Mosaic Winter 2019

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Winter 2019

The University of Alabama • 1

About the Issue

Mosaic is a student-produced magazine showcasing the best of The University of Alabama’s Honors College. The magazine seeks to highlight the stories of students, faculty, and alumni who exemplify the character of the Honors College. In our world today, it’s important to share the positive— the stories that give us reason to smile, make us laugh and have a little bit of hope. Additionally, we strive to share stories that are important and promote discussion throughout our community. Our diverse staff of writers, designers, photographers, and web editors meets in some of UA’s most iconic buildings to produce original stories from the heart of our campus. As a team, we collaborate on one issue per semester. We are writers, we are engineers. We are artists, we are future doctors and politicians. But most importantly, we are students of The University of Alabama’s Honors College, and we are storytellers. Mosaic was founded by Chip Cooper and Laura Lineberry in 2009. This is the last issue in which Laura Lineberry served as a faculty advisor. Everyone at Mosaic is grateful for her dedication, her vision, and her work with students to produce this publication.

2 • Honors College


Community on Campus

Community Around the State


Community Around the World 57

Table of Contents The University of Alabama • 1 The University of Alabama • 1




MosaicMagazineUA UAMosaic 2 • Honors College


Senior Advisor Dr. Henry John Latta Co-Editors-in-Chief Sara Beth Bolin and Kate Silvey Design Editor Ryan Truitt Photography Editor Abigayle Williams Online Editor Justin Cenname Social Media Editor Annie Hughes Writers: Afan Swan, Ben Wasilewski, Cora Kangus, Emma Bannen, Jordan Nenni, Kate Silvey, Kenny Quayle, Maria French, Rebecca Griesbach, Sara Beth Bolin, Will Raney Photographers: Abbey Paucke, Abigayle Williams, Caitlan Paige Mahoney, Colton Duprey, Harrison Cohen, Kara Gravlee, Michael Beer, Michael Valverde, Peter Do, Sean Keenan Designers: Arianna Elkins, Calvin Madison, Caroline Jerome, Faith Nolen, John Hunter Williams, Katie Brothers, Morgan Horsley, Ryan Truitt, Terry Mantooth, Shana Oshinskie Online/Social Media Team: Anna Peeples, Annie Hughes, Christian DelaCruz, Emmalie Cottrell, Emily Safron, Justin Cenname, Nick Rinaldi, Nicole Leva, Rebecca Snellgrove, Tanner Fant Editorial Advisor Dr. John Latta Photography Advisor Zach Riggins Design Advisor Laura Lineberry Online/Social Media Advisor Rebecca Todd Minder Cover Illustration Caroline Jerome Cover Design MK Holladay

The University of Alabama • 3

Letter from the Editors

Winter 2019

This is the first time in Mosaic’s history that we’ve had not just one Editor-in-Chief, but two. Two people in a position like this has its challenges, of course. We’ve had more ideas to sift through, and, because our ideas and visions might not always align perfectly, more compromises to make. But we’ve found this sort of teamwork to be beneficial. Sharing experiences like combing through well-preserved historical documents in a hushed corner of Hoole Special Collections Library, or editing stories together over coffee have helped us discover what being part of a community really means. In this issue of Mosaic, we seek to explore this idea of community. We start on our campus, where students manufacture their own race car from scratch and belt classics from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. Then we zoom out to view the community generated within our city and our state, where individuals advocate for changes in health and education. Finally, we go global. In a living room in Texas, an Honors College students manages her own boutique; halfway across the world, UA alumni teach and broaden their horizons as Fulbright Scholars. During the making of this issue, we learned about Dr. Hilary Green and her research on a man named William— a member of our community whose story was ignored for decades. Dr. Green, as you will read on p. 6, has been researching the life, impact and accomplishments of William, a slave owned by members of the campus community in the 1800s. While exploring this topic, we realized that every part of our community is important— even the ones that we may not always find tucked in the pages of our history books. From the classrooms of Nott Hall to the ends of the earth, our community reaches far beyond what we glimpse from our everyday routines. The students who comprise the staff of Mosaic are part of many communities, but something that will always unite us even after we disperse across the state, the country, and the world post-graduation, is our involvement in UA’s Honors College. We hope that, from this issue of Mosaic, you see how special this community is to us.

4 • Honors College

6 William and Hilary

17 Finding Her Roots


Broadway to Bryant-Jordan: Bernstein’s Best



Formula SAE

21 (Gluten-Free) Food for Thought

23 Randall Research Scholars

26 We Make Things Up As We Go Along

El Circulos Capstone

Almost To The Moon


28 One in a Million

Community on Campus The University of Alabama • 5


6 • Honors College

Photos: Rebecca Griesbach Design: Shana Oshinskie

HILARY By: Rebecca Griesbach and Will Raney or the last five years as a history professor at The University of Alabama, Dr. Hilary Green has been searching for a man named William. But it took her about three years to realize it. Since she received her Ph.D. in history from UNC Chapel Hill in 2010, Green has written two books on resistance and memory in the American South, where she tells the stories of enslaved people who, with minimal resources, forged their own freedom by becoming literate. These same people would later maintain that freedom by building institutions for Black education, worship and political mobilization. Scrawled on a whiteboard in Green’s office is her schedule for the month. A book review. Two book chapters. Conference after conference after conference. But it’s what she does in her free time, she says, that is most significant. Adjacent to her schedule is a drawing of the President’s Mansion, with the names of enslaved people and a James Baldwin quote she had written around the border, and behind her desk is a table with a bill of sale and slave receipt she decoupaged on top. It was in that same office where two inquiring students, while scrolling through


an 1860 census, helped her bring her latest project to life. *** “So, we found Isabel Pratt’s will,” Green said with a grin to her Honors class of Blount liberal arts students. All 13 of them looked at her with surprise. They had been studying the history of slavery at UA, and they knew what kind of gems documents like this could uncover. Isabel was the wife of Horace Pratt, a UA professor who, like many faculty members at the time, owned enslaved people. When Horace died in 1838, his will revealed that Isabel took over his property, and, notably, his slaves. By 1860, the Pratt slaves would be worth several thousand dollars, and many of them worked on campus as well.

The University of Alabama • 7

But their fates have been a mystery to historians until recently. Among those mysteries was that of an enslaved man named William.

“Through these three different people, we get a more complicated view of what slavery looked like and how those differences of experience help contribute to the larger history.” For the last two years, Green has been piecing together William’s biography in an attempt to add color and depth to the existing stories of Luna, a female slave who, Green says, was owned by Professor Barnard and was subjected to sexual violence by his students; and of Sam, a male slave whose name appears in the university’s Apology Book, where students admitted to chastising and beating him. William’s life, Green would later find out, tells a different story, not solely of exploitation or rebellion, but one that speaks to the immeasurable contributions of enslaved people who cooked in, cleaned

8 • Honors College

A quote from “Why I Remember” hangs in Dr. Green’s office. in, and built facilities that students and faculty used every day – and still do. “All of them came together at one point and shared this space,” Green said. “So through these three different people, we get a more complicated view of what slavery looked like and how those differences of experience help contribute to the larger history.”

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE Green is the pioneer behind “Hallowed Grounds,” a series of year-round tours that feature sites significant to the university’s connection to slavery. Once she started that project, the library quickly became Green’s second home. Housed in Hoole’s Special Collections archives is a treasure trove of documents from the Antebellum era, and Green can recite plenty of them from memory. “It was Record Group No. 1, slave receipts 90A through 90D,” she said, without pause. That’s where she found William.

Maxwell Hall in the 1800s.

“If [William] was still on campus, I know he would be able to walk by Maxwell Hall and say, ‘I built that.’” As Green would later find out, traces of William were scattered throughout the archives, spanning over 30 years. This time, Green wasn’t falling down a rabbit hole; she was actively pursuing it, and now she’s sharing her findings. On a breezy September day, Green led her Blount class to the red-brick building that as of this writing houses Creative Campus, and she pointed toward the roof, to the copper-plated dome that took a year and a half to build when the hall was renovated in the 1850s. Most of William’s work, Green explained, likely burned down during the Civil War.

Dr. Green’s research uncovered some receipts for William’s work. Green said. “You need a pot? Go to Dave the Potter,” Green said. “In this way, it becomes ‘William the Carpenter.’ That’s how you know you’re getting high-quality stuff, because William the Carpenter is doing it.”

Dr. Green speaks to her Blount class But she knows one thing for sure. “If [William] was still on campus,” Green said, “I know he would be able to walk by Maxwell Hall and say, ‘I built that.’” It was clear that William lived in two worlds: The Pratt plantation and on campus. Unlike most enslaved people, Green explained, he was trusted enough to leave one world to work at another. In faculty meeting notes following the 1838 eulogy of Horace Pratt, Green discovered why. After Horace’s death, the faculty held a meeting to discuss the continued use of William’s services. They marked that decision by continuing a relationship with Horace’s widow Isabel. From then on, the name “William,” instead of “Pratt’s carpenter” appeared in their documents when they solicited his work. The use of William’s name, usually followed by his trade, was a sign of respect,

“So he’s using and exploiting the system of slavery and then most likely carrying it back.” William was in fact producing quality work. He was replacing windows and floors and doors, building ornate furniture for faculty residences and molding for the walls, and he was teaching others to follow his lead. Work orders show that he bought his own tools, had several apprentices, landed gigs outside of campus and, according to the slave receipts, he was commanding 45 to 50 dollars a month, which would amount to about $750 in 2018 numbers. That’s the highest amount that enslaved people on campus could earn, and a rate, Green said, that was likely undercutting free African

American laborers in the area. “He is a person that is highly skilled in comparison to other enslaved people that work on our campus, and it’s because of that skill, the university saw valuable enough to continue this relationship,” Green said. To be a skilled carpenter was essentially a ticket to economic freedom, Green said, and William was likely making the most of his job at the university. While searching the slave receipts, Green found out that he could read a rate, and he was also making his own measurements and doing the math to calculate those rates. That led Green to ask more questions. “In a way I wonder if it’s most likely that he’s using this college campus to advance his own learning, and that when he goes back to his normal family… is he teaching that generation?” she said.

The University of Alabama • 9

“It is important because we as a campus have yet to reconcile this past, and until we do we can’t move forward as a community.” - Dr. Hilary Green 10 • Honors College

The admiration of William, Green said, likely followed him from one world to another. “He’s here for several decades,” she said. “Probably those who are here temporarily might look to him like, ‘How do I survive this? How do I go through this? How do I, if I get in trouble, who could I turn to?’” And William the Carpenter would have answers. “So he’s using and exploiting the system of slavery and then most likely carrying it back,” Green said.

THE FINAL CHAPTER For the last two years, Green has created a textbook out of a working spreadsheet. She’s mastered Microsoft Excel, using it to store her findings and cross-check them. Since then, she has used those tools to uncover the name, occupation, pay grade, physical contributions, education, and age of an enslaved man on campus. But one thing remains unclear: Green has no idea where William is buried. And, until the discovery of the will, William’s paper trail, which started in 1833, presumably met its end in 1864. “I don’t know if he survived the Civil War,” Green said, just days before finding Isabel’s will. “If he moves, he just disappears.” She checked all the censuses. She checked her favorite site, FindAGrave. com. She checked the Information Wanted ads that freed slaves would buy in hopes of reunification. No luck. For Green, that silence is significant. As the university recovered from war damage, she said, the metaphor of the phoenix, a symbol from Greek mythology that represented rebirth, began to surface among university leaders, namely the in minutes from board of trustees meetings. But often swept under this rhetoric of

“rising again out of the ashes,” Green said, were the stories, and the documentation, of enslaved people like William. “So it goes from named individuals and carpenters and named drummers,” Green said, noting that enslaved people participated in the military drum corps, “to Negro drummers, the Negro slaves. Their names get erased.” The stories of early African Americans on campus have been trapped between manilla folders and private spaces, limited to oral histories and the dark depths of the archives. For Green, bringing those stories into current conversations is a neverending task. “It’s never over; I’m always looking,” she said. “For me as a historian it’s like, the ever treasure hunt.” *** Then the will arrived. Just a year before the abolition of slavery, Isabel did not seek to free William, who would have been 79 at the time. Instead, she wrote:

“The residue of my property (consisting at present of notes and bonds, and my carpenter William), not named in the above provisions, I desire to be equally divided among all my children, to share, and share alike: Namely to John W. Pratt, my son; to my daughter Isabel Jane Porter, and my daughters Sarah E. and Mary A. Pratt.”

That didn’t sit well with Scott Manges, one of Green’s students who was assigned to write about William. “It’s unfortunate to find out that he was never really free,” said Manges, a freshman studying mechanical engineering. “Despite the hard work that he did at the university, and even at his old age, Isabella didn’t free him.” For Manges, the work that’s being done to remember William is crucial, and he said it should be supported by university administrators. “[Enslaved people] were the backbone of the University,” Manges said. “They did all the labor. They cut the grass by hand. They shouldn’t be forgotten.” Through her classes, through the story of William, and through her walking tours, Green has been advocating for greater awareness of the university’s racist past since she set foot on campus. And now her work is finally being acknowledged. On Oct. 16, 2018, UA approved the formation of a commission to study slavery at the university – a long-fought campaign that’s come after schools such as Auburn, the University of Mississippi and 43 others have done the same. Green was one of the faculty members to draft a proposal for the commission, and she was there for the two crucial votes that led to its creation nearly a year and a half later. “It is important because we as a campus have yet to reconcile this past, and until we do we can’t move forward as a community,” Green said. If you would like to learn more about William, Dr. Hilary Green’s research, or the history of slavery on UA’s campus, you can visit her website at, take one of her walking tours, or visit the Special Collections in Hoole library. The University of Alabama • 11

Broadway to Bryant-Jordan:

Bernstein’s Best By Cora Kangas Photos by Abigayle Williams

12 • Honors College

(From left) Julia Schwendenmann, Abigayle Williams, Isabella Powell, and Megan Saslow dance to the iconic music from the number America.

“West Side Story” is a show not to be taken lightly. This timeless classic was a challenge that The University of Alabama’s Opera Company wanted to face head-on, even though it is a musical and not an opera. The UA Opera Company performed a musical in 2018 because this was the year that the composer of “West Side Story”, Leonard Bernstein, would’ve been 100 years old. For the entire year of 2018, many companies and orchestras around the world performed musicals and music by Bernstein. The opera program itself is small, typically inducting one to four new members a year, so this production borrowed several members from the department of theatre and dance. The costumes were done by Brenda Birkeland, the set by Therrin Eber, and the choreography by Lindsay Howard. Even though the opera program pulled from other departments, the only people with singing roles are members of the opera. However, this does not mean that the singing sounds like classic opera. The singers might

have been influenced by the style they are used to, but they worked on the less dramatic style to make sure that the musical stayed true to its roots in American theatre. The singing techniques are also important, many of them used in musical theatre not common for operatic theatre. These are the ones that have taken extra work to perfect for the actors.

“Art can often hold a mirror to society; West Side Story is now over 60 years old, but its message is as relevant as ever.” “While mostly ‘golden age’, [the show] does include some numbers where our singers use a technique called ‘belting’. You can hear this technique in the role of Anita and Riff,” said stage manager and second year graduate student Megan Taylor. Along with learning a different singing style, the performers needed to overcome another obstacle: learning spoken lines. Senior vocal perfor-

mance major Kirkland Schuler explained that, while there is very little dialogue in traditional opera, the main challenges are “memorizing the pieces in a foreign language, and the English translation.” While this comes as a challenge, Schuler was excited about the dialogue as it allowed the UA Opera Company to connect to the audience more easily. This was in addition to it being performed in English. While “West Side Story” is an incredibly well-known show as it is, most opera is performed in the language it was originally written in. One of the most important parts about doing this show in its original style musical instead of changing it to an opera, according to Taylor, was that it “allows these young artists to attain more skills in their field while also getting musical theater experience.” Opera and musical theatre are very similar in that they both tend to incorporate stage combat and dancing, both of which are prominent in “West Side Story”. These are both used to help tell a story. Stage combat aims to look The University of Alabama • 13

Clockwise from top left: Kirkland Schuler (Maria), and Nicholas Reese (Tony), embrace during a make-believe marriage ceremony during the song "One hand, One Heart".

as real as possible without hurting anyone and takes extensive training. The shows that the opera program does are cast without holding auditions. Each show is chosen and cast based on voices in the program already, and everyone is assigned a part based on what they have done in the past and how their voices work with others. The only audition the students in the program did was the one to get into the program itself. For “West Side Story”, the set design was already done at rehearsal one. “They already had a beautiful vision for it,” said Abigayle Williams, an Honors College junior vocal performance major. This allowed for enough time to build the set and made sure it worked with the space they have. The challenge for the set was that

the performance was in Bryant-Jordan Hall, and they did the performance “in the round.” “The audience will be completely surrounding us,” as Schuler explained. A usual theatre stage is set up like a movie screen, where there is a flat front stage that all audience members sit in front of, making the experience simi-

While Bernstein might have been 100 years old, his musicals are timeless, and UA Opera was set on showing that all, once again. lar for all people. “In the round” changes the game, though it leaves little to no room for error while also changing the way the story itself is told. “The show was an overwhelming success. Not only were all performanc-

(From Left): Abigail Hagood (Francesca), Isabella Powell (Maria), and Ashton Griffin (Rosalia) admire Maria’s reflection in the mirror as she sings along to another iconic number, "I Feel Pretty".

14 • Honors College

Isabella Powell (Maria), and Garrett Torbert (Tony), perform the balcony love duet, "Tonight," one of the most famous duets of our time.

es beyond sold out with long waiting lists for available seats, but it truly had an impact,” Dr. Paul Houghtailing, the director of the Opera Program, said. “Art can often hold a mirror to society; West Side Story is now over 60 years old, but its message is as relevant as ever. The story involves the type of hate and fear that leads to violence and killing. Our in-the round use of the space, Bryant-Jordan Hall, added to the visceral quality of the experience. The audience was a part of show.” The stage was set and the story rehearsed. The accents were perfected and everyone in the cast and crew prepared everything for the spectacular show to be put on. While Bernstein might have been 100 years old, his musicals are timeless, and UA Opera was set on showing that all, once again.

The entire cast soaks up well-deserved praise after opening night.

Formula SAE: The Ultimate Student Challenge By: Ben Wasilewski



Some college students get a deep satisfaction from completing a long equation, crafting the perfect sentence or performing on stage. For some, however, this satisfaction comes from building a race car and hearing its engine rev proudly at the starting line. The task that seems impossible to some is taken on daily by The University of Alabama’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Team, or Crimson Racing, which is comprised of students in various colleges on UA’s campus. The team constructs a car to be entered in the annual Formula SAE Michigan event in Brooklyn, Michigan: the largest formula competition in the world. Months and months of uber-detailed designs, motor oil-covered hands and shiny metal shavings is all brought forth to one, sometimes two competitions a year. At the track, the car is tested in various static and dynamic events including acceleration, autocross and engineering design. Honors

Colin Bumgarner trains his brother Colby Bumgarner on how to use the mill.

College junior and Crimson Racing member Colin Bumgarner calls it “one of the ultimate student challenges.” “We’re given this system that’s electrical, mechanical, all kinds of different systems, and we have to figure out the best possible way to make it work,” Bumgarner said. “We have to find a way to make it under a budget, then we have to find a way to win on top of all that.”

The operation is currently being led by senior Crimson Racing Captain Zach Hagan, who has spent most of his undergraduate career in the club. Hagan said the most challenging part of the competition is building the car almost entirely from scratch. “It’s not like you just go to a store and get this part or that part off the shelf. It’s more like I have to get material and either take it to a machinist or another company, or build it ourselves,” Hagan said. “We gotta go from the very blank slate to building a platform we want, then building from that.” In May of 2018, the team entered their car into two different summer competitions for the first time: Formula SAE Michigan, which they’ve attended the last four years, and Formula SAE Lincoln in Nebraska. The first three days in Michigan went smoothly for the team as the car performed

well in most events. 120 teams competed in acceleration, skid pad, and autocross. With only the endurance race ahead of them— 14 laps at Michigan International Speedway— the engine broke down. One faulty valve stalled the engine and left them with one option: a full engine teardown and rebuild. After 26 grueling hours in the team’s trailer, the abbreviated crew had fully rebuilt the Yamaha R6 engine. The car made it to the starting line before receiving any time penalties and began the competition. But while on the track, the engine stalled again and they had to forfeit the endurance event. “It felt like all that work was for nothing. It was tough to deal with, but it was out of our control,” Bumgarner said. “We knew we had to get back up for the next competition.” The team would end up replacing the old engine entirely in preparation for Lincoln. After putting in the new engine, it started to act up as well. Mechanics looked at the engine and could not find the issue. The team put in “crazy hours” around their summer classes to get the car running optimally. Soon enough, their hard work began paying off as the engine began running smoother. At Lincoln, the car raced with no engine troubles and even placed 10th in the autocross event. During the endurance race, a carbon fiber pushrod broke and made steering at high speeds impossible. The car was brought into the pit, costing them the race and over 150 points. “We would’ve placed sixth if you want to look at the numbers, but that’s how competition goes sometimes,” Hagan said. Bumgarner says there are positives to be The University of Alabama • 15

Photographs Courtesy of Colin Bumgarner // Designed by Calvin Madison

taken away from the summer. Even without finishing the endurance event, the team placed 17th in Lincoln, tying their personal best set the year prior. This was also the most they had ever driven their car, which allowed them to learn the limits of some of its parts. “All of those troubles, in a weird way were worth it for what we learned,” Bumgarner said. “I think we’re going to be a lot stronger after that.” Bumgarner said that the team is now focused on refining the car and passing their knowledge onto the younger members. One of these younger members is his younger brother, Colby Bumgarner. Colby Bumgarner is an Honors College freshman and was introduced to Crimson Racing through his brother. Though he was never a racing fan, he says the program has opened him up to “a new world.” “You have a great group of guys and girls that get to put together engineering skills on something you’ve seen on TV. Something you never thought you could build by hand, and when you do it’s a surreal moment,” Colby said. “It’s surreal knowing you’re part of this program and building something beyond what you thought you were capable of.” The most valuable part of Crimson Racing is the hands-on experience each member gains. This year, the team began manufacturing earlier, allowing Colby to get more practice making parts. “As a brand new member, I’ve been given projects to start working on the car in any way that I can help: learning how to make certain parts, how to better them or how to fix certain things that aren’t quite up to date.” 16 • Honors College

Colin said that it was different seeing his brother in the shop instead of at home, but that Colby was ready to learn early on. “His interests lie in a different field of work than what I’m in, but there’s a lot of general stuff and process knowledge that I’m still filling him in on,” Colin said. “He asks the right questions, though; you can’t teach that. Colin believes newer members should be challenged to learn something new whenever they come into the shop. “We try not to throw them in over their heads, but to throw them in up to their heads,” Colin said. “We try to get them a little uncomfortable with something they haven’t done before, but we also make sure they’re doing it safely and correctly.” Through proper coaching and training, the upperclassmen of Crimson Racing hope to lay a foundation of bright young members who can carry the organization

forward once the current leadership graduates. Colin says enthusiasm grows in a new member once they understand how important even the smallest parts are for the car’s— and ultimately the team’s— success. “You have to make them aware that this is a part that goes on the car. This part is important. We let them know no matter what level you’re working on, it’s always contributing to the end game,” Colin said. Colby hopes the team can place top ten in the summer of 2019 in Michigan. He says learning more in the shop makes him want to win more. “It is rewarding,” Colby said. “The competition gives us the goal to be the best, that’s what we all strive for. That’s why we put in the extra work and do the absolute best job we can.”



Finding Her

roots By Jordan Nenni

Every adoption experience is different from the next, and every family involved with the adoption process handles it differently. Tanner Fant, an Honors College student at The University of Alabama, generously shared her personal story about what it is like to be adopted. Fant, who is almost always smiling, has a warm and vivacious personality. Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Fant came to UA to expand her horizons and pursue her passions, like dance and pursuing a degree. She stays busy on campus as a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and also participates in the UA Dance Program. Wind back the clock to where her story starts, when her biological parents were in college. They were only sophomores when they discovered they were pregnant with Tanner. Her mother was in vet school and

was unaware of her pregnancy until the seventh month. Bravely, they made the decision that they could not support her the way that she needed and would find her parents that could. As fate would have it, a woman from

“How am I supposed to feel confident in myself if I don’t know where I came from?”

Tanner sitting with her dad, Robin, after taking family pictures on the beach.

Starkville set Fant’s biological parents up with a couple, Robin and Dana Fant, who became her adoptive parents. They were unable to have kids and yearned for a child to care for and love. The Fants set a meeting at Dana’s restaurant, and it was a perfect match. Not long after finding the Fants, Tanner was brought home to her new family just two weeks after her birth. “We were always open to the idea of adoption. There was never any doubt in our minds that we could love an adopted child just as much as we would love our own biological child. When the IVF didn’t work out, it seemed like adoption chose us,” said Dana and Robin Fant. Flash forward five years later, and the Fants brought home their second adopted child, Grace.

Tanner with her mom, Dana, at an air show.

The University of Alabama • 17

M Tanner playing in the pool with her dad, Robin.

Fant grew up knowing she was adopted — it was an unspoken truth. In her younger years, she would conjure crazy stories about being adopted because all she had was her imagination. It was not until her teen years that her adoption started to affect the relationship she had with her adoptive parents. A growing sense of curiosity came along with maturity and getting older— curiosity to know her roots. That desire to know grew. “Everything that I do in my life I get to not only make my adopted parents proud but somewhere in the world I’m also hopefully making my biological parents proud,” Fant said. It was not until the day Fant graduated high school that she was bombarded by the information that she hadn’t sought after, but found her anyway. Her biological father had passed away and Fant was the only family he had left. The day of her high school graduation was clouded by a mourning she was not prepared for. She looked back on that time with remorse. “When I heard that news, I really felt like I had lost a father figure,” Fant said. More time went by and Fant’s knowledge of her biological parents remained minimal. During her sophomore year of college, as she was preparing for the Miss Mississippi competition, she hit a roadblock; “How am I supposed to feel confident in myself if I don’t know where I came from?” Fant asked herself. She recognized there were huge parts of her life that she did not understand. She needed to uncover these parts in order to truly understand herself. Her adoptive parents went on to share a story that amazed her. A three-year-old Fant was with her adoptive father at breakfast and, like children do, began to dance around the restaurant and engage with others. Eventually, her father located her to 18 • Honors College

Tanner with her parents at the beach.

find she had made her way into a woman’s lap. But this was not just any woman’s lap— it was the lap of her biological mother. Later that day, her biological mother called Fant’s parents to express how much she knew she made the right decision and that her daughter went to the right family. “My parents’ decision to put me up for adoption gave me a second chance at life and them [her adoptive parents] choosing to adopt me gave me a second chance at life,” Fant said. “It’s why I’m at The University of Alabama. It’s why I’m pursuing my dreams as a dancer. It’s because of that. Without

“Adoption is bravery and courage for those choosing to adopt and welcome a new soul into their lives.” that, I would definitely not be here.” Many adopted children like Fant yearn to piece together their history and have such a strong sense of curiosity that many people do not understand. She carries herself with maturity and grace, expressing her desire to meet her biological mother, but notes it has to be mutual. Everyone has to be on board. “Whether I ever meet my mom or not, I just hope that she thinks about me as much as I think about her. I just want to tell her thank you. Thank you for this miracle of a life you gave me and thank you for this second chance at life that you gave me,” Fant said. Honors College student and sophomore Lauren Chambliss is dedicated to raising awareness about the foster system and

Tanner happily tells her adoption story.

adoption. In conjunction with National Adoption Day on Nov. 17, Chambliss and others set up on the Quad during game day festivities and educated UA students and Bama fans about the importance of adoption and foster care. Her overarching initiative is “Fostering Hope for the Future,” with a goal to increase awareness for the needs of foster children. “There are many misconceptions surrounding foster care and foster children, and my goal is to raise awareness about the very real needs of these vulnerable children who are in situations at no fault of their own,” said Chambliss. “My hope is that more people will learn about the foster care system and seek to become foster parents, adopt foster children, or actively support those who do.” Chambliss went on a mission trip to Armenia in 2015 and spent much of the time at a local orphanage. She was so deeply moved by the vulnerability of the children in Armenia that it inspired her to get involved with orphans and the foster care system in Alabama. “My eyes were opened to the fact that parentless children exist in our society as well and that this is not an issue that only occurs overseas” said Chambliss. Coincidentally, “Fostering Hope for the Future” formally introduced Chambliss and Fant. Anyone that is interested in getting involved in the initiative on campus or would like more information can contact the Alabama Reach Office through their website. “Adoption is bravery and courage for those choosing to adopt and welcome a new soul into their lives,” said Fant.

The Center for Service and Leadership Meaningful Service + Engaged Leadership = Measurable Change

The Center for Service and Leadership offers students diverse engagement opportunities in the Tuscaloosa area and beyond!

How to get involved: Come see us: 1100 Ferguson Center Visit our website: Follow us @volunteerbama 19 • Honors College

The University of Alabama • 19

20 • Honors College


Food for Thought With renovations of Lakeside Dining Hall, the largest on campus, comes a new station just for students with food allergies.

On a hot summer day in Tuscaloosa, hundreds of students arrive for Bama Bound Orientation. They meet their roommates and walk to the dining halls, nerves fading as they get to know the person they will live with for the next year. Once inside, the new freshmen face a plethora of options. The delicious smells of pizza, tacos, burgers, pastas and more welcome students to campus. Most jump right in line to try everything the dining hall has to offer, grabbing plate after plate. For students with food allergies, it’s not so easy. These students enter the dining hall and look for a manager, who disappears into the kitchen to prepare an allergen-free meal using pots and pans that have not been contaminated. Understandably, this takes time. But for most students with food allergies, this is their only option. At least, it was. Over the summer, The University of Alabama spent approximately $7 million renovating Lakeside Dining Hall. With these renovations came a brand-new meal station and other accommodations for students with various food allergies, the most common of which include milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

Whenever possible, the university dining halls minimize the use of these ingredients in foods. Students with gluten allergies particularly benefit from the new meal station in Lakeside, as do students with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Anna Fanning, a sophomore with celiac disease, has already noticed a difference in her dining experience. This year is nothing like last year, when Fanning would eat a glutenfree grilled cheese every day. “I haven’t seen the same thing be there twice yet, and I go at least a couple times a week… it’s been really nice.” Last year, Fanning relied on the text-

“I haven’t seen the same thing be there twice yet, and I go at least a couple times a week… it’s been really nice.”

ahead feature, which allows her to text a manager at any dining hall and have her food ready when she arrives. Without this, some students can get stuck waiting for half an hour or more to eat, and can even be late to class. The new meal station, Glutinus Minimus, allows those on gluten-free diets to safely eat without texting ahead. All meals from Glutinus Minimus are already plated, so any student can take food from the station without cross-contaminating serving utensils. Condiments are available in individual containers. At other stations, instead of having a flattop grill, meals are now cooked in separate pots and pans to limit cross-contamination. While it is true that not all allergies cause an anaphylactic response, other symptoms can still be severe. No two students will experience food allergies the same way, and it is important that all students be accommodated. For this reason, students with allergies can now visit a self-serve pantry containing snacks, desserts, and ingredients for sandwiches, a convenient feature for students on-the-go. Half of this pantry is dedicated to gluten-free items, while the other half of the pantry is devoted to options free of other assorted allergens.

The University of Alabama • 21

Designed by: Morgan Horsley // Photographed by: Colton Duprey

By Afan Swan

The pantry is located inside Lakeside, but students cannot enter without special Act Card access. This minimizes the risk of cross-contamination for students once inside the pantry. Prior to arrival at the university, students with food allergies are encouraged to fill out a Special Diet Accommodation Form. Students also have the option of meeting with the Dining Services Coordinator, Holly Grof, to discuss the university’s food allergy procedures. Grof encourages all students with food allergies to register their allergies with her. This provides her with contact information for students should anything change regarding allergens on campus. While students are ultimately responsible for being aware of what they eat, The University of Alabama does work with students to come up with safe meals that suit the individual’s needs. For some, this may require having a meal prepared separately. In these cases, managers and the Bama Dining staff are trained to use dedicated equipment and avoid cross-contamination with allergens. At Lakeside, the Bama Dining staff have been enjoying Glutinus Minimus. “That they have a designated place and something they can tell students, that’s been really nice,” said Grof. The station has made handling allergies more comfortable for everyone. Glutinus Minimus has been time-saving as

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well, particularly because many students with non-gluten allergies still require the text-ahead dining option. “The easier we can make an employee’s job, and the better we can take care of a student at the same time, it makes everybody happier.”

“The easier we can make an employee’s job, and the better we can take care of a student at the same time, it makes everybody happier.”

For Eric Sahli, a junior Chemical Engineering major, these accommodations are not necessary. Sahli has an anaphylactic tree nut allergy. However, besides constantly carrying an EpiPen, Sahli does not feel that he worries about his allergy any more than he would at home. “I always do carry my EpiPen… but other than that, I’m just used to it.” Both Fanning and Sahli have praised the Lakeside renovations. “I’m glad they’re

doing it now, but of course it has to be the year after I get the unlimited meal plan!” said Fanning, laughing. Both she and Sahli continue to eat at the dining halls, though less frequently than they did as freshmen. Upperclassmen now, Sahli and Fanning can cook many of their meals off-campus. For students living in the dorms, this has not been an option in the past. Outside of the dining halls, Sahli and Fanning will eat at the Ferguson Student Center. Sahli, who tends to prefer Chickfil-A or Wendy’s, tends not to worry that he will have any problems regarding his tree nut allergy. Fanning’s options are more limited. She occasionally has a grilled chicken patty from Chick-fil-A or a baked potato from Wendy’s. Off campus, there are a variety of restaurants available to accommodate students with food allergies. On the Strip alone, Sahli frequents Mooyah, while Fanning can often be found at Moe’s. Regardless of the type and severity of the allergy, The University of Alabama is now more prepared than ever to accommodate students. However, arguably the best part of the renovations can be summed up by Fanning: “The food has been good!”

Randall Research Scholars The Randall Research Scholars Program (formerly Computer-Based Honors) is a nationally recognized undergraduate research program which pairs exceptional students directly with leading research professors and cutting-edge computing technology to complete scholarly research projects in any field of study.

Tim Foley An important consideration in any cementitious mixture design is the progression of the hydration or polymerization reaction. The hydration or polymerization process is the mechanism that transforms the constituent materials into a hard and durable final product. One method to characterize the progression of this process is to measure the electrical impedance of a sample over time. The set point, or the point at which the material has sufficient strength to retain its final shape, is an extremely important point to characterize and understand. It has generally been reported that the inflection point of a time-domain impedance curve will indicate the set point. This project investigates the relationship between set point and impedance in a special class of cementitious materials known as alkali-activated materials.

Nadia DelMedico The complicated history of race relations at The University of Alabama extends back to the campus’s earliest years when daily operations depended on slave labor. The University owned a small number of slaves, rented the labor of several more, and allowed enslaved people on campus as the personal property of students and faculty. Enslaved people were integral to the construction, daily operation, and foundation of the University. In his years as the University’s second president (1837-1855), Basil Manly elevated the University to a bastion of slavery sympathy. Manly’s remarkably detailed diaries relate much about his daily life at the University’s helm, including his personal interaction with the enslaved people. Using these diaries, this project examines the ways in which Manly furthered the use of enslaved people on The University of Alabama campus, the tasks they were responsible for, and the ways in which they factored into life on campus.

Yani Saferite Alzheimer's Disease has emerged as one of the great medical challenges of the 21st century. Currently approved drugs do not prevent neurons from further degeneration and are used only to manage cognitive symptoms. There is evidence suggesting that a dysfunction of the stress response system may be crucial in the development and progression of Alzheimer's Disease. This project is focusing on the WNT-β-catenin pathway as one of the stress response signaling pathways. The purpose of this project is to discover new drug templates to activate this specific pathway and overcome the limiting factors faced by the current drugs that only manage Alzheimer's Disease. The University of Alabama • 23



Photos and words by Abigayle Williams 24 • Honors College

Even before the dawn of recorded history, the circle fascinated scholars, mathematicians, and the common man. The passing of time has seen the circle symbolize different ideals and entities. Today, the circle is a common symbol of unity, such as the logo for the Olympics; the five interlocking circles representing the five major continents of the world. The seal of The University of Alabama is also enclosed by a circle, reinforcing the concept that, here at the Capstone, we are one. Let the many circles around campus remind you of our common goal of excellence, loyalty, and unity.

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It takes two hours and 36 minutes to perform 52 short skits on a Wednesday evening, one after the other. No two skits are created equal, as the actors are subjected to a host of conditions to their performances–speaking only with a pirate’s vocabulary, reciting lines through a chaotic spur of jumping jacks, or, in the most amusing display, replacing lines with obscenities on large cue cards. For the audience, Theatre Roulette is a glimpse into a new world. For the improv gurus of College of Engineering Does Amateur Radical Theater (CDA), this is simply another night before the bright lights.

The premise of Theatre Roulette is simple: 13 two-minute plays written by students and performed by chance according to a spinning wheel.

“My favorite play was probably ‘Every Buddy Cop Movie Ever’ because of how well the modifiers worked with it and how much fun we had performing it,” said Alex Boulay, above. 26 • Honors College

If the wheel lands on a play twice, a new rule is imposed upon the performers at random, meaning that neither audience nor performer can predict the events of the evening. The show ends once every play has been given a chance on the stage. At the two-hour mark, we are 12 unique plays deep, nearing 50 in the total number of plays performed. With every spin of the wheel, the audience lets out a collective groan, yearning for the elusive 13th play to rear its head and take us home. We watch the performers bend their characters

to the wills of chance and the most unfortunate probability. They play elaborate games of hot potato through monologues on anxiety; at one interval, passion consumes two male actors in the form of a kiss, the hilarity being that they were chosen at random to play their parts and neither knew the lines. Every voice in the room is raised in a cheer when the 13th play is chosen. It is performed for the first time and with no amusing twists. It is the culmination of the actors’ work, and the excitement is unmistakable from their faces. Samantha Sullivan, a junior in the Honors College, is the president of CDA. An engineering major herself, she sees a commonality between her major and performing improv. “Just like in engineering, we take small ideas and build something big,” Sullivan said. “The golden rule of improv is yes! And…” said Will Cunzeman, an engineering student who joined the troupe out of a desire for a creative outlet to couple with his left-brain coursework. He explained that improv has bolstered his public speaking abilities while not on the stage. “Improv is terrifying, but it helps support all the other parts of

my life. Improvisation is a life skill.” CDA may have its origins in the College of Engineering, but its membership represents a spectra of disciplines from across campus. Hannah Manning, a nursing major, joined the group during a previous foray into “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Improv is about communication. An entire scene can change in a moment’s notice, just like life,” Manning said. “Improv gives all of us an edge. When we graduate, we’ll all know how to think on our feet and collaborate with different kinds of people.” “One of the keys in theater is having empathy,” Stephen Fowler, another recruit from outside engineering, said. “We have to maintain empathy towards one another to understand each other’s backgrounds, and we cannot become a character until we can understand their background either.” There is something to be said here about the nature of improv and the nature of the kinds of people who are drawn to it. What does it mean to be interdisciplinary? The performers emphasized that a wide skill set of majors was critical to informing

the diverse mindset that is demanded of an improv troupe. Had everyone backstage been of the same worldview and discipline, there would have been no fluidity, no spontaneity, and none of the collaboration that made the show a success. “We are not exclusive to engineers,” said Cunzeman. “We want to recruit people who have a passion for acting, and that isn’t exclusive to any one major.” “We are made up of actors, writers, directors, tech crew,” said Manning. “We need all of these people to be able to put on each show. The fact that we are not all the same makes it feel more like a family, and we can all watch one another grow without judgement.” When the lights finally come up, the actors come down off the stage, shake hands and exchange niceties, rally up their slew of props, and make haste towards a celebratory feast at IHOP. The next day, they will resume their lectures, their exams, their weekly meetings dragging on towards evening. Indelible to their days, however, is the creative watermark only improv could leave.

They will go on about their daily lives, yearning for the next time they command the stage.

Terry Mantooth, a sophomore majoring in advertising, says she loved the backstage antics with her fellow castmembers (like balancing pineapples on their heads and drinking lots of juiceboxes).

“Just like in engineering, we take small ideas and build something big.” Charles Lane praises the show, saying “Theatre Roulette is great because it gives everyone on stage creative freedom. All of the shows are written and directed by students, so it gives everyone a chance to be a part of the creative process.” Lane is a senior studying Journalism & Creative Media. Ryan Moreno (left) said his favorite moment of Theatre Roulette was pranking a fellow cast member during a play called “The Great King of Baklava” and Christianna Mills (right) said “Theatre Roulette is by far one of my favorite theatre experiences I’ve had while here at the Capstone! The lighthearted atmosphere and the freedom of improv really helped foster the creative minds of the entire cast, and I know that I definitely grew as an artist!”

Photos by Abigayle Williams Designed by Caroline Jerome

The University of Alabama • 27

One in a Million

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Photo by Abbey Paucke The University of Alabama • 29


Considered the largest student organization on campus, the Million Dollar Band has been making game days unique for over 100 years. By Afan Swan 30 • Honors College 30 • Honors College

ootball Saturdays on the Quad are legendary. The smell of barbeque in the air, the laughter shared between crowded crimson and white tents, the “roll tide” cheers echoed throughout the day. Hours before kickoff, students are on campus, shakers in hand and ready to cheer on the Tide. Some of these students stick out more than others as they weave through the maze of tents, covering tables overflowing with food. Perhaps it’s because 40 students are standing on what they call the Mound, proudly sporting crimson, gray and white uniforms. Perhaps it’s because girls wearing matching sequined dresses in crimson are carrying six-foot flags across the Quad. Perhaps it’s because there is almost one hour to kickoff, and Elephant Stomp, a pep rally that turns parade as the band leads fans to the stadium, is starting soon. Whatever it is, it sets the tone for Football Saturdays in BryantDenny. On these Saturday mornings, while most fans are still sleeping, the 400 students of the Million Dollar Band, or MDB, are up and practicing for the day ahead. Colorguard members are already sporting game day hair and makeup. Then, depending on the kickoff time, the band meets on the Quad for Elephant Stomp. While weaving through tailgates on their journey to the center of the action, the band stands out from fans sporting jerseys and houndstooth. “Walking from wherever you got ready to Bryant-Denny Stadium… you’re wearing sequins; you’re in bright red; your hair is done up to the nines,” former colorguard member Serena Bailey said. “You are very clearly affiliated with the University. And people stop you… little girls will come up to you.” Experiences like this are not new for MDB members, especially the colorguard and the Crimsonettes—a legendary name for legendary majorettes. After all, the MDB is an integral part of the gameday experience. Even if fans miss Elephant Stomp outside Gorgas Library, they’ll almost certainly be in the packed 103,000 seat stadium in time for the national anthem. Approximately 20 minutes before kickoff, the MDB intro video takes over the jumbotrons in the stadium. Immediately after the video, the percussion section takes the field, soon followed by the rest of the band for the first rendition of the fight song. For the students on the field, the adrenaline is already pumping. As the band ends the fight song and goes into

the “Big Bama Spell Out”, the national anthem, and finally “Tusk”, the crowd is roaring. Each song is higher in energy than the last, intended to have every fan on their feet and cheering for more by the time the football team runs out. Members of the MDB may go to every home game free of cost, but they work the entire time. According to David Hollie, a sophomore trombone player, the band plays after every single play. But the band still has time to watch the game, largely in part because every song is memorized. The Million Dollar Band’s motto,“where you can be ONE in a million,” is true because the 400 members work tirelessly to perfect everything they do. Memorization of stand tunes, the term used for any song the band plays from their spot in the stadium, is done during Fall Camp in early August. This is a time to memorize stand tunes, the pregame performance—both the music and marching— and the first halftime show. The MDB typically prepares two to three halftime shows throughout the semester. This impressive feat is possible due to scheduled rehearsals five days a week. While rehearsal typically lasts an hour and a half, many students spend two-to-three hours a day at rehearsal. Some students, such as Dzung Le, a senior and trumpet section leader, arrive around 3:00 p.m. and leave closer to 6:00 p.m. Arriving early leaves plenty of time for Le to warm up and then lead the trumpet section warmups. Younger band members may not spend quite as much time at rehearsals. Hollie, a first-year member, spends closer to two hours at rehearsals each day. He said the trombones warm up approximately half an hour before rehearsal is scheduled to begin. Colorguard members also arrive early, said Bailey, to stretch before rehearsals. Regardless of section, MDB members are committed to what they do. Marching band is all about uniformity. While wielding a six-foot-tall flag, being a split second off is all too noticeable. Marching out of time is obvious. With 400 members on the field at once, one wrong move can take out a line of people. At rehearsals and performances, the MDB members have to concentrate on band and only band.

“I had to focus on the here and now when I was at practice. And that is such a nice feeling because you just sort of forget about the world for a little bit,” Bailey recalled of her time in the MDB. Others in the band have echoed Bailey, seeing daily rehearsals as a nice break from the classroom. Some students ultimately decide that MDB is not for them, much like Bailey did, choosing to leave after a semester. However, this was not the end of Bailey’s colorguard days. She joined an independent winter guard based out of Birmingham, a city an hour away from Tuscaloosa, approximately a year after she ended her career with the MDB. For woodwind, brass and percussion players, there are several concert and jazz ensembles on campus. Students do not have to be a part of the MDB to audition for these ensembles. Hollie was not affiliated with the band when he first auditioned for a concert ensemble last spring. He auditioned in January after picking up his trombone over the winter break and realizing he missed playing. Now in the MDB, Hollie plans to continue to be involved in band until his schedule as a computer engineering major becomes his biggest priority. Despite the time commitment, students from various academic backgrounds participate in the MDB every year. Hollie makes time for rehearsals by studying between classes. Several members study on the bus to away games, should they attend. The full MDB goes to at least one away game each year, along with post-season games. For most away games, MDB members may sign up to go with the travel band, which is scheduled to go to all away games. For the 2018 Tennessee game, the full band travelled to Knoxville to cheer on the Tide. They may not be in Bryant-Denny, but the MDB still marches on. And when the Crimson Tide goes to the post-season bowl games, the band is right there with them, playing and cheering just as they would in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The work the MDB does to prepare for game day cannot be overstated, but it is always appreciated. From Elephant Stomp to “Rammer Jammer”, the Million Dollar Band makes gameday in Bryant-Denny unlike any other experience. And fans wouldn’t have it any other way. The University of Alabama • 31

n o o M e h T o T ) t s o m l (A By Cora Kangas

It might not be the moon, but it’s pretty close. Welcome to “the Lab,” Hardaway Hall, room 167. Here, there is a giant pit of a gravel-type mixture called Black Point 1, a simulated compound that mimics the surface of the moon and Mars. There are also sections dedicated to testing, a computer lab, and building a robot— a robot that The University of Alabama’s Astrobotics team creates. For an entire year, the team works on a robot that is capable of digging up the BP-1. Everything they do leads up to the annual Robotic Mining Competition sponsored by NASA in May. UA’s team has been victorious five times, with four being the past four years in a row. Each of these titles has helped future teams with the funding that they need to build new robots, as all of the funding for the program comes from donations and prize money brought back from competition. Designing the robot takes nearly the entirety of the fall semester, according to electrical and systems engineering team lead, Jonathan Blake. The entire conceptualization process takes place in a 3D Mod-

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eling software called Solidworks. According to Blake, the goal is to have the basis of the design finalized by winter break so that the software team can begin development the moment that they return to campus. Last year’s robot was made of mostly aluminum, steel, and a lot of 3D printed parts. It is many colors underneath the gray that covers it for testing and has different LED lights that can be many differ-

ent colors to indicate a variety of actions, all of which are functions of the computers that live inside of the robot itself all of which are connected to a WiFi network so that the computers can be monitored. “It weighs 55 kilograms, which Google tells me is about 120 pounds, the weight of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, [or] 87 basketballs,” Blake said. “You could probably compare its size to a grocery buggy, at

least that’s what I’ve always thought. It’s a little squatier and longer, but its close.” While the design process takes a long time, the actual fabrication process takes six to eight weeks. This same work ethic has led to victory for four years in a row. However, Blake emphasizes the fact that every team has to do its own work. “This year’s team isn’t last year’s team,” he said. “Some have graduated, and many new students have joined. But this team hasn’t won a competition yet.” No matter the pressure, every new team has just as much to prove as anyone else at the competition. While the conceptualization of the robot is arguably the most important part, if the design is not carried out properly, it could always spell failure for the team. Kelvin So is a sophomore mechanical engineering major and member of the mechanical subsystem, a subsection of the team that handles the mechanics of the robot. “We machine components on our own and build the robot from scratch,” So said. The team has the option of using the same robot every year, but Matt Mason, a

member of the software team, doesn’t see the value in that. “There’s no fun in that, because new people joining the team won’t really learn anything,” Mason said. Both So and Mason find the building of a new robot each year to be a good learning experience. The team values the fact that people can learn and grow as a part of their group, not just win. This is why many of the members, including Blake, joined the team. “I joined to apply the knowledge I would be learning in my classes to a technical project that would give me technical and team experience directly applicable to a job,” Blake said. There are no major requirements to join Astrobotics; the only limitation is how willing you are to learn new things and be a helpful part of a team. Even if someone doesn’t know how to do something, there are people willing and ready to help. The different parts of the team all factor into the final score of the competition. A team must be well-rounded, as parts of the final score include the systems engineering report. This involves a review of the team’s work over the entire year, including design and testing processes, and an outreach project report, meaning that they have to

be involved with the community and not just their own group. “NASA puts an emphasis on the process, not just the result,” Blake said. The Astrobotics team is popular among schools in the area as well as within different programs at the university. They have had many different clubs ask them to do different builds, including the Rural Impact Stimulation Environment, or RISE, program on UA’s campus. RISE helps children affected by developmental disorders by providing a myriad of services including music, occupational, physical, and speech therapies in a classroom setting. Astrobotics frequents their events, often bringing the robot built for the previous year’s competition. “We go to events and set up a booth with some example pieces and 3-D printed parts and things that we use as well as the robot they built for the previous year’s competition,” Mason says. The Astrobotics team’s main goal at these outreach events is to spark interest in STEM jobs as well as degrees. They talk with people about the club, the robot, and all of the fun that actually goes into what they do. For anyone who is interested in joining the team, they accept new members at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. Since the point of the team is to inspire people to fall in love with STEM opportunities, an engineering background isn’t required. “We accept people regardless of major, year, or experience,” said team captain Max Eastepp. The competition itself an amazing opportunity for those who get to go. Most of the members of the team are engineering majors and working for NASA is a job that

most of them would love to have. As such, they always have the end goal of getting to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the competition is held. If the moon— or Mars— is the end goal for NASA, NASA is the end goal for this team. The Astrobotics team builds and works knowing that, if their design is done well, it could be used in the future. They may not be to the moon yet, but they’re definitely on their way.

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34 34 •• Honors Honors College College

36 Things To Do In Tuscaloosa


Set In Stone


In Lights


Druid City Pride

47 Expand Your Horizons

50 Private Moments With Public Art

52 History In The Making

Community Around the State The University of Alabama • 35

Things to Do Around T-Town By Emma Bannen Photos by Abigayle Williams There’s more to Tuscaloosa than just football games and the quad. If you’re looking for a new place to explore in T-Town, keep reading. From coffee to concerts, here’s some of the best this city has to offer.

The Waysider Some say that this quintessential spot is home to the best breakfast in Tuscaloosa. Their menu includes classics like pancakes and bacon and eggs, along with their world-famous biscuits. If lunch is more your speed, stop in to check out their daily handwritten specials, like homemade chicken pot pie. The classic charm of The Waysider always leaves Alabamians coming back for more.

Babe’s Doughnuts As soon as you walk in the door, you’re greeted by the smell of freshly fried doughnuts and the sweet glaze that tops them. Babe’s offers inventive flavors of doughnuts, such as Fruity Pebbles, M&M and “Cinnamon Shuga.” Babe’s has an inviting atmosphere with open windows and perky succulents dotting the tables. A gourmet doughnut and a good cup of coffee from Babe’s on a Sunday morning is something you definitely do not want to miss. Doughnut not your speed? Try one of their biscuit sandwiches or the popular honey lavender latte.

Heritage House Looking for an inviting study spot? You’ve found it in Heritage House. This delightful coffee shop is always filled with people studying, chatting or having a Bible study. Sip on a classic latte or one of their original specialty coffees, like the Bama Blitz or Heritage House Special. Visit the cozy Towncenter, open and airy Riverfront or quick-stop Alberta locations for delicious specialty coffee, tasty pastries and cafe favorites. Some favorites include the baked oatmeal, chocolate chip pancakes or avocado open-face sandwich.

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The Riverwalk Home to shops, restaurants and some of the most scenic spots in Tuscaloosa, the Riverwalk is the perfect place to explore the outdoors. If you’re not visiting one of the shops or restaurants along the trail, take a walk, run or bike down the path and experience the sights and sounds of nature. Lots of sturdy trees offer perfect spots to set up a hammock. You can even try your hand at standup paddleboarding through a local service. On Saturdays, check out the Farmer’s Market. With handmade goods from local artisans and farmers, there’s definitely something for everyone. Read more about the Farmer’s Market and meet the farmers at

Tuscaloosa Amphitheater If live music is more of what you’re looking for, this is the place for you. The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is the premier entertainment venue for the city. In the fall, this is the perfect place for outdoor concerts under the stars. The amphitheater has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson and John Legend, so you’re bound to find a show that suits your interests. In the winter, it converts into an ice skating rink, perfect for pretending that you’re actually in the cold (and that finals don’t exist). Visit to see a full calendar of events.

Rama Jama’s The place to be on gameday, Rama Jama’s is located in the shadow of Bryant-Denny Stadium on Paul W. Bryant Drive. Signs boasting their best-of-the-best reviews seem to surround the building. Rama Jama’s has been praised as having the best burger, best milkshake and best breakfast in Tuscaloosa. The atmosphere at Rama Jama’s can’t be beat. The walls are lined with photos and memorabilia, completely immersing patrons in the history of Alabama football. Rama Jama’s has been there through it all. Its history makes it not just a restaurant, but an experience for any Alabama fan. The University of Alabama • 37

In Lights It’s 1955 and you’re driving down the street in your parent’s Chevrolet Bel Air to the local diner with your friends. The town is illuminated by neon. The magical lights are seen in every store window, restaurant front, or motel sign. Flashforward to present day and these lights evoke nostalgia for the 40s and 50s. It’s been 109 years since neon signs were first developed in 1910, but they are still a beloved way of advertising. Today one can drive around Tuscaloosa and notice many neon signs still in use. Perhaps the most mesmerizing one stands in front of the Moon Winx Lodge on University Boulevard. -Abbey Paucke Photographer

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The The University University of of Alabama Alabama •• 39 39


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ride in yourself, in your community, and in the life you live— that is what any given Pride parade and celebration is about. At the Druid City Pride Parade, a thousand flags are on display. Most are rainbows, some are pink, blue and purple, others white, grey, black and purple, scattered about as people hold them or have them tied around their necks like capes. People are buzzing and happy, content with being around those they love and others who will accept who they are. This is a celebration of the fact that people get to live their lives in less fear than they used to, and with more freedom. The celebration of Druid City Pride is no different. People gather to exist in a space that they can call safe, hosted at the Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa, and they find people who are similar to them. Druid City Pride, or DCP, is one of the biggest celebrations of queer identities in the state of Alabama. Hosted every year in October by the Druid City Pride organization, DCP is a weeklong event consisting of multiple different events including the Pride Parade, a poetry night, and a tailgate before The University of Alabama’s football game that Saturday. In the state of Alabama, there is no state-level discrimination law protecting gender expression or sexual orientation. Hate crime laws do not extend to protect the LGBTQ+ community. Alabama is one of the few states that still has not repealed its sodomy law. This is in addition to having a law in place that prohibits education about homosexuality or AIDS in schools, including the statement that “Classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state” (Alabama State Code § 16-40A-2(c)(8)). “I think to me, [Pride] is a way to let the world know that folks aren’t alone— the world is a tough place to navigate, especially for those who identify as queer,” said creative writing Professor Brian Oliu. “It’s a nice way to celebrate queerness in a safe space, as well as allow for allies like myself to let folks know that we’ve got their back too.” The celebration is one of the most well-known things that DCP does on a yearly basis, as it is able to touch the lives of children, students and adults alike. Elizabeth Blewitt, a senior in the Honors College studying anthropology and women’s studies, has been to DCP three times. “It’s very fulfilling and wholesome to know that there are people in this city that are so supportive,” Blewitt said. “The last three years, I’ve been able to go and see [Pride] grow, and there are some faces that, now, I associate with being at Pride.” The University of Alabama • 41

The 2019 Druid City Pride Festival will be held October 13, 2019

Visit for event info throughout the year

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Pride Week gives members of the LGBTQ+ community a chance to express themselves in ways they normally cannot. While Blewitt’s mom is accepting and supportive, not many other members of her family are. The parade gives her a chance to “express this side [of herself] that [she] is not often able to.” One of the things that Blewitt says is most incredible to her and the people she has taken with her to Pride is just “seeing people out and hanging out,” knowing that they are accepted by the people around them. There are many resources on the UA campus that are for students specifically such as Spectrum, Outlaw, and Gradient. Druid City Pride is not an organization without its own hardships. DCP director Russell Howard said

that in the past it has not been the easiest thing to fund big events such as Pride Week. “Last year we finally got a 501(c)(3), which has been amazing as far as fundraising goes. In order to reach our end goal [of having resources for the LGBTQ+ community in Tuscaloosa], we have to make enough to cover Pride, plus some,” Howard said. A 501(c)(3) is a type of nonprofit that is exempt from federal income tax. While Pride is a celebration of the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made, in Tuscaloosa, there is still a ways to go. Howard said that one of the most frustrating things for DCP is when they get professors, parents, and individuals themselves reaching out to them all the time looking for services that aren’t offered here in Tuscaloosa, such as a crisis center.

“Unfortunately, we have to say that we don’t have it, but there is this great program in Birmingham,” Howard said. DCP is currently taking the fundraising money that they don’t use for Pride Week toward creating a community center for LBGTQ+ youth in Tuscaloosa. “This is the first year we have done major fundraising, which has been great. It has the cost of Pride covered and allows us some left over,” Howard said. This idea that there needs to be more done for the community is echoed by Oliu, who says that he thinks Tuscaloosa needs to see “I think just more of everything— more funding for DCP, more getting the word out, more connecting with younger folks who identify as LGBTQ+." The University of Alabama • 43

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Set in Stone The University of Alabama • 45

"I took the week after freshman orientation in July 2018 to travel the state of Alabama. As a history major, I wanted to see the monuments and memorials the people of the state had erected to remind Alabama of her history and the figures that shaped it—and how she chose to remember them. What follows are statues of men and women, boys and girls spanning the twentieth century.� - Michael Beer, photographer


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Over 20,000 people in Alabama live with HIV or AIDS. That number is growing, and without treatment and education, the mortality rate will grow as well. It can feel lonely and debilitating to go through a disease like this without the support and resources needed.

FIVE HORIZONS WANTS YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU'RE NOT ALONE. Nestled in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa sits a 20th century office space surrounded by small homes and businesses. Around the back and up a set of concrete stairs is a two-door threshold into an inviting clinic space. It smells clean and new, but warm colors and smiling faces of the office staff give a relaxed and comforting sense. Here, the clinical staff, nurse practitioner and administrative team are fighting to change the story of HIV/AIDS in Alabama. West Alabama AIDS Outreach was founded in 1988 at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. At the time, the organization only performed case management, helping its clients navigate a highly-stigmatized disease during a period where it was new and mostly unknown. But now, that’s changing. In February of 2018, West Alabama AIDS Outreach became Five Horizons Health Services, a comprehensive clinic and case management group that focuses on five pillars: medical care, prevention and treatment, supportive services, research, and advocacy. Each pillar is imperative to the operation that is Five Horizons, director, UA alumnus and former Honors instructor Billy Kirkpatrick explained. Without them, patients would not be receiving the proper care that they need. “For 29 years, we were solely an AIDS-service organization,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are still involved in those activities, but it’s certainly not just HIV/AIDS anymore. It’s also preventative care for HIV/AIDS, STD and STI treatment.” Five Horizons’ case management model with HIV/AIDS has been effective over the past 30 years, so Kirkpatrick wants to use this model and apply it to other areas, such as rural administration of Hepatitis C treatment and PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, a medication that is a preventative measure against HIV. Once taken properly for 28 days, PrEP is 90 percent effective. For Five Horizons, PrEP means that every negative HIV patient they have can prevent contracting the

disease in the future with a few pills. “With PrEP, we can prescribe patients this medication that will prevent those in high-risk situations from contracting the disease,” Kirkpatrick said. “We don’t want someone to come in and test negative and us to just say ‘see you later.’ We want to do something about it. That is not us promoting high-risk behavior; it’s a public health issue, not a moral issue.”

"WE WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ... IT'S A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE, NOT A MORAL ISSUE." While people living in the immediate Tuscaloosa area can easily travel to the clinic, it can be difficult for clients in rural areas to make the journey. A lack of transportation, time and financial resources restrict them from receiving the care that they need. By applying the case management model to rural areas, Kirkpatrick hopes to retain those who cannot travel to receive treatment. “Our management model includes housing, financing services, reliable transportation, getting people set up with insurance programs – everything,” Kirkpatrick said. “If we started offering PrEP in rural areas, per se, it’s tough to retain and care for that population. We’re going to put some case management aspects in there so we can do outreach and get those folks on PrEP, or if they need transportation, find it. We want to do whatever it takes to get them care.” Five Horizons also values counseling, and has an in-house counselor to help clients deal with their prognosis, as well as other mental health issues that may affect them. Like biomedical treatment, counseling resources in rural areas are sparse, and these appointments tend to be more frequent than treatment or testing appointments. It can be expensive, both financially and with time, to drive to get a client, bring them to Tuscaloosa, take them back to where they live and then drive back to Tuscaloosa. In some cases, it can even take up the whole day. In partnership with UA professors Dr. George Mugoya and Dr. Safiya George, Five Horizons is conducting research to get the counselor into clients’ homes virtually. The University of Alabama • 47

FIVE HORIZONS IS CONDUCTING RESEARCH TO GET THE COUNSELOR INTO CLIENTS' HOMES VIRTUALLY. Through a program called Zoom, clients would be able to contact counselors for appointments from their kitchen tables, removing the middleman of transportation from the equation. And so far, results have been successful. “People are getting impacted nearly the same,” Mugoya said. “If we get positive results, we think that if Five Horizons was able to do this, their impact in the rural community would be really high. It’s a highly stigmatized population, so people need that kind of a group setting where you can talk about your condition, and this will bridge that gap there.” Rural areas are not the only populations left unreached by sexual health education and testing. Dr. Bronwen Lichtenstein, in conjunction with Five Horizons, does research at Tuscaloosa’s parole and probation office, where she has an HIV and Hepatitis C education, testing and referral program. The program, funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, is the only sustainable program like this in the country. Lichtenstein and a student volunteer speak to people in the parole and probation office about HIV and Hepatitis C, educating them about each disease and trying to persuade them to get tested. If someone says yes, they get tested right in the office by a Five Horizons staff member and official from the health department. “It was clear to me with all the information coming out of health services that this population needed some intervention, and nobody was doing anything,” Lichtenstein said. “They never had anything. So I just decided that we would collaborate with Five Horizons and see if we could get something going, and it’s been pretty successful, so I hope it continues.” Through these research projects with UA, Five Horizons hopes to expand their clientele, but one of their biggest focuses is right on the university’s campus: students. People ages 15 to 24 are a high-risk population, and STI and STD rates tend to be higher on college campuses, so the organization wants college students in high-risk situations to know that they’re there. Five Horizons’ campus engagement coordinator, Megan Campbell, targets

students for education, as well as treatment and prevention. “The college age and college campus setting is a big deal when it comes to STDs, STIs, HIV, those kinds of things,” Campbell said. “It’s important to get in there as much as we can to work with groups that are already established and then get other groups involved.” Campbell’s goals are to raise awareness about Five Horizons, and let students know that the organization is a resource for them, no matter their situation. Partnerships with on-campus organizations, as well as participation in Get on Board Day and the Student Health Fair allow her to reach high-risk students. “It’s a contemporary community resource,” Campbell said. “It’s really great for people who may not be comfortable in a campus environment, with the stigma that’s surrounding it. We offer self pay for people who might need it. So much of it’s preventable and fixable, so why not be a step ahead? Save yourself before it becomes an issue.” Each part of the West Alabama community is important to Five Horizons, and Kirkpatrick wants to make sure that they are serving every part in the way that is most helpful for them. Along with Campbell as campus engagement coordinator, Five Horizons also employs several other coordinators focused on certain aspects of the community, such as Hispanic and African-American populations. “I’m not the type of person who would typically run an organization like this,” Kirkpatrick said. “There’s challenges to that, and there’s definitely benefits. But...




PHONE: 205-759-8470 FAX: 205-366-9001


48 • Honors College

“In February of 2018, West Alabama AIDS Outreach became Five Horizons Health Services, a comprehensive clinic and case management group that focuses on five pillars: medical care, prevention and treatment, supportive services, research, and advocacy. Each pillar is imperative to the operation that is Five Horizons, director, UA alumnus and former Honors instructor Billy Kirkpatrick explained. Without them, patients would not be receiving the proper care that they need.”










The University of Alabama • 49

Private moments

By Maria French Photos by Michael Beer

Sandwiched between Fresh Foods and Hardaway Hall, the metal shop is a campus gem often overlooked in more than one way. Here, students work with Craig Wedderspoon and foundry specialist Eric Nubbe to create a variety of sculptures seen throughout Tuscaloosa and surrounding cities. The current project is a series of small sculptures for and made of Nucor steel, a local steel plant, that will be auctioned off at the beginning of Nucor’s Children’s Charity Classic, a golf tournament weekend. This year, the students are basing their work on the organization Beads of Courage, which gives beads signifying milestones in treatment to critically ill children. The sculptures depict a turtle, representing strength, an anchor, representing family, and an origami crane, representing wishes. All of the proceeds directly benefit the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. In the five years that the university has been involved, their sculptures have raised $208,000. But this is far from the only project in the works. In Snow Hinton Park, a slab is being poured to accommodate a giant interactive kaleidoscope, designed and created by Nubbe to continue Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreations’ initiative to put public art in every park. Nubbe had also been commissioned to create a 24-foot-tall aluminum trumpet player in Florence, Alabama, to honor the city’s vibrant American blues history and aluminum industry. Meanwhile, Wedderspoon is in contact with the UA Director of Archeological Research to restore the iron work in the Old Cahaba cemeteries. He is also working with city planners to light the path to the new recycling drop off center by creating arrows, made from recycled glass fused into molds, that will be inlaid in the sidewalk and lit from beneath. Faculty work isn’t the only thing the shop produces. Last semester, the students in the public sculpture class collaborated with the Monster Makeover program to create their own spinoff: the Monster Takeover program. Each student was given a child’s drawing of a monster to create their own versions as small bronze sculptures. These sculptures are to be installed across town in an effort to increase tourism and bring attention to Tuscaloosa’s vibrant art scene. Right now, The University of Alabama campuses in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville are collaborating on a design competition, awarding $25,000 to each campus to create a sculpture within the academic year that will tour between the three campuses to unify the art programs. This is an incredible opportunity for a student to have their art displayed, but there’s a hitch: only two students have applied. “In all of my undergraduate sculpture program, I have eight students. It’s difficult to do all this stuff,” Wedderspoon said, explaining that his students are simply too busy with other obligations to take advantage of the new competition. Although the program has an abundance of opportunities, 50 • Honors College

Photography by: Michael Beer Design by: Faith Nolen

Wedderspoon states that “[his] enrollments are criminally low, to the point where [he’s] having to justify the program.” The students who have enrolled in his class have only positive things to say. Honors College junior Ringo Lisko enjoyed the program so much, she changed her major from biology to sculpture. She’s been heavily involved in the program ever since. When asked what attracted her so strongly to sculpture as opposed to another art, she said, “Anytime there is something like a juried exhibition, that’s an opportunity to get your work out into the public eye. The professors, Craig in particular, are always very open with letting you know all those experiences to get our artwork out there.” Lisko also cites the department’s commitment to the community and charities as a factor. Senior Jonathan Lanier is another sculpture major who sings the department’s praises. He also explained the practicality of learning these skills. “What I feel like I’m paying for is the woodshop, the metal shop, the foundry and those facilities and that equipment,” Lanier said. “So you get a lot of experience with those things and that experience can last you your whole life and go outside of art [...],” as well as “[learning] about applying, [by applying] for things constantly. [We] have to write a lot. You learn how to put yourself out into the world more because we’re literally applying to be in exhibitions and preparing proposals and presenting them in front of people to get that acceptance.” For students looking to get involved with this program, Wedderspoon offers encouragement. “Take my classes. All this stuff we do with the community and city and in making our own work happens in the class,” he said. To students looking to learn valuable skills and see their art in the world, the sculpture department is the right place to go.

With Public Art

student artists come together for local art for public places

The University of Alabama • 51


History in the Making

A creative solution to segregation in Sumter County By Rebecca Griesbach


arcel Green didn’t think much of her quiet life in the small, West Alabama town of Livingston, until she took a car ride with her high school science teacher one day after school. Like many teachers in Green’s majority-black high school, this teacher enrolled her daughter in Sumter Academy, the town’s majority-white private school. On that day, Green went with the teacher to pick her daughter up before a club meeting. There, for the first time, Green began to wonder: Why can’t we have computer science classes? Why can’t we have swim teams or debate teams? As graduation neared at Livingston High School, and the question of careers and futures began to come up, Green’s curiosity grew. “I kept wondering, like, why don’t we have more jobs in this area?” she said. “Like, why – you know, we have a university here – why couldn’t we keep a Walmart?” While concerned citizens were successful in bringing back the only Walmart in the county after it tanked in 2008, the economic struggle in Sumter County endures. An hour south of The University of Alabama, Sumter County sits on the western edge of the Black Belt, a region named for its fertile, black soil that is now the state’s poorest area. Home to the University of West Alabama, or UWA, the county has a 33.2 percent poverty rate and ranks 62nd among 52 • Honors College

the state’s 67 counties for child well-being, according to the Alabama Kids Count Data Book. Some have argued that those numbers are due to the town’s long legacy of segregation, survived by its three main schools: the private, majority-white Sumter Academy and the public, majority-black Livingston Junior High School and Sumter County High School, which merged with Livingston High School when enrollment plummeted. Often nicknamed “segregation academies,” these schools are, to many people, standing symbols of a mass exodus of white families, who fled from the public schools in response to court-ordered desegregation in 1970, leaving those schools nearly all-black and strapped for resources. “I feel like it held Sumter County back,” said Green, 32, who now works as the program assistant for UA’s Blackburn Institute, a leadership development program aimed at promoting civic engagement in Alabama. Racial division in the schools, Green said, stunted business, education, and any hopes for social harmony beyond their walls. “You don’t get the chance to see people for who they really are,” she said. But now, nearly 50 years after the court order, some students might finally get that chance.

A Creative Solution In a first grade classroom housed in UWA’s Lyon Hall, 13 students greeted me. Their school the subject of national press, they’d gotten used to visitors. “Why are you here?” a girl named Ruby asked after her classmate was scolded for asking my age (It’s not polite to ask ladies that, after all). “I’m writing an article,” I said. “What’s an article?” “Do you know what a story is?” I asked. They nodded. They were learning about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, their teacher explained. The story of Livingston’s school system isn’t exactly fit for a children’s book. But it does tell familiar tales of resistance, pride, conflict, despair and, now, hope. On August 13, University Charter School opened its doors to about 300 students in grades ranging from pre-K to eighth grade. Three-fourths of those students are black, and 26 percent are white – a ratio that’s historic for a public school in Sumter County, where school desegregation hasn’t been achieved since the ‘60s, when a handful of black students sought to integrate the then-white Livingston High School. UCS is also one of few examples across the nation of a rural school that’s governed by a regional university like UWA. In the charter’s 107-page proposal, “place-based learning” appears several times. Along with adding reading to the traditional STEM model, the school’s curriculum seeks to teach students to love the place they’re from through community partnerships. So what does that look like? I peeked into a seventh-grade classroom, where students equipped with iPads were rapping along to something called “Flocabulary,” a new-age “School House Rock”-esque curriculum that used hip hop music to teach core subjects. “Memory and melody are linked, the same way we learn our alphabet when we’re little bitty,” the teacher, Jay Russell, said, explaining that they used the system for everything. Today, his class was reviewing the five literary elements: "Ya got a story to tell, ya betta have a plot. If it doesn’t, am I listening? No, no I’m not." Outside, underneath Lyon Hall’s Tuscan-style columns, two second-graders, Lane and Caroline, waited anxiously for playtime. Caroline likes her new school. She likes everything about it, she said. Before, both girls went to Sumter Academy. When people started hearing about the charter school, Lane said, a first-grade teacher started a signup at Livingston First Baptist Church. “I think we’re trying to make Livingston better,” Lane said, smiling. While the girls left to play Duck Duck Goose, their teacher, Haley Richardson, said she recently went over an exercise with the students where she asked them what they want to know about their town. They asked about dinosaurs, the town’s founders, or if Livingston was ever underwater. “Some people think, ‘Oh, Livingston’s so boring, it’s just this small little town with nothing in it,’” she said, pausing to address a rowdy student. “But once you understand the background behind it, you keep people here who understand and appreciate it.” Richardson pointed to the music building across the lawn, where the students go a couple times a week to learn from a UWA professor– a perk of the partnership, she noted. “Can you tell her what you did in music?” she asked a girl named Keseanna. Keseanna pointed to her diaphragm, showing both of us the proper way to breathe

The University of Alabama • 53

while singing. At her former public school, the only time she went out of the classroom was for lunch and P.E. It was also cold in the mornings, she said. “I think my old school, I don’t like it,” she said, noting that though a few of her friends followed her to UCS, she misses her old classmates. “What does this school make you think about your town?” I asked her. “It makes me think that my town is a great place to be,” she said.

A Powerful Partnership

Creating a sense of pride in Livingston students is important for J.J. Wedgworth, the new school’s founder. Wedgworth was born and raised in Livingston and went to the recently-closed Sumter Academy, which succumbed to a fate much like Livingston High: low enrollment. In the past 20 years, Black Belt counties have lost 8,451 people, while the state has grown by 400,000. Of Sumter County’s 2,664 children, only 1,736 are enrolled in traditional public schools, according to the data book. Even before Sumter Academy’s closing and the merger of the public high schools, families that had the means to do so – including UWA faculty – would often enroll their children in schools outside the county or resort to other options, like homeschooling. Former UA chancellor and Honors College founder Robert Witt, who serves on UCS’s board, referred to that decline as a “death spiral.” “I think if something isn’t done to reverse the population decline – while I don’t think it means that Livingston will die and disappear, it will continue to decline in population,” he said. “And when population is declining, you reach trigger points, which make it economically not feasible for certain services to exist in the community,” such as hospitals and retail outlets. Witt’s expertise in forming a community of scholars through the UA Honors College made him especially valuable to a committee interested in keeping families in the Black Belt. UWA’s plan to create a charter school, Witt said, would provide a solution. “What I like about charter schools is if you approach it the right way, I think you can achieve what they achieved in Livingston, which is racial balance,” he said. But Wedgworth and Witt also anticipated some resistance to the plan. Charter schools are sometimes criticized for draining resources from struggling public schools, and some are skeptical about a lack of direct district oversight. “I think part of the role I’ve played was to try to reassure the community members that I talked with at the public hearings, that this was going to be a net benefit to the community,” Witt said. If UCS is successful in adding a grade level each year, he said, the model could very well be replicated throughout the Black Belt region in the next five years. That means that a movement may be in order for a state that’s been slow to catch up to a nationwide push for school choice. “The goal is to set up more than a charter school,” Witt said last year, before the school opened. “The goal is to create a system that will address a systemic problem.”

54 • Honors College

Reactions The phrase “failing school” is a loaded one, but it wasn’t foreign to Green or many of her classmates. For her, that phrase meant a lack of resources and access. It meant old textbooks and a prom she’d have to fight for. It meant students phone banking for a property tax increase and graduates playing catch-up through remedial college courses. Even as the valedictorian, Green said, she felt inferior to students in other schools. “I’m supposed to be one of the top 10 of our class and, you know, they know a lot more than I know about things,” she said. That feeling was echoed by Green’s cousin, Shakendra Bowden, who attended the same school. “I thought I was just the smartest thing here on God’s green earth,” Bowden said. “And then when I started college… and I saw how intelligent [my peers] were, it made me feel like, like I was just dumb.” But none of this meant that Green and Bowden weren’t proud of the place that molded them into young adults, or that they weren’t capable of success, or that their teachers didn’t care. “I never wanted anything to defeat me,” Green said, adding that she was an avid reader and often supplemented her lessons with books. Later, she’d befriend teachers who’d tell her how much they spent on classroom supplies for students who couldn’t afford them. So, when she saw plans surface for the charter school – even 14 years removed from high school – Green was skeptical. “I became conflicted because my allegiance has always been to the public school system,” she said. “I thought it was going to be like an attempt to create a new private school basically, that segregation would prevail, still, and, you know, just be more of the same.” While a student, Bowden was top of her class, the cheerleading captain, and in the honors society. She also admired her teachers, many of whom were part of her family. “I wouldn’t have chosen another school,” she said. But when her son Brayden reached the first grade, that’s exactly what she did. And she didn’t think twice about it. “Before, he would come home, and he would never brag about the things he did in school,” she said. “‘How was school?’ ‘It was alright,’ he would say. Now at UCS when he comes home and I ask him, ‘How was school?’ he has so much to tell me, and his face lights up.” Bowden taught at Livingston Junior High School for five years before taking a job outside the county. As some of her fellow teachers started to enroll their children at the charter school, she said, UCS quickly became a hot topic. “Basically, it was all based on race,” she said. “‘Cause we are still heavily embedded in the South. If UCS is to just flourish, [some of my coworkers thought] the rest of the schools will basically crumble, and at some point they’ll close doors and the students are left out.” Like Green, Bowden had memories as a student of her teachers pulling their children out of the schools that they taught at for schools like Sumter Academy, with more resources, and, subsequently, more white students. “I remember looking at that teacher thinking, ‘Well, you just think your child is all that. You don’t want your child around us,’” she said. “That was my train of thought. But now, I can see where that teacher was coming from as a parent. She only wants the best for her child.” At UCS, Brayden will be fluent in Spanish by the fifth-grade, she said – a subject Bowden didn’t take until high school. At UCS, he’ll get to build robots and play strings instruments. At UCS, he’ll have the resources that his former classmates might have to go without. And Bowden’s ties to the outside system won’t keep her from giving him those resources. “That’s the school system I grew up in,” Bowden said. “I love that school to death. I just wish that we had, if not all, at least some of the opportunities that UCS has.”

The University of Alabama • 55

Have a story idea? Share it with Mosaic! Send your ideas to:

56 • Honors College

58 Oxford from Above


Game of Ages

60 From Claire, With Love

70 Beautiful New Zealand

64 Sweeter than Sitrus

72 International Champions

Community Around the World The University of Alabama • 57

It’s mid-July in Oxford, England, and morning is breaking slowly over the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The clouds droop low over the horizon, pregnant with the possibility of rain during what has otherwise been one of the country’s hottest and driest summers on record. Although only 9 a.m., the streets surrounding the church and its pointed spire are beginning to flood with people, double-decker buses, and impatient cars ambling their way through the city. At the top of the church’s tower, I lean on the stone barriers for support, my forehead streaked with sweat. The 124-step climb to the top of St. Mary’s Tower was more of a workout than I had anticipated, the narrow passageways past the bell tower and up into the historic church steep and claustrophobic.

But I’ve made it, and gazing down from this vantage point, I see the city that I’ve come to call home in the past month in all its entirety. Every summer, the Honors College flies a group of its students across the Atlantic to study at Oxford University in the heart of England. History, English, and Honors courses are taught within the walls of Worcester College, in classrooms neighboring lush gardens and cottages constructed by medieval monks in the 13th century. I spent my mornings investigating how real pirates operated during the Golden Age of Piracy, researching the history of prominent Oxford people and landmarks, and hiking to ruined monasteries, historic chapels, and museums that gave a glimpse into this city’s prolific history. But when I first arrived in Oxford, disoriented and horribly jet lagged from a nine hour flight to London, the city didn’t make sense to me. Outside the protective walls of Worcester was a maze, 58 • Honors College

the ated by r, domin e . w p o to T e 's ary to th p of St. M worth the climb to e th m fro was The view dcliffe Camera, a R d n u o r

Waking up at 4: 30 a.m. to see th e sunrise at Port a popular Oxfor Meadow, d landmark, is always worth it!

me to UA ollege were ho C er st ce or W on the grass! ounds of just don’t walk The ancient gr d— or xf O in ay our st students during


A ass!

a jumbled jigsaw puzzle of winding roads, imposing stone buildings, and ancient libraries. I had just returned a day or two ago from a road trip through the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies, and to be back among civilization was jarring enough. But to also suddenly be in a place so unfamiliar, where I had to take extra care not to get hit by cars driving on the left, or accidentally order sparkling water instead of normal tap, was a different story entirely. Although I loved Oxford — in fact, I found its atmosphere magical — I longed to feel at home here. For a while, I struggled to stitch my experiences together, to see the city in its wholeness. I explored what felt like every inch of it after class in the afternoons, but still yearned for a complete vision of it in my head. More than anything, I wanted to find out who I was in this beautiful, ancient place.

meandering streets and alleyways reminiscent of slicing latitude and longitude lines, the freshly manicured grounds of Brasenose, All Souls, and Exeter College drifting continents. Roads flowed together and buildings melted into each other. What had once been a collection of blurry, undeveloped photographs in my head was now a colorful scrapbook. I saw Oxford as a community, a network, something big that I could feel like I was a small part of. From up high, I saw the roofs of shops and restaurants I had frequented, the steeples of churches whose services I had attended, the prominent Greek columns of museums I had explored. And in that moment, it all made sense. In the shy, early morning sunlight, the city had never looked more beautiful. I took several photos, stole one last glance at the city from the top of St. Mary’s tower, and turned to descend back down into the streets where I knew my wandering would be welcome.

I wanted to mean something in this city, despite only existing there for a little over a month — a minuscule chapter in an otherwise massive volume of history. By the end of the second week of classes, after a good amount of lessons and tours led by our knowledgeable faculty, I felt as if I was finally, truly getting accustomed to Oxford, and I think she was getting used to me, too. There was less stumbling over cobblestones, less consultation of Google Maps. I found that I could wander to the market place in Gloucester Green, the sandwich shop on Holywell, and the small cemetery in the neighborhood of Jericho with ease and without much thought to where my feet were taking me. And the more I got to know Oxford, the more I understood myself in the context of this city, noticing things about myself that I would never have glimpsed if still in America. I learned that I’m a person who sees no shame in going to museums alone and wandering the galleries at my own pace. I learned that I find joy in watching sunlight trickle through stained glass windows in a 12th century Norman Church. I am a person, I realized, who isn’t strong enough to successfully punt a boat down the River Cherwell, but is brave enough to dance with friends inside a sweltering, dimly lit English pub, despite frequently advertising herself as someone who cannot and does not dance. When I climbed to the top of St. Mary’s that morning, I saw this all at once. From this vantage point hundreds of feet in the air, I witnessed how a city all came together, and how I fit into it. Below was a living atlas of the last month of my life, the curves of

eatre s Sheldonian Th Oxford's famou

many where ot! , e g e ll o sh urch C s were rist Ch ter film serie h C f o t ry Po ounds The gr om the Har r f s e scen

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60 • Honors College

Written by: Emma Bannen

Designed by: Arianna Elkins // Photographed by: Kara Gravlee

FromClaire, with love

Designed by: Arianna Elkins // Photographed by: Kara Gravlee

Claire DeVoe’s cozy boutique aims to make you feel right at home and as chic as can be! Customers thumb through rows of dresses as sunlight pours through the window panes on another sunny Texas day. Inviting acoustic music fills the space, accompanied by conversations about what shoes might go best with this dress or what belt with those pants. The warm scent of vanilla wafts through the air. Shoes are stacked on shelves, while racks of clothes line the walls and jewelry glitters in the sunshine all over the shop. This is the scene on a typical Saturday at Love, Claire, a boutique founded and managed by Claire DeVoe. But far from a typical boutique, Love, Claire can be found in the living room of DeVoe’s home in Arlington, Texas. When the boutique is open for business, DeVoe can be found floating around to customers to make sure they have everything they need or to help them with any styling questions. “I love styling and I’m very customer driven,” DeVoe said. “I want to make sure that they are happy and satisfied.” From spending the day combing through her grandmother’s closet to running a boutique out of her living room, DeVoe has always been passionate about style. A junior in the Honors College, majoring in fashion merchandising, DeVoe took a step toward her dream by opening her own Instagram fashion boutique, which has grown into more that she could have imagined. Conceived in the summer before she left for college, Love, Claire (originally called Claire’s Closet) came out of a need to raise money for sorority dues at UA. “I cleaned out my closet and started selling my clothes on Instagram, but I wanted to style the clothes like an online boutique,” DeVoe explained. “Over the summer, I opened up a boutique in the living room and now I’ve done it every summer since senior year of high school.” Despite its utilitarian beginnings as a way to raise some extra funds, Love, Claire has grown into an established business with a loyal following. “Claire knows how to perfectly bring together a shopping experience while bringing something fresh and new to the table,” Jenna Daniels, a consistent

customer of the store, said. “I have so loved shopping at Love, Claire the past two years and getting to know Claire personally. I am so excited to see where Love, Claire is going to go in the next few years.” But DeVoe’s passion for fashion got its start much earlier on. She reminisced on how her love for styling began with picking out outfits for her friends or repurposing her grandma’s old clothes. Nowadays, DeVoe’s role models in life and in fashion include her grandma, who she said “knew how to strut and was the jewelry master,” as well as her mom, who “inspires me everyday.” DeVoe also looks up to style icon, Olivia Palermo. “She and her husband dress to the nines everyday,” DeVoe explained. “They do a lot of era fashion, inspired by the ‘20s and ‘30s, which inspires me to add vintage pieces to my wardrobe. And I love reading her blog.”

"I want it to be less of a chain store and more just all me. I want it to be more than just coming in and buying your clothes, but an experience.” This has helped DeVoe develop the innovative eye for style that she has today. In fact, this styling might be what her customers enjoy most about shopping at Love, Claire. “Love, Claire is one of my favorite places to shop because it’s tidy and Claire is very good at walking you through and showing you what would look best on you,” customer Alex Selene said. “Definitely recommend.” Since the boutique began in 2016, DeVoe has continued to find ways to develop Love, Claire into the flourishing business it is today. As she examined ways to make the store better, she realized that The University of Alabama • 61

what she (and many others) looks for in a store is a full experience. “I added candles, a dressing room, inviting music and lots of mirrors,” DeVoe said. “I also added a lot of in-store discounts and promotions.” DeVoe treats this process as a time to plan for her future. One of her ultimate goals is to open Love, Claire permanently, outside her living room. She plans to set up shop in a college town because her college experience is what has inspired her to open Love, Claire. She hopes to provide merchandise for every area of life: clothes, shoes, jewelry, workout gear, homewares and even a section for pets. “I want it to be less of a chain store and more just all me,” DeVoe said. “I want it be more than just coming in and buying your clothes, but an experience. Styling rooms, open mike nights, tea and coffee always available. Clothes styled for customers. Bring your pet to the store day: water, treats. I want to always have a donation bowl out at the register. I want it to be an experience for sure.” Philanthropy has always been important to DeVoe and her management of Love, Claire. Each summer, DeVoe has donated a portion of her proceeds to various charities. It began as a way to give back to her grandmother’s hospice center. Since then, Love, Claire has donated proceeds to breast cancer centers and The University of Alabama’s Dance Marathon. As a Kendra Scott campus ambassador, DeVoe admires the words of the jewelry company’s founder, Kendra Scott: “family, fashion, philanthropy,” and wants Love, Claire to be known for its giving as well. The most important part? Family. “My parents were there at the start and continue to build me up through it. My dad did a midnight CVS run for more hangers, my mom helped me edit photos the night before my opening,” DeVoe said. “Family is definitely at the heart of this.” Love, Claire is more than a boutique; it’s an experience. DeVoe aspires to leave her customers not only with a new outfit, but with a full heart. Follow Love, Claire on Instagram @shoploveclaire or Claire DeVoe’s account @claire_marie7 and check out her blog at! 62 • Honors College

It’s in the bag Alice returns for a big Spring 2019 issue this coming March. Don’t miss it. Subscribe to the magazine at and receive this chic Alice computer bag with your first issue. Use code ALICE2019.*

*Offer valid while supplies last. The University of Alabama • 63

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Designed by: Arianna Elkins // Photographed by: Michael Beer

Designed by: Arianna Elkins // Photographed by: Michael Beer

Sweeter than Sitrus

In 2018, one of the hottest trends in fashion has been the mainstream acceptance of streetwear and street style. This sphere of the fashion world, once considered niche and low class, worn only by skaters and rebellious youths, now dominates runways and online stores, fetching hundreds or even thousands of dollars. While this is a welcome change for some, introducing an entire new demographic and generation to the runway, others see the commercialization and monetization of their beloved style as an affront to the counterculture that created it. Jacob Harris, a 20-year-old UA Honors student, has a passion for streetwear. He is a mechanical engineering major on the STEM path to MBA with no formal education in design or fashion. Despite this, Harris has taken it on as a personal project to bring street style back to its roots with his brand Sitrus, all while managing to be a full-time student. Harris has always had a passion for streetwear, partially due to his hometown influences. Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, a city with close connections to the sun-bleached Southern California culture that spawned streetwear in the 1990s, Harris has always been surrounded by street style. All of his friends and idols wore the style, and he saw it become popular among his classmates and skater friends. He watched it make its way into the mainstream through the popularization of brands like Stussy, Supreme, and Bape by rappers, athletes and influencers. This environment allowed Harris to develop a love for streetwear and a passion for design. When asked to complete a senior project in high school where he had to be creative and go beyond the bound of his traditional education, he decided to form a streetwear brand. Harris partnered up with an already successful fellow student entrepreneur to launch the brand and print original designs on T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts. Thus, in July of 2016, Sitrus was born. Harris and his partner were successful, receiving good marks on the project and learning much in the process. However, once grades were in and graduation passed, his partner dropped out, leaving

Written by: Kenny Quayle

Harris to run the brand alone. Yet, Harris was completely undeterred, as the project had inspired him and he had figured out what he truly wanted to do: expand, and bring streetwear back to the people. Harris brought Sitrus with him to college, seeking to find a consumer base among like-minded individuals at UA, which he quickly found. “Alabama is a good few years behind the rest of the world in fashion, so some people here found the images I use a bit startling and loud,” said Harris. “But on the flip side, many considered them new and interesting. I get a lot of compliments on my designs and they sell really well down here.”

“I don’t want to be the next Supreme. I want to carve out my own lane. I want to be Sitrus.”

Harris has even become popular enough to be included in the Black Power Hour

at the Ferguson Center. Held by the Black Student Union and University Programs, he and other students who run businesses set up tables to sell their products and promote their brands. Harris continually seeks to expand through events like Black Power Hour, and hopes to ramp up his marketing with a huge push upon the release of the second Sitrus collection. Harris has major plans for the future of his brand, saying that he would love to expand his collections even further with more designs, shirts, stickers and even jewelry. He is collaborating with everyone from famous designers to tattoo artists to make his new pieces and designs. “I want to create pieces you normally don’t see and break down the walls between graphic design, fine art, and fashion,” said Harris. Harris’s final goal is to make a high quality, affordable product to the best of his ability, following his new company’s mission statement: “Artistic style, utility, creativity, affordability.” He wants to open up a storefront eventually in Denver, and hopes to see his favorite rappers, athletes and influencers wearing his collections soon. That’s how he’ll know when he’s made it. “I don’t want to be the next Supreme. I want to carve out my own lane. I want to be Sitrus,” said Harris. He hopes to achieve all this while maintaining his core values and keeping his collections affordable, unique and high quality. “If someone really wants a piece from my collections, they should be able to save up for a little and buy it. No $120 T-shirts that you would be scared to wear outside,” said Harris. Sitrus already has one four-piece collection released, and work is currently being done between Harris and several big-name collaborators for season two, which will have T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, long sleeve T-shirts and more. Harris is still looking for collaborators on the collection. To contribute, email Harris inquiries and samples at To purchase pieces from the first collection or pre-order the second collection, visit The University of Alabama • 65


m a e h T


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Written by: Will Raney

Photography by: Jeff Hanson Designed by: Faith Nolen 66 • Honors College

The year is 1951. Riots emerge in the city of Cicero, Illinois in the wake of a black family moving into an all-white suburb of Chicago. It will be three years until Brown v. Board of Education is brought before the Supreme Court and four before Emmett Till is lynched at the age of 14 in Mississippi. The year is 1951 and a basketball game is being played in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. One team is black. The other team is white. The court is public, but segregated. The ensuing game and the conversations that spurred from it are the focus of “Separate and Equal,” the new production from playwright and director Seth Panitch, head of the BFA and MFA acting programs at The University of Alabama. The play ran at the Marian Gallaway Theatre from Aug. 28 - 31 before moving to New York City for a month-long run at 59E59 Theaters. The concept for the story came from a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, whose Oral History Project aims to accurately record and preserve the spoken accounts of black Americans affected by the Jim Crow-era South. “At the Institute, I came across a book of codes regarding segregation - what rules had to be enforced and where blacks were allowed to be under what conditions,” Panitch said. “I got the idea of a basketball game and thought, what if one of these codes was broken? What if somebody slipped up?” The basketball game is played throughout the production, but rather than use an actual basketball, which Panitch notes “could fly into the audience and knock someone’s head off,” dance is used as a medium to convey the events of the game with choreography from Lawrence Jackson, an assistant professor of dance at UA.

The ball being passed back and forth between teams, Panitch noted, serves in many ways as a metaphor for the percussive history of race relations in the American South. Though many of Panitch’s duties at UA center around acting, productions like “Separate and Equal” allow him the opportunity to experience the theater through the lens of a director, a writer, and a producer. Rather than view these as distinct roles, these different facets of Panitch’s career inform one another within a larger dramatic scope. “I find in many ways that my acting informs my directing since I am able to understand the language an actor needs to appropriately transition into a character,” Panitch said. “As a writer, I have to understand the dynamics of all the characters together, which helps the director in me better piece these actors together into a cohesive scene.” Lawrence Jackson served as a collaborator on the play and designed the choreography of the basketball game. “I wanted to develop a movement vocabulary that would strike a balance between dancer and pedestrian,” Jackson said. “I incorporated large leaps and jumps inspired by some of the most memorable maneuvers in NBA history.” Jackson utilized choreographic techniques to exemplify the qualities presented in Panitch’s characters. “I emphasized the downbeats through the work to portray young, aggressive, volatile male energy on the court,” he said. Jackson’s work is evident of how tightly wound the different aspects of the play are, like music, dance and writing.

A fight breaks out between basketball players in “Separate and Equal.”

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"Separate and Equal" made us of both actors brought from outside Tuscaloosa and those from UA’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Though originating the play in Tuscaloosa was a financial decision, Panitch mentioned that allowing the visiting actors the opportunity to explore Alabama made an indelible impact on the roles they would soon play. “I took all of them to the Civil Rights Institute, and a few of them even took the time to visit the lynching memorial in Montgomery. This gave us a huge advantage that, in the end, greatly assisted the culture of the project as we understood,” Panitch said. “We do all we can to simulate how the outside world is going to be. It really is like a lab.” Working at the pace of a professional is something Panitch hopes to expose students to through productions like this. In the outside world of theater, Panitch said that actors are restricted to relatively small windows of time for rehearsal, so a great deal of preparation must be brought to the table right from the beginning. These ideas are exemplified through the Bridge Project, an idea Panitch hatched in 2006, which helps to connect the end of undergraduate theater study to a career on a nationwide scale. “Separate and Equal” is the fifth production that has allowed UA students the opportunity to perform off-Broadway through the project. Michael Luwoye, a product of the Bridge Project under Panitch, is currently playing the role of Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton” on Broadway. Panitch expected there to be two audiences to his play: the one in Tuscaloosa, who would view the events as factual, and the one in New York City, who would view the events as theoretical. This model has proved to be more complicated than this; many of the play-goers up north deeply resonated with the message conveyed in the story. “What I want the average audience to understand is how much effort is required to separate people,” Panitch said. “Here, it is with a system of codes. It proves to me that our natural position is to be brothers and sisters— that it should feel wrong to be separated.” After its run off-Broadway, “Separate and Equal” does not have plans to be put on elsewhere, but Panitch is hopeful. He wants to tell the same story in the form of a film, a medium he is no stranger to. Until then, the audiences of the play will have to savor what they can of this narrative.

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“I wanted to develop a movement vocabulary that would strike a balance between dancer and pedestrian,” Jackson said. “I incorporated large leaps and jumps inspired by some of the most memorable maneuvers in NBA history.”

Here's to April Showers that bring May Flowers —The Mosaic Staff

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Photos by Peter Do


mbarking in the summer of 2018, UA’s trip to New Zealand through the Honors College was a deep dive into the culture of New Zealand, both native and transplanted. The goal was for students to gain a better understanding of how New Zealanders feel about their land and their country and compare and contrast with their own experiences in America. This was achieved through experiencing what many of these people experience every day, from the stunning vistas to the medicinal springs and abundance of sheep. Students visited Auckland, Christchurch, Akaroa, Wellington, Rotorua, Paihia and Picton. Additionally, they gained an understanding of the country through exploration and activities like a medicinal spring spa day, a visit to Sheep World —a petting zoo dedicated to sheep and other local animals — and even Zorbing, an activity where you roll down a hill in a giant water filled ball. The students experienced cultural enrichment on a personal basis, and appreciate the world around them all the more for it. This, in turn, led to a better academic understanding of the people of New Zealand, and a better, more cultured educational experience for all the students involved. -Kenny Quayle

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New Zealand

Designed by Calvin Madison

The University of Alabama • 71



What ti takes to be a Fulbright Scholar By Rebecca Griesbach


Montenegro Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Beverly Hawk knows just what to say to get things done. That’s a skill she’s made use of both overseas and in the States, where she made UA a top producer of Fulbright scholars. Hawk is the director of global and community engagement at The University of Alabama, where she advises Fulbright applicants. The Fulbright U.S. Student program is a prestigious scholarship that gives out grants to scholars of all ages to teach English or perform an independent study in a country of their choice. To be a top producer, at least 10 students from an American university must receive the international scholarship. Last year, The University of Alabama produced 15 winners out of 47 applicants, a percentage that’s much higher than competing Ivy League schools that nominated upwards of 100 candidates.

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“We beat Yale. We beat Duke. We beat UNC Chapel Hill,” Hawk said, thumbing through a list of participating schools. “It’s a big deal, that’s what it means.” In the rush of application season, Hawk – a two-time Fulbright winner – has groomed and polished about 50 applicants. Sometimes, Hawk said, an applicant may spend up to 20 hours editing a single essay. And she expects them all to win. “It’s a lot like Nick Saban, you know?” Hawk said. “He gets every person on the team the best that they can be before the national championship game.” For some of Hawk’s players, allegiance to the Tide doesn’t simply go away. UA’s Fulbright Scholars explore their identity, purpose and community through projects spanning the globe. This is familiar to Hawk, whose first Fulbright experience was

Left to Right Clockwise: Rick Lewis, Dwyer Freeman, Director Beverly Hawk, Maddy Lewis

at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and her second in rural Zambia and Malawi. “It’s not about traveling,” Hawk said. “It’s about engaging with people in your home community and host school, and really getting to know people for a whole year. It’s not flying on the airplane, checking into the hotel, having the local people carry your luggage and cook your food. No, it’s to live among them. And that’s what you get to do on a Fulbright.” While in Africa, Hawk was instrumental in writing and teaching grant proposals. In Zambia, she met with a group of female nurses and teachers who needed resources to help with the AIDS epidemic in their communities. “It gave me an appreciation – more than anything – for our human intellectual inheritance,” Hawk said. “How vast it is. No matter who you are, whether you started out rich or poor,

I want to tell you there’s nothing like university study to let you know you are wealthy. Think of all the theatre productions in the world, in all of human history. You own them. It’s your human inheritance. All the literature. All the history. It all belongs to us, and we are really rich.”


4,693 miles away, in Hamburg, Germany, Dwyer Freeman sports an oatmeal Script A sweatshirt, opening conversation like most Alabamians do: “Did you watch the game?” Freeman is a recent Honors College graduate who studied German literature and plans to teach English in Hamburg, a ritzy neighborhood in Munich that’s dotted with communal green areas, trademarked dog breeds and plastic bottle deposits.

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Left to Right Clockwise: a cathederal in Hamburg, mountains in Montenegro, a music hall in Hamburg, the city of Kotor in Montenegro

Two weeks into their 10-month Fulbright term, Freeman began teaching fifth-graders about the places Freeman calls home – but with a twist. New Jersey history, for example, can be best taught through folklore, they said. Drawing on their studies in ethnology and social theory, Freeman is using the story of the “Jersey Devil” to teach their fifth-graders about colonization on the East Coast. Up next: Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. “When you’re looking at the history of things, people forget about the South, even people with good leftist politics,” they said. “So having like material understanding of these places and people and folks who are left to rot essentially [is important].” Freeman isn’t in Tuscaloosa anymore, but it’s hard for them to leave the South and its memories behind. “I went to Alabama as a cishet (cisgendered) Ayn Rand-ist,” said Freeman, who identifies as genderqueer. “I was deeply, deeply closeted. Closeted in that you convince yourself there is no closet.” From band parties with older locals, to romantic relationships, to heated debates in their Honors classes, Freeman made sense of their politics and identity through regular college life. “If someone challenges you on your home turf, you feel defensive, which is like a natural reaction,” they said. “Alabama 74 • Honors College

kind of took me out of that.” Now, they’re taking those lessons abroad. “When it comes to, like, fully investing myself in a place, that’s what I can learn from,” they said.


Deciding to apply for a Fulbright wasn’t an easy decision for Maddy Lewis, who was at first skeptical of the program. “I think it’s important that people’s native languages are maintained, and that people are able to still speak in their native tongue,” Lewis said. “So I didn’t want to participate in teaching English and maybe erasing some native languages in that process, even though I would have been, you know, a very small part of that.” But a trip to the Balkans through UA’s Serbia Fellowship Experience changed Lewis’ mind. There, they met a former Fulbrighter who shared their concerns but explained that English opened students to a whole world of job opportunities. “I think that in and of itself is unfair, but it’s like the reality that we live in,” Lewis said, adding that in Montenegro, a small country in the Balkans where they’re based, learning English helps more than it harms. “I think native languages are less in danger of being

“it’s to live among them. And that’s what you get to do on a Fulbright.” - Beverly Hawk

Left to Right Clockwise: a hindu statue in Malaysia, mountains in Montenegro, a snow covered mountain in Malaysia, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers in Malaysia

forgotten and being erased here.” Part of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro’s history is cherished – and often talked about – among locals. And Lewis, who’s still working on their language skills, welcomes the challenge of learning from them. “For the vast majority of the time that I’ve been here, I am the only American in a conversation,” Lewis said. “And so I’m having to even shift how I explain things or how I talk about certain issues and say that ‘in my country,’ or ‘in the United States, this is what happens.’ So I think that has already changed me, it’s like a broadening of perspective.”


It took a while – six tries, to be exact – for Rick Lewis to settle on an English major at the university. “It was like a really beautiful answer to what I’ve been looking for,” Lewis said. English was the perfect medium for communicating “emotion, ideas, space, and things like that.” Lewis found his niche for storytelling while documenting the lives of LGBTQ+ Alabamians through a podcast series called “Way Out.” Now a full-time audio reporter, Lewis decided that his love of language was something worth sharing.

“I think, like, a mutual exchange of language – and I keep using the word experience but it is truly that when you nail it down – is super important between the people that are going with the Fulbright and the people that they’re teaching,” Lewis said. “It’s a mutual exchange, and language is this nice nexus point in the middle there.” On a WWOOFING – the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – stint in Japan, Lewis bonded with a woman from Malaysia. She told him stories about her country, and he knew that was where he wanted to go. Unlike Freeman and Maddy, Lewis won’t leave until January, so he doesn’t really know what to expect. As he wraps up his 9 to 5 in Nashville, he’s making time to brush up on Malay, even though the program doesn’t require him to. “It feels a little bit haughtier, almost jingoistic, if you, like, go to a foreign country and expect that they should just speak your language to you,” Lewis said. “I hope I come away with meaningful connections, sort of bridges with the Malaysian community that I’m placed in with students parents, teachers, and people that live there. I can’t wait to be there and see how it all goes down.” The University of Alabama • 75

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40 students 16 states 6 colleges 1 magazine




The University of Alabama • 79

Photo by Zachary Riggins

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