerly. “She was in Tibet, a Tibetan practitioner, who happened to visit Sikkim, which was then an independent Buddhist kingdom toward the middle of the Himalayan belt, because her family was attacked by warlords. She then came to Sikkim and was given a place to stay. That’s how she got in touch with Sikkimese Buddhism.” But Bhutia also finds time to participate in activities — academic and otherwise — a bit closer to home. Having previously taught religion and Tibetan language in the Buddhist studies department of Delhi University, Bhutia’s “History of Buddhism” class is an opportunity to share knowledge with students. As faculty-in-residence at Riverside East, he organized a Bollywood film festival sponsored by the Honors College. And making his debut on the stage, Bhutia also participated in the “History of Hair” production in fall 2009. “Oh, that’s right!” he exclaims, reminded by HolmesTagchungdarpa. “I did participate in that. I had to portray a Vietnamese person, a survivor of the My Lai massacre.” All of these activities — those past and those still in the planning stages — demonstrate a wholehearted commitment to bringing UA students in touch with foreign cultures. There’s no one better suited for the job. Bhutia himself embodies the marriage of disparate cultures and traditions that can occur in an increasingly shrinking world. “We have a monastery there. That’s how I got brought up — practicing, learning and getting all the teachings, completing the monastic tradition and the whole system,” he says, describing his home and upbringing in India. “But I also got into the Western tradition, so that’s how I practice right now, my lineage tradition in one and the Western education in another, simultaneously.” For Bhutia — and as a great benefit to International Honors Program students and others who share his love of new places — his blend of backgrounds seems to be more a synthesis than a balancing act. Still, there’s one aspect of UA culture Bhutia has yet to absorb. Asked if he’s attended any football games, Bhutia promises, “I’m making an attempt — next semester.” n
The University of Alabama | 37
Thomas Herwig preaches at a German-speaking service at the First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa where he is a parish associate.
Story by Lauren Heartsill Photography by Charlie Bice
38 | Mosaic 2010
he faint echoes of German emitting from the First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa seem out of place in a city where folks say, “Yes, ma’am,” and “Hey, y’all.” As a teacher, preacher, husband and father of three, Thomas Herwig wears many hats but manages to connect various aspects of his life while adjusting to a new country. Herwig moved from Germany to Tuscaloosa in February 2008 and started teaching at The University of Alabama that fall. Coming to the United States was not an easy decision for Herwig, however. He had the “job of a lifetime” preaching to a 6,000-member parish in Germany, but he ultimately decided he was ready for change. “It’s interesting if the cultures meet and begin to learn to appreciate the difference and what the other side can offer,” he explains. “I’m always interested to learn about other cultures.” Herwig teaches classes in the Honors College, such as “Heroes of Faith and Social Justice in the 20th Century” and “Spirit in Colors,” and he taught a German literature class for graduate students in the spring. “Things like the basics of spirituality, ethics or religious ethics are important no matter where you end up, as a doctor or as an engineer or a teacher,” Herwig says. “These are basic orientations for life to be a responsible person.”
congregational care and mission at First Presbyterian, met Herwig in England in 1996 and married him in 1999. After marrying, Sellers moved to Germany, where she lived for over eight years before moving back to the states. Having lived away from her home country, Sellers understands some of the challenges. “Having lived in another country for eight-and-a-half years and having to speak another language, I know how some people don’t make the effort to get past the ... accent,” Sellers says. “I would just encourage people to take the time to get to know him because he has so many experiences and is able to bring them all together and to share that with others.” Sellers says Herwig’s personality really sets him apart. “He’s very personable,” Sellers says. “At the same time, he’s quite a thinker. But he can bring it down to whatever level you are.” Herwig also is a gifted speaker who knows how to make people think—and laugh, Sellers adds. He incorporates all these aspects into his teaching. “At the University, he’s teaching more ethics, and his beliefs determine and guide his ethics,” Sellers explains. “He has a big heart for the world and that comes from a faith and recognition that we’re all connected in some way. “It just fits his person and his skills,” she says. “He knows how
“THEY TEACH ME JUST AS MUCH AS I TEACH THEM. WE DON’T HAVE A PLACE LIKE THIS [HONORS COLLEGE] IN GERMANY WHERE PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT MAJORS COME TOGETHER,” —Thomas Herwig
Herwig says he feels honored with his position at UA and has wonderful students. “They inspire me from day to day,” Herwig says. “They teach me just as much as I teach them. We don’t have a place like this [Honors College] in Germany where people from different majors come together. It’s really a special opportunity.” Charles Durham, the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa for 20 years, has known Herwig for two years and says Herwig has a lot of energy. “He’s upbeat, very personal and engaging,” Durham says. “He’s constantly amazed at everything that goes on around him.” Herwig also is a parish associate—an honorary position—at First Presbyterian where he teaches Sunday school classes, confirmation classes for high school students and sings tenor in the choir. He also preaches during services, including one on Christmas Eve, in German. Durham says there was a need for a German-speaking pastor in Tuscaloosa with people from the Mercedes plant and German teachers at UA. “It’s been just a marvelous way to bring the German community together,” Durham says with a smile. About 150 people, including many who did not speak German, attended the Christmas Eve service last year. “They love that experience.” “Herwig has been a blessing to the community and the UA community,” Durham adds. “He has a real love for all people. He sees people where they are on their journey. He’s not only a companion but also a guide ... giving insights and leading them to truth and tackling the tough questions and issues.” Lou Ann Sellers, a North Carolina native and associate pastor for
to connect with people and bring across information or knowledge.” “Herwig not only shares his experiences with others, he also brings a different, optimistic outlook,” Durham says. “His observations of American life and politics and religion are very insightful,” Durham explains. “He’s able to see complexities that we tend to gloss over in the South, and he sees them through very hopeful eyes.” But, there is one thing he has learned to see through Southern eyes. “He’s learned to say ‘Roll Tide’ with a bit of an accent,” Durham says while laughing. n In the Honors College, Herwig teaches “Heroes of Faith and Social Justice in the 20th Century” and “Spirit in Colors.”
The University of Alabama | 39
NEW WORDS NEW OPPORTUNITIES Story by Kristen Mather Photography by Charlie Bice
henxi Lu, a sophomore transfer student from China, pulls a laptop out of his backpack to look up the proper spelling of an English word. Instead of English alphabet letters, Chinese characters are typed into the search bar. International students must adjust to more than just a different language at The University of Alabama. Fortunately, the campus provides international services and programs to help acquaint international students with UA. The Honors College narrows the university for these students and provides smaller and more intimate class sizes, according to the students. “Smaller size classes are most suitable for me,” Lu says. “It helps me learn better. Also, the extra recognition of being in the Honors College will help me be more outstanding and competitive to get a job after graduation.” Mingyu Li, a sophomore majoring in accounting, transferred to UA after her freshman year of college at Ocean University of China. Li
for its students. Li hopes to obtain her master’s degree at UA, and she thinks that graduating with honors will give her an advantage. “I think if I graduate from the Honors College, it makes my diploma more valuable,” Li says. “Maybe I can use the advantage to find a job.” Li explains that many students in China earn their master’s degree. She says that even with the high level of education, China’s large population makes the job search competitive. Though both students agree it is hard being away from their home country, they believe this program and the Honors College will help them stand out from the rest. “I don’t have time to be homesick,” Li says. “In China, we only have exams at the end of the semester. In America, we have an exam once a month or so, and it urges me to study every day.” Lu says the Honors College and Capstone International Services in B.B. Comer have helped him and his group from OUC become
“I THINK IF I GRADUATE FROM THE HONORS COLLEGE,
IT MAKES MY DIPLOMA MORE VALUABLE.” and Lu are both part of the Concurrent International Undergraduate Degree Program at UA. The students complete a full year at OUC, followed by two years at UA, and then finish their senior years back at OUC. The students graduate with a degree from both universities, Lu says. “We will study here for two years and then go back to China,” Lu says. “We want to get the experience and further education in America.” However, students in this program do not share the same curriculum with other international students. While many students that study abroad must take special courses in B.B. Comer Hall, the students of the Concurrent International Undergraduate Degree Program are immediately integrated into normal business classes. “Here, I think the classes are more fun, and the professors are more kind,” Li says. “I can go to their office hours and discuss things with them. In China, I would be more scared to do that.” English classes are required in China starting as early as elementary school, and they continue until high school graduation, Li says. This gives them an advantage over students who must learn English while taking college classes. “I like English, and if I can speak it fluently, I can make American friends and learn the sounds of English,” Li says. Both students agree that the Honors College offers more benefits 40 | Mosaic 2010
acquainted with UA and take full advantage of course offerings and college experiences. “Every day I have so much to experience because it is so different from China,” Li says. “The way of life, the way the professors teach and the way everyone here is family, are so different from China.” n
Sophomore Chenxi Lu (right), a transfer student from China, enjoys the small class sizes of the Honors College.
any students dream of traveling to a foreign country at least once during their time in college. However, for junior Grant Luiken, the dream is to travel to as many different countries as possible. The Memphis native is on his way to realizing this dream by participating in his second study abroad experience, traveling to Uruguay in March for the school’s summer semester. Luiken’s dream is attainable in part because he received an academic four-year scholarship to UA as a National Merit Scholar
During the fall semester, the class trains students on the technical aspects of filmmaking and constructing a good story. Students travel abroad during the spring term, choose a film topic and immerse themselves with their topics through extensive fieldwork and direct participant observation. After the students return, they premiere their films at the Bama Theater. This spring, 10 students will make a 30 to 40 minute documentary, but only two students are going abroad to make a documentary. Luiken is one of the lucky two, and he says that he does not plan on making
Finalist and was accepted into the University Fellows Experience, which consists of some of the top students within the Honors College. In addition, Luiken is a Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility scholar. Luiken is double majoring in Latin American and Spanish studies, and studied abroad this past summer in Chile at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, also known as the Pontifical Catholic University of Valaparasio. “It was definitely a different experience, and I learned so much from the people,” Luiken says. “It’s one of the main reasons I want to return to South America.” Besides taking classes, Luiken also plans on making a documentary. He is enrolled in the International Documenting Justice course. Co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, the Honors College, Capstone International and the Department of telecommunication and film, the course is a specialized interdisciplinary course in ethnographic filmmaking. Drawing from a broad array of perspectives from disciplines across the humanities, the class teaches students how to document and analyze the many facets of cultural and social experiences when focusing on stories of justice or injustice.
an issues-related film. “It’s very hard for a foreigner who stays for only five or six months to completely understand an issue that’s been plaguing a culture for generations,” he says. “I don’t want to do that.” Instead, he plans on getting fully immersed in Uruguayan culture and history to create a comprehensive documentary of its people and their way of life. Luiken plans on doing so by focusing on one or two natives he will meet in Uruguay. “The documentary is going to be character-driven: a portrait of one person to represent his culture and help people better understand it,” he says. Luiken says that during his time in Chile, he learned a lot more about the culture just by observing the habits of a few people instead of millions. For example, he observed that most people he met took a two hour lunch break because of the influence of the Spanish siesta. Noticing little details like that, he says, is what helps a foreigner gain a more comprehensive view of a different culture. “When you show that you’re truly interested in their culture, people are more willing to get to know you,” Luiken says. “When I return to South America, I want my experience to be centered on the people I meet.” n The University of Alabama | 41
Story by Brittney Knox and Ariel Fink Photography by Lauren Lassiter Photography courtesy of Marshall Houston, DesireĂŠ Mahr, Gabriela Munoz, Glynnis Ritchie
42 | Mosaic 2010
tudying abroad is something every person should do. Although you are miles away from home, there is a shared human element wherever you are,” says Marshall Houston, a junior majoring in economics and English at The University of Alabama. “We are all people who have fears, desires and share a common bond.” Houston participated in the Alabama at Oxford program and took a course called “The Arts of Oxford.” This class granted the students 25 different cultural experiences, such as classical music
international issues or attending meetings pertaining to the United Nations or the G-8,” she says. “Instead, I attend meetings with American businesses who have interest in the Rhone-Alps region, or I visit local universities to help establish good U.S. relations. Occasionally I will attend speeches or lectures pertaining to the U.S. economy and its overall effect on the French economy. Campbell’s position, though unpaid, enabled her to earn academic credit – something she arranged in advance with the International Honors Program.
“I CAN’T PLACE A MONETARY VALUE ON MY
EXPERIENCES. BEING THERE WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN,
I FELT A CERTAIN AURA.”
Senior Glynnis Ritchie stands in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, where she studied abroad for a year.
Photo used with the Permission of Glynnis Ritchie.
performances, plays, museums and a visit to the Bodleian library. Through these opportunities, the students were able to embrace the culture of Oxford, a city in the southeastern part of England. “These experiences helped us to learn to understand Oxford as a place,” he says. “I loved the city and would love to go back if the opportunity presented itself.” Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, according to its Web site, has no exact date of origin, but evidence of teaching there is said to date back to the 11th Century. Houston says one of his most memorable experiences abroad was simply being able to walk the grounds that great thinkers have walked at this prestigious university. “I can’t place a monetary value on my experiences,” he says. “Being there, where they have been, I felt a certain aura to the place.” Just as Houston was able to dive into the culture of Oxford, Gabriela Munoz, a senior majoring in international studies, French and Spanish with a minor in the Blount liberal arts program, did the same as she embarked on her study abroad experiences in France and Spain. Munoz says after visiting Spain and France she has become more tolerant and understanding of other cultures. While backpacking across Southern France, Munoz decided she wanted to meet people in each of the seven cities she visited. “This gave me no other option but to use the language,” she says, “and it ultimately boosted my confidence in speaking.” Kristin Campbell, a senior double majoring in international studies and French, recently interned with the U.S. State Department in Lyon, the Rhone-Alps region of France. The internship allowed her to work directly under the RhoneAlps region foreign service officer Harry Sullivan, exposing her to various aspects of a foreign service officer’s position. “With this internship, I am stationed at the American Presence Post in Lyon, France, which mainly deals with American public diplomacy throughout the Rhone-Alps region,” she says, during an interview held while she was in France. It taught her much, she says, about public policy and diplomacy, though not in ways she necessarily expected. “When I started this internship, I expected to be working on
The University of Alabama | 43
“This internship ended up not being what I expected at all, and that turned out to be a good thing,” Campbell says. “I’ve learned the importance of diplomacy at the regional level, and in addition, I’ve developed good professional skills and learned how to work with people with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.” Desiree’ Mahr, a junior majoring in public relations and Spanish, decided to immerse herself in the culture of her host country, Mexico. “I decided to study abroad in Mexico because it was a very affordable program and gave me the opportunity to interact with the local people there,” she says. During her time abroad, Mahr took “Spanish Speaking World,” a class based on the literature and the history of Mexico. She recalls having trouble at first, because although she could understand the language, she feared making a mistake when speaking with the locals. But after five weeks in the program, she noticed significant improvement in her speech. In addition to the educational benefits, Mahr enjoyed exploring the Mexican outdoors. “Nature there is beautiful. We were able to see waterfalls, swim in
44 | Mosaic 2010
them and go horseback riding,” she says. “Also, we climbed one of the inactive volcanoes there, and it was amazing. You could just feel the heat from the ashes. After we were finished, every muscle in my body was aching.” Glynnis Ritchie, a senior double majoring in French and media, culture, and communication through New College, traveled to Paris, France for a year. This experience was a first for Ritchie who had never lived away from home for such an extended period of time and found herself adjusting to independent life in a foreign country. “This was my first time being on my own,” she says. “Mostly everything on the day-to-day basis you were responsible for doing, and although at first it was overwhelming, after a few weeks I found it to be liberating.” Despite the fact that they traveled to different locations, each student has learned valuable lessons that will help them in their careers and throughout life. These International Honors Program students seized opportunities to step outside of the comfort of the United States to embrace other cultures. n
A Piece by Jessica Stephenson Photography by Kayla Evans
ima, Peru was alive and awake, ready to welcome me. I stepped out of the airport into the bright city lights and the dense ocean mist that hovers over the city trapped by the Andes mountain range. At that time I did not have a full understanding of what awaited me. The words "study abroad" seem inadequate to describe my experience. During my semester abroad, I had the privilege to travel, learn, teach and serve. At the [Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú,] I enrolled independently in university level courses taught entirely in Spanish alongside native Peruvian students. I had the incredible opportunity of taking an Andean Linguistics course with Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú professor Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino, renowned linguist, author and respected authority in the study of Quechua, Aymara, Uru-Chipaya, Mochica and other indigenous languages of the Andes, an opportunity that I could not have had anywhere else in the world! I also took a Quechua language class and was faced with the difficult but exhilarating challenge of learning to speak Quechua through lectures in Spanish. Learning a third language through a second language was certainly a mental exercise, and I always attended class with both my Spanish-Quechua and my SpanishEnglish dictionary at hand! I had never studied a foreign language
Senior Jessica Stephenson (far right) studied abroad for a semester in Peru and had a diverse experience, learning a new language, exploring the country and volunteering her time as an interpreter for a missionary organization.
46 | Mosaic 2010
other than Spanish before, so I was fascinated by the new challenges presented by Quechua grammar, lexicon, syntax and phonetics. Quechua was the language of the Incas at the arrival of the Spaniards. Not only that, but it is currently the most widely spoken indigenous language in South America. Through my time in Perú I discovered an intense interest in linguistics, and if I have the opportunity, I would like to return to Perú to live for a time in the mountains with the Quechua people and learn more of their culture and language.
dren in the Puericultorio, but also of the many homeless children begging and selling little candies on the streets for a living. My time spent in the Puericultorio was not anything glamorous, but it gave me a chance to help in an immediate way. I was slobbered on, bitten and vomited on, and yet, I wouldn't trade it for the world! I was busy changing diapers, feeding, giving bottles, playing, holding the children, talking and singing to them — essentially, just showing them love. I can truly say that I was never bored in Perú. Among these major
“LEARNING A THIRD LANGUAGE THROUGH A SECOND LANGUAGE WAS CERTAINLY A MENTAL EXERCISE.” A missionary organization called ReapSouth also became an important part of my time in Perú. With this organization, I had the privilege of helping to teach free English as a Second Language classes through Bible studies. Also, I had the opportunity to travel to a little village in the mountains called San Damián. For a week, I served as an interpreter for a missionary team that was committed to helping the village with various projects, such as creating a water purification system so that the village could have clean drinking water and teaching the villagers how to build stoves with their own materials. These stoves burn a hot white ash instead of the black ash that causes so many lung problems. This trip also allowed me to see some rural cultural practices firsthand. The day of our arrival in San Damián was the day of an important festival. After a long day of cutting wood in the mountains, hundreds of men and their donkeys descended the steep cobblestone streets into San Damián where musicians, children and women with their characteristic hand-made brown, pink and blue shawls and straw hats with black ribbons were huddled together. I was in that crowd, an observer, pushed up against the walls as the men unloaded the bundles of firewood from the donkeys' backs, listening to the celebratory music of trumpets and drums, taking care not to be kicked or trampled by the frightened donkeys. I soon spotted a couple with a ring of greenery and flowers draped around their bodies. They were the chiefs of the festival, and villagers gave bottles of liquor to them. The chiefs were then responsible for pouring out alcohol onto the ground as a drink offering to Pachamama, "Mother Earth" in the Quechua language, in thanks for the plentiful firewood. I saw things that many people will only ever see on television or in an issue of National Geographic. Another wonderful experience was my volunteer work at the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar, a home for orphans and abandoned children. For a few hours a week, I helped take care of a "nest" of about nine Peruvian children under two years old. While I was there, we received a new little girl who was less than a month old. Her mother had given birth to her in the hospital and left in the next available taxi. I was struck with all of the need, not only of the many chil-
activities were countless other incidents and memories that enriched my experience, like getting into a mild crash in my first ever solo bus ride, visiting about 10 museums in Lima, losing my credit card, flying over the Nazca lines, gazing at the snow-topped volcanoes of Arequipa, and being able to see ancient, preIncaic ruins out of my bedroom window in Lima. At the end of my fivemonth stay, some of my best friends gave me a gift-a Peruvian flag that they all signed. The flag now hangs on my bedroom door in the U.S., an ever-present symbol of my second home in Perú. "Study abroad" can mean whatever you make out of it. I reflect on my "study abroad" as a "traveling, learning, teaching and serving experience" that I will never forget! n
The University of Alabama | 47
The University of Alabama | 51
Mike Zhang | Mosaic 2010 1652 | Mosaic 2009
up a cure Story by Kellie Munts Photography by Kayla Evans
hile balancing a full class schedule and an array of other commitments, sophomore Mike Zhang, a University Fellow and member of the University Honors Program, also devotes several hours each day to studying the causes of Parkinson’s disease.
your junior year,” Zhang says. “What I found that was unique, and was actually one of the reasons that I chose Alabama, was that the avenue for undergraduate research is so much greater here.” “The lab takes in five or six freshman every year and each is paired with a graduate student to work on a project,” Knight says. He
“WITH THIS ORGANISM, WE CAN RECREATE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE DISEASE AND MONITOR DIFFERENT FACTORS OVER ITS LIFE SPAN. IT’S GREAT BECAUSE I’VE BEEN ABLE TO KNOCK DOWN
HUNDREDS OF GENES IN A YEAR.” —Mike Zhang
Zhang, a biology major, researches the link between aging in a model organism called C. elegans, or better known as tiny round worms, and the disease itself in the Caldwell lab on campus. He began his work in the lab the summer before his freshman year, and since then has been able to further hone his skills as a scientist. Zhang first experienced research during his high school career at the Alabama School of Math and Science. The school is supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zhang says, and he was part of a team assembled to develop a robot that will detect and remove landmines. This work sparked his interest in continuing research at the collegiate level and ultimately led him to The University of Alabama. As Zhang went through the process of making a college decision, the opportunity to work in a lab was a top priority. Through UA tours, Zhang discovered the Caldwell lab, which he contacted through then-senior Adam Knight, and was able to begin working in the lab before fall classes began. “At many universities you can’t really start doing research until
explains that the group is comprised of about 30 students in total, which allows for effective research and a welcoming environment. Zhang spends time in the lab each day working on the ongoing project with Knight, who is now working on his master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology. Knight has taught Zhang to think like a scientist, Zhang says. This training has prompted Zhang to approach situations from a uniquely scientific perspective. They work closely together creating experiments and monitoring the worms that are used in the project. Because 70 percent of the worm’s genes have human versions, they are ideal organisms to examine aging, the main cause of Parkinson’s disease, and genetic factors that could contribute to its onset. Additionally, the worm’s life span is very short, which allows more research to be done in a shorter period of time. “There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and the most recent treatment is extremely old,” Zhang says. “With this organism, we can recreate the symptoms of the disease and monitor different factors over its life span. It’s great because I’ve been able to knock The University of Alabama | 53
“HE’S IN THE LAB
WORKING LIKE CRAZY AND HE’S REALLY MATURE FOR SOMEONE WHO’S SO YOUNG,”
down hundreds of genes in a year.” Although being part of the project is a large time commitment, Zhang enjoys the environment and atmosphere of what has been dubbed “The Worm Shack” on the Caldwell lab Web site. “We are in the lab at some really weird hours, because whenever the worms are ready you have to be ready,” Knight says. “A lot of the stuff for science requires that you set up an experiment and then you’ll have a lot of down time in between.” Knight says that Zhang’s commitment to the project has been impressive since he first began working in the lab. “He’s in the lab working like crazy, and he’s really mature for someone who’s so young,” Knight says. “We work pretty closely together and have since he got here.” In the same vein of his work in the Caldwell lab, Zhang also serves as the director of research for the UA Pediatric Stroke Initiative. He was able to travel to Philadelphia in the spring of 2009 to visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and learn from the Pediatric Stroke Program in place there. Ultimately, Zhang plans to earn a medical doctorate and will use his experiences at UA to further his career in medical research. The work requires intense dedication, Zhang says, but the reward for being part of a team that works to benefit the lives of others is outstanding. In the spring of 2009, Zhang attended the Victory Summit in Birmingham, a meeting that focused on ways to improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients and their families. With hundreds of Parkinson’s patients in attendance, the crowd held the most concentrated group of patients Zhang had been in contact with at that point. He had the opportunity to sit and speak with the people that his research will ultimately benefit during the meeting. 54 | Mosaic 2010
“My advisers, [Drs.] Guy and Kim Caldwell, presented all the work that we’re doing, and they were so happy to see that steps were being taken to make their lives better,” Zhang says. “The entire group gave us an ovation and to see that hope, that’s what keeps me going.” n
Story by Jon Lauer Photography by Jerrod Seaton Daniel Gerber, who recently won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Southeastern Regional Student Conference Award in the undergraduate division, received the Goldwater scholarship this year.
ow many people can say they have researched the strain on objects such as the external tank of a space shuttle? Of those, how many have won awards for research in this area? And of those, how many can say they developed an interest in such a complicated project as a freshman in college? University of Alabama student Daniel Gerber not only makes the list, he essentially is the list. Gerber, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in the Computer-Based Honors Program, has achieved national recognition for his award-winning project under the direction of Dr. Paul Hubner, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics at UA. The project, titled “A Factorial Design Experiment to Analyze the Optical Strain Response of a Luminescent Photoelastic Coating” won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAIA) Southeastern Regional Student Conference Award in the undergraduate division. By winning the competition, he automatically advanced to the international conference in January in Orlando, Florida, a conference that he also won. He is only the second UA student to win the award. Additionally, Gerber received the Goldwater Scholarship this year. Gerber, who was originally an aerospace engineering major, met Hubner when he was a freshman student in Hubner’s class. Gerber says he appreciated his professor’s teaching style and almost immediately identified him as someone with whom he would be interested in working. Gerber approached Hubner explaining he was a member of the Computer-Based Honors Program and would be interested in assisting him with a project if one was available. Serendipitously, Hubner did have one available, and Gerber began to work on it. “Essentially, the project involved measuring the strain (or stress) in a material by analyzing images of the coating that are captured through a series of filters. Our primary focus was improving the accuracy — making the measured strain as close to the actual strain as possible,” Gerber explains. Gerber says he focused on improving the calibration in the project’s testing. He says he appreciated Hubner’s patience as he familiarized himself with the project. “It wasn’t that easy when I was first working on the project,” Gerber admits. “I was basically handed a pile of project-related
papers, and even with Dr. Hubner’s help, I still had to spend a lot of free time reading and rereading the papers. There was definitely a steep learning curve when I was trying to understand all the science that was going on.” In addition to thanking Hubner for allowing him the opportunity to work on the project, Gerber is also grateful to the Computer-Based Honors Program for the opportunities it provided. Gerber’s familiarity with programming in C++ and other languages helped him with the most computer-related aspects of his project. The program also helped fund the April conference he attended. According to Hubner, Gerber’s involvement in ComputerBased Honors Program is what originally impressed him enough to let Gerber work on the project. “Dan was a top performing student in a freshman level course that I taught. When he approached me about a research project for the CBHP, it was an easy decision to get him involved,” Hubner says. “We work with a coating to measure the strain (stress) on mechanical components. Dan, through a formal process called Design of Experiment, found a better way for us to characterize how our coatings respond to strain.” The project could have a profound impact on the engineering industry. The improved process of determining strain allows engineers and scientists to gauge how materials and objects can withstand pressure and force. By determining the strain on something as important as the external tank of the space shuttle, the thickness of a tank can be adjusted to accommodate the pressure from the fuel inside the tank. The more accurately the strength of a tank is measured, the safer and more effective that tank is. “And that’s just one example,” Gerber adds. “You can coat almost anything and get a strain map using this coating. It allows you to see how much the material is deforming.” Despite winning an award, Gerber plans to continue his research on the project. Currently, Gerber and Hubner are looking at how making the light strike the coating at an oblique angle affects the response. Gerber expects his experience to help him in his future career as well. “I know from this project that I enjoy research. It stimulates my intellectual curiosity, and it is satisfying to see results. I guess now I know that I could do research as a career,” Gerber says. “The conferences have also helped solidify my desire to work as an engineer.” n The University of Alabama | 55
ohn Phillips was probably the only one surprised when Dr. Robert Halli, dean emeritus of the Honors College, Dr. Robert Witt, president of The University of Alabama and Dr. Judy Bonner, executive vice-president and provost of The University of Alabama, crashed a meeting of the Capstone Men and Women in the Rose Administration Building bearing a cake, candles lit, decorated with the words “John Phillips – Truman Scholar.” The project that won Phillips the Truman Scholarship, as Halli remembers, was a Computer-Based Honors Program project involving the creation of a database for the Good Samaritan Health Care Clinic, a free health clinic for the underserved of Tuscaloosa, “which enabled its staff to apply for grants in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks,” Halli says. “As a result, the number of grants submitted and won increased ... and with more money, the number of needy patients served increased significantly.” No small feat for a student Dr. Kim Caldwell, associate professor in the department of biological sciences, calls “a poster child for excellence.” Phillips was born and raised in Decatur, Ala. as part of a family with UA ties. His dad, Gary, is an attorney who graduated number
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one in his class at the UA Law School. His mother, Linda, has mostly been a stay-at-home mom, and his sister has a psychology degree from UA. For as long as Phillips can remember, he has been good with computers and technology, and he says, “when I was ten or eleven, I was already taking apart our home computer and troubleshooting things.” He was admitted to many top tier colleges, including Princeton, but chose Alabama. “I can’t really explain why I attended UA. I think it was something more intangible than anything. It just fit. Alabama felt like a place I could call home,” he says. “I look back on that decision as probably the best decision I have made so far in my life.” During his time at UA, Phillips majored in chemistry, with minors in computer-based honors and business. He credits others with his success. “Being in the Honors College and CBHP, I was constantly around extremely bright high-achievers. I had great mentors at UA. Cathy Ran-
research, not his work ethic and not his many deeds on behalf of our University, as one of its most visible representatives, that make John stand out,” she says. “It is his humble demeanor and honest passion to make himself and his community the best possible place it can be for all of our students. John defines the word ‘humanitarian’ in all that he is and all he does.” In addition to the Truman Scholarship, Phillips was a Rhodes and Marshall scholarship finalist. He was also named to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, as well as outstanding junior and senior in the Computer -Based Honors Program. Additionally, he held a fellowship scholarship in the Computer-Based Honors Program all four years, was president of Capstone Men and Women, was a Blackburn Fellow, member of the Anderson Society and Mortar Board, and graduated summa cum laude in 2006. To top it off, Phillips received a full scholarship to Vanderbilt Medical School, the kind awarded to only about 0.1 percent of total applicants, and he will graduate with an medical doctorate degree
“...IN THE HONORS COLLEGE AND CBHP, I WAS CONSTANTLY AROUND
EXTREMELY BRIGHT HIGH-ACHIEVERS.” dall (Director Emeritus of the Computer-Based Honors Program, now retired) ... really took an interest in me. Once she got me on Bob Halli’s radar, I really felt like I had the support of the entire university. John Burke (professor of English and director of the English Honors Program), Guy and Kim Caldwell (associate professors in the department of biological sciences), Darren Evans-Young (professor in the Computer-Based Honors Program) all were very active in shaping my career at UA. When Dr. Randall retired, I never thought they would find someone to replace her, and then they found Dr. Sharpe. I feel very confident the Honors College is in his hands now.” Phillips also credits the Computer-Based Honors Program with his success. “CBHP definitely helped me get where I am. CBHP basically develops your ability to ask academic questions, design research projects around them and follow through with implementation. That is the very essence of an academic career and one of the major things medical schools and other graduate programs are looking for. They want to train the next generation of leaders in the field, and I think CBHP gives you a leg up on showing your abilities. Research is not like the classroom. It requires a different skill set, and that skill set is what CBHP develops,” he says. “Through CBHP, I was able to gain exposure to the problems in the health care field and the complexity of the solutions to those problems. Working at the Good Samaritan Health Clinic taught me about problems with insurance in America. My work in experimental biochemistry taught me about biomedical research. I left CBHP with a better idea of what academic medicine would be like.” While at UA, Phillips was an undergraduate research student in “The Worm Shack,” otherwise known as the laboratory of the Caldwells, where he performed biochemical experiments on a gene linked to leukemia and prostate cancer. Kim Caldwell renders an eloquent tribute. “John is simply impressive in every capacity – as a researcher, as a scholar, as a leader among his peers and as a role model for others. It was not his perfect GPA in one of our toughest majors, not his
in May 2010. Not surprisingly, that’s where another phase of his remarkable life began. While at Vanderbilt, Phillips worked with Drs. Dennis Hallahan and Roberto Diaz in a cutting-edge field of cancer research called “targeted therapeutics.” “We shock the cancer cells with radiation. This causes the cancer cells to express new receptors. We have found a small peptide (which Dr. Hallahan has patented) which can find those receptors. We then coat nanoparticles filled with anti-cancer drugs with that peptide, creating a system that sends the drug only to the cancer. This can prevent side-effects such as nausea, vomiting and hair loss typically seen with chemotherapy,” he says, describing the research. “We have gotten some great initial results and have seen up to a five-fold increase in tumor growth delay over today’s standard treatment using a mouse model. We are now working on developing such treatments for use in human clinical trials.” The goal is to develop new generations of drugs which are increasingly specific to cancer with fewer side-effects. Their new paper is in review by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute now. Phillips will soon begin his residency in radiation oncology at Harvard,a competitive program that only admits about 125 applicants nationally per year, and his career plans include both a clinical medicine practice and continuing research. Despite his life being full with his medical endeavors, Phillips still finds time for sports. His basketball team at Vanderbilt, composed of first-year medical students, beat the Vanderbilt football team at basketball. But he has not lost his Alabama roots. Last January he was in Pasadena for the BCS National Championship Game, tailgating with current UA students who were in the fifth grade when Phillips was just starting at UA. One wonders if those freshmen at the Rose Bowl knew they were tailgating with the poster child for excellence. n The University of Alabama | 57
Story by Sarah Hicks
ll college students face challenges ... tests, career choices, relationships, daily tasks. Most develop strategies to deal with those challenges. But what would you do if your ability to respond to the responsibilities and stresses of college life was impaired, through no fault of your own? For many students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, this is a reality. ADHD is a neurobiological condition that impairs one’s ability to regulate attention and control impulses and behaviors. It occurs in about 6 to 8 percent of children and 4 to 5 percent of adults in the United States.
Health Center, he devotes time to working with ADHD students and students who suspect they might have ADHD. “ADHD is relatively common ... and 90 percent of patients will respond to treatment,” Thomas says. “The impact of not treating ADHD is really great, so you can quickly make a huge difference in someone’s life by being willing and able to treat ADHD adequately.” According to Thomas, the idea that ADHD only affects children is a myth. Because the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders requires that symptoms be present by the age of 7, many college students and adults fail to be diagnosed. Of those who
“THE HOPE IS THAT THE VIDEOS WILL PROVIDE USEFUL INFORMATION TO OTHER STUDENTS WITH ADHD REGARDING THE OPPORTUNITIES,
SERVICES AND RESOURCES AVAILABLE AT UA.”
Computer-Based Honors students Dana Lewis and Bradley Langston are working with faculty member Mark Thomas, M.D. to create videos and podcasts for a Web site that will reach out to ADHD students at The University of Alabama. Langston sees the project as an opportunity to learn about web design and video production while serving the campus. “The videos are being made by interviewing current UA students who have ADHD and asking them to share their personal experiences,” Langston says. “The hope is that the videos will provide useful information to other students with ADHD regarding the opportunities, services and resources available at UA.” Lewis picked the podcast project due to her interest in health communications. “The videos cover basic information ... including test-taking tips, campus resources and adjusting to college life,” she says. “This phase is really to jump-start the project so that students have one place to come and get information.” Thomas is also a staff physician in the Student Health Center and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine in the College of Community Health Sciences. Working at the Student
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are diagnosed as children, the symptoms do not magically disappear when they reach adulthood. College students are at particular risk of undertreatment, as medication doses that were effective during a seven hour day in high school may not be effective any more during the longer hours of the college setting. This is why Thomas is currently working to establish and implement new national guidelines for the treatment of ADHD specific to the college age. “The overall optimal treatment for ADHD ... is multifaceted. Medication is one of the facets ... there are behavioral treatments like counseling ... another aspect would be academic accommodations. But of all the treatments, medication is the one that makes the greatest difference,” Thomas says. In October 2009 UA hosted its first regional conference “ADHD Revisited: Overcoming Obstacles and Promoting the Positives,” which UA hopes will become an annual event. The title is telling. Usually the positives don’t get mentioned in discussions about ADHD because there is a natural tendency to focus on what goes wrong, but people with ADHD, Thomas says, are typically highly imaginative, creative, original and independent thinkers. n
Cleaning Up the Creek A Piece by Emily Malone Photography courtesy of Wilson Boardman
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am accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Tuscaloosa, that is, the bumper-to-bumper traffic on McFarland or the seemingly constant roar of a train chugging down the tracks. But the opportunity that I had to participate in the Hurricane Creek CleanUp introduced me to a much more serene side of Tuscaloosa. The park allows residents and visitors to discover and enjoy a part of our town’s natural beauty. Although I have lived here for over two-and-a-half years now, I had never taken the time to explore and appreciate what this town has to offer, outside of a nationally acclaimed athletics program. As a freshman, I did not take part in any of the service opportunities conducted by the Honors College, but I wish I had taken the time during that year of transition to slow down and see what Tuscaloosa, and UA, has to offer. I regret not having taken part in more activities during my first two years here at the Capstone, but I am glad that I did not let all four years pass by without having participated in any of the wonderful opportunities organized by the Honors College. After watching a documentary over the summer that focused on water pollution and exploitation, I developed an increased awareness in current environmental issues, specifically water pollution. So, on a whim, I signed up to participate in the Honors College organized event, Hurricane Creek Clean-up. I was not exactly sure what I had signed up for, but I was anxious to see what was in store for me. On a picture perfect fall day, after watching the Tide add another “W” to the books, I headed down to Hurricane Creek to meet up with the rest of the group at
the park entrance. Over 30 people, made up of students and faculty members, volunteered to come out for a couple of hours on this Saturday afternoon and help pick up debris from the outdoor recreational park. We each grabbed a pair of gloves and a trash bag and got to work. The group quickly scoured every accessible part of the park; garbage bags were packed with countless aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles and various other pieces of litter. Someone even managed to drag a car tire out of the creek. Everyone was very eager and willing to help clean up, and in no time, we found ourselves without any more trash to pick up. Scheduled to be a four-hour event, the clean-up turned out to take only about two hours to complete because of the extraordinary teamwork of the students and faculty who participated. It was very inspiring to see so many faculty members come out to support this program. Because we finished the clean-up so quickly, we were able to take a break and enjoy a light snack with our fellow volunteers. The time to converse with fellow Honors College students and faculty outside of the classroom setting was a nice alternative to the usual classroom talk. The natural beauty of the creek and the knowledge that we were actually making a difference for the environment was very gratifying. I would highly recommend participating in any type of service project to anyone. If there is some area that you find intriguing, learn more about it and get involved with it in some way. My encouragement would be that it is never too late to get involved! n
Honors College students participate in the Hurricane Creek Clean-Up held during the fall 2009 semester.
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t’s two o’clock in the afternoon, and Elizabeth Jones pauses outside of Nott Hall to enjoy the reminder.“I love when you’re in class and you hear Denny Chimes,” she says. “There’s just nothing better.” Maybe the tuneful interruption is particularly welcome because Jones, a senior in the Honors College and prime mover behind the after-school mentoring program SpeakUp!, doesn’t often have a surplus of time to stop and smell the roses — or, out on the Quad, the tulips. An economics major with a psychology minor, Jones, a Birmingham native, loves sunny days, riding her bike around campus, reading Jane Austen and, when she can, relaxing on the Quad. But these are more prosaic recreations she’s willing to sacrifice for the work she calls her “passion”: education. “I don’t know that I’d say I’m driven or motivated,” she describes herself. “I’m not the most organized or on top of things all the time, but I would consider myself passionate. Education is what I believe in.” For Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College and director of the University Honors Program, who Jones describes as a mentor, “passionate” is too modest a self-evaluation.
do the same math problems that were frustrating you earlier in the day.” Teaming up with another Honors College peer, Alex Flachsbart, Jones brainstormed. “What could we give students in an after-school setting that would be dynamic and creative and something totally different and new, but also academic, building the skills that students need?” she asked. “We came up with debate.” Starting as an official course in fall 2008, each semester SpeakUp! takes 13 to 15 UA honors students to Hillcrest Middle School in Tuscaloosa. They serve as mentors and work with teams of two to three middle-schoolers each and teach the skills necessary to hold a debate on topics relevant to their lives and education — from the possible negative effects of television to whether Alabama should have a lottery to fund education. As Moral Forum alumni, Jones and Flachsbart recognized that debate gave young people the unique opportunity to do research, writing, public speaking and critical thinking, and perhaps most importantly, it provided an atmosphere in which students could learn to be effective advocates for themselves and their opinions. For the middle-school crowd, debate seemed ideal.
“She’s magical,” Morgan insists, having seen Jones interact with middle-school students through SpeakUp! “She has such a gift with young people, for teaching.” It’s not difficult to believe. “I can talk about SpeakUp! for days and days,” Jones gushes, prefacing her highly enthusiastic and articulate description of the program that is, essentially, her brainchild. During her freshman and sophomore years, the Honors College civic engagement seminar, Moral Forum, and a second mentoring course she “absolutely loved” piqued Jones’s interest in working one-on-one with young people. Recognizing an opportunity for a creative outlet in the after-school time she was given with middleschool students in Tuscaloosa, Jones began to develop the idea that would become SpeakUp! “I felt like we had such an opportunity to engage these children who maybe were far behind, maybe were discouraged or maybe just stayed after school because their parents couldn’t pick them up. It was a chance to give them an experience that was different from the school day,” she explains. The creative component was essential. “A lot of kids are worn out when it’s three o’clock — you want to go home. And if you’re not going home, you don’t really want to
“Debate is fun because it’s competitive, it’s about your opinions, and everybody has those. And it’s spunky and argumentative, which, Lord knows, middle-schoolers are,” Jones laughs. But more significantly, “none of these kids had any experience with it. Nobody was already good at it, and no kids were automatically going to be bad at it. It’s kind of like a fresh starting ground.” SpeakUp! proved to be a fresh, fertile starting ground for its college participants as well. Jackie Parks, who learned about SpeakUp! in her sophomore mentoring class, found herself just as inspired by the program as her three mentees. “I was able to see each child thrive at their own unique talent,” she explains. “One mentee was great at reading the case and being animated, the other got extremely excited about conducting the rebuttal speech, while the last student thrived at her writing skills. I even believe that students who hated it at the beginning learned to love it.” Watching the transformations SpeakUp! worked in the students she mentored, Parks began to explore how she could find new ways to meet the needs of middle-school children. Both Jones and Morgan agree, after all, that it’s a “tough age.” Sixth, seventh and eighth grades are formative years, Jones comments.
Senior Elizabeth Jones, founder of the SpeakUp! program, interacts with a student at Hillcrest Middle School.
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“You’re really beginning to come into your own and developing all these interests, but you’re not sure if they’re the right ones or the cool ones,” she says. A similar observation led Parks to research a tangential issue among young women, in particular. “My research led me to develop a program that will take collegeaged women into schools to mentor adolescent girls on the four aspects of health: physical, mental, social and spiritual,” Parks says, adding that, “There is no doubt my experience in SpeakUp! inspired me to move forward with my ‘Beautiful Health’ mentoring project.” Her project is a prime example of how the environment of the Honors College can not only implement student initiatives, but encourage more UA students to pursue their ideas and interests with the security of a flexible, supportive institution at their backs. “The Honors College has been my experience at UA, by and large,” Jones stresses. “That’s the first thing to point to as far as a place on campus where you can delve into a variety of different things and challenge yourself in a hundred different ways. But really, I think so much of it is the support structure; it’s having people in Nott Hall that you can go to, just walk in their office and have life discussions.”
The help Jones received from Morgan in organizing SpeakUp! attests to that. “I’d like to say we had to go through all sorts of red tape, fight our way in some heroic effort, but it was remarkably easy,” Jones laughs. “We went to Dr. Morgan, pitched our idea, and she said okay, make it happen.” For Morgan, it was a pleasure. “We have students who look for ways to create change, to find solutions, and I like that students like Liz feel they can have ownership in that process,” Morgan says, emphasizing that the support the Honors College was able to give Jones was much more than help with an extracurricular activity — it’s her vocation. Jones will continue her education advocacy post-graduation as a Teach For America corps member in the fall, spending two years teaching secondary math after a five-week course over the summer. Education is certainly her passion. But Jones insists that finding what “makes your blood boil or keeps you up at night” is not an overnight process. “We have so much pressure on us to answer that question — what is your passion?” Jones says. “It’s kind of become a horrendous word. But I just encourage people that it’s okay if you don’t know, because if you don’t know, you haven’t found it yet.” n Alex Flachsbart with Students at Hillcrest Middle School that participate in SpeakUP!
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(Below) Colby Leopard (far left) and his Alabama Action group members who volunteered at Matthews Elementary School the week before fall semester began.
Alabama Action A Piece by: Colby Leopard Photography courtesy of Rita Martin
hroughout my senior year of high school I could not wait to get out of the same city I had lived in for the past seven years. When I heard about Alabama Action, I signed up enthusiastically, knowing I would be leaving home that much sooner. As the summer days grew shorter, however, I came to the nostalgic realization that I would miss home, but it was too late to go changing my mind. With a heavy heart I packed my things, moved to Tuscaloosa, waved goodbye to my parents and found myself in a room full of complete strangers for the Alabama Action kick-off. Before the shy and awkward me could find his way to a quiet corner, I was pulled in to a hug by Wellon Bridgers, Alabama Action staff adviser, and whisked away to wring the hands of a dozen people I now call my friends. From that point on, I was more than ok with being around people I hardly knew because the fact that they were there meant that we had a mutual interest in academic excellence and community service. On Monday, the first service day, we broke into groups and were assigned to different schools in Tuscaloosa. I was sent to Matthews Elementary School, but found myself in a project group made up of unfamiliar faces. This time I tackled the strangers head on and found them very friendly and eager to get started on our project, even though most were nervous to simply be away from home, just like me. Our group leaders sat us all down and, after the standard name games and introductions, explained to us the tall order of our assignment. We were going to be working in the gym, cleaning the cabinets and floors, touching up paint on the walls, building a couple of basketball goals and organizing and painting a mural
on one of the walls that was a colossal 50 feet long. We set to work immediately, trying to get a good start on all of our work, because we felt certain that we would need every second of our time; but, as the day went on, we realized that we had put in so much work the first day, the rest of the week wouldn’t be so bad. The 10 members of our group project started relaxing, talking more and forming relationships as day one came to an end. Tuesday began one-on-one time with the 5th graders of Matthews Elementary, which I found to be the most rewarding part of Alabama Action. My boys were shy but eager to have someone to look up to, and I was more than willing to oblige. We spent time together working on learning and applying the three R’s of Matthews Elementary: respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. By the end of the week, my boys were throwing away the girls' trash at the end of lunch, holding doors for people and always saying “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” to their teacher. The formerly chaotic pair began to make me proud every time I was around them. Our project came together nicely and will now be enjoyed by many generations of Matthews Elementary kids to come. I was able to make friends, despite being so far from home, and I helped two 5th grade boys on their journey to becoming gentlemen. Alabama Action taught me many valuable lessons about what being a student at The University of Alabama means. I will always be grateful for the friendly environment that allowed for someone as timid as me to feel welcomed at my new home in Tuscaloosa, all the while being able to help those in need because they, in turn, changed who I am. n
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Story by Gina Cook Photography by Lauren Lassiter
ollege: to some it is an easy transition in life that helps one obtain a job, but for others, it represents a distant goal for which they do not know how to prepare. This is what motivated four University Fellows to start the Blueprints program to prepare Title I high school students for college. According to the United States Department of Education, Title I schools are those with a high percentage of students from lowincome families. Sophomores Nicole Bohannon, Fernanda Lima, Hallie Paul and Christy Boardman were each involved in building the program and mentoring students in order to prepare them to apply for college. Last spring, the program began at Holt High School in Tuscaloosa with 35 students who planned for their future by maintaining a relationship with college mentors. Bohannon, a political science major, says she chose this as her Fellows project because it hit so close to home.
“The program was actually inspired by my own experiences in high school, going to a Title I high school that didn’t have a lot of guidance for after high school,” says Bohannon. “Guidance counselors are so underserved [overworked] that they really don’t have a lot of time, especially in Title I schools, to work on post-high school plans for their students.” Bohannon says that interview skills, resume building and ACT preparation are just a few of the essentials students learn during the eight sessions of the program. English teacher Cindy Dixon says it has been a wonderful opportunity for her students at Holt, and it was great to see their interaction with the college mentors. “My students needed to see role models,” Dixon says. “They needed to have someone to ask questions to. They needed someone that can just sum up the experience and take away the fear.” Quincy Hall participated in Blueprints as a junior at Holt in 2009
“I WAS INTENDING TO GO TO COLLEGE BEFORE THE PROGRAM, BUT
THE PROGRAM INSPIRED ME MORE AND TOTALLY HELPED TURN AWAY MY FEARS AND DOUBTS FOR COLLEGE.”
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A re t a h T s l o Scho o rs n o H e h t f Pa r t o : m a r g o r P g Me nto r i n e n tar y m e l E t l o H + tar y n e m e l E s + M at t h e w
The Hon ors College has a num ber of stud ents invo lved in men tori ng thro ugho ut the commun ity. Quin cy Hall , one of the Universi ty Fello ws Expe rien ce men tees has been insp ired to start a simi lar prog ram whe n he atte nds the Universi ty of Mon teva llo next fall. He says of his expe rien ce, “i real ly wan t to prov ide juni ors and seni ors wit h the vita l info rmation my clas s rece ived in the Blue prin ts prog ram .”
“MY STUDENTS NEEDED TO SEE
THEY NEEDED TO HAVE SOMEONE TO ASK QUESTIONS TO. THEY NEEDED SOMEONE THAT CAN JUST SUM UP THE EXPERIENCE AND TAKE AWAY THE FEAR.” —Cindy Dixon
and says it was a great way for him and his classmates to prepare for college applications and resumes. “I was really thankful for a group such as this,” Hall says. “[Blueprints] really helped me prepare probably better than our counselor talking to us as a group would have done.” According to Bohannon, at the end of last year’s program the majority of students had a greater desire to attend college, and 85 percent of them said they would pursue taking the ACT exam. “I was intending to go to college before the program, but the program inspired me more and totally helped turn away my fears and doubts for college,” Hall says.
Because of its success at Holt, Blueprints expanded in spring of 2010 to two other Title I schools, reaching an estimated 150 students this year. The Alabama Poverty Project helped to develop the program at Hueytown High School near Birmingham, and Francis Marion High School in Marion, Alabama. Hall says his participation has inspired him to start yet another branch of the program in Montevallo where he will attend The University of Montevallo, majoring in choral music education. “I really want to provide juniors and seniors with the vital information my class received in the Blueprints program,” Hall says. n The University of Alabama | 71
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1 Emily Bell [Editorial Staff] is a senior from Knoxville, Tenn. majoring in journalism and political science. She is a justice for the Student Judiciary Board and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Bell is in the University Honors Program. 2 Charlie Bice [Photographer] is a freshman from Birmingham, Ala. majoring in international studies with minors in Spanish and Chinese. He is a member of AIabama International Relations Club and the UA Environmental Council. Bice is in the University Honors Program and the International Honors Program. 3 Sumerlin Brandon [Photographer] is a junior from Birmingham, Ala. working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with concentrations in painting and digital media. She is involved with the Reformed University Fellowship. Brandon is in the University Honors Program. 4 Chris Bryant [Editorial Adviser] is the assistant director of media relations at The University of Alabama. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1991 and lives in Gordo, Ala. with his wife, Dawn, and their two children, Jackson and Noah.
photographer Nestor Marti. Their partnership resulted in a collaborative exhibition in Havana in May 2009 entitled â€œSide by Side.â€? Cooper and Marti are now working on a book with UA Arts & Sciences and Alabama Press that is scheduled for a 2011 release. 7 Danielle Drago [Features Editor] is a sophomore from Cary, N. Car. majoring in finance with a specialization in international finance and a minor in Spanish. She is a student leader of the Honors College Mentoring program, as well as an assistant editor for Changing Tides magazine and a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. Drago is a student leader for the Reformed University Fellowship ministry and a member of the University Honors and International Honors Programs. 8 Avery Driggers [Designer] is a sophomore in New College with a depth study in communications and the culinary arts. She is a member of Capstone Men and Women and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Avery is in the University Honors Program and the International Honors Program.
5 Gina Cook [Features Editor] is a junior majoring in broadcast news with a minor in political science from Chattanooga, Tenn. She is an intern for WVUA and vice president of the PACE program for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is in the University Honors Program.
9 Kayla Evans [Photography Editor] is a senior in New College pursuing a depth study in media design and implementation from Leesburg, Ala. She has worked in the Computer-Based Honors Program office for three and a half years, and, in addition, currently works as a freelance photographer and Web designer. Evans is in the Computer-Based Honors and University Honors Programs.
6 Chip Cooper [Photography Adviser] was director of photography at The University of Alabama for more than 30 years. Cooper is now Artist in Residence in the Honors College and a faculty member in the College of Arts & Sciences. He has published six books and is a member of UAâ€™s Cuba-Alabama Academic Initiative. Last year the Cuban Government asked him to work with their legendary
10 Angel Everett [Features Editor] is a junior from Tampa, Fla. majoring in international studies and Spanish. She was on the executive board of the International Student Association, and she is a volunteer with Culturally Speaking. She recently studied abroad in Germany and Costa Rica. She is also in the International Honors Program and University Honors Program.
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11 Kayla Glass [Designer] is a sophomore from Millry, Ala. majoring in nursing. She is a member of Alpha Phi sorority and a mentor at Matthews Elementary School. She is in the University Honors Program. 12 Kellie Hensley [Assistant Creative Director] is a junior from Montgomery, Ala. She is majoring in studio art with a digital media concentration, and minoring in advertising. Hensley recently studied abroad in Oxford, England. Hensley is also a member of Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is in the University Honors Program. 13 Drew Hoover [Features Editor] is a sophomore from Montgomery, Ala. majoring in history and studio art. He does freelance photography in Tuscaloosa and is currently working on a documentary about how El Paso, Texas is affected by the recent violence in Juarez, Mexico. Hoover is in the University Honors Program. 14 Jennifer Ireland [Designer] is a junior majoring in advertising from Birmingham, Ala. She is active in her sorority and a member of the UA advertising team. She is in the University Honors Program. 15 Quint Langstaff [Photographer] is a junior majoring in religious studies with a minor in Asian Studies. He enjoys long walks on the beach, climbing mountains at sunrise and falling asleep to smooth jazz. Langstaff is in the University Honors Program. 16 Lauren Lassiter [Photographer] is a freshman majoring in human development & family studies with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. Lassiter is in the University Honors Program and the International Honors Program.
17 Laura Lineberry [Design Adviser] is a fulltime instructor of graphic design in the College of Arts & Sciences art and art history department. Lineberry has been recognized regionally and nationally for her talents in print media by the American Advertising Federation, Print Magazine, Communication Arts, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Public Relations Council of Alabama and many more. Recently honored for creative excellence by the Awards for Publication Excellence (APEX) and the Communicator Awards for her work on UAâ€™s Alumni Magazine, Lineberry is an active member of her community serving on the Board of Directors of the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, West Alabama AIDS Outreach and Easter Seals of West Alabama. 18 Sarah Massey [Editor-in-Chief] is a sophomore majoring in media studies through New College and history from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is an assistant editor of Changing Tides magazine, an intern with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life and an ambassador to the Honors College. Massey is in the University Honors Program.
19 Anna Pendleton [Managing Editor] is a senior from Superior, Colo. majoring in English. She is a member of Capstone Men and Women and Delta Delta Delta sorority. She is in the University Honors Program. 20 Jerrod Seaton [Photographer] is a senior from Horton, Ala. double majoring in political science and philosophy. He is the photo editor for The Crimson White and has published photographs in several publications including The Birmingham News, The Arkansas Traveler, The Executive and The Agorean. He is in the University Honors Program.
Bama, the nationâ€™s first video podcast campus tour, as well as the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Advertising by the College of Communication & Information Sciences. He was also named one of the top 13 advertising students in the nation by the American Advertising Federation. Williams has worked for numerous international, national and regional clients, including: Apple, Audi, ConocoPhillips, Intel, PG&E and The University of Alabama. He is in the University Honors Program.
21 Meridith Shook [Features Editor] is a sophomore majoring in art history and Spanish from Auburn, Ala. She is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Club. Shook is in the International Honors Program and University Honors Program. 22 Matt Williams [Creative Director] is a senior majoring in advertising. He has been a member of the UA advertising team since his freshman year, serving as creative director for the past two years. Williams was named UA Outstanding Sophomore for co-creating iTour The University of Alabama | 75
1 Brass Bralley is a freshman from Altadena, Calif. majoring in Spanish. She is a student leader for Alabama Action, a tutor at the Center for Teaching and Learning and an Honors Connection peer mentor. Bralley is a member of the University and International Honors Program. 2 Taylor Burley is a freshman from Brandon, Miss. majoring in journalism. She is a member of Phi Mu sorority, Freshman Forum, Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta. Burley is in the University and International Honors Programs.
8 Casey Johnson is a sophomore from Montgomery, Ala. majoring in secondary education-social science. She plays for the Alabama women’s club volleyball team and is active in YMCA youth and college programs. She is also the lifestyles section editor for The Agorean. Johnson is in the University Honors Program.
Advisory Board. He has studied in Valparaíso, Chile and is studying in Montevideo, Uruguay for the semester where he is currently making a documentary film as part of the CESR’s Documenting Justice course. Luiken is a University Fellow and a member of the University and International Honors Programs.
9 Brittney Knox is a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in business.She is a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. and a staff reporter for The Crimson White. Knox is a member of the University Honors Program.
14 Emily Malone is a junior from Clay, Ala. majoring in biology with a pre-medical concentration. She is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta. Malone is in the University Honors Program.
10 Jon Lauer is a junior from Madison, Ala. majoring in mathematics. Lauer is a tutor for the Center for Teaching and Learning and performs in the College of Engineering Does Amateur Radical Theatre. He is in the University Honors Program and the Computer-Based Honors Program and also participates in Honors Connection.
15 Daniel Marbury is a senior from Alpharetta, Ga. majoring in music and political science. He is president of the University of Alabama Environmental Council and teaching assistant for a course in Africa Drumming MUS 169-014. Marbury is in the University Honors Program and the ComputerBased Honors Program.
5 Ariel Fink is a freshman from Sarasota, Fla. majoring in advertising with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists and Sigma Delta Tau and is a member of the University and International Honors Programs.
11 Colby Leopard is a freshman from WinstonSalem, N. Car. majoring in anthropology with minors in English and Italian. He is a member of the Student Alumni Association, a writer for Changing Tides magazine, a committee member of the UA Honors Lecture Series and will be a student leader for Alabama Action 2010. Leopard is a University Fellow and is a member of the University and International Honors Programs.
16 Kristen Mather is a sophomore from Parkland, Fla. majoring in journalism with a minor in communication studies. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Lambda Delta, Golden Key International and Zeta Tau Alpha. Mather is in the University Honors Program.
6 Lauren Heartsill is a senior from Jasper, Ala. majoring in journalism. She is the president of Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and a writer for The Crimson White. Heartsill is in the University Honors Program.
12 Leah Livingston is a senior from Gadsden, Ala. majoring in economics. She is a member of Delta Delta Delta and enjoys rock climbing in her spare time. Livingston is a member of the Honors College.
7 Sarah Hicks is a sophomore from Meridian, Miss. majoring in English with a biology minor. She is a member of Golden Key International and Circle K. Hicks is in the University and International Honors Programs.
13 Grant Luiken is a junior majoring in international studies and Spanish from Memphis, Tenn. Luiken is a Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility scholar, an ambassador to the Honors College and a member of the Honors College Student
3 Jessica Cheek is a junior from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in English. She is a writer for The Crimson White and works with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as the UA French Club. Cheek is a member of the University Honors Program. 4 Courtney Dragiff is a junior from Jacksonville, Fla. majoring in marine science and biology. She is a member of the Lady Crimson Tide club soccer team and a student intern for the Honors College. Dragiff is a University Fellow and is a member of the University and International Honors Programs.
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17 Isabela Morales is a sophomore majoring in history and American Studies from Placentia, Calif. She is the treasurer and a moderator for Sustained Dialogue, as well as the founder of the Alabama Students for Individual Rights. Morales is a member of the University Honors Program. 18 Kellie Munts is a sophomore majoring in journalism. She is a staff reporter for The Crimson White. Munts is also a member of the Residence Hall Association and Phi Eta Sigma. She is in the University Honors Program.
19 Jacquelyn Pitts is a freshman from Ohio majoring in international studies with a student designed minor in Arabic Studies. She is a member of the Alabama International Relations Club, International Student Association, Apwonjo and Study Abroad Connections. Pitts is in both the International and University Honors Programs.
scholar. Voloshin is in the International Honors Program.
22 Kristen Stovall is a junior from Indian Springs, Ala. majoring in chemical and biological engineering and the University Honors Program.
25 Wendy Wong is a junior from Daphne, Ala. majoring in English and psychology with a minor in the Blount Undergraduate Initiative. She is the prose editor for the Marrâ€™s Field Journal and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Wong is in the University Honors Program.
Program and Program.â€?
20 Jess Smith is a sophomore majoring in communicative disorders with minors in psychology and history from Prattville, Ala. She is a writer for Changing Tides magazine, a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and a volunteer with Special Equestrians, Inc. Smith is a member of Lambda Sigma, as well as a member of the University Honors Program.
23 Kristin Sutton is a junior from Montgomery, Ala. majoring in accounting with a minor in Spanish. She is planning the first Sustainability Day for the University this spring, founded the Honors College Half-Marathon group and is the undergraduate assistant for the Premier Awards. She is a member of Beta Alpha Psi accounting fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega soroity. Sutton is in the University Honors Program.
21 Jessica Stephenson is a senior from Arab, Ala. majoring in English and Spanish. She is a member of University Honors
24 OlĂ¨sea Voloshin is a junior from the Republic of Moldova majoring in international marketing. She is a faculty The University of Alabama | 77
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