Mosaic Spring 2016

Page 1

the university of alabama

honors college | spring 2016

In Bloom

Embracing change and cultivating communities

a letter from the editor From the Student Recreation Center soccer fields to the rooftop of the Riverside parking garage, there is hardly a corner of this campus from which you cannot see the outline of Bryant-Denny Stadium. It’s the iconic landmark of Tuscaloosa, the skyline-defining postcard shot (see the view from above on pg. 45). But it’s also a place that brings the whole campus together every fall. The Honors College is similar — it’s a place that brings together like-minded students, but it’s also an inescapable part of the landscape here at The University of Alabama. You can see its impact all over campus and beyond. No matter where you go, you’re bound to find a connection to the Honors College through the work of its students. There is a slogan in the Honors College, “knowledge changes you, you change the world.” But I think it’s more than just knowledge. I think it’s opportunity, experience, service, community and knowledge together that allow you to change the world. The Honors College provides students all of these things, and the stories in this magazine show just some of the ways Honors students are using them to change the world. These are stories I think it’s opportunity, about community; experience, service, the community within community and knowledge the Honors College, within The University together that allow you to change the world. of Alabama, and the greater community of Honors students that reaches far beyond the classrooms of Nott Hall or the boundaries of campus; from teaching theater and dance in Alabama’s Black Belt of disadvantaged counties (pg. 5) to researching addiction in Birmingham (pg. 67) and raising money for childhood cancer research (pg. 14). In previous years, we’ve published once annually; but, in examining the constantly changing and expanding Honors College, we found there were too many stories to tell to fit in just one issue. Thanks to an incredible staff of writers, photographers, designers and editors, we were able to put out this Spring 2016 issue of Mosaic, the second for the 2015-16 school year. We hope you enjoy reading about the unique and varied ways Honors students are pursuing their passions and making a difference, and that you start to look around and see these connections for yourself.


Editor in Chief Emily Williams Creative Director Maria Oswalt Photo Editor Nicole Rodriguez Managing Editor Heather Buchanan Assistant Managing Editor Matthew Wilson Executive Editor Elizabeth Elkin Freelance Editor Drew Pendleton Web Design Editor Brian Ogden Writers Paige Burleson, Laura Testino, Sarah Mahan, Meghan Nash, Megan Perkins, Elizabeth Elkin, Dakota Cox, Brian Ogden, Carter Vance, Rachel Wilburn, Elizabeth Selmarten, Rebecca Sedlak Photographers Karley Fernandez, Andrea Grogan, Will Ruppel, Stephanie Dowse, Holly Ford, Paige Burleson, Kelsey Daugherty, Laura Wymer Designers Emeline Earman, Elizabeth Selmarten, Rachel Wulfe, Amelia Neumeister, Alexis O’Hagan, Megan Perkins, Will Ruppel, Kylie Cowden, Brian Ogden MOSAIC.UA.EDU

Note: There may be staff members listed multiple times under different roles in the masthead. This is due to the interdisciplinary nature of Mosaic; we encourage students to expand their creative horizons by taking on roles they have never taken on before. Hence, many photographers are also designers, many designers are also writers, etc. Mosaic is published by the Honors College at The University of Alabama. All content and design are produced by students in consultation with professional staff advisers. All material contained herein, except advertising or where indicated otherwise, is copyrighted © 2016 by Mosaic Magazine. Material herein may not be reprinted without the expressed, written permission of Mosaic Magazine.

contents cultural interaction Aether and Athleisure 2 57 Miles: Theatre and Dance 5 Model Students 9 civic engagement Just Give Us Five Minutes 14 Lifting Expectations 18 Roll Pride Roll 21

Cover photograph by Laura Wymer // Table of Contents photograph by Holly Ford

Photo essays Lizards Through the Lens 25 innovative scholarship Honors Communities 55 A Higher Purpose 58 Mining Mars 64 Advanced research Turn On, Tune In, Get Well 67 How the Tide Changed Research 71 features Presto! a million dollar season hometown hockey heroes the saban effect flying with the tide groom on gump homegrown photo essay

30 35 38 44 46 51

By Paige Burleson


n Doster Hall, a room is filled with sewing machines, measuring tapes and sketches with a certain Project Runway feel to it; it is as if the room has kept the aura of students running around frantically to finish their designs. Amber Phillips lays out her new designs on the table and puts a turquoise jacket with black accents on the mannequin that is marked with her name. As a child, Phillips started to draw basic illustrations, which was how her love for designing all started. The Florida native then decided to attend The University of Alabama. “Getting a scholarship, the Honors College, the great fashion design classes and my minor in nutrition helped


me make the decision to attend The University of Alabama,” Phillips said. Phillips — a senior clothing and textiles major concentrating in apparel and design — had her designs shown at the annual UA Senior Fashion Show. She was one of 23 student participants. The process began in Advanced Apparel Design class with Brian Taylor, a textiles and interior design professor at the university. “Students were required to present [at least] three looks,” Taylor said. “Part of the evaluation for the show was for the students to choose their own models, style their models and choose the music that best reflected their inspiration.” Phillips’ collection is called Aether, which she said means the essence of space

and explaining the unexplainable. Her looks consist of “athleisure,” or athletic outfits that can be worn outside the gym as well as inside. Phillips, a self-described athletic person, is always thinking of how to make an outfit better and more functional. “My showcase is about function and active wear, but it is still high fashion,” Phillips said. As an avid rock climber with a passion for outer space, Phillips used these interests as the driving force behind her designs. The heights on Earth and of space were an inspirational backbone to her outfits. Another influence to Phillips’ designs was being a part of the Honors College. In

Backstage, models were getting their finishing touches on hair and makeup and designers were making sure everything fit. Music started and models strutted. Phillips’ line, Aether, began with “Bright” by Echosmith. One by one, three models walked out to the lyrics and vibes of celestial powers. “Lizzy Hedrick [a sophomore majoring in accounting] wore the mock neck rain vest with moto leggings featuring pockets, contrast mesh fabric on the knees and style lines,” Phillips said. “Natalie Kidd [a sophomore majoring in biochemistry] wore a tennis dress with slits down the sleeves and drawcords to adjust the length and Ariel Crawford [a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering] wore the light up, moto turquoise jacket with a crisscross strap sports bra and jogger leggings with slits down the sides.” Phillips’ friend, Cathryn Laird, was the hair and makeup artist for the three models. As per instruction from Philips, Laird applied natural foundation, eye shadow and a mauve lipstick on the girls. Phillips gave Laird creative freedom on the models hair because she was talented

at creating intricate braid hairstyles. “I wanted the models to look somewhat natural,” Phillips said. “After all, who wears full makeup to work out? I believe my collection was simply real with real girls - real bodies and faces.” Phillips walked out with her models in the second round of the show, heard cheering, and saw a small crowd of familiar faces. “I knew I was well supported and loved,” Phillips said. “Seeing people’s reactions, especially to the light-up constellation jacket, was the greatest reward of the show.” After graduation in May, Phillips plans to move to Columbus, Ohio, to work with Abercrombie & Fitch as an Assistant Technical Designer. She intends to continue sewing in her personal life and through her Etsy shop, Selvedge Chalk Bags. Phillips considers herself an activewear designer and said she will continue to create functional clothing even if it’s just for her personal use. “If I end up in a position to design clothing, it will definitely be athleisure,” Phillips said. “One day, I hope to be gainfully self-employed, but until then, I am plenty content working in the industry.”

Design by Amelia Neumeister // Photography by Nicole Rodriguez

her Honors by Contract class, Dr. Amanda Thompson taught her about arduino, an electronics and sensors platform, which is in one of her pieces for the show. “It is a modular device that is called a LilyPad,” Thompson said. “It comes with a circuit board and LEDs. [Phillips] had to design a way to hold the device safely in the clothing and also allow access in case you want to change the coding for the light pattern it produces. She did a great job incorporating this element into her design style.” This device is inserted into her turquoise jacket, which was inspired by a space suit from the 80s. To go along with her space inspiration, the LED lights shine through on the back of the jacket. “The lights blink and twinkle like the brightness of stars,” Phillips said. “The lights make a constellation, Columba, which depicts the biblical dove of Noah and God’s promise.” In November of last year, in the Ferguson Ballroom, people of all ages were lining the intricate maze of a runway.


Creative Campus is a collaborative environment where students turn ideas into action.


Creative Campus

Theatre and Dance

Design by Emeiline Earman // Photography by Andrea Grogan

By Laura Testino

the question game, an acting exercise that develops improvisation skills, students converse in only questions. The only wrong answer is a statement response. Though, in the case of these particular questions, a simple “Yes,” could not be more correct. Alexi Bolton, a freshman in the Honors College, said “Yes” to putting theatre and dance in schools, and started in the fall 2015 semester creating a program for high school students at the Francis Marion School,


a school in Perry County that houses kindergarteners through twelfth graders. The 10-week venture officially began in February as a part of the 57 Miles Initiative, a program that began in 2009 as a partnership between Honors College Students and Alabama Black Belt communities in need. “The students become very attached to the question game, where you just ask questions back and forth,” said Jesse Tollison, a friend of Bolton’s who helps teach each week. “I’ve never seen any group of students ever want to play the question game, because it’s so difficult to come up with questions to answer more questions.” Around 2 p.m. every Wednesday, Bolton and Tollison pack into the car with their other long-time friend, Emeline Earman, behind the wheel. Earman navigates a different, often bumpy route each week to the Perry County school before the trio leads a one-hour class of eight students. The activities taught are inspired by the theatre education the three received at their own high school in Madison, Alabama. “Since we’re all freshmen, and all but about two of our kids are freshmen, we’re hoping to definitely see this class through their senior year if they all stay interested,” Bolton said. “We’re hoping to keep that up, and maybe get more kids, maybe not, but definitely stay with them. And then it’d be cool if I could find a way to keep it sustainable once I graduated.”


Before coming to college, Bolton had volunteer and teaching experience through Girl Scouts. She received a Girl Scout Gold Award for a week-long theatre and dance program she created in Huntsville over the summer for girls in at-risk programs in the community. Though Bolton is currently undecided in her major, she is continuing her performing arts exposure with Earman and Tollison, all members of Alpha Psi Omega, the theatre honor society at UA. But it’s more than a love for theatre that encourages Bolton to teach it. As a part of the process for presenting the program to the 57 Miles Initiative and the Francis Marion administration, she provided evidence from studies showing that participation in the arts correlates to higher test scores and lower drop-out rates. According to a study by Americans for the Arts, students who are involved in the arts for four years score an average of 100 points higher on the SAT than students who are only involved for one semester or less. Additionally, students of low socioeconomic status, like many of those at Francis Marion, are five times more likely to drop out of school if they have low involvement in the arts, compared to those who are more involved. Students highly involved in the arts only have a four percent dropout rate. “Theatre in and of itself teaches you so much about how to work with people and how to come up with

creative solutions, like on the spot if you’re doing improv[isation],” Bolton said. “It teaches you presentation skills, and stage presence, and I think those are all really important things. A lot of times with dance, you learn confidence, and you learn the ability to stand in front of people and not feel awkward. You learn to take big risks, because that’s what art is about.”

One of the students participating in the program is the youngest daughter of Gylendora Davis, a high school science teacher at the school and official Francis Marion adviser for the program. Although she isn’t an arts professor, Davis played piano for eight years and has a great interest and

respect for the benefits an arts education can provide, such as abstract thinking. Davis’ daughter enjoys the creativity and self-expression available in each lesson, and moving around provides a great release for the chronic back pain she’s been diagnosed with. Davis occasionally sits in on the lessons, and is impressed with the level of respect and professionalism between the Francis Marion students and the UA student leaders. “Every time [the children] come, they have a particular learning objective that they are supposed to master that day,” Davis said. “And I see the mastery. And then [the UA students] let them know, ‘Well next week, this is what we’re going to work on.’ So the children are very excited about it.” The only thing Davis would change about the program is its accessibility. Because it is after school, it limits the opportunity for students who can’t find a ride home. Many of the students who need the mentoring and the other positive impacts


from a creative thinking course don’t stay after to channel their energy into something constructive. “Exposure is key,” Davis said. “A lot of times children are acting out because they have all this energy, and they need something to do with it.” The school offers a drama course, but it is more reading-based than acting-based. Davis hopes to eventually see a year-long class develop where a teacher can present students with theatre activities that encourage them to be up and moving. Both Gylendora Davis and Davis Jackson, graduate assistant and interim coordinator for 57 Miles, agree that Bolton is doing a wonderful job with the program. Jackson has previous volunteer experience, including 57 Miles, as well as a background in the fine arts. The week he visited the class, he noticed that the Francis Marion students were continuously, actively engaged in the work, something that isn’t always the case for other 57 Milesaffiliated educational programs. “We understand that schools are combating decreased funding and limited resources,” Jackson said. “Often, activities that allow student to grow and develop such as visual or performing arts are the first to be cut. We believe that we can help support the great work that educators do by providing some of those activities.”

Most of the activities that the trio bring each week are games that are infused with a particular acting technique or skill. Bolton didn’t include a lot of arts history in the curriculum, because she believes that the appreciation for it comes from doing it. Her hope is that if the students enjoy enough of the acting activities in class, they’ll go home and look up theatre, like the Broadway musical Hamilton or watch arts programs like the Grammy Awards. Though she isn’t completely sure of the impact of the program, Bolton knows it won’t be limited to just the students she teaches each week. “I find that every time I do something like this, it ends up having a much bigger difference on me than on anyone participating, because they’re just so eager to learn,” she said. “And I think that’s one of the things I learn from them, is that they’re so excited when they show up, and whether or not they’re having a good day or they actually want to work, they’ll be there and participate.

Find out more about the Honors College at 8

Design by Megan Perkins // Submitted photography

Model Students

Honors College students take on the world’s hypothetical problems through the Model United Nations. By Sarah Mahan 9

lgeria. “Where does this one go?” Angola. “Doesn’t Australia go before Austria?” They raced up and down one of the hallways of the largest hotel in New York City, trying to focus solely on arranging hundreds of placards in alphabetical order. Representatives from each of the 193 United Nations members would arrive in a matter of hours. Half of the New York Hilton Midtown was theirs. All of the ballrooms and conference rooms were reserved. The expectations were high, as was the pressure for the 100 volunteer college students charged with running the National High School Model United Nations, the world’s largest high school Model UN conference. “Thinking about it makes me nauseous, but it was so much fun,” Maunica Malladi said. Malladi, a University of Alabama Honors junior double majoring in political science and communication studies, and Brandon Hooks, a UA Honors senior double majoring in international studies and economics, were two of the volunteers helping lead the 4,000 high school students participating in the NHSMUN conference on behalf of the International Model United Nations Association. While attending conferences in New York, Lima, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston, the two have traveled the world to help


lead or participate in Model UN conferences, teaching young leaders about global politics, debate and compromise while learning about the world themselves. “It takes everything out of you, but you want to keep doing it,” she said. “I don’t know of many experiences that do that.”

Malladi’s and Hooks’ journey to that hallway in the Hilton Midtown began at Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School, which they both attended, in Montgomery, Alabama. During their time at LAMP High School, each student was required to participate in the local Model UN conference hosted by the school each year. “We’ve been in it since the beginning,” Malladi said. “It started out as an extracurricular, and as nerdy as it is to say, it’s kind of become our lives.” They both competed on their high school’s traveling team. While Malladi said she overcame shyness to pursue an organization that piqued her interest, Hooks was already involved in a similar activity. “I did debate in high school, so I saw [Model UN] as an extension of debate,” he said. “Then I really liked the whole international aspect of it. Debate is very somebody wins somebody loses, and at Model UN, it’s more like you’re all cooperating together.”

The two explained Model UN conferences consist of structured discussion dictated by specific procedures, addressing when certain people may speak for instance. Each team researches the views of the country they’re assigned in order to solve a proposed problem. Malladi cited an example of discussing reproductive rights information for the country of Benin during one of her high school conferences. “You get very broad to very specific,” she said. The week is spent compiling a resolution, which is a proposed solution to the problem supported by your country, but in keeping with real life, general assembly committees aren’t the only way to reach that goal. Hooks said students may be placed on a country’s president’s cabinet or on a crisis committee, which addresses specific and often controversial issues. “I remember a couple of years ago we talked about refugees,” he said. “There were no relevant issues going on, but now we have a huge crisis.” Both Hooks and Malladi served as committee chair of the World Health Organization during their high school’s Model UN conference, a leadership position that he passed to her after his senior year, beginning a theme in their friendship. Eventually, Hooks passed his involvement at NHSMUN to her as well. “Our friendship has a very weird passingthe-torch motif,” Malladi said, laughing.

After passing the torch to Malladi upon his high school graduation, Hooks decided to attempt to turn his enthusiasm for international relations into a college major. “I already had an interest, so when I started those courses freshman year, I was a little more invested than other people,” he said. “I was a little more aware of the basics facts of things. It helped me specialize in certain areas.” Hooks continued his involvement with Model UN while in college, being hired by the International Model United Nations Association to work at NHSMUN. It was the beginning of what he credits as one of the most formative experiences of his college career. “For me, it sounds cliché, but it not only helped me figure out what I want to do; it helped me figure out who I was, especially being in New York in such an inclusive group,” he said. Unlike Hooks, Malladi said she planned on ending her Model UN career upon her high school graduation. “I wanted to be a doctor until about my junior year of high school,” she said. “That completely got nixed after AP chemistry.” She stumbled into political science and communication studies because “it just fit,” but wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue her work with Model UN. “I tried to talk myself out of it,” she said. “Freshman year you’re like, ‘I want to be cool. I want to be a new me.’ Then I realized I’m still the same me. After I did the New York conference, I [decided] I still love this. This is my nerd-out thing.” Together the two have climbed the ranks of IMUNA, which holds three total Model UN conferences in the United States each year. Both started as assistant directors at NYSMUN, reapplied and were promoted to directors, who hold the bulk of the responsibilities for the conference.

Last year, Malladi was an administrative director, mainly finding speakers for the program. Hooks, on the other hand, held a position they both agreed required more demanding preparation. As a substantive director, Hooks was charged with picking a specific topic for a committee, which requires writing a 60-page background guide on the subject, essentially writing a book-length research paper during summer vacation. During the conference, they both held the difficult job of making sure everything ran smoothly. “It’s a very grueling process,” Hooks said. It’s a process he’s done twice, serving as the director the education, science and culture committee, during his sophomore year, and as the director of the American States Committee, which addressed terrorism in Latin America, during his junior year. It’s also a process that both Hooks and Malladi agreed creates lasting relationships. “It’s a very intense bonding experience,” Malladi said. “You throw 100 college students together to be in charge of one of the largest UN conferences in the world. When things get that hectic, people get super close.” The closeness of the staff members during the week they are in New York creates friendships that span countries and continents—and makes the conference possible. “We have this joke that no matter where you travel to you’re always going to run into somebody [from Model UN],” Hooks said. “We definitely all stay in touch. Some more than others, but it’s probably the best part of it.”

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At the start of his senior year at UA, Hooks opted to focus on his work as president of the university’s International Relations Club rather than work for IMUNA, but once again, he passed the torch to Malladi, who served as the chief of external relations for this year’s NYSMUN conference, held on March 2–5, in addition to her role as outreach director for the IRC. As the chief of external relations, Malladi was charged with securing the conference’s keynote speaker; seeking out an organization for the conference to partner with to raise money; developing programs for the faculty advisors, the leaders of the high school teams attending the event; and answering any related questions throughout the process. All of that preparation doesn’t matter unless she does the other part of her job: making sure it all runs perfectly. Two weeks before Malladi departed for NYSMUN another of Hooks’ Model UN contributions was held on Alabama’s campus. For the past eight years, the university has welcomed high school students to campus for the three-day Alabama Model United Nations conference. While Hooks was director of ALMUN his freshman year, he now works in an oversight position as president of the IRC, which is charged with leading the university’s Model UN contribution. The secretary-general of this year’s conference, Jon Vincent, who is also an Honors College student, said that with Hooks serving as an adviser, ALMUN VIII welcomed 162 students from 11 schools across Alabama and Tennessee. Through five general assembly committees and various other positions, students addressed issues ranging from transgender rights to North Korea. “The students get to explore things they never would discuss in high school,” Vincent said. “It’s varied, and it gives them confidence in their abilities.” Dr. Teresa Wise, UA’s associate provost of International Education and Global Outreach, echoed Vincent. “[Model UN] has the potential to stimulate an interest beyond


their city or beyond their state or beyond the U.S,” she said. “It just gives them a perspective on the U.S. in terms of global relationships and the political scene.” The global perspective it provides high school and college students alike is what Hooks attributes as the main draw of the organization. “You don’t have to have experience, and you don’t have to want to be an ambassador in the future,” he said. “If you’re interested in international affairs or you just want to have a greater understanding of it, that’s what it’s about.”

Hooks’ and Malladi’s Model UN experiences—both competing in conferences and leading them—have taken them across the United States and across the equator. They credit Model UN with creating their global perspectives, their unique experiences—like giving closing speeches in the United Nations building— and their own friendship. “We’ve gone from hanging out somewhat our first years here, to being inseparable, to being trapped in an airport once for 13 hours [for a Model UN conference],” Hooks said. Ultimately, they view Model UN as a training ground for their future goals, which they both hope will incorporate the experience they have gained through Model UN. “You see people get very intense over debating, and at the end of the week you realize that in a sense it was all made up,” Hooks said. “We didn’t actually solve world hunger.” But Malladi said the experience still gives participants the opportunity to shape their worlds. “But to have that passion and drive and then do it for real is what I want to do,” she said. “I’ll take the same stuff I’ve always felt throughout Model UN and try to make that an actual thing I do after graduation. There’s a bunch of problems in the world, so you’ll never run out, and that career can really take you anywhere.”


By Meghan Nash

Design by Emeline Earman // Photography by Karley Fernandez


magine walking through a cold, busy hospital. The sounds of heart monitors and rushing doctors pass through the halls and in each room there’s a child waiting to hear his/her next steps in treatment. In some rooms however, college kids are dressed up as superheros and are giving out beanies to children who are suffering from cancer. Emily Bencala, not a stranger to hospitals, noticed this pure act of kindness and decided to embark on a journey to help children suffering from cancer. Bencala, an Honors nursing student, found out about an organization called Love Your Melon from her Delta Zeta sorority sister, Samantha Vlahos, who is also the co-founder of the club. Love Your Melon is an apparel brand run by college students all over the United States to help raise awareness for childhood cancer. It was started by two college students in Minnesota with a dream of seeing children smile even when they’re going through one of the hardest times in their lives. When Bencala realized the club’s purpose, her mind turned to an event from her past. “It kind of clicked when I thought about it,” Bencala said. “My freshman year I actually had a roommate named Corbyn Wile who was fighting cancer and has since passed away. She had received a beanie when she was fighting cancer. ” Bencala and Wile were roommates and sorority sisters throughout their freshman years. When Bencala lost Wile, she was devastated.

“She fought so long and so hard,” Bencala said. “They found it at stage four and the fact that she got four years was truly a miracle. So it’s really been a huge inspiration for me to do as much as I can to make a difference.” Wile passed away from rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that develops in the skeletal muscles of the body. She was diagnosed when she was just 16 years old but went into remission her senior year. Then, about halfway through her freshman year, she was diagnosed again and passed away shortly after. Love Your Melon gave Bencala a way to help those like her roommate improve their quality of life while they are fighting cancer. “Love Your Melon has given me a purpose in something tangible,” Bencala said. “It’s given me access to the thing I want to do in life, and it’s also really neat that it gives college students the opportunity to do something big and something important.” According to “The Truth 365,” a documentary about childhood cancer, pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death of children 18 and younger and it only gets about 4 percent of funding. According to its website, Love Your Melon has paired with the Pinky Swear Foundation and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer to beat childhood cancer completely. Half of the proceeds that Love Your Melon gets from selling beanies, shirts, mugs and other products, go to research, while another portion goes to help families struggling with expenses.


Student ambassadors nationwide have started campus crews at their colleges to raise awareness for childhood cancer and get Love Your Melon products in every college student’s closet. Love Your Melon has only been on UA’s campus since last August. The crew was founded by Vlahos, a senior public relations major and Daniel Chaney, a junior majoring in anthropology. Vlahos and Chaney both applied to bring Love Your Melon to The University of Alabama at the same time. Love Your Melon contacted both of the leaders and asked if they would like to join crews and become co-founders. Both agreed almost immediately. Vlahos found out about Love Your Melon through social media. “We’ve already been one of the top sellers in the South two or three weeks in a row,” Vlahos said. “We also won the celebrity challenge and placed in the top three there. We got people from


athletes that went to Alabama to Jason Mraz to give us shout outs on social media.” This semester they are planning more fundraising nights around the Tuscaloosa area as well as teaming up with the Ronald McDonald house for some events. Vlahos wants Love Your Melon to be a big part of the university’s campus so more students will be inspired to help such an important cause. Vlahos has dreams of returning to the university after she graduates and seeing the club grow and keep Love Your Melon alive. Vlahos and Chaney said one of the biggest reasons they have been able to accomplish so much is because of their crew members, including junior, political science and philosophy major, Trisha Galloway and junior nursing major, Brooke Owens.

“There’s so much paperwork and hoops that we have to jump if Love Your Melon accepts us and then if the family accepts us.” Galloway and Owens said that the blood, sweat and tears they through in order to get approved for some ideas we have,” Galloway said. “It can be hard and intimidating, but we just keep trying pour into the organization is worth it at the end of the day. “Just give us five minutes. Let us tell you our mission, and let us and looking for new ways to advance the club.” show you a picture of a child that just The logistics and the efforts to make got a hat,” Galloway said. “Give us those Love Your Melon happen is difficult and five minutes, and I promise it will be challenging but Owens said they are dedi“Give us those five so worth it because it’s truly amazing cated to making a lasting impact. minutes and I promise it what this organization has done for “For example, we are trying to set up will be so worth it... these kids and for pediatric cancer. a meeting with a boy who is 8 years old it’s truly amazing what They’ve created such amazing memwho is battling cancer,” Owens said. “The this organization has ories for these kids, and I can promise executive board met yesterday, and we all done for these kids and you every minute here is worth every brainstormed places where we could bring for pediatric cancer.” second.” the boy around to. Each place we went to Bencala has always focused her life we got declined, and we had to go back around helping those suffering from and brainstorm again. And, if we do find pediatric cancer. Losing her roommate a place that accepts us, then we have to see to cancer her freshman year only propelled her to study harder and reach out to numerous companies for donations to help fund research. Currently, Bencala is still working towards a nursing degree and dreams of the day she can help as a medical practitioner as well as a volunteer. “Love Your Melon is just such an amazing company,” she said. “This company has just completely wrapped me in, and I could not love it anymore if I tried.”



Expectations Honors students help others in the community prepare to find jobs. By Megan Perkins


Design by Rachel Wulfe // Photography by Stephanie Dowse

It is now 7 a.m.,

partner with UA’s Career Center and the Chamber of Commerce to gather a variety of local businesses that are looking to hire people and Shirin Torabinejad has hit the snooze button one too many without a bachelor’s degree. times. She jolts out of bed in exasperation of being late and care“We get to meet a need of the participants we’ve been working lessly throws on jeans and a T-shirt. She has a full day ahead of her with every semester,” said Savannah Martin, a junior marketing and can’t afford to lose any time. She just about finishes brushing major in the Business Honors Program. her teeth when the ringing of her phone interrupts her. She plans “We take our planning, organizing and execution skills to create to ignore it, however, she notices the word “LIFT” flash across her a solid goal for them, and Culverhouse LIFT makes sure they feel screen. Immediately, she spits her toothpaste out, grabs the phone confident and prepared going into it.” and completely forgets about the fact that she was in a hurry. One of the participants who attends the business professional Torabinejad, an accounting graduate student at The University class, Adrian Crutcher, has continuously come back to the proof Alabama, has been working with the Culverhouse Learning gram. He said it’s tailored to exactly what he needs where the Initiative and Financial Training program for nine months now. classes are not too long and not too short. Similar to others in the She is one of the five graduate assistants leading and organizing Tuscaloosa community, he doesn’t have the time right now to go the program. to college and take four courses a day while maintaining his job. “It’s physically exhausting,” Torabinejad said. “This is the hard- He said the step-by-step structure of the classes is what makes est graduate position you can possibly have, but we all love it.” them so successful. LIFT started in August 2014 when Lisa McKinney, an Honors “You have a guide, but you’re basically still working at your own College accounting professor at UA, and David Hose, a business pace,” Crutcher said. “So you’re able to retain as much information graduate student, sat down and turned their dream into a realias your thought process will allow.” ty. Through the program, adults and high school students in the Erin Johnson, a junior accounting major at UA, has worked with Tuscaloosa area attend classes that teach computer skills and job Crutcher as a class leader and has been volunteering with LIFT training. UA students teach all of since its start. She said out of all of the classes, which include beginning the programs she’s been involved “It’s a really good or intermediate level training in with in her time at the university, way to give back, and it helps Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, LIFT has been the most important make Tuscaloosa feel more like a and the most impactful. “I plan on QuickBooks and other home to a lot of the students.” software systems. being committed to it through my With five graduate assistants, masters here,” Johnson said. “What about 50 class leaders, almost 270 volunteer students and over 500 we’re doing makes a difference, and it’s a lasting difference because participants, the program is continuously growing. people learn things here that they take with them for the rest “The program is exploding, and it has so much potential to be of their lives.” bigger,” McKinney said. “The need and interest is obviously out For Madison Mullinax, a sophomore accounting major, LIFT there, so we’re trying this year to work out a lot of the quirks.” has been an opportunity for her to get more involved with the Torabinejad and the other graduate assistants have focused Tuscaloosa community and earn class credit through the Honors their efforts this year on making LIFT more structured. They have version of her Intro to Accounting class. She said she thanks the implemented rules and guidelines, created training manuals program for giving her leadership experience and engaging her for the volunteers and class leaders, and written handbooks for with people living in Tuscaloosa that she would normally never the participants. connect with. In addition to refining the original classes, Torabinejad has “Going through the program gives you a responsibility to introduced a new class to LIFT this year, adding a new aspect to the the community,” Mullinax said. “It’s a really good way to give program. She now runs a professional development class that ofback, and it helps make Tuscaloosa feel more like a home to a lot fers resume review, email communication skills, mock interviews, of the students.” dress etiquette and other skills necessary to impress employers. In fact, LIFT is the reason Torabinejad decided to make UA her Torabinejad knew how great it was to be teaching the computer home. She said the program is what drew her to Alabama’s graduskills to people in the community, but she wanted to find a way to ate program. The Auburn fan said without it, she would have never help them get the job. even considered the school. The Business Honors Program aims to allow the participants to “This is something that needs me and something I could do to apply these skills in a career fair this April. They are planning to make a difference,” Torabinejad said. “This is my heart and soul.”


Weaving, a photo by Nicole Rodriguez

By Elizabeth Elkin

Design by Kylie Cowden // Photography by Nicole Rodriguez


att Klein is like any other out-of-state freshman. He has spent the year adapting to the opportunities and challenges in class, on campus and in Tuscaloosa. It has been an almost entirely positive experience in every way, including the fact that he, like many UA students, is gay. “It’s pretty much all good,” said Klein, an Honors student from the Dallas, Texas area. “I’ve never really had someone come up to me and be like, ‘Hey, are you gay?’ Usually, if I get to know someone, we’ll talk, and I’ll talk about someone I have a crush on, and I’ll say it, and they’re like ‘yeah.’ No one really cares. It’s kind of an all-good thing.” Klein says the Honors College provided a welcoming, progressive environment where he felt comfortable being himself.


“I feel like in the Honors College people are really accepting, and I definitely feel like being in [Ridgecrest] is probably one of the more accepting places to be as a gay student,” Klein said. He had one negative experience outside of an Honors dorm when students trying to enter the dorm called him a derogatory term. He said, however, that the rest of his experiences have been great. He’s treated like everyone else. “There are a lot of openly LGBT people in the Honors College,” Klein said. “I’ve met a lot just in the dorm or through Spectrum events at the beginning of the year. It’s definitely something that is there. It’s visible.” LGBT is a self-identifier used by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Spectrum is an organization for those who identify as LGBT and their allies. According to their website, they aim to promote community for LGBT students, advocate for equality and make a positive impact in Tuscaloosa. Klein said the coolest part of the Honors College is that it’s more out-of-state than in-state, so you get to meet people from all different walks of life. He said he’s met people from places such as his home state of Texas, Canada, California and all across the Midwest. This, he said, provides people with different perspectives and allows them to meet those who may think differently. “I think we all kind of grew up in our own little bubbles, and so getting to break out of that is exciting,” he said. The university and his area of Texas, Klein said, are about the same in terms of progressiveness and acceptance. Both places have their issues but are generally more accepting than other areas. Klein said that he would love to see the Honors College host speakers and events for students who are interested in learning more about the LGBT community. “I think it would be interesting for people to be able to learn more about LGBT rights, because I think a lot of people aren’t informed, so they think that just because there’s marriage equality now, everything’s fixed and it’s not,” Klein said. Kirk Walter, assistant director of Student


Involvement, works to increase civility, inclusion, safety and well-being on campus for people who identify as LGBT by hosting such events through an organization called Safe Zone. Safe Zone creates educational initiatives to educate the campus community on the lives, experiences, challenges and needs of the LGBT community. Members of the campus community can become Safe Zone trained, attending sessions on topics such as language and terminology, the impact of a negative campus climate on those who identify as LGBT and personal growth in the UA community. The UA chapter of Safe Zone, Walter said, was started by two undergraduate students in 2002. In 2007, in an effort to formalize the training process, the chapter became a part of Capstone Alliance, the faculty and staff organization for the LGBT community. In 2009, it became a student organization again. Walter said that their presence is increasing on campus now that students know Safe Zone is a resource they can come to. Lizzie Emerson, Safe Zone graduate assistant, said they staff the office for 16 to 20 hours a week. She said they also do special topic seminars that

are relevant to those who identify as LGBT on campus, such as an event they recently held on the job search experience and resume building. They also partner with other campus groups, such as the Women and Gender Resource Center. Safe Zone and the Honors College have partnered this year. Walter said Dr. Shane Sharpe, dean of the Honors College, and staff members encouraged all Honors faculty to become Safe Zone trained. Walter said that he’d love to see more of this partnership in the future. The Honors College, Walter said, has agency over itself and pull with regards to alumni and other colleges on campus. “[The Honors College] can step up even where the university fears to tread,” he said. “I would love to see the Honors College become the vanguard of providing safe and inclusive spaces on campus. Usually, it only takes one strong

person to stand up before you get the rest, so I’d love it if Honors College could be that college.” Walter said he’d also like to see the Honors College require a class in diversity. He said that when he went to school at the University of Georgia, the entire campus had a diversity requirement. “We still don’t have one at Alabama,” he said. “I think that’s pathetic. While we can’t get it university-wide, why doesn’t the Honors College have a diversity requirement and diversity-specific course offerings?” Walter stressed how much he appreciates the Honors College and all they have done to partner with Safe Zone and create a more inclusive campus. “I recognize the allyship shown by the Honors College,” Walter said. “I have the utmost admiration and respect for Dean Sharpe and Jacqueline Morgan and have a wonderful working relationship with them. They have in no way been stymying to this process, but just a forward look for the future: what we want is this.” Dr. William Ross Bryan, assistant dean of the Honors College, said most of the change that happens in the Honors College is student-driven. This year, they’ve focused on recruiting more minorities and more first-generation college students.


“I think that’s a neat thing about the Honors College and a nice little feather in your cap is a lot of this is student-driven,” Bryan said. “I think when students come to you and say, ‘our needs are not being met,’ we need to be responsive.” Bryan said that by doing this, the Honors College allows students to become agents of positive change. If a student came to him and said they felt they couldn’t be themselves in the Honors College, Bryan said, they would absolutely work to change that. “Do I think that any student who feels like they can’t perform their identity in any kind of classroom building borderlines on making me really, really sad as an educator? Absolutely,” Bryan said. Bryan said, however, that he is unsure of when or if this will happen. He also said that he thinks putting the College’s resources into recruiting more LGBTQ students may put those resources to better use. Most of the faculty and staff are Safe-Zone trained, Bryan said, but he’s not sure about the student leaders. He said he would like them to be exposed to it. Bryan said having a diversity requirement as part of the Honors curriculum is a fantastic idea. Honors Year One, he said, is adding diversity to the seminar components. He said he thinks there should be a freshman seminar course across the University that talks about expectations of being part of the University’s academic community and how important diversity and inclusivity are. “Diversity of thought and breadth of experience is one of the cornerstones of education, and if we do not have that, we are not being good educators,” he said. Bryan said in the future, he believes students will be pleasantly surprised in course offerings.



“ of thought and breadth of experience is one of the cornerstones of education.”

He said they will feel represented, interested and welcome. Bryan emphasized that students should feel safe in coming to Honors faculty and talking about things that are bothering them and things that may need to change. “I feel quite confident that if a student or student group came to us and said, ‘hey, I do not feel happy, safe, secure or like an engaged scholar because of something that you have control over,’ we would absolutely be responsive,” Bryan said. “I have yet to have one of those conversations, but that doesn’t meant that they can’t be had.” While Klein knows there are things The University of Alabama could do in the future to create a more inclusive environment, he’s had the opportunity to do what he loves and be who he is. “I definitely feel very accepted most of the time here,” he said. “There are some people who are obviously not as accepting, but I do think the amount of acceptance and love and warmth on campus is overwhelming to the hatred and bigotry.”

lizards through the lens By Kelsey Daugherty

Design by Maria Oswalt

My goal in this photo essay was to capture just a glimpse of the immense ecosystem of Florida. I was able to get up close and personal with lizards in Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida. Some of the species highlighted in my photos are the native Green Anole and invasive Brown Anole. I have always enjoyed taking photos of reptiles, and love the challenge of trying to get close without scaring them away.





F e at u r e s

Presto! A Million Dollar Season | 30 Hometown Hockey Heroes | 35 The Saban Effect | 38 Flying with the Tide | 44 Groom on Gump | 46



Design by Elizabeth Selmarten // Photography by Andrea Grogan

A Million Dollar Season

Trumpet section leader Peyton Presto documents the remarkable championship season and illustrates what it’s like to be a member in one of college football’s greatest traditions.


“When it hits you that you are actually perfor Alabama football game, it’s a feeling that cann

he smell of sunscreen is in the air on a sweltering August day while most other college students are sleeping in before another fall semester rolls around. With a drill apron around her waist-binder, the first show’s marching sets in one pouch and her water bottle in the other, trumpet section leader Peyton Presto gears up for yet another 13-hour band camp day that begins with a two-hour morning rehearsal on Butler Field. But before band camp actually begins, the band’s leadership team begins preparing for the season well in advance. “Right before band camp, the Leadership Team goes to a leadership retreat, and we listen to a variety of different speakers,” Honors College junior Presto said. “The directors speak to us about leadership, and we also get trained on marching fundamentals.” Following the retreat, the section leaders and drum majors also spend several days before band camp organizing hundreds of drill binders for all of the band members. “Since the Leadership Team retreat in early August, we haven’t had a break,” Presto said. Once band camp gets underway, the rest of the band members can officially mark the end of their summer break. Members will endure lengthy band camp days for a week and a half up until the beginning of school. From then on, rehearsals will last an hour and a half per


day, every weekday. “Before band camp, everyone is excited because it’s a new season and we have missed seeing each other,” Presto said. “Band camp is fun and everyone enjoys it, but you start feeling drained with three practices per day. Afterwards, you are still a little bit drained because there is not a lot of recovery time between when camp ends and when school starts.” Presto said that when the returning members begin their band camp, the band begins to put all of the music together. And the spring before the upcoming football season, Dr. Kenneth Ozzello, director of bands and professor of music, meets with his staff to discuss possible halftime show ideas. After the music is established, Ozzello sits down and spends countless hours preparing various marching sets for the band. Ozzello writes all of the Million Dollar Band’s marching drill. “If the music is more powerful, you are probably looking at more angular shapes,” Ozzello said. “If the music has high energy, you are looking at large step sizes to create velocity in the drill.” But the drill is not always as simple as shaping. “Sometimes it might take three hours to write one page,” Ozzello said. “It’s like a puzzle, and sometimes it’s easy to see where the puzzle is going, but sometimes it is very difficult.” Ozzello and his staff are successful in creating halftime shows that appeal not

only to the crowd, but also to the band members. “My favorite show of all time was the very first one my freshman year, and that was the James Bond show,” Presto said. “The music was incredibly well written. It had a lot of crowd appeal, and we even pulled out all of the national championship flags at the end.” Following band camp, Presto balances leading the trumpet section along with a challenging scholastic curriculum of chemical engineering and finance courses. She is also involved with the Student Judiciary (a branch of the Student Government Association), concert band and research with an engineering professor. Presto stays busy in the spring semester following football season. She spends five to ten hours per week in the research lab alongside Dr. Ryan Summers, a chemical engineering professor. Presto has learned to prioritize all of her activities to best accommodate her many endeavors. Furthermore, music has always been one of Presto’s passions and an integral part of her life. She was involved with band all throughout high school. “One of the reasons I wanted to come to Alabama was to have a really great band experience,” Presto said. “I was looking into the band as much as I was looking into the school.” When game day finally rolls around, the Million Dollar Band’s electrifying sights and fortifying sounds are felt for

ming on the field at an ot be put into words.”

miles. Whether from the steps of Gorgas Library for the Elephant Stomp pep rally or from section “BB” at home football games, the band creates a tenacious atmosphere. “All you have to do is go to a professional football game and see the difference between having a college band there and not having one there,” Ozzello said. “I think it makes the total experience. It is always amazing to me the way the band can manipulate the crowd. Without saying a word to them, we can get them to react the way we want them to react.” Fans, players and coaches appreciate the band’s contribution to the football games. “There have been times when the players and coaches have looked at us and wanted us to play a certain song,” Presto said. “I think that is something that they appreciate and definitely serves as a motivator for them.” Before the game, however, the Million Dollar Band’s individual sections warm up on the Quad prior to the Elephant Stomp. The Quad on gamedays is beaming with excitement. The aroma of barbeque and freshly trimmed grass fill the air. Many individuals are throwing footballs, others are tailgating and some are just enjoying the company. Presto and other band members enjoy this atmosphere and interacting with other fans. “I think it’s really great because you

have all of the people who aren’t students on campus, and when they see you walking around in the uniform, they basically treat you like a celebrity,” Presto said. “I have had a ton of people ask for a picture and for my autograph.” The Quad is a good chance for the band’s sections to interact with fans and highlight individual section skills. Preceding the time on the Quad is a two-hour morning rehearsal. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that we dedicate our entire day to the game,” Presto said. The members of the Million Dollar Band spent approximately 670 hours, or roughly 28 days, involved in band activities over this past national championship football season. “Our band probably rehearses more than a lot of bands,” Ozzello said. “I think that shows up in our performances, and I think the quality of performances is very high because of the time that we commit to it. We have a great tradition of excellence in the program.” The band’s rehearsal schedule sometimes leads to missed social outings with friends. “Band is a six day per week thing,” Presto said. “I can’t go out tonight because of band practice, and I have to do homework that is due at midnight,” Presto said hypothetically. Presto, along with many of the


band members, finds herself facing situations such as this because of the dedication demanded by the organization. “Being in band is hard work, but there is only one other group that gets to actually walk on the field at one of college football’s greatest venues,” Ozzello said. “I think people want to become part of the tradition of the band. The tradition of the university. The tradition of Crimson Tide football.” Band members are very excited to be a part of those traditions. “It is so much fun,” said Abbey Rowell, a freshman clarinet player and Honors College student. “I enjoy doing it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t put the time in.” Rowell said that work ethic and being committed to something are valuable skills and attributes that one can gain from membership. Students work as a team and support one another throughout the long season in order to best enhance every college football experience. However, Presto’s favorite part of that experience is not the game itself. “I think my favorite part of the entire gameday experience is pregame and going into the tunnels,”


Presto said. “I remember freshman year and the first time I went through and saw the stadium. When it hits you that you are actually performing on the field at an Alabama football game, it’s a feeling that cannot be put into words.” This past season, the entire Million Dollar Band traveled to Dallas, Texas for the Cotton Bowl and then on to Glendale, Arizona to support the Crimson Tide in winning its 16th national championship. “It was very exciting for my year because we had gotten so far the previous two years,” Presto said. “I think to finally go there, be in that stadium and actually experience this national championship in person is something that a lot of people have waited for.” Following the game, confetti flew triumphantly through the University of Phoenix Stadium. Screams of excitement and victory echoed throughout as the Million Dollar Band tuned up “Rammer Jammer.” Presto’s favorite post-game memory was getting to see Nick Saban react to the thrilling game. “To hear him say he is actually smiling was my favorite moment,” she said. Presto, with her fellow band members, put time and effort into the national championship season.

“It was very long,” Presto said. “Section leaders first met at the beginning of August and the season ended halfway through January. It’s crazy to think that in August we were starting to prepare for that moment. But when you look back, all the time was worth it.” Presto gets to share that experience with the many friends she has made during her time in the organization. And upon graduation, she plans to keep those friendships alive. “I think it’ll be hard because a lot of my friends are wanting to go to medical school, grad school and law school, so we will probably all be in different places,” she said. “But looking back onto those college days that we spent marching together will always be an experience that will tie us together.” Ozzello said he values spending time with the members of his band and getting to know as many members as possible. “There are so many outstanding people in the band,” Ozzello said. “I think we are lucky to have some of the most brilliant students in the school.” Being a member of the illustrious Million Dollar Band certainly demands much time and dedication from everyone involved. However, that does not thwart many prospective and current band students from wanting a memorable band and college football experience. “There are some nights that I definitely don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep,” Presto said. “But I don’t think of band as a hindrance because that is what I find fun. It’s tiring at times, but it’s what I enjoy. I would definitely miss it if I wasn’t doing it.”

Design by Rachel Wulfe // Photography by Will Ruppel


Hockey Heroes

By Brian Ogden


On a Friday night in Pelham, Alabama, Jon Lovorn catches his breath on the bench after a long shift on the ice. The junior in the Honors College at the University of Alabama,still carries the memory of those lost in Newtown, Connecticut, with him over 1,000 miles away from home. The back of his helmet is adorned with a simple piece of white athletic tape, the words “Never Forget 12-14-12” inscribed in careful Sharpie and punctuated by a handdrawn heart. “If you saw his helmet, it’s a big deal to him,” Alabama head coach Mike Quenneville said. “It’s heavy on his heart and he tries to play for the school and the little community of Newtown.” During his junior year of high school, the shooting 20 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School had rocked Newtown. Lovorn first taped his helmet a month after the shooting. When he began playing at Alabama, he got a new white helmet and, along with it, a new strip of tape that has been there for three years now. “I tell anyone who asks about it that it’s a strip that lets everyone know the strength of one community that stood together in tough times to do something better and to act in kindness,” he said. As a senior, Lovorn helped the Nighthawks, Newtown’s high school hockey team, bring hope and joy back to the tiny town. Newtown’s state championship was a moment of healing for his town. After months of the outside world dwelling on the negative, the hockey team had returned Newtown to the headlines, this time in a positive light. Lovorn has seen firsthand the impact a team can have on a community, and as he takes over as president of the club team at Alabama, he hopes to continue growing the bond the Frozen Tide has made with the town of Pelham. After the final horn sounds to end Friday night’s game at the Pelham Civic Center, the team’s home arena, the Frozen Tide players quickly shake hands with their opponent, head to the locker room to drop off their sticks and helmets, and return to the front row of the stands, some still wearing their full complement of skates and pads, to sign autographs. Doug Shoe, the team’s self-described superfan, works his way to the front of the crowd to find defenseman Casey


Donegan and goaltender Tommy Condon. He pulls them off to the side where his wife is waiting with the Shoe’s two newborn twins. He hands his son to Donegan and proudly introduces him to the child that now bears his name — Donegan Michael Shoe. Shoe decided on the name after watching Donegan, a scrappy 5-11 sophomore, take an Ole Miss defender down to the ice the year before aft er the Rebel had taken a run at Condon. “I’m three-quarters Irish, and I look for Irish names for my kids, ” Shoe explained. “Donegan is an Irish last name. He needs to be tough just like Casey Donegan. He might be smaller than everybody else, but he will not put up with crap from anybody.” Behind Shoe, in the center of the crowded mass of fans, senior captain Jake Collins sat on the first row of the bleachers signing autographs for kids. This is the heart of the team’s connection with Pelham. Collins said there are times the team will go to the rink for practice on a Tuesday night and have parents and children recognize individuals by name from attending the games. “Growing up as a kid playing hockey, you always kind of grew up thinking about one day signing autographs for people,” Collins said. “Now, after every game in Pelham we have probably 20 or 30 little kids from the city of Pelham who come up, and we sign autographs and posters for them.” The city of Pelham is a suburb of Birmingham, 60 miles from the university’s campus in Tuscaloosa. The distance is a challenge for both the players, who have to make the drive twice a week for practice and more for games, and any students that want to go to a game. The players have done their best to encourage their friends to come watch, but hockey isn’t the most popular sport in the South and an hour-long drive is a perfect excuse not to make the trip for most college kids. As a result, the sport is growing in one corner of the state. The team encourages this growth with learn-toskate events and interaction with the younger generation. “It seems like a lot more young kids in Alabama are starting to get interested in hockey,” Collins said. “Hockey is something I started when I was four years old, so seeing kids get in so young, that’s how you get lifelong hockey fans.”

Pelham has a youth hockey league with many players that look up to members of the Frozen Tide. Collins even played in Pelham when he was younger before moving to Ohio for high school. “The kids that actually play hockey, we’re the people that they want to be,” Lovorn said. “We have a chance to make an impact on another community with what we do, at such a young age. It’s crucial that we do it properly and actually present ourselves as role models for them.” Parents take their younger players to the game, but plenty of fans go simply because of the letter on the team’s sweaters. In a state with no major professional sports, Alabama residents identify themselves by their loyalty to Alabama or Auburn. Birmingham is home to a mix of such residents, but the prospect of watching an Alabama sports team is one of the many draws to Pelham. “I think that the area has really come to enjoy the sport,” Collins said. “For them, to be in Birmingham and be an Alabama fan, to have to drive five minutes to see an Alabama sport is something that’s, I’m sure, very important to them. I know they love having us around, and we’re very grateful that they all come out and watch our games.” The fan support is a big draw for players considering Alabama. While the team cannot officially recruit because they are a club team, they are allowed to invite prospective students out to games when they are on campus to tour. This year, the team held their recruiting weekend when they played Auburn. Having 3,300 fans in an arena for a club hockey game makes a great impression on players considering the program. “The fans are a huge part of what makes it so fun to play for Alabama,” Collins said. “When we do have kids come down to visit who are interested in playing, they see how much fan support we have and that’s a huge deal to people, knowing that when they play hockey in college, they’ll have people there watching them and cheering them on.”

For fans that cannot make it out to games, the Frozen Tide offers a radio broadcast online. This year the broadcast had between 300 and 750 people tune in to listen to each game. The season opener’s audience increased 197 percent from last season’s first game. But the fans that do make it to the Pelham Civic Center help the team off the ice as well. As a club team, the Frozen Tide doesn’t receive funding from the university. However, the team uses fundraisers and merchandise sales to bring in enough money to help cover their equipment and travel costs. Collins sees the fans’ loyalty on display in the fact that raising ticket prices from $5 to $8 didn’t lower attendance figures at all; in fact, the team’s following has continued to grow. The club has interns that help run the radio broadcast and work merchandise tables where fans can purchase posters, miniature hockey sticks and jerseys. “We’ll sell a good amount of jerseys each year,” Collins said, “Probably in the ballpark of 50 to 60-plus around Christmas and then probably about 100 over the course of the year.” The team has considered trying to move closer to campus to draw more students, but ultimately does not want to abandon the new family they have found in Pelham. “I don’t really see us shifting out of Pelham anytime soon because those are the people who have gotten us so far,” Lovorn said. “Those are the people that need to be included in our future.” As the crowd slowly dwindles and the autograph session comes to a close, Quenneville reflects on the impact the team he coaches has on the community. “These guys are heroes to a lot of people,” he said. “They don’t really realize it when they come here, but when they’re signing for a half hour or 45 minutes, it’s pretty special. You’re a hero to somebody just because you have the ‘A’ on your jersey.”

Mike Quenneville retired from coaching after the 2015–2016 season and has since been replaced by former Frozen Tide goaltender John Bierchen. The hockey community reacted to the news on Twitter.


SABAN By Carter Vance



ith four national championships under his belt at The University of Alabama and another at LSU, it is safe to say that Nick Saban is nothing short of a football mastermind. Since his official announcement as the head coach of one of the most prestigious football programs in the country on Jan. 4, 2007, Saban has brought national attention to UA through the implementation of his “process,” which has played a helping role in the growth and development of the Honors College and the university over the past few years.


recruitment meeting took place in the living room of an Before Saban stepped foot in Tuscaloosa, the total Alabama alumnus, filled with only a handful of potential enrollment of undergraduate students was 23,878, with around 4,000 Honors students. In the fall of 2015, the total freshmen. This past year, Witt’s recruitment meeting took enrollment of undergraduate students increased to a 37,100 place in a country club filled with over 175 high school students, with around 7,000 Honors students. seniors, alongside their families. In many ways, this tidal wave across the country can be “The visibility that we now have, thanks in large part to partially credited to the national media attention garnered Saban, is in many ways a window to the university,” said former president and current chancellor Dr. Robert Witt. by Saban and the football program. “The most direct link between Coach Saban and our The goal of the Honors College and the university as a whole over the past 10 years, under the guidance of Dr. enrollment growth has been in terms of the exposure that his program and his success have given to the university on Witt, has been to attract as many driven young men and women as possible. a nationwide basis,” Witt said. This exposure has had a strong impact on the Honors “Our goal has been to bring in high potential individuals, College recruitment of out of state students in an very posichallenging them everyday, and they should grow and rise tive way, Witt said. to these challenges,” said Honors College Dean “Our [the Honors College] significant growth has mainly Shane Sharpe. Similar to Saban’s recruitment of the best athletes across come from out of state students,” said Sharpe. “We do a better job connecting with students and counseling them on the country, UA has substantially increased its recruiting their path and way here”. efforts nationwide in the past decade. When Witt made his In addition to this exposure, Saban has also been an first trip to Connecticut as president of the university, the



important source of income for the university. “Coach Saban arrived a few years before the SEC developed its own staton,” Witt said. “The fact that every football game was broadcast nationally, along with the fact that every other sport was broadcast, meant that UA would always be televised.” This coverage is well worth the large salary he has received year after year. When Saban was hired, he was the highest paid college football coach with a salary of $4 million a year. “This payment to Coach Saban was one of the best investments The University of Alabama ever made,” Witt said. Like most successful college football coaches, Saban realizes that there is much more to football than X’s and O’s. In the classroom and on the football team, discipline is key for Saban. “Coach Saban knows that discipline is going to be a direct correlation of success,” said senior football player and business management major David D’amico.





(Crimson denotes national championship, *5 wins vacated in 2007)


Nick Saban’s father owned a Dairy Queen and Service Station to support the family in a coal mining town.



Along with his impact on the lives of his players, Saban has created an environment that places a strong emphasis on graduating in four years. This standard of excellence is reflected in the Honors College as well. “In 2012, UA had the highest amount of national merit scholars of any public university, and there were only three private [universities] ahead of us,” Witt said. Sharpe said the similarities between Saban’s football program and the Honors College and the effect that Saban has had on the University as a whole are overwhelming. “UA and the Crimson Tide, with Coach Saban, opens doors,” Sharpe said. “Everyone has heard of him [Saban] and knows what he stands for.”

Design by Will Rupperl // Photography by Karley Fernandez


4 4 25



I step into the snug 1980 two-seater Cessna 152. Connor, my brother, walks around the small plane and checks a variety of things off a long list. He eventually climbs in beside me, and I think to myself that we haven’t been this close in proximity since the womb. Connor, my sister and I are triplets. Connor moves fast and sure as he hits and pulls buttons and instruments on the dashboard of the plane. He says things like “mixture rich,” but everything goes over my head. The engine starts, and we cruise to the runway. Our destination: Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama to meet up for lunch with our parents. “November 5-1-0 Mike ready for departure runway 2-2,” Connor said. We lift off from the ground, and we’re climbing in the air above Tuscaloosa. The buildings are getting smaller, and I get a glimpse of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Our big headsets allow for us to communicate with airports and each other.


“I got my pilot’s license mostly because of our grandfather, Grandy,” Connor said. “He flew a lot and had a paint company called Peerless Coatings, so he did a lot of business in the southeast. Some of his airplanes were for fun as a hobby and some of them were for business. When he passed away our freshman year, he still had one airplane called a Beechcraft Bonanza.” Connor Burleson, a junior studying aerospace engineering, decided to get his pilot’s license the summer of 2014. The process included him going to the General Aviation Center at the Tuscaloosa Airport to fly with an instructor two times a week. “It’s called a discovery flight,” Connor said. “You basically go up and they let you fly the airplane. They show you around

Tuscaloosa, the stadium and the campus. It’s something you’ve never experienced before so it’s pretty exciting.” Connor had to fly with an instructor for 40 hours; he passed the test and officially has his pilot’s license. “One of the biggest challenges and accomplishments is your first solo flight,” Connor said. “It’s a really big deal, and your instructor has to make sure you can do it. One of the traditions they do after your first solo is they cut off the back of

Design by Amelia Neumeister // Photography by Paige Burleson

your shirt after you get down. I’ve got it “Abe Alibrahim, [the owner of the “On those outings, we’ve flown to lunch framed in my room at home.” General Aviation Center], told me that in Montgomery, toured the UA jet, had With his license, Connor mainly flies another person from UA rents planes and cookouts and toured a military aircraft.” the two-seater Cessna, a single engine, takes instruction from him, which The sky turns from blue, to orange, or the four-seater Cessna, also a is Anna Jones,” Connor said. “Abe told to a starry black as we discuss Connor’s single engine. me she wanted to start a club, and I was summer as he will be working at NASA’s “During that solo flight, the airplane all for it.” Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio climbs a lot faster without your instructor The Crimson Aviators, a UA club, was and his future with airplanes. because there isn’t as much weight,” founded by Anna Jones with the help of “When I graduate and start working, I Connor said. “It’s a different experience, Connor and Ryan Graves. With 10-15 would like to buy an airplane just to fly it but you’ve been doing this for so many people in the club and Charles O’Neill, an as a hobby, not necessarily for a company,” hours so you just do what you’ve been aerospace department professor as the Connor said. “I would eventually like to get doing and everything goes well.” advisor, they have regular meetings and my different types of ratings and move up If something were to go wrong, outings. The members don’t need to have a to bigger airplanes.” Connor said there are a variety of steps pilot’s license, only to have an interest We fly over the lit up baseball stadium a pilot can take. in aviation. and the buildings grow larger. Connor “There are pretty much checklists for “In normal meetings, we go over topics touches the plane down smoothly once everything that you do,” Connor said. relating to aviation and chat about ideas more in Tuscaloosa. I hug him and say, “There is the preflight that has each step we have for our outings,” said Jones, a “I’m so proud of you, and Grandy would you need to do, there is a starting engine senior majoring in international studies. be too.” checklist and an emergency checklist just in case anything were to happen. All of that is memorized.” I see the runway to the Alexander City airport, and we are getting closer to it. After about an hour, Connor lands the plane smoothly and our If you are interested parents approach us. Getting to fly in a plane and eating in joing the Crimson a freshly cooked meal is Aviators Club go to nothing to complain about. When it’s time to head out, their facebook page. my brother fills the plane with fuel and goes through his checklist one more time. The sun is about to set as we prepare for takeoff.



Design by Brian Ogden // Photography by Nicole Rodriguez

Author Winston Groom reflects on the 30th anniversary of his most popular book BY: EMILY WILLIAMS


At first glance, Winston Groom’s office does not appear to be that of a world-famous author. Everyday sounds echo in the brick walled room - the tinkle of ice against the sides of a glass tumbler; the steady hum of a lawnmower next door; the beep of the answering machine; his daughter’s Shih Tzu, Camellia, reminding him that feeding time is promptly at 5 p.m. The shelves are filled, floor to ceiling, with books by everyone from W.E.B. Griffin to Clarence Darrow and even Jimmy Buffet. A glass front cabinet on the opposite wall displays an impressive collection of rifles. On his desk papers are stacked in piles surrounding the computer where he writes every afternoon. Nothing is out of the ordinary. But there, hanging on the wall above his desk is a poster of a man in a white suit sitting on a bench. In the white space around the photo, in great curling black ink, are signatures from some of the biggest names in Hollywood — Gary Sinise, Sally Field and, largest of all, Tom Hanks.


Sitting in a rolling chair beneath all those names is the man who brought them all together, in a way. And it all started, 30 years ago, with a novel called Forrest Gump. Groom, the author of Gump and nearly 20 other books, rarely has time to reflect on things like 30th anniversaries, because he’s just as busy as ever. Though he’s lived everywhere from New York to North Carolina, the 73-yearold Mobile native still calls Alabama home. Much of Forrest Gump was inspired by growing up in Mobile, and by his years as a student at The University of Alabama. “It was just interesting meeting new people with new ideas, not these parochial ideas we had here in Mobile,” he said. “I grew up in the old city and went to the military school, and it’s the same thing that’s been around for 200 to 300 years. It was interesting to meet people from Anniston or Aliceville who were bright, fun people.” An English major and philosophy minor, Groom served as the editor of the campus humor magazine Rammer

Jammer and joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He counted among his brothers Alabama senator Donald Stewart and future Washington Redskins linebacker Fred Davis. With enrollment at around 10,000, the campus of Groom’s day was much different than the campus he brings his daughter, Carolina, to visit today. Aside from classes and his editing duties, Groom spent his days squirrel shooting behind fraternity row and often saw Alabama football coach Bear Bryant walking across the quad to get a cup of coffee. After graduation in 1965, Groom had plans to become an editor, but those plans were put on hold when he was deployed to fight in Vietnam. After the war, Groom worked for a newspaper in Washington D.C. and then moved to New York to pursue fiction. His experiences in Vietnam inspired his first book, Better Times Than These, published in 1978. Although the book was well received, Groom said the initial idea of publishing a novel was frightening to him.

It was the scariest thing I’d ever done in my whole life, including everything I did in Vietnam. “It was the scariest thing I’d ever done in my whole life, including everything I did in Vietnam,” he said. “But I’ve been doing this ever since. It’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time, luck and some semblance of talent.” He wrote two more novels in the next six years and was working on a third when a conversation with his father triggered an idea he couldn’t pass over. At lunch one day, Groom’s father told him a story about a boy he knew growing up who was mentally handicapped but extraordinarily gifted at the piano. The story stuck and that night, Groom wrote the first chapter of what would become Forrest Gump. “It just sort of wrote itself, and that has never happened to me before or since,” he said. “I didn’t have anything planned, no outline, no research, no notes. I’d just sit down and say, ‘Well, what is he going to do today?’” He finished the story in around six weeks but was hesitant about his work, so he looked for feedback from his peers. Among Groom’s friends at the time, famed Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein and Harper’s Magazine editor Willie Morris, who first encouraged Groom to get an agent. Groom recalls a 2 a.m. phone call from Morris shortly after he sent over his manuscript for Forrest Gump. “Don’t change a word,” Morris said. Groom sent the manuscript to his agent and a few days later it was purchased by Doubleday Publishing. The book was successful, but it wasn’t

until 1994 when it was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie by director Robert Zemeckis that Forrest Gump became a household name. In the early stages of production, Groom was involved in developing the screenplay, although he cites differences with the producers as one of the reasons he was fired. “All writers want their movie to be just like their book, but then the movie would be three or four days long,” he said. “And so they’ve got to tinker and by the time they get through with it, it is substantially different from what it was intended, because condensations just require that.” Most notable among the changes was the characterization of Forrest himself. Standing 6 feet 6 inches and weighing 250 pounds, Groom’s Gump was a football and wrestling powerhouse with a penchant for cursing and the occasional drink. Screenwriters adapted the role to fit the smaller frame and sweet disposition of America’s most trusted actor, Tom Hanks. Mark Cobb, chief arts and entertainment reporter for the Tuscaloosa News, said the producers used the book as source material rather than creating an adaptation but kept the spirit of the original character intact.

“I think the book is honestly better, myself,” Cobb said. “You can’t compare the two, because they are separate art forms. But if you really love the character of Forrest Gump, you can love the book and the movie.” Also noteworthy was the film’s use of special effects, inserting Forrest Gump in milestone historical events such as the stand in the schoolhouse door and Vietnam War protests at the National Mall. UA Telecommunications and Film professor Jeremy Butler said the effects were nearly unprecedented at the time and influenced future filmmaking. “For the time, they employed really cutting edge digital special effects, using actual film or documentary films and inserting Tom Hank’s face into them,” Butler said. “It’s a key narrative component and in terms of film history, it was one of those turning points in the ability of filmmakers to do certain types of special effects.”


Much of the appeal of the book and the film is the way the story captures important moments in history, particularly in the often-romanticized 1960s and 70s. This nostalgia, Butler said, has made the film popular with Baby Boomers, but the story appeals to younger generations as well. “It’s a movie that has different audiences,” Butler said. “For somebody who is Forrest Gump’s age, it’s going to have a certain resonance in terms of shared experiences. Somebody younger would probably enjoy it more as a story or a narrative with humorous incidents without having that same resonance of the lived experiences of that time.” With phrases like, ‘life is like a box of

chocolates...’ and ‘run Forrest run’ a part of the modern American lexicon, it’s hard to imagine a world without Forrest Gump. “(Groom) created an immortal character,” Cobb said. “There are very few people who would not recognize that name and who wouldn’t have seen the film. It’s a cultural landmark.” Following the success of the movie, Groom wrote a sequel novel Gump & Co. continuing the story of the beloved Forrest. But shortly after the 1995 follow up, he stopped writing fiction for a while to focus on his other love, nonfiction. “The problem with writing fiction is you’ve got to have good ideas,” Grooms said “You run out of ideas but you

He created an immortal character. There are very few people who would not recognize that name. 50

can’t live if you don’t write, so people write on bad ideas.That wasn’t a path I particularly wanted to go down and so I thought well, I can write nonfiction as well as I can write fiction, and I went to my publisher and told him what I wanted to do and he thought I was crazy.” Despite his publisher’s doubts, Groom found success in the world of nonfiction, publishing several books of military history as well as an illustrated history of Crimson Tide Football. Groom insists he hasn’t left fiction altogether. He has a novel coming out later this year set in Boston and Northern Mexico. Whether or not he will ever come back to the character of Gump remains to be seen. At the moment, he’s focused on more important things, like whether or not his high school senior daughter will be wearing crimson in the fall. “I could do it again if I wanted to,” Groom said. “It wouldn’t have the same impact, probably because I think I’m spent on that character. He’s a great character, but you can’t just keep going on and on and on. He’s not like Rocky.”

homegrown By Nicole Rodriguez

Design by Maria Oswalt

Mexico is a culturally rich place filled with people who are excited to tell their stories. Accompanying my mom or any of my cousins, I was welcomed into spaces that up until the past two years I normally would have never considered venturing. It was through the lens of those who live there that I began to learn more about my home country and see a different way of life.




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Mosaic Magazine




s r o n Ho : s e i t i n u m m Co


olar y of Sch it n u m m o

Design by Alexis O’Hagan // Photography by Holly Ford

a C Learn in d n a w s Gro Student

n eth Elki b a z i l E By 55

of designing roller coasters for Disney, so he wanted to go to a he frigid air blows across the Ridgeschool that was known for its engineering program. When he crest South courtyard, weaving a chill into every crevice in David Dodgen’s body. visited The University of Alabama; however, he fell in love. “They just treated me so much better [at Alabama],” he He thinks it must be 14 degrees out. He throws a football back and forth with his said. “They were more professional when they were showing me around.” roommates and his next-door neighbors. The cold Dodgen said it was his family who convinced him to apply has made the area slick and icy. They run around the courtyard, slipping and sliding as they go. to the Honors College. At this point, he can’t imagine college without it. Because he lives in Honors dorms, he said, most of his “We fell like 20 times,” Dodgen said. “It was so much fun.” friends are Honors students. “I knew, percentage-wise, I’d have a better chance of getting Dodgen, a freshman engineering major who lives in Ridgecrest South, said that living in an Honors in with dedicated people and surrounding myself with dedicated people in the Honors College,” Dodgen said. dorm was a great way for him to make friends who Dodgen called the resident advisors in Ridgecrest South have similar values as him. Dodgen didn’t want “amazing” because of the programs they put on for students. One to party or drink — he wanted to study and have fun. of his favorite activities in the dorm so far was a competition in Ridgecrest South has given him that opportunity and fostered which the RAs gave the residents mystery that living environment he knew he wanted baskets full of college-student items. They when he went to college. had 15 minutes to work together to create Kim Sterritt, associate director of housing “I thought something. Dodgen said he met many new administration, said approximately 1,500 friends during the competition. Honors students live in Ridgecrest South, that I’d have a Other students also feel Honors dorms East and West. There are an additional 200 helped them meet people with similar interHonors spaces in Blount and Paty. These better chance ests and values. Gwen Lemley, a freshman students choose to live in Honors housing for majoring in psychology, said the Honors a variety of reasons, and many say it shapes of meeting College played a part in her decision to stay their college experiences in positive ways. nerdy people I in the state of Alabama for college. She slept Dodgen said he was leaning towards on campus while touring the school before Auburn because he heard Auburn was an had things in making her decision to attend the university excellent engineering school. He dreams and loved it. common with” “I thought that I’d have a better chance of meeting nerdy people I had things in common with,” Lemley said. “I had a better chance of meeting people I clicked with in my building.” Her favorite memories in the dorm, she said, involve her roommate cooking breakfast Saturday mornings in the dorm kitchens because she loves spending time with her roommates.


“It’s just a really nice way to start out a Saturday,” Lemley said. Joe Arrigo, a freshman theatre and political science double major, left his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. to join the Honors College and gain new experiences in a new place. “I had one person from my high school come with me, but other than that, I was going in blind,” Arrigo said. “This way, I could connect with other people in the Honors program.” He said from a material perspective, Honors dorms are great. Residents get their own bedrooms where they can have the flexibility of studying at any hour. He said he couldn’t imagine living in a traditional style dorm with a roommate in the bedroom with him. Arrigo knew he wanted to join the university a year before he arrived. He visited in July and returned from the trip saying, “roll

Dr. Rachel Raimist, faculty-in-residence in Ridgecrest West and associate professor of telecommunications and film, said she made the decision to live in the dorms with Honors students because a friend of hers was facul ty-in-residence and loved it. She lived in New York and was used to being friendly with her neighbors and missed having that sense of community. She now lives in Honors housing with her nine-year-old son, college-age daughter and dog. “My children and I have not been happier since we moved to Tuscaloosa,” she said. “We now feel connected. Now I know my neighbors.” Her children, she said, grew up around students. They were both born while she was in school, one while she was getting an MFA and one while she was getting a Ph.D. Living with students made sense for their family, she said. “I don’t know if it’s the right thing forever,” she said, laughing. “But while my daughter is here and while my son goes to a school right down the street, it’s really great.” Raimist’s suite has a full kitchen, a washer and dryer and two bedrooms, so her suite is more like an apartment than other Ridgecrest West rooms. Raimist’s favorite part of living in the dorm is getting to know students who may never have crossed her path. She loves sitting in the common TV room and getting to know residents and RAs,

tide” to anyone and everyone he could. “There’s this distinct hate in Louisiana for Alabama that doesn’t exist for LSU here,” Arrigo said jokingly. “I kind of relished being the most hated guy.” Dodgen thought back to the night he and his friends played football in the cold, and on all his experiences living in honors housing, and smiled. “You feel like you’re part of something bigger,” Dodgen said.

watching her son interact with students and being a resource residents can go to if they need help. Her interpretation of her job, she said, is she must be present in students’ lives. “There was an RA last year and he was obsessed with Teen Wolf,” Raimist said. “And we used to sit [and watch the show together] in the common TV room.” Raimist and two RAs hosted an event this semester called Cupcakes, Creativity and Conversation. One of the RAs made cupcakes and the students talked about where in their lives they are creative. “Creativity will help you do all kinds of things from express yourself to reduce your stress to bring you a happier, more fulfilled life,” she said. It was interesting, she said, to see students in math, business and engineering who are not as engaged in creative activities like music or dance as they were in high school, realize there are ways they can get engaged now in college. Showing students that she is a real person, she said, helps them to realize that all faculty are real people. She can rap nearly every Jay-Z verse, she said, and one night shared that with some of the residents. At first, the students looked at her like she was really weird, she said. Then, they all joined in, laughing. “It breaks down some of the perceptions and barriers of faculty being a particular kind of way because we might be stuffy or strict or a certain way in the classroom, but to see someone with a Ph.D. who has tenure can also rap Jay-Z, and I think it’s a great thing,” Raimist said. This is just one way, she said, that the Honors College helps build students’ experiences in and out of the classroom.



Design by Maria Oswalt // Photography by Laura Wymer


By Rachel Wilburn

In 1937, only 15 percent of high school graduates went on to higher education, according to Educational Leadership for the 21st Century. Today, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 60 percent of all jobs require higher education. As that number continues to rise, college enrollment numbers follow suit. However, as colleges prepare for increasingly larger class sizes, students are looking for more meaning in their college experience than dollar signs on a paycheck. Higher education has come a long way since its colonial beginnings. The first college graduates were headed for the clergy; today’s are more likely to be headed to Wall Street- or already knee-deep in a career. What started as an elite privilege has become the standard. In a world where most young adults are pursuing or have some sort of degree, the question is raised: What is the reality of getting a college degree in today’s world?

Hunter Stewart, a senior Honors student majoring in public relations, knows firsthand the pressure of attending college after completing high school. “I think coming into college was just the thing to do,” Stewart said. “I came in as an engineering major because I was pretty good at math and science. I thought it was something I would enjoy. When I switched [to public relations,] it was an eye-opening experience. It wasn’t until junior year that I figured out what I wanted to do and why I was here.” Stewart isn’t the first student to discover that college is much more than technical, professional training. In fact, Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College, encourages students to take a more holistic approach towards college. “Students come into the university with a checklist they’ve followed, whether overtly or not, to get into their college of choice,” Morgan said. “What I like to do is something I call deprogramming and to encourage them to get away from this


‘what boxes do I need to check next’ ideal and towards taking time to really figure out their strengths and interests. That takes stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks with classes, internships, etc. If the four-year experience is maximized, it can be so much more than just moving on to the next checklist.” As college life continues to evolve and shift, universities are having to change with it. Where there was once a divide between the business and academic worlds, the U.S. is increasingly seeing the two merging. When Robert Witt became chancellor of The University of Alabama, UA saw its first big step into the newly merged academic world. Morgan said Witt embodied many of the business ideals UA was looking to implement. “[The University of Alabama] wants to be an economic engine,” Morgan said. “We want to be a part of discovering new knowledge, of doing research, but our vision has to be for students first and foremost. And that’s one of the challenges when you move forward in higher education. Many larger institutions are becoming much more business-like in their style, and that’s part of what you have to do. But you have to maintain an understanding of the culture of the academic world, even though at times it seems very corporate.” Michael Malley, assistant director for The University of Alabama Education Policy Center, said he believes higher education is a staple form of economic development. “It’s how we expand human capital and that returns in many ways: socially, like an increase in people voting, but also economically,” Malley said. With President Obama’s new push for


national free community college, Malley said he expects to see at least an associate degree become the social norm. “I think we are going to see a rise in the people pursuing and completing some form of higher education,” Malley said. “Community colleges would become the default education for at least the 13th and 14th year.” With this economic power comes a tradeoff for students. In some cases, the benefits and resources of a big school come at a price. Stewart agreed that at times he has felt the drawbacks of a big, thriving university. “I think it would be a lie to say that I’ve never felt like money is prioritized regardless of consequences,” Stewart said. “But I’d be quick to say that I’ve never felt like a cog in the business, which is saying a lot for such a large university.” Regardless of the dynamics of the institution alone, the dynamics of the student body are experiencing a revolution in recent years. As the economy continues to advance, particularly in the technology field, education is seeing a shift from classic, defined paths, making room for growth and change. “The reality is that many art history majors are on Wall Street making a lot of money, and English majors are running businesses,” Morgan said. “That’s where we have to get out of this traditional style of education. In this world, things change so fast. We still have some defined paths, but there’s so much more out there that doesn’t connect directly to a particular department. There’s must be flexibility, teamwork and learning to fail successfully.” In a practical sense, what does that look

There’s so much more out there that doesn’t connect directly to a particular department. 61


like in a modern university? For Stewart, experience when we’re not?” it’s taking chances to develop a greater Malley agreed, saying that as college sense of self. becomes more available, there has been “College is set up to be a trial and error a need for change in how universities place to learn,” Stewart said. “There are engage their students. not big consequences for experimenting “As student affairs and an emphasis on with who you want to be, and that’s the student overall well-being continues to best part.” grow, we find this need to offer students Morgan echoed his sentiments, acthe opportunities to broaden their horiknowledging the traditional role of colzons,” Malley said. “But there are also still lege as a growth place of knowledge but many specific career tracks, for example nodding towards the movement pre-med, that require that ‘checklist’ of self-discovery. mentality. So I think we are seeking ways “One of the problems we all have, but to serve all students the best way we can.” particularly in this rising generation, is In the future, the United States could that urgency to know the answer today see significant growth in the number of about where you’re students pursuing going and what higher education “There’s real discomfort as more affordable you want to do with ambiguity. with your life,” and accessible Morgan said. options become I’m a big fan of when “There’s real disavailable for Steve Jobs said, ‘Don’t comfort with ameducation. Still, connect the dots biguity. I’m a big Morgan hopes her fan of when Steve students realize too quickly.’” Jobs said, ‘Don’t the incredible connect the dots too quickly.’ Because you opportunity they have in being able to miss out on so many different experiences pursue higher education. and jump the gun to what you think you “To be able to go to a university, to want. It’s a scary place to be, to let go.” have these four years for developing Morgan said she would encourage self-awareness and personal and profaculty and staff to embrace the idea that fessional development, is very special,” college is no longer just about the degree. Morgan said. “It grieves me when people “The messages we are sending to you say they just want to get a degree or make all as educators are, ‘What classes do you a lot of money. That’s so shallow and it’s need to take to graduate in four years?’ never going to be enough when compared and ‘Let’s look at DegreeWorks,’” Morgan to really figuring out what it is that makes said. “Those are necessary, but they aren’t you happy, who you are. Students who ask messages about how to maximize your those questions over the years and continexperience. We’re not articulating those ue to evolve are the most successful, in all kinds of messages. So how can students senses of the word.” really think differently about their college


“Tuscloosa, we have a mission� By Elizabeth Selmarten Modern space exploration has set its sights on the next frontier. Mars: the space oddity, the red neighbor, a mystery beyond our atmosphere. NASA and its international partners prepare for their own quests to the red planet by calling on university-level robotics teams to develop and design technology to mine resources on the Mars.


like arena and have it dig up regolith, a powdery substance similar to what might be found on the moon or Mars, and deposit as much material as it can into a receptacle over the course of 10 minutes,” said UA Honors student and Astrobotics member Sean Stephens. “Our team makes a robot that would be able to drive around on the moon or Mars and dig up dirt there for astronauts to study it.” Stephens, a computer engineering major, spends most of his time with the autonomy team, which works with the computer hardware and software that drives the robot. Webster oversees the base and module design, and works with the autonomy and electrical sub-teams to integrate new capabilities for a smarter robot. Stephens also helps out the base and module teams. “We spend the entire year leading up to the competition working on all aspects of the robot, from the base and drive systems to the digging module and electrical components,” Stephens said. “We get to design, build and test it before seeing it compete against other school’s robots.” Every year, Astrobotics must build a new robot for competition. The process

isn’t just reinventing the wheel as the club dismantles their previous robots to figure out what works and doesn’t. While the primary component of the robot has remained consistent over time, other parts go through major transformations in in other areas, such as size, weight and shape. “We start working on the new robot pretty much right after the competition,” Webster said. “The trip back to Tuscaloosa usually consists of brainstorming and celebration of our success.” The competition doesn’t just give Astrobotics an opportunity to showcase their skills but also a chance to gain real-world project experience from start to finish. “This team has allowed me to apply what I have learned in engineering classes here at the university,” Webster said. “Not only has competition allowed me to develop my skills as an engineer, but also pursue professional development and networking opportunities.” Alabama Astrobotics formed as a result of four students dead-set on entering the in-augural NASA’s robotics competition in the fall of 2009.

Design by Amelia Neumeister // Photography by Nicole Rodriguez and NASA

A dust cloud of sand fills the atmosphere of one of the labs in Hardaway Hall as rover-esque robot traverses through a sand pit. The robot moves in an abstract fashion, traveling in multiple directions, stopping to dig and process piles of sand. A couple of students lean against the edge of this sandpit, each holding a re-purposed Xbox controller to maneuver the robot. Several more students watch from lab tables located adjacent to the pit, taking notes evaluating the bionic movements of the machination. The students’ autonomous robot is not solely destined to traverse sandpits. Its purpose is rooted in extraterrestrial exploration and mining, according to one of the students working on the robot, UA Honors student and mechanical engineer Jake Webster. Webster is a member of The University of Alabama’s robotics team, the Alabama Astrobotics. Over the years, Astrobotics’ primary mission consists of designing and constructing a mining robot every year in order to win NASA’s Robotics Mining Competition, or RMC. “The goal of the competition is to navigate a robot through a Mars-


“We were not an official student organization so we had no avenues to really get funding,” said founding sponsor Dr. Kenneth Ricks. “What we did have were students that were so gung-ho about the project that I couldn’t say no as a faculty advisor.” This original group crafted their robot using makeshift tools, such as shoes in the place of hammers. They tested their designs by buying two 40-pound bags of sand and pouring it on the floor of the University’s Capstone Lab on a piece of cardboard. Their determination and hardwork paid off as they took sixth at NASA’s inaugural robotics competition in 2010, despite limited money, resources and lab space. In the six years since its founding, the club has come a long way from the experimental stage. Now an official student organization, Astrobotics currently consists of 41 members and has their own lab space, complete with a sandpit, inside Hardaway Hall. Additionally, they now partner with Shelton State Community College, inviting a few of their students to join Alabama Astrobotics. They also receive


funding from the university, as well as NASA, Lockheed Martin, Dynetics, FitzThors Engineering and Nucor. Students in Astrobotics spend up to 40 hours a week working in and outside of the lab to perfect their robot. Although most of the students’ time in Astrobotics is spent working towards competing at the RMC, the club plans to expand their work scope and take part in other competitions this year. Outside of the lab, the Astrobotics also participates in a local outreach initiative, which is required by the RMC. Members take their robot to local schools to encourage the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, disciplines to the younger generations. Although much has evolved in both the competition and the club over the past several years, one thing hasn’t: Alabama’s dominance in finishing towards the top at the RMC. “Our team has developed a dynasty in RMC,” Webster said. “We are the only team to develop a functional

autonomy that can be applied in real lunar and martian environments, and strive to develop new and innovative designs each year.” The Alabama Astrobotics team has consistently placed in the top three every year at the RMC since its existence, gaining recognition around the competition. “Alabama Astrobotics did win first place overall in the competition last year, not to mention several other high-ranking finishes in prior years,” Stephens said. “Just like for football, our competitors all know that Alabama is the team to beat.”


Design by Amelia Neumeister // Photography by Nicole Rodriguez

Honors student Katie Thompson is part of a study taking a radical approach to treating addiction By Emily Williams



n Aldous Huxley’s 1954 novel, The Doors of Perception, he envisioned a world where psychedelic drugs could serve as a pathway to spiritual transcendence and enlightenment. While Huxley’s vision is often overshadowed by swirling tie-dye, Magical Mystery Tour and the “Summer of Love,” new research is bringing psychedelia into the age of modern medicine. ‘Psychedelic’ comes from the Greek words for “mind-revealing,” but in the context of research, UA Honors student Katie Thompson is working on, perhaps a more accurate translation would be “mind-healing.” Thompson, a junior majoring in chemistry with an addiction recovery minor, is an undergraduate research assistant in a lab at The University of Alabama at Birmingham researching an unconventional treatment for addiction — ­ shrooms. Associate professor Peter Hendricks, of the UAB School of Public Health, is conducting a study to test the effectiveness of the compound psilocybin, found in psychedelic mushrooms, as a treatment for cocaine dependence. A cousin of LSD, psilocybin has been categorized as a schedule one restricted substance by the Food and Drug Administration since the late 1960s; however, new research suggests that the compound may be effective in treating a


wide variety of medical disorders. “I think there’s reason to believe psilocybin might really help people stop using cocaine, as well as alcohol, tobacco and other addictive drugs,” Hendricks said. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this study.” Thompson’s role as a research assistant is to interview potential patients to see if they are eligible for the study. She spends hours on the phone with people struggling with addiction, hearing their stories and gaining insight into their lives. “I’ve had the most profound experiences just talking to these people on the phone,” Thompson said. “I don’t think they often get to talk about their addiction and what they’re struggling with. Sometimes, they’ll go off on a tangent like, ‘You wouldn’t believe what’s happened to me.’ I’ll just listen to them talk about how rough their lives have been.” Although cocaine is not the most widely abused drug in the state of Alabama, it is a difficult problem to treat because unlike tobacco, alcohol and heroin, there is currently no medication to treat cocaine addiction. Thompson said a

majority of the participants in the study are struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine, the riskiest, most potent form of the drug. “Crack specifically tends to be associated with lower economic status, because it’s a lot cheaper,” she said. “It also has more addictive potential than snorting cocaine.” The study is double-blind, meaning neither Hendricks nor the patients know whether they’ve received a psilocybin pill or a placebo, combined with talk therapy and MRI scans to monitor brain activity. Psilocybin works by normalizing the area of the brain called the default mode network, Hendricks explained. This part of the brain becomes hyperactive in people with conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and addictions. Psilocybin disrupts the cycles in the default mode network, allowing patients to break free from obsessive thoughts or ruminations. The compound can induce mystical experiences that, according to Hendricks, can lead to a dramatic life change, such as recovering from a chemical dependence.

“What we see with mystical experiences is something quite amazing,” he said. “People have access to autobiographical memories, a tremendous amount of insight and orientation, introspection into their lives and to the purpose of life. They often emerge a better version of themselves.” Hendricks said psilocybin could one day be used to treat a variety of disorders, including overeating, anxiety and PostTraumatic Stress Disorder. “The sky is the limit,” he said. “This might be a higher-order intervention.” While use of the substance is safe in a laboratory environment, Hendricks stressed that he does not advocate recreational use of psilocybin or other hallucinogens. “Psilocybin is extraordinarily safe, but there are very real concerns and risks associated with use,” he said. “The effects that we see in intensely controlled medical trials are completely different than what we might see recreationally.” If the study proves to be effective, Hendricks said it could still take years to get FDA approval for psilocybin because of the stigma associated with psychedelics. Despite their negative reputation, psychedelics have a history of medical research with regard to mental health. LSD specifically was used as a part of psychotherapy in the 1950s and 60s, with devoted users including Hollywood film star Cary Grant. It wasn’t until hallucinogenic substances became associated with the counterculture movement in the late 60s, Hendricks said, that the government restricted their usage, fearing Soviet scientists might try to use it a mind control weapon. Only recently have the benefits of the drug been reconsidered; though it still remains a highly controlled substance. Today, researchers across the country are exploring medical uses of psychedelics, including a John’s Hopkins University study using psilocybin to treat end-of-life




“What we see with mystical experiences is something quite amazing. People have access to autobiographical memories, a tremendous amount of insight and orientation, introspection into their lives and to the purpose of life. They often emerge a better version of distress in advanced stage cancer patients. themselves.” For Thompson, the ultimate benefit of the study is gaining an understanding of the realities of addiction. The stories of families with multiple generations of addicts or children caught in the aftermath have motivated her to dedicate her life to addiction treatment. She plans to continue working in the lab next year until the study reaches its full capacity of participants. UA Associate Professor Tricia Witte, who created the addiction recovery minor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, recommended Thompson for the study and said she saw her passion for treating addiction when Thompson was a student in her Understanding Addiction course. “She was one of several people in my class where when I lecture I can just see the fire in their brains,” Witte said. “She’s very intelligent, and she’s very, very passionate. She’s someone who will change the world in some way because she’s so dedicated.” Thompson’s dedication to addiction treatment has taken her from sitting in on Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings to shadowing a neonatal nurse


who works with addicted babies. These experiences, along with her work in the lab, have inspired her to pursue a medical degree, which she hopes will give her the opportunity to help addicts change their lives for the better. “One of the biggest things you can do as a medical professional is to just be with a person if they want to stop, so they feel safe and comfortable coming to you and saying, ‘I want to fix this, I want to do better,’” Thompson said. “I want to be that person for someone.”

Design by Elizabeth Selmarten // Photography by Stephanie Dowse

How the Tide Changed Research... by Rebecca Sedlak

The story behind UA’s pioneer research program and a look at some of the current students’ projects.




t’s 1964 and The University of Alabama has recently obtained its very first computer. Mathematics professor Charles Seebeck has created the computer center that will eventually bear his name and begun to realize that both computers and undergraduate students have far more to offer than most other professors would believe. Seebeck rapidly noticed that the people who were most interested and understood the technology fastest were exceptionally gifted undergraduate students. He further recognized both how valuable the students were to the faculty and how enriched their education became as faculty came to them for help. In 1968, these revolutionary ideas sparked the formation of the nation’s first interdisciplinary undergraduate research program. Today that program is known as Computer Based Honors, or CBH. “The idea was to bring in really bright students, give them scholarship money and teach them everything there is to know about the computer in their first year, which you could do in 1968,” said Jane Batson, the current program manager and an alum of the program. “Then, whatever their major was, let them do projects in that major during their last three years.” The first class of students could do almost anything they wanted to with this brand new technology and research opportunity, Batson stated. One student choreographed a dance routine on the computer, while another created furniture arrangements, and still another did a project involving Supreme Court cases. “Our faculty learned before any other faculty did how valuable undergraduate students could be to research,” said Cathy Randall, CBH alum and the current Director Emerita of CBH. “And that was key. [CBH students’] contribution to the academic life of this campus is incalculable because of what they do to help the faculty advance knowledge.” The UA administration quickly saw the immeasurable value of the program and supported it wholeheartedly, Batson said. Even as technology became commonplace over the years, undergraduates continued to prove their worth to research and faculty committed themselves to benefitting these students as much as possible. “The Computer Based Honors Program is going to stretch you as far as you can be stretched,” Randall said. “If you want to grow as far as you can grow, this is going to allow you and encourage you and push you to do that.” Over the last 48 years, CBH has adjusted well to the


X explosive growth of technology, largely thanks to both Randall and Batson. Today, about 40 out of hundreds of applicants are accepted every year. Freshmen still go through an accelerated introduction to computing, are taught to program in two languages and complete large projects at the end of each semester. During their last three years, the students choose research projects conducted by faculty. These projects come from all disciplines, and students are not required to work within their major. Throughout the four years in CBH, students learn time and project management, presentation, and other professional development skills. Throughout all of this, according to Batson and Randall, they learn how to teach themselves and engage new subjects confidently and effectively. “Things are changing so quickly now,” Batson said. “Technology is a part of everybody’s life; it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. So now the idea is that if you’re comfortable with it and you feel like you can learn it very quickly, there’s no telling what you can do and how it can affect you.” Current projects are as varied as ever, ranging from working to improve technical literacy in nonprofit organizations to researching new targeted delivery systems for cancer drugs and studies of ADHD mindfulness techniques. The majority of students are in more technical majors such as engineering, physics and math, but there are also a number of studio art, fashion design and other liberal arts majors doing outstanding research in their fields. “[CBH] has exceeded the first three directors’ expectations by leaps and bounds,” Randall said. “The quality of the students and the geographic diversity are astronomically higher. It has really stayed true, though, to the original vision and structure, which speaks volumes about Dr. Seebeck’s vision.” CBH Alumni have spread across the United States and the world. Many have pursued higher degrees or continued to do research in the workforce, and a large number have become physicians. A common theme among CBH students and alumni alike is a strong desire to give back to their university, communities and the world. Particularly notable alumni include the current Director of Engineering at Google, Nan Boden. According to Randall, CBH began as a unique experiment in a time when undergraduates were considered worthless to research. Nearly 50 years later, there are countless undergraduate research programs, yet CBH itself is stronger than ever and looks forward to a bright future of reaching even more disciplines and seeing what students can create with technology.

Kindle Williams In the midst of the chaos of Crimson Tide gamedays, many students recognize the elephant ears, face paint and cape of Kindle Williams, a CBH student whose passion for knowledge, service and Alabama have shaped her college experience. Williams, a senior with a double major in chemical engineering and chemistry, first began face painting for her high school, which did not have an official mascot. While she mostly enjoys dressing up and spreading team spirit, she has also found it uniquely unifying. “I love all the aspects of Alabama culture that bring us together as a group, and I think the primary one is football,” Williams said. “With the influx of out of state students and people of different backgrounds, we have lots of different opinions on things. In that regard, we’re a very diverse campus and can’t agree about much in a lot of cases, but we can agree that we want our teams to win. I just want to help that culture any way I can.” As a sophomore in CBH, Williams began research with chemistry professor Dr. Steven Woski. Her work involves building groups of molecules, including some that have never been created before, that have the characteristics of diodes, which are used to convert alternating current to direct current in electronics such as power supplies. Through this project, she discovered and has since moved on to other projects involving solar cells and biofuels. Though she was originally set on pursuing a Ph.D. program in medicine, she has found her niche for helping humanity

X in alternative energy. “Regardless of what I end up going into, I want it to move us forward in the direction of having a more sustainable future in our energy sector,” Williams said. “Like not having to depend on fossil fuels, or if we are, then being able to do it in a better way and not polluting the atmosphere as much. That’s been the motivation for my research in the past year, as well as my research for graduate school.” Williams has also given a lot back to the campus and Tuscaloosa through extracurriculars. She serves as the executive vice president of civic engagement in the Honors College Assembly where she is in charge of various service events and long-term partnerships with groups like Habitat for Humanity. She is heavily involved in multiple honors and professional societies such as The XXXI and the American Chemical Society. Most recently, she and another CBH senior have spearheaded a program within CBH to provide live online tutoring for high school students in surrounding areas. “[The best part of being in CBH] is the community,” Williams said. “It’s a bunch of people who really hold knowledge in this prized position. They’re all interested in their research, but they know how to have fun too.” After her graduation in May, Williams plans to pursue a Ph.D. and continue her research in sustainable energy in the hopes of making the world better for future generations. “I want Alabama to be a better place for me being here,” Williams said. “I want the world to be a better place through my research, and I’m always going to cheer for the Crimson Tide. Roll Tide.”

Matthew Leeds As a freshman at UA, Matthew Leeds was fascinated by computers and wanted to learn more about them. Three years later, he discovered the immense power of computer technology to help people. Leeds is currently a junior with a double major in computer science and math, and a minor in CBH. He began his research in the astronomy department by writing code to convert galaxy simulations from one format to another so that they could be run through another software which shows what they galaxy would look like if it could actually be seen. This project provides insight into the history and formation of galaxies, what happens when they collide and other questions that humans know very little about. In the fall of 2015, however, Leeds moved

X on to a project in the Civil Engineering department, writing an Android app to help people find storm shelters on campus. Currently, UA releases a list of available storm shelters in alphabetical order with no convenient way to figure out which ones are closest to a person’s current location. Leeds hopes this new app will make it easier for students and others in Tuscaloosa to find a safe place quickly in case of sever weather. “I think information technology has huge power to change the world - it already is changing the world - but it has the power to improve people’s lives in real ways,” Leeds said. “People have a tendency to think technology is associated with wasting time, but it has so much more power to improve economies by improving access to information and enable innovation.


Lauren PRATT As an anthropology major, Lauren Pratt is used to being outnumbered by engineers and other applied science majors in CBH. As a senior who has worked on three highly diverse projects, she proudly represents the vital importance and benefit of interdisciplinary research that has been a key aspect of the program since its inception. “Don’t be afraid,” Pratt said. “If you’re willing to put in the work anyone can get through that freshman year [in CBH]. It teaches you a lot of confidence working with computers and learning in the future the stuff you are going to have to work with. We need more people advocating for the social sciences as sciences as worthy of attention and as significant.” Pratt’s CBH research began with a relatively small project measuring physiological responses to watching a fire. According to Pratt, the research stemmed from the idea that during the course of human evolution, being around fire meant safety so humans could have a corresponding physical reaction such as a change in heart rate or skin conductance. While Pratt appreciated the ability this small scale research gave her to experience all aspects of the project, she moved on to an ongoing, million dollar, six-year study exploring the stress reactions of at-risk and impoverished preschoolers at a local Head Start program as emotional coping techniques are implemented in the classrooms. For Pratt, this was an eye-opening experience to the weight of her research. “Some of these kids, we hear their stories, and we see that they really are in trouble and we can use


X social science to help them,” Pratt said. “We have this opportunity to gain all these skills and this knowledge. If we don’t use it to improve things then what are we really doing?” Pratt’s particular interest within anthropology, is archaeology, and she finally got involved with an effort to collect data from prehistoric remains and grave goods largely rescued by archaeologists as the TVA built dams in northern Alabama in the 1930s. Pratt determined the people’s social status by things they were buried with and looked for a correlation between that and their measured height. Pratt believes her varied experiences in CBH have given her confidence not just in technology, but also in her ability to add to human knowledge and deeply impact the world. “I’m around a lot of engineers all the time and that’s sort of imparted this realization that I can bring an analytical viewpoint to what can become in some ways a more qualitative field,” Pratt said “I can bring these quantitative skills that not all anthropologists have.” While CBH has rounded out Pratt’s experience, she also believes the diverse community is a key benefit to the program, as they learn to communicate with those in other fields and learn from each other’s work. “We’re not all the same,” Pratt said. “There is a lot of diversity in the program and anyone can do research. Everyone should do research because whether you want to go to grad school or if you want to go into business or work, I think it benefits you.” Pratt plans to pursue a graduate degree in anthropology and hopefully continue her research in human migration and colonization.

Russell Hancock When looking for inspiration for more efficient airplane designs, most people would look to the skies. Yet University of Alabama researchers, including CBH student Russell Hancock, are looking under the sea instead. For several years, UA aerospace engineering faculty have studied the skin of Shortfin Mako sharks to determine whether or not it can improve aircraft efficiency. Hancock joined the project in the Fall of 2015 after doing research for two semesters within his own major of mechanical engineering. According to Hancock, sharks actually have microscopic scales that lay flat as long as the flow over them is smooth, but when the shark is swimming at a high angle, like planes need to fly at, they bristle to stop the reversed, inefficient flow that is created. “We have an airfoil, which is a section of a wing in a streamlined shape, in a low speed wind tunnel,” Hancock said. “Then we have another airfoil we’re gonna put shark skin on and run the same tests in the wind tunnel to see with the force and moment and pressure data we can get if the shark skin helps reduce drag and increase lift.” If the project proves successful over time, aircraft manufacturers could begin creating a synthetic shark skin to cover the wings of aircraft which might make flying cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Like the majority of CBH students, Hancock’s involvement extends far beyond his research, and the

X community has benefited him as much as the research. As a freshman, he sparked the development of the current CBH freshman mentoring program to ensure that freshmen have someone to help with their transition to college. “[CBH] is humbling to be a part of and just to contribute in my own way,” Hancock said. “I’ve been part of the selection committee to the upcoming class and contributed to Relay for Life in support of Dr. Sharpe, so it’s been rewarding to give back to CBH in that way.” In the future, Hancock hopes to get an MBA after working for a few years and to continue to help people through an idea and organization called Business as Mission. “It’s described as having a quadruple bottom line,” Hancock said. “So being profitable financially, environmentally, socially and spiritually, which looks like being a for-profit business, which is environmentallyfriendly, hires people in perhaps a needy community, provides jobs, brings people together, helps them sustain themselves, and brings in the gospel and the love of Jesus to them.” Hancock counts the benefits of CBH not just in research or even professional development, but in the people, in learning from Dean Sharpe, and being connected with so many who actively support those around them. “There are a lot of people in CBH who are doing a lot of incredible things,” Hancock said. “It’s a 40-something-yearold program, and the track record of people graduating from CBH is unbelievable with the things that people have gone on to do, so it’s a really good thing for the university, and it’s just really cool.”


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