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Come Together

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Fall 2017/ Spring 2018

Fall 2017/ Spring 2018

The University of Alabama Honors College Box 870168 Tuscalooosa, AL 35486-0169 mosaicmagazine@ua.edu Copyright © 2018 University of Alabama Honors College All Rights Reserved

Celebrating 125 years of women at the Capstone

Staff and Advisors Advisors

Instructor: Dr. Henry John Latta Editorial: Mark Mayfield Design/Art: Laura Lineberry Photography/Video: Julio Larramendi Online/Social Media: Rebecca Minder


Editor in Chief: Christina Ausley Online Editor: Reed Morley Social Media Editor: Gracie Trulove Photography Editor: Rebecca Fleisig Writing Editor: Kate Silvey Design Editor: Terry Mantooth Managing Editor: Sara Beth Bolin Marketing: Annie Hughes, Joely Nadler

96 • Honors College

Table of Contents 2- Letter From the Editor 3- Community 4- You Go Girls! 6- Center Stage 10- Freshly Formed Flowers 13- Spilling the Beans 18- Queer UA 21- Hidden Beauty Photo Story 23- Service 24- Out Of Bounds 27- The Pursuit of a Home 30- Making Them See 34- Always Taking Care 39- Features 40- Camouflaged on Campus 44- In The Monkey Business 48-Ad Astra! 52-Behind the Lens

What is

57- Style 58- Common Threads 60- Scrunchies! 64- From the Classroom to the Runway 67- Life in Color Photo Story 69- People 70- Guarding the Legacy 73- Dr. Surman's Amazing Five Minutes 77- To Defend or not to Defend? 81- Learning From Near 82- Driven to Succeed 86- Rocket Class 88- To the Ends of the Earth 91- STEMming into Action 93- Part of that World 96- Mosaic Staff


and Far

Mosaic is a student-produced magazine showcasing the best of the best in UA’s Honors College. The magazine seeks to highlight the stories of students, faculty and alumni who exemplify the character of the Honors College. In our world today, it’s important to share the positive-- the stories that give us a reason to smile, make us laugh and have a little bit of hope. Additionally, we strive to share stories that are important and promote discussion throughout our community. Our diverse staff of writers, designers, photographers and web editors meets in some of UA’s most iconic buildings to produce original stories from the heart of our campus. As a team, we collaborate on one issue per semester. We are writers, we are engineers. We are artists, we are future doctors and politicians. But most importantly, we are students of The University of Alabama’s Honors College, and we are storytellers.

Letter From the Editor I won’t lie, I set foot on UA’s campus as a young freshman anxious and intimidated. I was hundreds of miles from my hometown, not sure if I was studying the right thing and oblivious as to where I would even begin to make friends and leave a mark on campus before graduation in just a few years. But that was before. That was before I had the confidence to switch majors and follow my passion, that was before I met the faculty and staff of UA who encouraged me to jump into campus organizations and programs. That was before I realized how limitless campus was, as I watched friends fly off to study abroad in places like Bulgaria and Scotland. That was before I found the necessary inspiration and support from fellow women on this campus who recognized the potential I didn’t realize I had yet. I remember watching women boldly toss their red caps into the air as they celebrated their graduation. I remember sitting at the Ferguson Starbucks with a cup of coffee, as capstone women in crimson confidently guided hundreds of visitors through the campus they had made their own. They had voice, they had poise and they had strength. They emanated all the characteristics I realized I too, even as a young woman on a very large campus, could obtain. And this was when I understood this was 125 years in the making. This was 125

years of regained confidence, 125 years of risks, challenges, rising and falling as one campus. This was 125 years of endurance and fearlessness, 125 years of growth and development as one student body. Therefore, this year’s magazine works to physically capture the diverse strengths of the UA campus. We celebrate 125 years of women at the capstone, but also 125 years of diversity, inclusion, adversity and overcoming. We celebrate all professors, all students and all faculty regardless of race, gender and ethnicity who have contributed to campus while confidently carving a future for themselves. In this issue, we celebrate roommates with sand in their suitcase as they travel the world, and friends who cheered and cried with us as we took home a 17th national title alongside the football team under a kaleidoscopic rainbow of confetti and streamers. In this issue, we celebrate the community of Tuscaloosa, as student artists weld and bend new sculptures for nearby parks, and faculty orchestrate careful renovations and restorations. We celebrate the service of UA, as staff members provide inspiration and motivation to the students who now consider them family. We celebrate passions for art, photography and rocketry. We celebrate our nextdoor neighbor, as she confidently takes on fashion and runway from Tuscaloosa

to New York City. We celebrate dreamers, doers and legacy-leavers, as they motivate their teams, friends and family through their words and actions. Most of all, however, we celebrate the 125 years of confidence and change that has made me, and many other UA students, confident and bold enough to seize our futures both on and off campus. It is through this endurance we understand most worthwhile aspects of life require patience, persistence and partnership with those around us. Thus, we come together. We unite under one chime as a community of diverse thought and enduring passion. We come together and look forward. We look forward to a future of continued boldness and support, as we walk on as one collective effort to achieve our wildest aspirations, no matter where we go beyond our few years at UA. I am so unbelievably proud and honored to stand by a staff who has made these concepts tangible within this year’s Mosaic magazine. Through the click of a camera, the tick of a keyboard, the timeliness of online content and the creativity of design, the Mosaic team has come together under one common purpose—to inspire, strengthen and believe. Therefore, it is with great privilege that we reveal the Come Together issue of Mosaic Magazine.

-Christina Ausley

2 • Honors College

Community 4






You Go, Girls! Celebrating 125 years of women at the Capstone By Sara Beth Bolin

XXXI president, Alex Smith, comments on female leaders that have inspired her. 4 • Honors College

cating for the younger generation. In the late 19th century, Julia Tutwiler led the movement to allow women to enroll at The University of Alabama. After years of lobbying the board of trustees and creating a campaign to further her wish, Tutwiler succeeded. In 1893, the first women stepped onto the campus as students. As students, faculty, staff and alumni celebrate the anniversary 125 years later, women from all parts of campus are remembered for their fierce leadership, sisterhood and compassion. “It’s going to be a great time to celebrate lots of different accomplishments and milestones for women along the way,” said Mary Lee Caldwell, director of the 125th anniversary celebration, as well as instructor for the Honors class “125 Years of Women at the Capstone,” surrounding the event. “There have been so many others that have played such a huge part and left a huge legacy at the university.” The celebration aims to be as diverse as possible, including women who have made strides in athletics, STEM fields, as minorities and many other walks of life at UA. Each sector has seen a different path of transition regarding what it means to be a woman at UA. Sarah Patterson, former head coach of Alabama’s gymnastics, is one example of these women. Patterson started working for the gymnastics team as a graduate student, but was offered the head coaching position with little financial aid. After Title IX was enacted, athletic departments were required to give equal amounts of scholarships to both men’s and women’s sports, as well as equal opportunity to participate. Because of this, in 1983, she was finally given

small scholarships to recruit, and she took advantage of them. That year, the team went to nationals for the first time. They haven’t stopped since. “In my eyes, this team changed the total landscape for women’s sports,” Patterson said. “Once we won, it was all about continuing that and to be the only team outside of football to win a national championship, as well as to create an opportunity for all these others women’s sports to flourish.”

“There have been so many others that have played such a huge part and left a huge legacy at the university.” - Mary Lee Caldwell The team thrived off of Patterson’s coaching and encouragement, in addition to her hounding the media for press attention. In 1997, Coleman Coliseum sold out a gymnastics meet for the first time ever. Patterson knew she had helped changed the way women’s sports were viewed, not only at UA, but around the country. The growth of women’s athletics coincided with the growth of women in other sectors, particularly science, technology, engineering and math, known at UA as STEM. When women first attended the

Designed by Ivana Maclin // Photographed by Abigayle Williams

One of the most memorable moments from a campus tour is walking through Woods Quad, surrounded by history and grandeur, the crimson-clad tour guide carefully stepping backwards. She smiles at potential freshmen and tells them the story of the university’s first football game, how the boys on campus were rowdy from army training and studying all the time. The President of the university asked the boys what would appease them, and they had two requests: football and girls. While that story makes the tourists laugh and provides a good segue into the story of the football game that occurred in Woods Quad in 1893, it isn’t completely true. Women did not get to campus at the request of boys; it was through the hard work of Alabama women vigorously advo-


Designed by Ivana Maclin // Photographed by Abigayle Williams

Candace Allen, president of the Black Student Union, discusses the history and influence of women of color on UA’s campus.

university in 1893, there was an expectation they would study something “for women,” like language or arts. And while these deserve to be studied, women were excluded from male-dominated fields. Today, this is not the case. “We have been growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years,” said Dr. Beth Todd, the advisor for the Society of Women Engineers. “But I would add that the numbers are still not what we would like.” The Society of Women Engineers acts as a catalyst for women in STEM fields to form relationships with one another, as well as receive resources and support to thrive in their various disciplines. It also serves young women not yet in college, encouraging them to consider STEM fields as an option for career choice before they even arrive at UA. “In order to grow the number of women in engineering, we need to start before they get to college,” said Katie Hiles, president of the society. “As long as we’re teaching young girls that this is a thing they can do when they get older, those numbers will grow.” The celebration also includes the women leaders on UA’s campus, from student to administrative. The XXXI, an on-campus “women’s honorary,” strives to do just that by recognizing women from all over campus for their work in empowering women and serving the community. “It’s very humbling and honoring to be in the presence of women that have made significant strides on campus,” said Alex Smith, XXXI president and Honors student. “These women are role models and inspirations because of the work they have accomplished. They are trailblazers. They

are outstanding women.” This year’s order of the XXXI is focusing on the women who have impacted the university who are not students, presenting the Shirley Watson award to a non-student who has influenced and empowered women throughout campus. The award will recognize women locally, statewide and nationally who have had significant impact on UA’s campus.

“These women are role models and inspirations because of the work they have accomplished. They are trailblazers. They are outstanding women.” - Alex Smith Many women honored by the XXXI are involved in many different branches of campus, spanning several majors, organizations and backgrounds which allow for a more diverse group of leaders. Beyond the XXXI, there are many women on campus who are celebrated and recognized for the work they’ve done both on and off campus. “The women are there, they’re leading and the work is being done, but we need to realize it’s not always leading something that’s established,” said Candace Al-

len, president of the Black Student Union. “There are a lot of people who are going out of their way and saying ‘This doesn’t exist and it needs to exist for this group of people.’ They’re not always in the limelight and aren’t getting the glory.” The campus has improved for women since they enrolled in 1893, but this improvement occurred in steps. Women like Autherine Lucy and Vivian Malone Jones helped pave the way for black women at UA. These women of color have not stopped blazing trails ever since they set foot on campus. “We have to applaud and recognize those women who were brave and courageous enough to go into those male-dominated spaces and do the same and even more extraordinary things,” Allen said. “Especially people who experience an intersectionality of race and sex. All of those things are important when you’re making strides, and I would always love to see more.” The culmination of women throughout history and currently on the UA’s campus has provided women the opportunity to thrive in ways beyond their imagination. The leaders who have supported the role of women at UA are some of the strongest in the nation, and UA continues to recognize the struggles and hardships, while celebrating the successes and achievements of these women. “Through this celebration, we want to look back on the past, acknowledge where we are now and look towards the future of women on at the university.” Caldwell said.

Photo by: Culturalindia.net The University of Alabama • 5


CENTER STAGE Anticipation is sky-high as work continues on UA’s extraordinary Performing Arts Academic Center BY CHRISTINA AUSLEY

6 • Honors College

Photos Courtesy UA T h eatre & Dance + Becca Fleisig

The University of Alabama • 7


n 1861, Bryce Hospital stood shrouded under an accumulation of looming oaks and a breadth of mystery. In 2000, flakes of eggshell paint curled from the walls, dusting a vacant hardwood floor in history and age, while two daunting wooden doors remained closed to the public. In just a few years, however, visitors will comfortably set foot under more than the iconic dome and the feel of an entirely rejuvenated character, they’ll step into The University of Alabama’s Performing Arts Academic Center. Though a renovation and expansion for UA’s theatre and dance department has been on demand since 1972, former UA President Dr. Judy Bonner kickstarted the project alongside theatre and dance department chair, Bill Teague. “After a few failed attempts to make things happen, somewhere around eight years ago Dr. Bonner approached me and said ‘I think it’d be great if we had a new theatre and dance complex,’” Teague said. “Of course I agreed with her, and the project was put into motion once and for all.” The current theatre and dance department in Rowand-Johnson Hall was constructed in 1955, and the Marian Gallaway Theatre was opened in 1956 at UA, so the department is more than ready for an upgrade. “The facilities that we have now have been in place for a very long time,” said Tricia McElroy, associate dean for Humanities and Fine Arts. “Our dance program and our theatre program make do, and they do a great 8 • Honors College

job under our extremely talented faculty, but the Galloway was never really fitted out in the way it needed to be.” Current UA President Dr. Stuart R. Bell has adopted Bonner’s hopes for a new performing arts center, in nowhere else but the former Bryce Mental Hospital. “It was always Dr. Bonner’s vision that the new performing arts center was somehow tied to Bryce Hospital,” Teague said. “She felt it had been such a place of mystery for so many years to the Tuscaloosa people because it was always behind fences and walls, but now after an incredible transformation, it’ll be very public and very inclusive for the entire community.” While the project will carefully renovate and restore Bryce’s original workings, the project will also construct an attached portion for theatres and performing studios unlike anything UA has had access to before. The first floor will house a brand-new admissions office and welcome center, including a 150-seat video theatre. The second and third floors will house offices, classrooms, rehearsal studios and laboratories for theatre and dance students of all backgrounds and branches. “So when people come to visit, instead of getting dropped off at the south end of the stadium with a cemetery across the street, they’ll drive up through these rows of beautiful trees on either side up to this brand new restored iconic ivory building.” Teague said. The attached portion will connect to the

original Bryce hospital via an assortment of bridges, leading to a 350-seat theatre to accommodate both large musicals and smaller, more intimate shows. Next door, a second more versatile 200-seat theatre will shift into both a thrust theatre or a theater in the round, in which the floor and structure can be refigured pending each performance layout. The dance portion of the Performing Arts Academic Center (PAAC) will host a 450-seat auditorium and a 5,000-square-foot dance studio theatre, in addition to a handful of dressing rooms. “This project will be absolutely transformational,” McElroy said. “We’re talking about the best opportunities in lighting, in sound, in stage floor, in dance studios. Students will be able to stage productions, and learn how to use all of this equipment and technology so they’re ready for the professional world.” Though the massive undertaking features a handful of new material and opportunity, Teague and McElroy are two of many who are passionate about preserving and restoring Bryce’s original structure and history throughout the process. “Hundreds to thousands of sketches have been drawn out to ensure this is done exactly as it ought to,” Teague said. “Yeah, it may have been a lot cheaper to bulldoze the building and start all over, but the architectural and

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historical significance of this building far outweighed those financial concerns, so there was no question this had to be done.” Without a second thought, UA has drawn in specialists from across the country to properly maintain the vast history of Bryce, doing everything possible to make the restoration of the iconic building possible. “One of the things I increasingly admire about this university is a willingness to recognize the past and not shy away from some of its difficulties,” McElroy said. “The Bryce history is interesting, and yeah, it has its darker moments too, but to transform it into a new use while remembering the history that was there to begin with in all of its extraordinariness and some of its difficulty—that’s what makes is transformative for me.” Teague credits a handful of individuals for their pivotal roles in the lengthy rejuvenation project. He credits Dr. Bell and the college of arts and sciences for their support. He thanks former athletic director Bill Battle and his wife Mary, the current chairs for the fundraising campaign. Most of all, however, he seems to credits the theatre and dance students for their patience in the process. “Our department population has almost tripled as the campus has doubled in size,”

Teague said. “Right now, we have somewhere around 180 undergraduate dance majors, when we had zero 25 years ago. We had somewhere around 80 theatre majors in 2000, now we have 175. Between dance, musical theatre and theatre, we have almost 400 students. The growth has been incredible, and all of our students have been doing so well.” Following somewhere around three more years of construction and renovation, Teague expects a massive burst in enrollment. McElroy believes the influence on the Tuscaloosa community will be even greater. “The impact on the university and the department is obvious, but it is going to have a huge impact on the community as well,” McElroy said. “This community will have a space to use and come to, and space to unite and socialize under; the impact extends far beyond the university.” Despite the challenges that come with such a massive project, Teague and McElroy say they are inspired by the excitement and anticipation they see among students leading up to the official opening of the performing arts center.

Photos C ourtesy U AT h eatre & Dance | Desig

n by Rya n Truitt

“Words just cannot describe, they can’t even do it justice,” said Bitsy Seethaler, an avid dancer and Honors college public relations major. “The plans for this beautiful building, for the department, I can’t wait to come back and see everyone in action, enjoying the iconic space that has finally opened its doors.” In an artful balance of old and new, an understanding of historical respect and restorative potential, a lengthy process of rejuvenated detail and new life, it’s no surprise the performing arts center will reflect a realm unlike any other. In the meantime, aspiring ballerinas lace up their satin slippers while anticipating actors warm up their voices, all in preparation for the resource that will take them one step closer to fame. “I have said it before, I’ll say it again, and I hope everyone says it one day,” Teague said. “This building will be the crown jewel of the University of Alabama.” • The University of Alabama • 9

Photo By Ramsey Chandler


Flowers Formed

UA Sculptors Create A Permanent Touch of Spring By Ramsey Chandler

10 • Honors College




wo huge pink steel and aluminum amaryllis flowers are blooming in a Tuscaloosa park. These heavy flowers are the work of two UA students who created the sculpture in response to a challenge from local authorities looking to put more art in public places. They are sophomore Ringo Lisko, an Honors College student and fine arts major from Gallup, New Mexico, and junior Amber Daum, a fine arts and archeology major from Ozark, Alabama. For the last few years, Craig Wedderspoon, head of the Sculpture Department at UA, has been working with Sandy Wolfe, director of the Tuscaloosa Arts Council, and Gary Minor, director of the Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority (PARA), to place more public art around Tuscaloosa. “Gary and Sandy and I have been trying to get public art on the radar in Tuscaloosa for quite some time,” Wedderspoon said. “One of the critical elements of building community and economic success is integrating culture

within that community and within that economic plan. It makes an environment unique and makes it original.” In the spring of 2017, PARA and the Arts Council called for proposals for a public art commission. Submissions were open to all UA students and faculty, no matter their level of experience. In the end, they established a student design competition, hoping to utilize Designed By Ramsey Chandler

Ringo Lisko (left), a sophomore and Honors College student at UA. Amber Daum (right), a junior at UA. Photos by Paul You

students as a resource due to the project’s limited budget of $5,000. “You’re not going to get a professional, practicing artist to be able to make something of that size and scale for $5,000, it’s just not doable,” Wedderspoon said. According to Wedderspoon, the amaryllis sculpture designed by Daum and Lisko would have cost around $30,000$50,000 if it had been created by a professional artist, which is still relatively minimal for public art. The $5,000 budget just barely covered the cost of the materials needed to build the sculpture. The competition was a broad learning experience as it required students to learn the process of creating a proposal, working out timelines, budgets, designs and concept drawings. In addition, it gives these students the ability to apply for future public art commissions, as previous experience is typically required. “This is an opportunity that the students would never be able to afford themselves,” Wedderspoon said. “This gives them

the opportunity to learn a whole new set of technical and creative concepts by working on a larger scale, working with a client, and working with the public in mind.” The student competition was judged by a committee consisting of PARA representatives, Arts Council representatives, a member of the state Arts Council, local business representatives and Wedderspoon. The committee received eight total proposals for the public art commission. After evaluating all the proposals, the committee narrowed it down to two proposals, one by Eric Nubbe, who is now a UA graduate and the joint-proposal by Daum and Lisko. “The committee chose the ones that would come in and do an actual presen-

Lisko (left) and Daum (right) pose next to benches they designed and built. UA’s metal foundry (left) where the sculpture was built. Photos By Paul You The University of Alabama • 11

tation to the group, so that we could meet them and dive into what they were doing a little deeper,” said Wolfe. The committee liked both proposals so much that they could not come to a final decision. That’s when Minor decided they were going to commission both sculptures, one for Snow Hinton Park and the other for Monnish Park. Daum was a sophomore and Lisko was a freshman when they won the public art competition. The two had met through a shared sculpture class and became friends. Daum and Lisko were both in ART 322, their second sculpture class at UA, when they found out about the call for proposals through Wedderspoon, their sculpture professor. “Our professor always lets us know about opportunities within the community,” Lisko said.

Daum said she originally had a simple idea for a possible proposal, but soon realized the project was too big for just her to handle, enlisting the help of Lisko. “Obviously we were excited but it was a shock, neither of us were expecting to get it,” Daum said. “So it was kind of like, wow, this is real.” Work began on the sculpture in June 2017 and recently finished February 2018. An immense amount of time and effort has gone into the making of their sculpture “Amaryllis”. “Amber and Ringo with these flowers have easily put in 1,000 hours of work,” Wedderspoon said. “The pair were both somewhat new to sculpture and still had processes they had to learn before they could complete the project.” Daum and Lisko’s sculpture is made of steel and aluminum, welded together to

The Amaryllis sculpture built by Daum and Lisko. Photo By Ramsey Chandler

12 • Honors College

create two huge amaryllis flowers. Painted pink and green, the two flowers are accompanied by leaf shaped benches underneath, giving the community a way to interact with this new addition to Monnish Park. These sculptures are an experiment to see how well the student design competition works and how the public responds to the pieces that will be installed. If everything goes well, PARA plans to host the competition again, in the hopes of creating a public art trail throughout Tuscaloosa parks. “We have some incredibly talented artists here,” Wolfe said. “We have a great resource in The University of Alabama, and what better way to showcase that than through the arts?”

Spilling the beans:

let’s talk coffee By Christina Ausley

The University of Alabama • 13

Designed by Alyssa Comins // Photographed by Natalie Kilic


walk into the Ferguson Center Starbucks to grab my usual order before heading out for class. After I approach the register, I’m greeted by the barista with a warm, “Sorry, but we can’t make anything with espresso.” Noting my shock, he further explains how the machine cannot keep up with the current demand for coffee, and is therefore broken. These machines, built to supply shot upon shot of espresso, cannot keep up with the endless requests for the latest latte and are, literally, cracking under the pressure of students’ demands. To explore the epidemic, every Tuesday afternoon at The University of Alabama, 21 students gather in Manly Hall room 102. They circle around the room, take their seats, and discuss one thing, and one thing only: the culture of coffee. A Honors seminar course facilitated by three senior Honors students, under the direction of a faculty member, freshmen explore aromatic beans worldwide to study the economic, societal and medical effect coffee has in countries across the globe. “This is an industry that has recently boomed in the U.S. and all over the globe,” said Meredith Diaz, one of the course’s facilitators. “Coffee shops are opening everywhere and changing the culture of coffee from a drug to wake you up in the morning to a social activity.” As a discussion-based course, students are assigned various articles encompassing the developmental and communal aspects of coffee and bring these analyses to class. In tandem, students are asked to get coffee with friends, mentors and teachers and reflect upon these experiences. “We’re interested in the way that coffee serves as a tool to bring people together through conversations and meetings,” said Lillian Roth, another course facilitator. “Alongside the economic impact of coffee production and trade, coffee is so prominent in our culture because of the

14 • Honors College

“From a break up to a job interview, if it’s done while ‘grabbing coffee,’ the conversation becomes normal.”

convenience and constant options. UA students are able to get coffee in several different locations on campus and often use coffee shops as meeting points for interviews, group projects, or studying.” Beyond the need for energy to keep up with a busy academic schedule, individuals like Diaz and Roth have discovered that coffee has become a basic comfort of life, and set many young and busy minds at ease over a warm brew. “I think that ‘grabbing coffee’ with someone has escalated the coffee industry because when talking over coffee, so many more topics seem manageable,” Roth said. “From a break up to a job interview, if it’s done while ‘grabbing coffee,’ the conversation becomes normal - even if in a different setting it would be awkward or uncomfortable.” Coffee has attained a religious aspect as well. Shops throughout Tuscaloosa, such as Nehemiah’s Coffee Shop, a branch of Forest Lake Baptist Church, attract bible study groups for discussion and expansion of mind, body and soul. All while sipping a warm mug of steamed milk and espresso, topped with a foamy dose of latte art. “I think religious groups have taken

this opportunity to spread their message,” Diaz said. “They have taken advantage of the calm, relaxed atmosphere of coffee shops and decided that is a great mission field for their purpose.” Emma Bjornson, barista at Tuscaloosa’s Church of the Highlands, also believes the religious concept of coffee is no coincidence. “Any religious affiliation— Christianity, Judaism, Islam—they all encourage community and relationships as a part of the whole experience,” Bjornson said. “Coffee shops are tailor-made to help in building that community in a healthy way.” Bjornson also works at Monarch Espresso Bar, and her experiences have taught her a thing or two about the rapidly escalating influence of coffee on the surrounding community. “When you’ve spent as many hours in as many coffee shops as I have, you learn a lot from people,” Bjornson said.

“I’ve seen coffee shops and coffee used as a connecting point, a place where hard conversations are had, dreams are born and people spend long times studying.”

“When you’re around something so often, you can’t help but learn about the culture around it, you become a part of the whole experience. I’ve seen coffee shops and coffee used as a connecting point, a place where hard conversations are had, dreams are born and people spend long times studying.” Beyond the baristas, numerous individuals across the globe go into the making of a single cup of coffee. According to the course, some of these individuals include farmers, exporters, importers and roasters. “I find coffee to be so incredibly life giving,” said Blair Blackmon, Church of the Highlands barista and former OHenry’s employee. “Coffee has the longest production chain of any food and beverage product we consume in America. It’s crazy to think that to take coffee from a seed to the cup, 15 to 19 people literally had their personal touch on one cup of coffee and buying that one cup, provides an income

The University of Alabama • 15

for those 15 to 19 people and their families located all over the world. One cup can change someone’s life in another country.” With hundreds of different combinations among the dozens of coffee shops both within and surrounding the Tuscaloosa area, finding one’s perfect cup has almost become as serious as finding one’s soulmate. “Like anything, people love variety,” Bjornson said. “That’s like asking why are there so many flavors of ice-cream—it’s all the same base, but so very different when you mix the right things into it. A lot of people don’t love the taste of plain coffee, but love the caffeine benefits, so they figure out the way to drink it that suits them best.” Even people who don’t like the taste of coffee find a way to drink it, whether that be for a boost of energy or to fit into the social and cultural climate of modern society. “People get into the coffee scene or

16 • Honors College

start drinking coffee because of the social aspect of it, maybe not even because they necessarily need it,” Bjornson said. “Then they find that it’s useful to help with studying as well. I know for many people, they associate coffee and studying. Even

students and community members are finding a way to fit in socially and get their daily boost of energy. Against all odds, individuals test cup to cup like they would first dates, and happily recline with a book in hand alongside their espresso-

“People get into the coffee scene or start drinking coffee because of the social aspect of it, maybe not even because they necessarily need it” if they might not need the caffeine of the coffee, the two are so closely related that you automatically grab a coffee before you start a study session. It’s a comfort.” Despite the over-exhausted machines and potential initial distaste for coffee,

injected counterpart. Students study bean after bean, baristas work to steam the milk just right for optimal latte art, and coffee continues to make its mark on the culture of communities across the globe—one cup at a time.


Being a part of a marginalized community can be daunting no matter where you end up. This is true of the LGBTQ+ community, where identity can be hidden and feel suppressed. The University of Alabama, however, is a rather supportive place. Among a variety of groups and organizations, young queer people on campus can quickly find a group to rely on. These UA students are here to share their stories.



Chemical Engineering / STEM MBA Oxford, PA

Co All

Cannon is on campus for his second year at UA’s Honors College, and is finally beginning to feel comfortable in his own identity. He identifies as non-binary, but prefers masculine pronouns. These pronouns are how he presents himself and how he feels most comfortable. Cannon was assigned female at birth, and has been attracted to girls his entire life. However, he hasn’t experienced, for himself, what it is like being in a LGBTQ+ relationship on campus. “I haven’t really had a long-term romantic relationship here,” Cannon said. “I don’t know what it’s like to hold hands with a girl and how people react to that.” But even in looking for colleges, Cannon prioritized finding somewhere that had a program for the LGBTQ+ community. He learned about Safezone via Facebook, and when he toured campus, was shown around by a member of the group. Safezone is the on campus resource center for LGBTQ+ students. There is an office with graduate assistants there to listen and a lounge with many students who are always willing to be a friend. “When I saw a person living their life in this environment, someone like me, it was game-changing. That was the first day I was so uncontainably excited for college,” Cannon said. He has since retained that joy and found the people he knows will be a part of his life for a long time to come. He has found, contrary to his initial expectations of the south, the university atmosphere is rather accepting of who he is, and he typically doesn’t have to worry about how he expresses himself.

K much chan “ quee prett way, this i K ing t hosti embo O has e type been


18 • Honors College





mns nd g in


n ere ing


time ather

Cannon, Emerson, and Klein with the gay pride flag


Collaborative Special Education Allen, TX Klein comes from a more progressive suburb of Dallas, Texas, where he didn’t experience much opposition to who he was. When he made the transition to UA, he didn’t feel much change in the way he could live his life. “I kind of noticed that there were these almost separate spheres of what it’s like to be queer.” He noticed in the two parts of his life, on versus off campus. “On campus, it’s usually pretty fine because we are a university that is very largely out of state,” Klein said. “Then in a way, when you go off campus, you encounter more of that homophobic attitude, just because this isn’t a very progressive area of the country.” Klein felt the least comfortable during the wake of the 2016 presidential election. “Following the election, I think relations got a little more contentious,” he said. “I perceive a little more hostility toward LGBTQ+ people, because I feel like they [those purveying the hostility] were emboldened.” Other than that, Klein has noticed very few other incidences of purposeful hostility. He has experienced lots of support from those around him and hopes to continue to receive that type of support wherever his future takes him. As for his time on campus, he says that it has been a great ride.

The University of Alabama • 19 Klein was interviewed about how being LGBTQ+ affects him

LIZZIE EMERSON Third-year Ph.D Student Higher Education Administration Conway, AR

Emerson was interviewed about the impact being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has had on her life

Emerson is the graduate assistant for the UA’s Safezone program, and identifies as demisexual, someone who does not experience physical attraction until a strong emotional connection has been formed and polysexual, attraction to some but not all genders. She has remained in this position for two and a half years, since the beginning of her Ph.D program. Her basis of understanding on-campus issues comes from working in the continuously-developing Safezone resource office. “When I was first hired, my job was to coordinate the Ally Training Program and to hold about 16 office hours a week,” she said. “By the end of that year, we had logged a bunch more office visits than we were used to logging, specifically crisis-related visits.” The ally training program is a place where people who are in or out of the LGBTQ+ community can get information on how to fluidly accept members of the LGBTQ+ community. A large part of the training focuses on respecting pronouns for non-binary and transgender identifying students, as well as learning about what different terms in the LGBTQ+ community mean. Emerson’s job rapidly evolved with the addition of the student lounge next to her office. This turned her sometimes isolating job, into a community-based program where she would coordinate activities for students to participate in. The only real hurdles she has seen so far are problems she believes have always been around. “One of the first questions I asked the outgoing graduate assistant was, ‘how often do you get these crisis visits and what do I do when it happens?’” Emerson said. “I think at that point they had logged about nine, the next year we got 12, the next year we got 21. This year, starting at the beginning of this semester, we had 25.” She supports that, although the data makes it seem as though things are getting worse, it is only the wider visibility of the program that has caused the increase. No matter how great that visibility is, she knows a more visible program means more resources, more staff and more training; none of which are easy to come by. Overall, the LGBTQ+ community is optimistic as they head into the future of what the LGBTQ+ experience will be like both on and off all college campuses. They hope that this will lead to a general acceptance of every part of the spectrum, regardless of sexual or gender identity.

LGBTQ+ Resources RESOURCES On campus

OFF campus

Safezone, Spectrum, Gradient The Women and Gender Resource Center

Druid City Pride (Tuscaloosa) Five Horizons Health Services

20 • Honors College

By Callie Rickert

Photographed by Rebecca Fleisig // Designed by Calvin Madison

rom the first moment your foot touches the creaky wood floor of the elegant cavernous foyer, any preconceived notions of The Bryce Hospital disappear and are replaced by awe for the soft sun streaming through the open windows, the peeled away walls that reveal beautifully aged bricks and the center staircase with its ornately detailed carved wooden banister. Mosaic photographer, Rebecca Fleisig, wanted to capture the historical building at its bare untouched bones before it is renovated to be the new gem of the University of Alabama campus--the Performing Arts Academic Center. This seemingly endless structure of soaring ceilings and serene balcony views is anything but dark and mysterious. Instead, Rebecca captured its grandeur and personality, illustrating not an empty old hospital, but a mansion of rich history and endless potential.

The University of Alabama • 21

22 • Honors College

Service 24




Designed by Shana Oshinskie

Honors students find ways to involve themselves beyond campus and engage with the entire Tuscaloosa community.

24 • Honors College

By Heather Griffith


tudents at The University of Alabama are constantly looking for ways to expand their education beyond the classroom. While many choose to participate in clubs or pre-professional groups, an equally great number of students choose to give back to the Tuscaloosa community through outreach programs. There are many UA-based organizations that provide students with the opportunity to volunteer in the Tuscaloosa community. Some involve doing nature clean-up, helping out local animal shelters or even Habitat for Humanity projects.

Designed by Shana Oshinskie

At The University of Alabama, we are given a unique opportunity to benefit our surrounding community. - Abigail Payne

There are a select few organizations, and even classes, that choose to give back in a unique way--through teaching.

Every semester, about 1,000 students participate in Al’s Pals, a mentorship program run through The University of Alabama Center for Service and Leadership. As part of Al’s Pals, students donate an afternoon each week for 10 weeks of the semester. During this time, they visit a local elementary school to mentor kids, helping them with homework, and reinforcing the skills they are learning in the classroom. “At The University of Alabama, we are given a unique opportunity to benefit our surrounding community,” said Abigail Payne, a sophomore Honors student and second semester Al’s Pals student leader. “We are fortunate to have incredible resources and a diverse pool of students to benefit the area around us.” According to the United States Census, 17.6 percent of the Tuscaloosa County population lives below the poverty line. Programs like Al’s Pals are more essential than ever. “Each student has been through a unique set of experiences and comes to Tuscaloosa with a fresh set of eyes,” Payne said. “Through this, they are able to serve their community and make Tuscaloosa, their new home, a better place. This is all while bettering themselves as they are able to see how other areas of the country, or even the world, act.” Another important UA community outreach program is the Learning Initiative and Financial Training (LIFT)

course. Four years ago, Lisa McKinney, Culverhouse School of Accountancy director, realized something was missing from the business school curriculum.

There is a whole community outside of campus that is full of amazing opportunities and people. - Elizabeth Driver

When a student came to McKinney asking what value business students could offer to the community, the LIFT program was born. LIFT provides high school students, veterans, prison inmates and other adults with the opportunity to learn computer, business and professional development skills. The LIFT classes are taught entirely by students, the majority of which are business majors. “We found these needs in the community, and we found these things that business students can do well.” The University of Alabama • 25

McKinney said. “Everyone who participates is working towards getting a job or getting a better job.” LIFT hosts more than 50 classes each week and has over 400 student volunteers. Approximately 80 percent of the classes are taught in the Tuscaloosa County area, while the rest are taught in the Birmingham area. One of the reasons McKinney started the LIFT program is because community outreach and service is an important part of UA’s mission statement. “We have so much, this is a place of success, and gifts, and talents and blessings,” McKinney said. “But it is our responsibility to bring it out to the community, and we have a lot of people struggling and in poverty on either side of our campus.” McKinney believes the current generation of students is willing to give back to their community in whatever way possible.

A lot of people say a lot of negative things about this generation, but the number one best quality about this generation is their concern for others. - Lisa McKinney

“A lot of people say a lot of negative things about this generation, but the number one best quality about this generation is their concern for other,” McKinney said. “All the students I’ve come across are really concerned about other people and giving back.” Among the LIFT program partners is the university’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America 26 • Honors College

Students from the Honors College teach computer classes to the community. Photo by: Kayla Duffy

(UA PRSSA). Members of UA PRSSA can choose to help teach one LIFT class a month, during which they teach professional development skills to students at Central High School. Elizabeth Driver, UAPRSSA’s vice president of Community Service and High School Outreach, leads the LIFT classes at Central High School. Over the past year, Driver has been able to see how the students who participate in the LIFT program have developed. “When they make those connections or when they really get passionate about something, it is really cool to see their excitement to develop their personal self,” Driver said. Through her experiences partnering with LIFT, Driver has experienced firsthand the significant impact the program has had on the local community. “I really want people to know the impact that they can have by simply reaching out,” Driver said. “There is a whole community outside of campus that is full of amazing opportunities and people.” Driver and other UA students continue to push themselves to grow as learners and community members, as they live out UA’s mission statement: to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the

world through the creation, translation and dissemination of knowledge with an emphasis on quality programs in the areas of teaching, research and service.

The Honors College also serves the community through Engage Tuscaloosa, which encompasses: READ Alabama DREAM Alabama BRIGHT Alabama

“We live in our marbled hallways and everything is so perfect and beautiful, and the reality is, what develops good leaders in the world is seeing what is out there. We all need to get out of our comfort zone and get to know people who are different from us,” McKinney said. “What I’ve seen people do has impressed me and made me proud of the students we have here.”


Pursuit Of A

H ME By Johnny Reese

Carli G uin, a s enior, s Gorgas its on t Library he fro with he r dog W nt steps of inston.

The University of Alabama • 27

Photography By Ashton Royal // Designed By Ramsey Chandler


here is nothing quite like the feeling of reuniting with a longlost best friend. Not only do the unforgettable memories flash through your mind, but the joy this friend has brought to your life is refreshed, reminding you of how important they have always been. After months of separation without promise of reunion, a dog named Winston brought this unique warmth in February of 2018 to those who cared and loved him throughout the fall semester of 2017. There is a neighborhood on the other side of the railroad tracks from The University of Alabama’s campus comprised of both students and local residents. It is named after the lake in the center of the community: Forest Lake. Here, four Honors College students live in a home everyone calls the “White House.” One of them is Meg McGuire, a former Mosaic social media editor who graduated after the fall semester of 2017 with a degree in public relations. “If I can graduate with a 4.0 [GPA], I am getting a dog,” McGuire said. “That was the goal I had set.” Maybe she would, maybe she wouldn’t. This uncertainty was put to the test when Jackie Hilliard sent a GroupMe message to more than 80 of her fellow Forest Lake UA students. Hilliard’s friend, Alicia Cook, had found a black-furred dog named Bo who had no home to call his own. Unfortunately, Cook couldn’t bring Bo to her home due to apartment restrictions. Rather than bringing Bo to the pound, Cook called Hilliard asking if she would take him. She did, but knew Bo’s visit was just a pit-stop since she couldn’t take care of him and the fox terrier she already had. That day, Hilliard messaged the Forest Lake GroupMe seeking a temporary Bo host. After a quick approval from her roommates, Bo moved in with McGuire in the “White House.” Before Bo became an official member of the White House, one change had to be made. “He came to me and his name was Bo and I hated that,” McGuire said. “It sounds too much like ‘no,’ I wanted to him to have a very human name. I just think it’s very funny when dogs have human names.” After going through several names-Jesus being one of the contenders-Winston became the official name of the new dog in 28 • Honors College

the White House. Winston quickly made the White House his home, and did so with a variety of memorable moments. Shortly after the White House had their first pet, Meg’s mother came for a visit. “I mentioned it to my parents, but I don’t think they thought I was serious,” McGuire said. “She didn’t want to like him, but she did.” Winston loved both of them and climbed into their bed, making sure there was room for him at night. During the two weeks Winston lived at the White House, it seemed like everyone in Forest Lake had a chance to meet

“Even though the name Calvin didn’t stick...I’m happy that Winston has a permanent family and a big yard to enjoy.” -Daniel Nolen

him. Taking him out for a walk, there were times where McGuire had to chase after a very fast Winston throughout yards and driveways in the neighborhood. Winston also made stops by the church down the road and played with the preschoolers who adored him. With his energetic and happy spirit, he left a lasting impression on all of these unanticipated visits. “He is just such a happy dog all the time,” said McGuire. However, with the monetary responsibility of taking care of Winston and, as McGuire described, a “very upset” roommate after the dog deposited a smelly surprise on the roommate’s bedroom rug, it

was time for McGuire to find a new owner who would love Winston as much as she did. Where would Meg find such a person? Once more, the Forest Lake GroupMe. Living just two blocks east of the White House was Amy Coley, a junior from Birmingham who was attending her first semester at UA after transferring from Auburn University. With the transition causing occasional periods of loneliness, Coley was having conversations with her mom about getting a dog. “I had already been talking with my mom about getting a dog and she said ‘no’ since I cannot afford a dog,” Coley said. “I sat at lunch for three days straight, trying to get my friends to convince me to not get the dog, which they did pretty well, but I did not listen to them.” When Winston arrived at Coley’s home, the plan was for her to potty train him, and then let her sister and brotherin-law from McCalla, a town 40 miles east, become his permanent owners. That plan didn’t work out because her sister was about to start her own family. Although Coley again considered keeping Winston, if she could convince her mom to go along, she ultimately decided it was not financially possible. “I really wish I could have kept him,” said Coley. Now, she was on the mission to find Winston someone that would love and care for him. Talking about her dilemma at lunch, Coley asked her friends if anyone wanted a dog. One of them, Daniel Nolen, quickly bit at the opportunity. Later that day, Coley brought Winston a couple blocks southwest to his future caretakers who lived across from Forest Lake. Nolen and his three roommates, all of whom are from Birmingham, decided that if they were going to keep him, Winston needed a change. “We can’t keep the name Winston,” said Edward Day, a former fifth grade classmate and Nolen’s current roommate. “Our house has to have a different name for him.” The four friends wanted something related to Alabama football, which quickly led to Winston’s new name: Calvin, homage to Crimson Tide star wide-receiver, Calvin Ridley. Calvin, with sleeping quarters in the living room, quickly became a major addition to the lives of the four friends. With his

roommates busy on campus throughout the day, Edward Day recalled two days where he spent eight hours playing with Calvin before Nolen would take over for the night shift. Calvin loved to interact with people and could not stand being alone. Again, like the others, the four friends realized that Winston deserved a large time commitment and soon decided to give Winston, whose name of Calvin did not survive at the new home, to Lucas Palonen and Keke Prewitt, friends with Carli Guin. Guin, a native of Tuscaloosa, is a senior MIS major at UA. She quickly got to know Winston very well. With Winston’s cheerful charm and Guin’s developing interest in

him, Guin told Prewitt, half jokingly, “Just in case if you want to get rid of him, let me know. I would love to have him!” About a week later, Prewitt told Guin that he couldn’t take care of Winston. Guin, who lives on 10 acres with her family about a 20-minute drive from campus, quickly asked her parents if she could have Winston. He finally found a permanent home with the Guin family at the end of October 2017, where he remains to this day. Fast-forward four months to a Sunday evening in early February, where Winston finds himself re-introduced to where his journey began: the White House. Filled with emotion and excitement, Winston’s

memories growing up flashed through his mind as he encountered his previous caretakers from Forest Lake. As excited as the many caretakers of Bo/Winston/Calvin were to visit for the first time in a long time, they were even more excited to see the loving home that Guin finally gave him, and enjoyed the stories of Winston from the past few months. From Winston’s booming bark offsetting the security system, to greeting students at the bus stop down the road and roaming around the outdoors in Guin’s yard, it became quite clear that Winston had finally found a perfect, stable home and a family of friends. Winston poses for photographer Ashton Royal

The University of Alabama • 29

Making T Author’s note: Kent Schafer chose not to be interviewed in person. It wasn’t for a lack of time or feelings of shyness, but rather a desire to take control of his own voice. And so, I interviewed Schafer via email. A doctoral student studying psychology and the only culturally Deaf student at The University of Alabama, Schafer is pushing the university to increase their accessibility and understanding of Deafness. And he is not the only one. ent Schafer often wanders around campus with his phone pulled open to a scholarly journal. His peers shuffle along in a world of noise as Schafer navigates his world of sight. He is constantly scanning structures and signage, working to locate things on his own. When that doesn’t work, Schafer closes the journal and opens his phone’s notepad. Notepads are the perfect canvas for Schafer to ask for directions or place a food order at the Ferguson Student Center, just as emails are the perfect canvas for Schafer to explain to me that nothing about using a notepad is perfect at all. Typing adds an additional emotional and cognitive load, and requires Schafer to use English, which has a different grammatical structure than American sign language and is therefore his second language. But at least his message isn’t coming from a second person. Schafer uses an interpreter in his classes, and they give him access not only to what is being said, but how it is being said, in terms of tone and prosody. When used in conjunction with captioning – which is especially helpful when lectures involve extensive jargon – interpreters are an incredible help. But interpreting is an art, not a science. “Consider an interpreter as an artist painting broad brush strokes,” Schafer said. “Every painting will turn out different, but the theme remains the same: using mediation for crossing the language divide.” So we emailed in order to provide Schafer the opportunity to outline his thoughts in fine strokes, or as fine as can be over email: because email isn’t always conducive to follow-up questions, and meaning can be lost without face-to-face communication. Perhaps 30 • Honors College

Schafer’s voice was still lost in the shuffle. As the only student on campus who natively speaks American Sign Language, that can happen. Tucked away in a fourth-floor office of Reese Phifer Hall sits an ally in Schafer’s fight for accessibility. Hanging on his wall is a proud degree in Deafness studies, and on his desk sits the schedule and syllabus for his class; Language, Communication, & Culture of the Deaf. Dr. Darrin Griffin has spent the recent years of his life looking at Deafness through the lens of academia, but before he learned about Deafness from professors at The University of Texas, Griffin learned about it from his parents in his Austin home. For Griffin, a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) and advocate for the Deaf, Deafness is more than academic- it’s personal. He is assisting efforts to increase diversity and accessibility on campus because he sees that Schafer is the only Deaf student on campus not by chance, but by virtue of the system. “[There are no Deaf undergraduate students] because we are not an open and welcoming and accessible campus,” Griffin said. “... You can’t be accessible to people if you don’t know they exist or don’t know their needs. We do not know the needs of the culturally Deaf … or of the Deaf student.” For one young woman, this had to change. Ally Mitchell, a now-graduated Honors College student, had been exposed to Deaf culture in her hometown and was shocked by the lack thereof in Tuscaloosa. With a passion for accessibility and a desire to shift the understanding of Deafness on campus, Mitchell decided to start Deaf Hands Speak (DHS). She teamed up with a fitting

Designed by Grace Meagher // Photographed by Photographed by Nicole Rodriguez


Them See Designed by Grace Meagher // Photographed by Photographed by Nicole Rodriguez

By Rebecca Rakowitz

faculty adviser, Darrin Griffin, and some like-minded Honors College peers to execute the organization’s mission of supporting and studying Deaf culture and American sign language, or ASL. Mitchell is now seeking approval for a University grant to study Deaf culture in Asia. “My biggest hope was that more students get involved and get passionate about [Deafness] too,” Mitchell said. “The three prominent leaders [of DHS], me, Delphanie, and Darrin, all had slightly different goals and visions for what the group would do, but they all kind of melded. Getting [the ASL class] was a big goal of Delphanie’s.” Delphanie Wu, a former member and eventual two-time president of DHS, now walks the campus of Vanderbilt University. Pursuing a degree in audiology, she hopes to one day change the way her field of study looks at Deafness. But several years ago, she walked the campus of The University of Alabama as an Honors College student who knew the Capstone could be so much more than it was, if only it offered ASL. ASL is a historically suppressed visual language, rejected from Deaf and hearing schools alike due to the hearing world’s preference for oralism. For much of its history, The University of Alabama was one of those schools, not offering ASL to the student body. That was until a group of Honors students in DHS decided the absence of ASL was not only a detriment to current students, but a deterrent to future ones. “Students may not come to this school and go to Auburn because Auburn has ASL and we don’t,” Griffin said. “Those students want to study Deafness and Deaf culture and they’re like, ‘You guys don’t have Deaf culture? You’re behind on the times. I’ll go to Auburn.’ Those are students that could come here, and they’re good students.” DHS set out with the goal of creating an ASL class at the Capstone. It was a goal they knew how to dream up, but not how to execute.

“I wasn’t sure who to talk to, I didn’t know who could be the instructor, I didn’t know what constructing a new syllabus looks like, but I had commitment to it,” Wu said. “I started [thinking], ‘I want to do this and I think it’s important for the University to have this, and so that’s what’s going to motivate me to work.’” That motivation and the advice of a peer led Wu to the office of Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College. For Morgan, it is important that the Honors College be receptive to the needs of students, using Honors College seminars as a home for new courses. “We really love to hear ideas about what’s missing and what can add value,” Morgan said. When recalling the meeting, a smile spread across Wu’s face, reaching her eyes which were now a little bit brighter. One semester later, students took their seats in UH 120, Honors ASL. “Before we started the class, we were one of 14 flagship universities that didn’t offer some form of ASL,” Wu said. “We were part of a minority, and [this class] is a form of catching up.” In its first year, the class met once a week on Monday nights, with their instructor taking on a hefty commute: over three hours of driving on I-20 and I-459. And that was just one way. Every Monday of the semester, Erin Powell, an ASL interpreter in Atlanta, drove from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa to teach the ASL class- which may not have been offered otherwise. “It was an adventure I wanted to take,” Powell said. “... As an interpreter, I’m an advocate for the Deaf. And so this [class] was an opportunity for Alabama to get exposure to Deaf culture, exposure to the language...If there is a population that can sign … [Deaf people] will be more receptive to coming here.” When students take a seat in Powell’s classroom, they are not sitting in rows, but rather in a horseshoe. This allows them to see The University of Alabama • 31

UA PhD candidate Kent Schaefer during his presentation at Tide Talks.

each other’s hands and eyes – instead of the backs of their heads. The only sounds are the occasional brushing of hands as Powell teaches her class “voice-off ” – not speaking and expecting her students to do the same. “I believe in the pedagogy of immersion,” Powell said. “By forcing students to use the language, they pick up more of it.” In Powell’s classroom, the space for a student’s thoughts is not in their minds or on the tips of their tongues, but in front of their bodies. Claiming the area in front of them as their linguistic canvas, students fill the space with words that dance across their hands, reaching the eyes of classmates which are alert and bright with understanding. As their hands move, so do their faces; adding inflection with the raise and furrow of the brow, and meaning with the purse and relaxation of the mouth. For many of her students, this is the first time they’ve been truly forced to “show” and not “tell,” as they work to master a visual language. In Powell’s classroom, students learn not with a weakness of the ear, but with a strength of the eye. One student with that strength is Ben Klein. For Klein, a graduate of ASL I, ASL II, and the current president of DHS, ASL has been more than a skill for the present – it is a key to his future. A senior criminal justice major, Klein hopes to work in law enforcement and knew that learning ASL would help him communicate with Deaf members of his community. “If I’m not able to at least be plugged into the subsects of my community, then how could I possibly want to police that community?” Klein asked. A proud man in brown, Klein works as a reserve deputy in Blount County. This summer he responded to a call at the home of a Deaf man. Other officers have interacted with the man in the past, and the calls would take around an hour, writing back and forth on a piece of paper. From what he learned in ASL I and II, Klein could successfully communicate with the man and resolve the situation – in a quarter of the time. Klein bucks the notion that ASL only benefits communicative disorders or education majors, saying that if a student plans to do anything that involves people – “which is basically just living!” – ASL will apply to them. Schafer agreed, saying that learning ASL can benefit a large array of people – including expectant parents who want to communicate with their babies early on. Oh, and scuba divers. “If anyone plans to scuba dive, a full conversation in ASL can be done under water,” Schafer said. “You will not have to wait until you return topside to share every detail you can recall.”

Students practice ASL at Deaf Coffee, a Deaf Hands Speak event that allows students to sign over a warm cup of coffee.

32 • Honors College

The Honors ASL class, which started as ASL I, was in high demand. In the spring of 2017, an ASL II class was created to accommodate students who wanted to continue, and by the summer of 2017 the class moved to a video conference format so Powell could teach the expanding number of classes several days a week without commuting. In the fall of 2017, a second ASL class was started in the Critical Languages (CRL) Department, allowing students outside the Honors College access to the language as well. It is taught by Tabitha Venable, a Deaf ASL instructor who is a graduate of Gallaudet university- America’s premier university for the Deaf. “The increase of the Critical Language Department recognition for ASL has invited several students to attempt signing with me,” Schafer said. “This is a great start.” A great start indeed, but trailblazers in this fight are pushing the university to go farther. “We started really strongly,” Wu said. “But there’s a long way we could go to make this bigger.” Those involved with the class hope that it will be recognized by the university and the Foreign Language Department as just that: a foreign language. Though the process to make ASL a foreign language at the university is a lengthy one, it is one that many schools have taken on and it is one that would benefit students by giving them the opportunity to earn foreign language credit for taking ASL. “It is a full language,” Griffin said “It has every element of language, every element of grammar. Even though it is used domestically, it is still foreign.” Once in the Foreign Language Department, Klein said he hopes to see an increase in the number of ASL classes offered, as well as the start of a Deaf studies or ASL minor. “The ultimate fantasy would be to have an interpreting program [at UA],” Klein said, thinking about the future. “But that’s like part of a strategic 20-year plan” It is possible that plan will come to fruition sooner than expected. As Mitchell explained, just an ASL class always felt like a far-off dream, something that “couldn’t be feasible” in her time at college. But time does not seem to be a challenge for the players in this story. In just a year and a half, members of the university community were able to unite and begin a class that is already making waves within The University of Alabama community. Waves that have allowed a final player to enter this story: The student sitting in Honors ASL, learning to sign a phrase that is taught in the first few weeks of class. “I learn ASL – ‘here,’” they sign proudly, their hands out, palms up, moving circularly, “ – at The University of Alabama.” Editor’s note: There are two types of d/Deaf. “Big D Deaf ” refers to someone or something that is engrained in Deaf culture and has a strong Deaf identity, including use of ASL. “Little d deaf ” refers to someone who sees their deafness as a medical condition, and not as part of their identity.

Erin Powell, an ASL interpreter in Atlanta, spent the 2016-2017 academic year commuting to Tuscaloosa to teach Honors ASL

UA professor Dr. Darrin Griffin signs with students during Deaf Coffee.

The University of Alabama • 33

By Christina Ausley

34 • Honors College

Designed by Alyssa Comins // Photographed by Sai Dwarampudi

Always taking care

Designed by Alyssa Comins // Photographed by Sai Dwarampudi


n a typical weekday, Wendy Simmons wakes up at 5:30 a.m., packs a lunch and journeys 30 minutes to The University of Alabama. She walks under the shade of the quad’s overhanging oaks, where the UA grounds crew began working before the rising sun had even begun to peek through the leaves. She clocks in no later than 7 a.m., and gathers the team. It is a team of mothers and grandfathers, of chefs and athletes, of dreamers and motivators. They are a uniquely diverse family of artists, musicians, teachers and farmers, a family of grit and dedication, with a thorough passion and deep love for the university. This is no ordinary family. This is UA’s family. This is Custodial Services. “We want to take care of our students the same way we would want other people to care of our children and grandchildren,” said Custodial Services Supervisor Wendy Simmons. “My group and I know what we do helps the students live a little better, and gives them time to study and enjoy themselves. In return, we love knowing that what we do is appreciated by our students, even if they don’t always consciously think about it.” Simmons has worked as a supervisor for 20 years now, and has quickly observed the dynamic of the team beyond the basic tasks of cleaning and inspection of campus. Over time, she has further identified a unique relational energy between staff and students at UA, an energy that seems to develop lifetime friendships, an energy which may not ordinarily take place on every campus, an energy that represents the intentional dynamic of UA as a whole. “My staff really do care about the students personally and get to know many of them pretty well,” Simmons said. “Sometimes, students turn to building custodians to discuss some of the things that are causing them stress or ask


“We want to take of our students the same way we would want other people to care of our children and grandchildren” -Wendy Simmons questions or just as a friendly face saying good morning as they leave for class. It seems to make everyone’s day a little better.” Director of the Custodial Services department, Suzanne Craft, has worked in her role for more than 10 years and has noticed a similar sense of community between staff and students throughout campus. “Students see and interact with the staff almost every day, and eventually they begin to feel like neighbors and friends,” Craft said. “I have seen it happen many times over the years, and I believe it helps create a sense of belonging and community, a sense for the students that they are being cared for, and that this truly is their home away from home. As a result, they help create a feeling that this little corner of the world is a nice place to be for a while, and a place to return to in the future.” In response, Craft and students alike receive continuous inspiration from the custodial crew they now call family. Whether it be through a cleaned classroom or a casual conversation, the staff ’s actions speak volumes both within

and beyond campus in more than powerful ways. “The custodial team is an integral part of the daily life on campus. The most obvious impact they make is keeping the interior campus spaces clean and orderly, but they also play a significant role in making the campus a comfortable, safe and healthy environment,” Craft said. “I’m really proud to be associated with such a hardworking and dedicated group of people, I’m inspired every day by their commitment to the UA community and consistently high quality of work.” Among the individuals directly impacted by the custodial staff is Dr. Shane Sharpe, Dean of the Honors College, who not only recognizes the hard-working staff, but has also established lifelong relationships with a few of them. “These individuals are a vital part of UA faculty and staff and they do a fantastic job day in and day out helping us keep the facilities maintained and presentable for our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Sharpe said. “Our custodial staff do an excellent job of that, and we truly hope they know how

Leon Harris is a member of the UA Custodial Services The University of Alabama • 35

appreciative we are of their work.” As a result, Sharpe feels the UA custodial crew has created a sort of “butterfly effect” in the notable work they complete throughout campus, encouraging students and community members alike to treat the University with just as much respect and care as they do their own homes. “I do think that when things are kept up and clean, people tend to treat the campus with more respect as well, and we feel a sense of pride and ownership in keeping it up,” Sharpe said. “We are one family at UA, we all have a job to do, and we all want to do it in an excellent manner. The energy between the students and staff therefore creates a unique sense of camaraderie and teamwork.” Sharpe also believes the UA custodial department goes beyond their duties on campus and plays a pivotal role in the University’s recruitment of students. “We always say, ‘If you can just get them on campus, they’ll see how great our school really is,’ and our custodial crew plays that vital role, they keep campus in a remarkable condition and visiting families see that, and their children decide to go here,” Sharpe said. “We’re over 50 percent out-ofstate students now, and we want to make them feel at home at UA when they’re far from their original homes and families.” Just like

many UA students, Sharpe has had the opportunity to get to know members of staff beyond the work they do on campus, and is extremely thankful for these influential relationships existing throughout and beyond campus. “I’ve been here 26 years and I’ve met a fantastic group of folks,” Sharpe said.

“We always say, ‘If you can just get them on

campus, they’ll see how great our school really is,’ and our custodial crew plays that vital role” -Dr. Shane Sharpe

“It’s fun to see them outside their work environment as well, because you see these people in a different role, and you realize people have personal lives, and this is just a part of it, everything we do to help each other out, that’s part of being a wellfunctioning team.” Among these individuals Sharpe had the pleasure to interact with was a woman by the name of Rose, who similarly left a

Shar Turner is a member of the UA Custodial Services staff 36 • Honors College

long-lasting relationship on his experience both on and off the UA campus. “I was gassing up at a Mapco a while back and I ran into a woman who used to work in the same building as me named Rose,” Sharpe said. “It was so good to see her and catch up, and I’m not sure we would’ve spoken to one another if we hadn’t known each other through UA first, and it was so great to catch up and see how proud she is of the grandkids she now has. I’m so thankful for relationships like these that students seem to experience as well.” As students, advisers and deans realize the UA custodial family goes beyond the usual routine, it becomes clear the team is more than willing to help out any community member, any student, and anybody in need, even if that’s a little bird. “One of my favorite memories at work involves an animal rescue,” Wendy Simmons said. “Several years ago, two custodians called me to report that they found an injured bird immediately outside the building, near a bike rack.” Though this kind of campus aid was a bit out of Simmons’ usual routine, like many other members of UA staff, she rushed to the scene without hesitation. “I went outside and discovered that the bird was a hawk and appeared to have a broken wing. We called for help and within an hour the Wildlife Rescue Center sent a wildlife specialist to take the hawk back with them,” Simmons said. “They rehabbed his broken wing and released him when he was ready to get back to a place where he could thrive. We were thrilled that we could help this little guy.” Whether it’s a student’s stress or a bird’s broken wing, the UA custodial staff hopes to get everyone to a place where they can thrive. At UA, they go above and beyond to keep every building clean, and every student at ease—one sweep and one smile at a time.

“I do think that when things are kept up and


, people tend to treat the campus with more respect as well, and we feel a sense of pride and ownership in keeping it up” -Dr. Shane Sharpe

The University of Alabama • 37

Features 40




Teddy Badami, from Air Force to criminal justice student.

Designed by Meredith Parks // Photographs by Sai Dwarampudi

40 • Honors College

on Campus

By Ashley Henson


Designed by Meredith Parks // Photographs by Sai Dwarampudi

itting in a classroom full of college students fresh out of high school, Christina Manella seems to blend right in. Although she is at least four years older than most of the people in the room, no one seems to take any notice. If they do, they sure don’t show it. For most of the semester, Manella flies under the radar, listening attentively and taking notes along with the rest of the class.

Then one day, the person next to her strikes up a conversation. It starts, like most classroom conversations do, with an exchange of names, years, and hometowns. When the question of where she is from comes up, Manella pauses, then explains that she has spent the last six years traveling between Air Force bases, with a six-month deployment to Afghanistan somewhere in the middle. Her classmate is instantly intrigued, and Manella can sense the questions bubbling to the surface. His mouth opens to speak, then closes again. Despite all the questions running through his mind: “What was it like?” “Did you shoot anyone?” “Have you ever flown a plane?”, he simply says, “Oh, that’s cool.” Afraid to say the wrong thing, he avoids the subject altogether. And so he drives the wedge between traditional students and student veterans further. “Ask the questions you want to ask.” These are the words Manella wishes she could say to every one of her traditional classmates. Most students are afraid of looking dumb or making veterans feel uncomfortable,” she says, so they choose not to say anything at all, but Manella, an honors college student, dismisses this

At her Airman Leadership School graduation, Manella received the John L. Levity Award. The University of Alabama • 41

as a misunderstanding. “Most of us want to share [our experiences] and want to have connections with people who haven't been in the military,” she said. “It feels better to feel like people are interested in your service.” On a campus with 1,100 student veterans, the opportunities for these connections are endless. It’s one of the benefits of going to college after completing their time in the military. For these students, college is their first step back into the civilian world, so successful integration into the community of traditional students is imperative. For some, the transition is easy. Teddy Badami, a four-year Air Force veteran, said it was “initially weird because of the age gap,” but it only took a semester to adapt, about the same amount of time it takes any traditional student to adapt to college life. Both Badami and Manella attribute their successful transitions to the University’s Office for Veteran and Military Affairs. The VMA offers counseling to help student veterans set up their healthcare and process their GI Bill benefits, two of the most complicated parts of going to college after service. With all their paperwork taken care of, student veterans are able to focus on just being a student. Another tool of the VMA is a group of ambassadors made up of veterans, dependents, and nonmilitary students who give one-on-one campus tours, then help connect student veterans with on-campus organizations and other veterans. David Blair, Director for the VMA, views his job as “an extension of service.” After serving in the Army for 25 years, he felt compelled to continue helping his fellow soldiers. “I was taking care of soldiers and their families on active duty, and I’m still doing the same thing here,” Blair said. Blair has a personal connection with the student veterans who come through his office, and he plays an integral part in their success. When asked to share a personal story of one such success, Blair’s face lit up with pride. He told a story of a young man

who came to the University after serving in the Marine Corps and being awarded two Purple Hearts. This student had a hard time with his transition and was reluctant to ask for help from the VMA. After taking a semester off to regroup, he came back to the University with renewed determination. With the help of Blair and the VMA, he was able to finish his degree and graduate. “There’s tons of stories just like that,” Blair said. And these are the stories that deserve to be heard. Many traditional students are oblivious to the heroes seated next to them in class. When their service does come up in conversation, it is often glossed over to avoid awkwardness. In reality, avoiding the subject can do more harm than good. It seems natural to avoid talking about the very thing that sets them apart, but by walking on eggshells in each conversation, by carefully choosing each word, the way traditional students interact with student veterans becomes different entirely from the way they interact with each other.

“ Ask the questions

you want to ask. ”

42 • Honors College

The 1,100 men and women on campus who served our country are, for all intents and purposes, “regular students.” Despite the age gap, they are experiencing college for the first time right alongside their younger classmates. They don’t want to be treated differently. They don’t want to feel like outcasts. They want to share and connect and create relationships with their classmates, just as traditional students do. So ask questions. Let them share their experiences on a battlefield overseas as you share your experiences on the battlefield of high school. Because that’s how any relationship starts. Real connections are made when each person shares a piece of themselves. Every college student knows that relationships are essential to a positive college experience, but student veterans especially need these connections to help their transition into the civilian world. After all they have done for our country, a conversation may seem like a small way to give back, but in reality, it isn’t about the words you say. It’s about letting another person know they are valued, not only for their service, but for simply being them.

“ It feels better to feel like people are interested in your service. ”

Christina Manella, inspired by her time in Security Forces, is studying business management.

Manella pictured with members of the Hurlburt Field Base Honor Guard.

The University of Alabama • 43

In the

Monkey Business

From crafting her own course of study to conducting research in Bali, Jennifer Fourroux is doing whatever it takes to fulfill her dream 44 • Honors College of becoming a primatologist.

Designed by Terry Mantooth// Photographed by Natalie Kilic

By Madison Kilpatrick


When she was seven years old, Jennifer Fourroux discovered her passion. Actually, it came to her in a vision - a television that is. One afternoon, a program about monkeys came on TV and caught Fourroux’s eye. The program featured a woman who’s sole job was to interact with and take care of monkeys in a sanctuary. After watching for about five minutes - a lifetime in a child’s mind - Fourroux had formed her opinion. She turned to her her mother and said what would set her on her life path. “Working with monkeys would be the coolest job in the world!” Today, the honors senior psychology major has managed to achieve just that. Fourroux is well on her way to becoming a primatologist – a scientist who studies primates. However, the road has been nothing close to smooth. To start, primatology is a field of study that is difficult to find in

Designed by Terry Mantooth// Photographed by Natalie Kilic


“Bali made me more interested in ethnoprimatology, the interactions between humans and nonhuman primates. It also gave me a taste of what real field work is like, but barely. It was a fairly pampered taste. One-fourth of a teaspoon really.”

Fourroux spent a summer in Bali, Indonesia studying monkeys in the Ubud Monkey Forest.

graduate studies programs and it is one that requires years of experience to crack an entry level job. In order to make her childhood dream a reality, Fourroux had to get creative. She chose to major in psychology and minor in anthropology and biology after attempting several variations of the three fields her freshman and sophomore year. In addition to carefully crafting her degree, she has also pursued several opportunities outside of the classroom. Fourroux has traveled from Canada to Mississippi and Bali all just to learn more about primatology. She also held a long-term internship-turned job at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, joined a research lab, and worked with her professor and mentor, UA’s Dr. Christopher Lynn, to create a teacher’s assistant position in his primate class. Of these experiences, Fourroux says that Bali was her favorite.

The University of Alabama • 45

Jane Goodall is one of Fourroux’s biggst role models in the primatology field.

“Bali made me more interested in ethnoprimatology, the interactions between humans and nonhuman primates,” Fourroux said. “It also gave me a taste of what real field work is like, but barely. It was a fairly pampered taste. One-fourth of a teaspoon really.” Her professor Christopher Lynn said that the work Fourroux has done will help her stand out in the primatology field and felt that Bali was a significant step for her. “She was working with professional primatologists in that context. She needs to continue to groom those contacts,” Dr. Lynn said. “For instance, Dr. Loudon and Dr. Howells, who ran the Bali field school, are close personal friends of mine. So I know they know everybody and are highly respected.” Part of Fourroux’s success can be traced to her passion for primates. A passion which has been furthered by the work of her professional hero, Jane Goodall. As a an early Christmas gift in 2015, Fourroux and her father traveled to a small town in Canada to see Goodall speak. They even sprung for the VIP experience before her public appearance. As Fourroux detailed all that she learned on the trip and what it was like to meet Goodall, she lit up. When asked what Goodall was to her, she did not hold back. “She’s a model,” said Fourroux. “Not a super model - even though she is pretty 46 • Honors College

“Jane Goodall is a model. Not a super model even though she is pretty - but she just models how to be a peacemaker and a trailblazer. She’s a badass model. Can you say badass? Because that’s what she is. She’s just a badass.”

ls e’s e

but she just models how to be a peacemaker and a trailblazer. She’s a badass model. Can you say badass? Because that’s what she is. She’s just a badass.” Even though it seems she’s narrowed down her career path, there is still so much for Fourroux to decide in the near future. In order to work in primatology as a researcher, she would need at least a Master’s degree. However, this is not something Fourroux said she’s willing to jump straight into. Instead, her experience has sparked a desire to be a zookeeper. Fourroux explained that although she loved her experience in Bali, it made her better appreciate what she already had at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Her favorite part about working at the zoo is all the time spent with the animals. However, she shared that a big part of zoo jobs is also to educate the public, and she wasn’t quick to hide which part of the job she preferred. “I don’t want to say that I don’t like people…but I’m in it for the animals, not the people,” Fourroux said. “I just enjoy actually being there with them and working with them and taking care of them.”

One downside to following such a specific childhood dream is that it may not be a dream that can provide the lifestyle that one might envision for themselves. Fourroux frequently expressed that she’s thought about focusing more on teaching

“I don’t want to say that I don’t like people...but I’m in it for the animals, not the people.” and research over zoo-keeping simply because of the small financial boost it would provide her. Despite the questionable financial security, Fourroux’s family seems

more than happy to embrace her unorthodox career choice. Her father encourages her to look into jobs in South Africa or another exciting country and emphasizes his enthusiasm by insisting he would love an excuse to move to a more adventurous location as well. However, moving is not at the top of Fourroux’s priority list at this point in time. Instead, she is just beginning a new research project in the Human Behavioral Ecology Research group. Her research project was, in part, inspired by her work in Bali where she studied the relationship between the Macaques and the guards that worked at the monkey forests there. Her new focus is the relationship between caregivers and primates in parks, sanctuaries, zoos and labs. Dr. Lynn is assisting with this research and their plan is to go to at least one of each of the various facilities and study how the relationship differs. “Jennifer’s primatology project is where all young projects start – in the throes of development stumbling around like a toddler,” Dr. Lynn said. “It’s very exciting to guide and watch.”

A grey macaque perched itself on Fourroux’s shoulder while she posed for several photos.

The University of Alabama • 47

AD ASTRA! Recent University of Alabama Honors College graduate Kara Parks is living her dream — one launch at a time

48 • Honors College

Photo Credit United Launch Alliance

photo credit ULA

Designed by Meredith Parks

By Kate Silvey

Thick plumes of smoke erupt and envelope the launch pad as the Atlas V takes to the sky, appearing to an onlooker like an orange fireball, or perhaps a stray shooting star, as it propels itself farther and farther into the atmosphere. The launch is a success. Among the scientists watching this Sept. 23, 2017 rocket launch is Kara Parks, a recent graduate of The University of Alabama and its Honors College. While most might be confused by terms like cryogenics and payload fairing, these words are parts of Park’s vocabulary – after all, for an engineer like her, it’s not rocket science. Except it is rocket science. And it’s her passion. A native of the small town of Jarrettsville, Maryland, Parks graduated from UA in May 2017 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Only a few months later, she works as a systems test engineer for the United Launch Alliance in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Vandenberg, California. But her interest in engineering didn’t start in college; instead, Parks has been dreaming of space for years. It all began during a family trip to

Photo Credit ULA

Designed by Meredith Parks


An Atlas V Rocket carrying the NROL-42 mission towers over its surroundings at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Atlas V rockets are currently the biggest and most powerful rocket family manufactured.

t’s a clear night at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and all eyes are pointed toward the stars. An Atlas V rocket stands tall and proud on the launch pad – sleek, white, and cutting through the dark night sky like a knife. After all tests are carried out, the countdown begins: “Three … two … we have ignition of the RD-180 main engine … one … and liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-42 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office … !”

Kara Parks, left, poses with a co-worker in front of the NROL-42 emblem on the Atlas V rocket’s nose cone. Parks’ job allows her to interact with like-minded engineers and explore her passion in rocket science. The University of Alabama • 49

between The Boeing Company and in Maryland. Lockheed Martin. According to their Parks currently works in the website, they work to “provide propulsion area of launch vehicles, doing a reliable, cost-efficient access lot of second-stage rocket processing and to space for U.S. government cryogenics round systems work. Parks missions,” and have used their speaks about her work with enthusiasm work in aerospace engiand exuberance, all while expressing neering to serve The U.S. optimism about the future of the space Department of Defense, industry. NASA, the National “I’m also training to be a console Reconnaissance Office operator. So you know when you see and the United States people on TV and they’re in mission Air Force. control?” she pauses, then laughs. Parks’ job as a “That’s what I’m training to do for ULA.” test systems engineer Before attending The University of at ULA combines her Alabama, Parks spent a year studying at knowledge of Harford Community College in Bel Air, mechanical engineering Maryland. Once in Tuscaloosa, she was with her love of space, a acknowledged and presented with an career that her family said Outstanding Transfer Student Award. was “her not an “I want to help usher in the MIT“I’m childhood dream kid. I wasn’t next era of space exploration. out there acing job”. Her younger brother Adam Parks, who I want to be a part of that,” spelling bees when currently studies mechaniI was five,” Parks cal engineering at UA, recalls childhood said. “So I told myself, to make myself memories of launching model rockets with exceptional, I have to get out there and try their dad and I have to make that extra effort.” Florida when Parks was in middle school. While near Port Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Station, her family decided to visit the nearby rocket museum where Saturn V is on display. Filling the interior of the museum with its massive size, it is the largest rocket ever launched. “I just remember as a young kid, when we walked into that big room and there was this Saturn V rocket … I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life,” Parks said. “And right there, my little sixth or seventh grade self was like – this is what I want to do with my life.” That particular moment, Parks remembers, was especially memorable because it changed her perspective on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to use her life to help others. That initial encounter with the world of rocket science propelled her through her academic career and continues to drive her work with the United Launch Alliance. The United Launch Alliance is a company formed through a joint venture 50 • Honors College

Photo Credit United Launch Alliance Parks smiles underneath the shadow of a large Delta IV rocket. Her background in mechanical engineering and extensive involvement at The University of Alabama opened doors for her career at the United Launch Alliance.

Photo Credit United Launch Alliance

The Atlas V rocket stands tall in the vertical assembly building. The mission delivered a satellite into orbit, operated by the National Reconnaissance Office.

And she certainly made that extra effort — not only in her studies, but in her involvement on campus. At UA, Kara was heavily involved with numerous programs and organizations, including Crimson Racing, Tuska UAV, Yellowhammer Rocketry, Society of Women Engineers, and the senior design team visUAlize, which she helped found. She even had her own radio show, Houndstooth & Hardhats, which she co-hosted with fellow student Matthew Culver on 90.7 the Capstone. Her experiences as a student at UA, she said, provided her with many experiences that have helped her in her career with the United Launch Alliance. “It prepared me tremendously,” Parks said. “I’m proud to be an Alabama alumna.” Back at UA, brother Adam Parks said that seeing his sister succeed in his same field of study has reminded him that it’s possible to be able to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

“Seeing her succeed has made me realize that I can do it as well,” he said. Ultimately, Parks hopes that her passion for rocket science and engineering will be used to help people all over the world. “I want to help usher in the next era of space exploration. I want to be a part of that,” Parks said. “Everybody from Tsiolkovsky and Braun and Goddard and those big names in rocket science … all those people, and then us today, are all connected by that one kind of passion.” Parks’ drive to be involved in the future of space through rocket science is not a question in her mind. However, one important question does remain: If given the opportunity, would she ever go into space herself? She laughs. “Well, first of all, my mom would kill me.” For now, it seems she’ll just stick to her career on the ground at ULA, although she’ll always be looking toward the sky.

Ad Astra! To the Stars . And Roll Tide!

The University of Alabama • 51

52 • Honors College

BEHIND THE LENS What started as a way to impress a girl, soon became a calling for Artist in Residence Julio Larramendi



The University of Alabama • 53

54 • Honors College

He tried to learn to pluck the strings of a guitar, to tickle the keys of a piano, to crow along to a tune, but he simply couldn’t. “I have good hearing, but something is broken in the middle, so I cannot play anything,” he said with a laugh. When he was 15, he had a girlfriend so beautiful that as they walked along the streets of the bustling city, men would flirt with her. She looked like a woman, he said, and he, just a small, skinny boy. “It was embarrassing,” he said, exasperated. “I said, ‘Come on, Julio. You have to find something to impress her with.’”

I didn’t know how to do it, I just looked through the lens In his home, he had a film camera that they would take on family trips. Though he had never tried taking photos before, he decided to give it a shot. One day, he brought his girlfriend to the beach and took photos of her. He sent the film away to have it processed and eagerly awaited the return of the pictures. “The prints were good,” he said. “It was just by chance. I didn’t know how to do it, I just looked through the lens, took the pictures of her, and the prints came out really good. I said, ‘This is my thing.’” Larramendi’s girlfriend loved the photos, and he had found himself in taking pictures. In 1971, he was sent to the Soviet Union to study chemistry. There, it was easy for Larramendi to get all the neces-

sary experience and materials to learn how to take pictures. He was part of a basketball team, and the coach was a photography professor. After a few months of friendship, the coach gave Larramendi the key to the photography lab. This was life changing for Larramendi. By day, he would study chemistry, and by night, he would teach himself how to take pictures and print and process the materials. He even learned to print photos in color, which was quite a feat in the early 1970s. The town he lived in had one movie theater, one restaurant and the institute that he studied at. There was nothing for him to do but take photos, especially during the winter, when the streets were covered with a 6-foot-deep blanket of snow for five months at a time. “I loved it,” Larramendi said. “I didn’t think at that time about doing this professionally or about art. No, it was just for fun. I was really interested in photography. I took pictures of everything that happened around me.” When he graduated with his degree in chemistry, Larramendi said he was lucky. He got a job working at a scientists’ institute of photography, combining his two passions. “Just imagine,” he said excitedly. “I was like a kid working in a room filled with toys. For me it was so natural. It wasn’t work.” Larramendi began to study photography with professionals. He researched how the camera worked and learned the physics and chemistry of the craft. He later went on to get his Ph.D in scientific photography. Larramendi then met a biologist who wanted him to take photographs of nature for a TV program. He decided to travel with the man across Cuba. Though the country was his home, he quickly learned that there was so much he hadn’t seen in Cuba. “From him, I took my love of Cuba to the other Cuba, the Cuba that not many Cubans see,” Larramendi said. “I fell in love with the nature, with the history, with the architecture of the Cuban nation.” He spent years after this researching scientific photography and nature. When Cuba’s economy crashed in the mid ‘90s, however, Larramendi found himself with

Designed by Grace Meagher // Photographed by Natalie Kilic

The musician’s laughter lit the room. Every person was drawn to it. He stood surrounded, a guitar in his hands, charisma and authenticity dripping from every word he spoke. With his distinct smile and kindness as clear as the brown color dancing in his eyes, his face drew every camera lens in the room. All but one, that is. One photographer stood so close to the musician’s 94-year-old frame, he could see the creases and folds in the man’s face, a living map that could have only been etched by time and experience. The gentle glow of light on the guitar caught the photographer’s eye. The wood, like mahogany glass, reflected the nearly century-old skin on the musician’s wrinkled, chestnut hands. They were in stark contrast to one another, one new and perfectly smooth and the other aged and grooved by decades of life. A thousand thoughts ran through the photographer’s head too quickly for him to register. He heard the click of the shutter as he took the picture. Though the musician would die a year later, Julio Larramendi would remember him and the photo he took fondly for decades to come. Nearly 20 years and thousands of photographs later, Larramendi, 63, still thinks of that photo as one of his best portraits. As a photographer of nearly 50 years, he has dedicated most of life to capturing moments such as that one. He was born in Cuba but has travelled across the world, making his way far afield to places that included Africa, Europe, central and south America and finally to Tuscaloosa, where he now is an artist in residence at The University of Alabama Honors College. Larramendi is both an artist and a scientist, with a Ph.D in scientific photography. He has been able to combine a love for pictures with a technically driven mind. His work has appeared in over 60 books. However, his life’s work came from humble, rather inartistic beginnings. Larramendi began taking photos for one reason only: to impress a girl. Growing up in Santiago de Cuba, he found he had a weakness. Though his peers were all musically inclined, as was expected of young men in the most Caribbean city in Cuba, he had absolutely no rhythm.

Designed by Grace Meagher // Photographed by Natalie Kilic

four kids and no money for research. It was then that he decided to dedicate himself completely to photography. His work led him to meet Chip Cooper, a fellow photographer and artist in residence at the UA Honors College. Cooper was working on a book in Havana in 2008 when a mutual friend introduced them. Cooper described it as a moment straight out of a romance novel. “As Julio likes to tell people, we looked at each other and went, ‘We’re going to be very close,’” he said. “It just happened, that spark where you see a girl that you know that you’re going to have a relationship with. A chemistry of not even hearing him talk and I thought, ‘Wow. This is a presence that I need in my life.’” The two have been working together on creating books, such Campesinos, for nine years now. Cooper even invited Larramendi to leave Cuba and travel to Tuscaloosa to teach with him. Their teaching partnership has extended beyond photography. For Cooper, it is Larramendi’s strength of character that deepens his appeal and inspires others to do their best work. “He is an extremely intense and driven individual in no matter what he does,” Cooper said. “He has a very strong sense of purpose at whatever he takes on. When he makes friends, he’s the best friend you can imagine.” Other UA faculty members also see him as a great asset to their community. Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the UA Honors College, said that he impacts his students and coworkers just by sharing his story with them. “One of the things we talk about in Honors is speaking to understand,” Morgan said. “For all of us, sharing his journey has really helped us connect to a misunderstood country in a unique way. When we personalize it with his journey, we see Cuba through a new lens.” Larramendi believes one of the most important things he can show others is the side of Cuba that even many Cubans never see. “The heart and soul of Cuba is in the countryside,” he said earnestly. “There, you find the poorest but purest people.”


Campesinos: The Real cuba

Campesinos is a remarkable book, open to multiple readings and difficult to classify. At times, you feel that it is not a photographic survey of a given subject, but rather an anthropological inquiry supported by images. It would be worthwhile to ask Julio Larramendi and Chip Cooper if it was their intention to scrutinize the complex and contradictory world of Cuban campesinos beyond form. The answer has to be affirmative—it is clear that the photographers knew what they were doing because one of the merits of this unique book is the coherence and authenticity of its message, which avoiding any kind of “composition,” is faithful to reality. Sometimes one tends to idealize the rural world when seen from a city perspective. Since the days of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, there is a certain inclination to identify the rural environment as bearer of a sort of original purity, free from the environmental or social pollution that affects life in urban centers. This is obviously not Larramendi’s and Cooper’s focal point. Their cameras do not elude the poverty of domestic environments, the frugality of their tools or the scarcity of material resources. Nor do they veil the harshness of life in rural areas, the exhausting effort of working in the fields when there are no technological means to compensate for the rigors of the climate or to reduce the hard work of tilling the land or caring for animals. This is not the case, however, where the rural universe of the country is explained. Campesinos is not a thesis—it is a testimony. The book begins by presenting the natural or urban environments that make up the restrictions of the Cuban countryside—scenic landscapes thanks to the beauty of its verdant rolling hills, deep drop-offs or the infinity of the ubiquitous sea. It continues with small and medium-sized communities where essential services to everyday life are provided. The book then presents a repertoire of dwellings, from ancestral bohíos that are roofed with dried royal palm leafs called yagua, to wooden houses with their motley and desolate interiors. These are the homes of humble folk whose possessions are very few, yet they sing, dance, take walks, enjoy spending time with friends and neighbors, play dominoes, go to cock fights, challenge each other in sports competitions, enjoy bathing in rivers and beaches. They exist. Women and men who believe in known gods or in the mysterious African deities that are humanized to the point of sharing similar hopes and desires with their believers. Individuals who work defying harsh weather conditions and a climate that etches their faces with wrinkles and furrows, makes their hands become calloused and their faces prematurely aged. Yet, they smile. They smile at the cameras that capture them with affectionate eyes as a sign of reciprocal sympathy, an expression of the unyielding cordiality of the Cuban people. An affectionate view is to be expected in Larramendi: they are his beloved people and land. But it is surprising to recognize the same complicity in Cooper’s work. And this is perhaps Campesinos’ most significant merit: beyond the beauty attained by pictures that do not conceal the ugly, the photographers show that human values can overcome differences, that culture knows no boundaries, that art establishes bridges thanks to its mysterious ability to awaken the finest sentiments and to sublimate pain. Campesinos is a work of friendship and love. It touches the heart and makes us think of the Cuban countryside, of our human condition, of every person’s struggles and destiny. Nothing greater can be expected from a work of art. Alicia E. García Corresponding Member of the Academy of Cuban History The University of Alabama • 55

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Style 58




Common Threads '90s

Neon is a trend that didn’t originate in fashion, music or any normal art form. It comes from science. Neon was discovered in 1898, and was harnessed for neon signs in 1910. These signs became more and more popular through the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, until it finally translated over to an obsession with bright colors in clothing and art. Today, people take a more subtle approach to neon colors, seen as an accent instead of an outfit, and that’s why the trend is resurfacing. With pastels or even just duller versions of colors, it takes a lot more for them to come through in an outfit. The bright colors underscore beauty without overpowering the simplicity.

58 • Honors College


Nineties Grunge was a style that defined a decade. Ushered in with punk and Kurt Cobain, chokers, band tees, heavy makeup, plaid and Doc Martens created a more laid-back style, appealing to the majority. People have brought it back with the resurge of ‘90s music. A nostalgia for a past time has created a frenzy for the deconstructed, comfortable feeling that comes with the look. This is a major selling point for a society trying to redefine beauty in a very drastic, more simplistic and accepting way.

Designed by Sara Wilson // Photographed by Ashton Royal


Fashion trends come and go in cycles, and today, major trends from decades past are coming back in a very big way. From the mid-’70s to the early 2000s, and with everything from science to fashion to function as inspiration, these are some of the biggest trends that have returned to the fashion scene.


Designed by Sara Wilson // Photographed by Ashton Royal

custom denim Customized denim jackets are back and better than ever, honestly. While the customization of denim was popular in the ‘80s with Madonna and the punk scene, today there are many more options. With everything from patches to embroidery to pins, it’s possible to both do it yourself and buy premade customizations. The patches especially have also spread to backpacks and jeans. These jackets are very common among the general population; on runways, however, plain denim is a far larger trend.

track suits Matching sets of athletic pants and sweatshirts have been around since the 1970s, and became very popular in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They weren’t quite the same as they are today, however. Then, these combinations were meant specifically for athletics, and the only people who wore them around were athletes. They made a comeback in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, which shaped the way we think about tracksuits today. They are now making moves as luxury, everyday items. Major brands from Gucci and Victoria’s Secret to Lacoste are making tracksuits more expensive than some of their fancy cocktail dresses.

The University of Alabama • 59

Scrunchies! The whimsical trend has been embraced by political figures and runway models alike, and has now become a staple for many Honors college women. By Shana Oshinskie

60 • Honors College Wen looks towards the quad, scrunchies in tow.

coiffed style. As a result, Clinton turned to an easy-to-maintain ponytail style, most often adorned by a scrunchie. From Hillary Clinton to ‘90s teeny-boppers, scrunchies have fallen in and out of fashion countless times over the last

several decades. Recently, however, highend designers like Balenciaga and popular brands like Urban Outfitters have produced and re-popularized the accessory. Six scrunchie-wearing Honors College women shared their perspective on the trend.

Designed by Terry Mantooth // Photograped by Peyton Holdbrooks

When Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, her friend and world-renowned designer, Oscar de la Renta, advised her to cut her hair. Because the job involved so much frequent travel, however, she knew it would be hard to maintain a


Bryan Covington

Year: Sophomore Major: Marketing Favorite Involvement: Active Minds, the mental health advocacy group I help run here on campus. Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: I’m currently an Honors Mentor for the UH 100 Class – we mentor freshmen in the Honors College and do a lot of different activities with them – so that’s been pretty fun. Where do you get your scrunchies? Target and Lululemon Why do you wear scrunchies? They separate your ponytail from your head and that ends up making it a lot more comfortable when you have to have your hair up for a long time. How do scrunchies make you feel? Honestly, they make me feel pretty unique, because not that many people wear them, so it’s kind of a different mood. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? My sense of style isn’t necessarily trendy, but I would say “on trend” – I try and wear some pieces that are popular at the moment. Dressing differently is a little important to me too, though, because I grew up going to private school, and you would wear uniforms all the time, so you had to do things like wear scrunchies or fun socks or little bracelets because we weren’t allowed to choose our clothes or wear bright nail polish or makeup.

MK Holladay

Designed by Terry Mantooth // Photograped by Peyton Holdbrooks

Year: Junior Major: Creative Advertising Favorite Involvement: Designing Alice magazine. Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: The class “Poverty in America” with Stephen Black Where do you get your scrunchies? I get my scrunchies from Walmart, and I get my special scrunchies from Free People or Urban Outfitters. Why do you wear scrunchies? They make me feel confident, they set me apart from others. All my friends can find me from the back of my head if I’m not turned around, I have really big hair, and it sort of offsets that and they’re beautiful! How do scrunchies make you feel? They make me feel joyful and all of the synonyms for joyful. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? My sense of style is what I like to call “dirty hippie trash” because it’s a combination of really expensive free people clothes that I get on sale that I ruin by washing too much and things from the thrift store that I also ruin by washing too much. I wear a lot of very colorful socks, very colorful scrunchies, and nothing ever really matches – it’s just kind of whatever’s on my body.

Riley Raynor

Year: Freshman Major: Social Work Favorite Involvement: I’m about to get involved with Spark & Dream! Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: Probably the University Fellows Experience or 57 Miles Where do you get your scrunchies? Wherever my mom gets them, so usually Walmart or Sally’s Beauty Supply. Why do you wear scrunchies? Because they’re good for my hair. My hair breaks easily, and the thin little bands don’t really hold poofy black hair. How do scrunchies make you feel? They can be a fashion statement, and I wear a lot of black ones, so it just adds some contrast to my outfit. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? My style is very simple and inexpensive, because that’s kind of how my personality is, and my mom just taught me to not need the name brands or the most expensive thing in the store and it’s carried with me and displayed in my daily appearance. The University of Alabama • 61

Bryan expertly twirls her hair into a ponytail.

Riley smiles, her pink scrunchie holding up her curly hair..

Courtney Geary

Year: Junior Major: I’m in New College and I’m calling my depth study “Global Crisis Management and Prevention” Favorite Involvement: I work as an ESL tutor with the Tuscaloosa County School System. I work about 17 hours a week helping elementary-age students with their schoolwork and language abilities; it’s by far my favorite thing I have done in college, and is the primary drive behind why I want to eventually work in education. Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: I have loved my involvement through 57 Miles. I go down to Sowing Seeds of Hope in Marion, Alabama every Friday to help out Ms. Ford with office tasks and grant writing. I’m from a small town myself, so getting to spend time in Marion reminds me of the close-knit community and laid-back lifestyle of my hometown. Where do you get your scrunchies? I feel like I pick up my scrunchies wherever I see them. I do particularly like the scrunchies from Claire’s in the mall- I’m really into velvet and jewel tones right now, and they have a variety of scrunchies in different colors that match my style. Why do you wear scrunchies? I started wearing scrunchies because I have a lot of hair – like a LOT of hair – and constantly break hair ties. The move to scrunchies was motivated by being tired of constantly having to buy new packs of hair ties and the knowledge that scrunchies cause less breakage and damage to your hair. How do scrunchies make you feel? I think one of the things I love most about scrunchies is that they can become part of your outfit, whereas hair ties don’t particularly feel like an accessory. When I wear scrunchies, it makes me feel more put-together and intentional with my clothing. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? Man, my style has really evolved over the years. I went through a pretty significant goth phase in middle school, and I think that’s still kind of apparent in the clothes I wear today. I’ve incorporated sportier, more colorful clothes into my wardrobe, but I love to accent with something a little grungy, edgy, or dark.

Wen Walsh

Year: Junior Major: Mechanical Engineering Favorite Involvement: I really liked getting to join the Blackburn Institute community. Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: Probably the University Fellows Experience. Where do you get your scrunchies? I honestly go thrifting for most of mine – they’re not quite in style, so I have to find them randomly on Ebay and then I have to wash, because obviously you don’t want to get hair germs. Why do you wear scrunchies? I have to keep my hair back for a lot of more purposeful and academic stuff I do like labs, so it’s a funner way to do that. How do scrunchies make you feel? I love how they look, so they make me feel happy. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? I think it’s super important! This will sound really vain, but everyone judges you within ten seconds of knowing you, so everything’s about your appearance and how put together you are. As for my personal style, I just wear what I like. If that happens to fit the 2018 trends, then it is what it is! 62 • Honors College

Lily Anderson

Year: Freshman Major: International Studies Favorite Involvement: Fellows and 57 Miles are my favorite overall and Honors College involvements. Where do you get your scrunchies? Target Why do you wear scrunchies? I have thick hair, so they don’t give me a headache when I wear my hair in a ponytail. How do scrunchies make you feel? When I was in sixth grade I wore scrunchies and there was this really nerdy choir teacher at my school and she would dress really weird and wear scrunchies, and everyone made fun of me and said I was like her and I went home crying, and I didn’t wear scrunchies for like four years. And then I started wearing them again and I felt really confident. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? I dress pretty lazily or athletically on a day to day basis, but scrunchies make it a little more interesting, and give it some pep.

Dr. Jacqueline Morgan

Year: Associate Dean of the Honors College and Director of the University Fellows Experience Major: Well, my first time around I was enrolled in a five-year master’s program, so I got my bachelor’s and master’s at the same time in learning disabilities and emotional disturbances with combined emphasis in English and reading. When I went back to school I got a second master’s and Ph.D, and that’s when I pursued counseling and educational psychology. Favorite Involvement: Probably First Presbyterian Church – I’m really involved there as an active elder. I’m also really enjoying serving on several boards in the community particularly in the Chamber of Commerce. Favorite Honors Class/Involvement: I love getting to know you all as students and we’ve got an amazing faculty. Being in a community where people are so involved and intellectually curious and engaged and caring really is inspiring and challenging in a good way. Where do you get your scrunchies? I have not recently purchased that many … I have been wearing my hair the same way for a long time. Some are from my sister, I’ve bought some of my headbands online, and some in the drugstore … really just a variety of places. Why do you wear scrunchies? If I have a scrunchie in my hair, it means I am totally relaxed. It typically means I am home for the evening, I’m not going anywhere, I’m in my most comfortable clothes and I have pulled my hair completely back off my face and up. I do that twist that we all do, and it’s just this great feeling to have it all pulled back. I’ll have it like that when I’m doing focused reading or concentrated time on the computer, and tonight, when I come back from yoga, I’ll do the same thing. How do scrunchies make you feel? Relaxed. Totally relaxed. I go to Canyon Ranch, a health resort, almost every summer with my sister and some very close friends, and almost all of us are in scrunchies the entire time. How would you describe your personal sense of style, and why is having style/an aesthetic important to you? I like classic with a little drama. I like the classic look, but I always feel most like myself with a little bit of pop or drama.

The University of Alabama • 63 Wen shows off her practiced ponytail skills.

Dr. Morgan smiles from her desk. Photo by: Shana Oshinskie

From the Classroom to the Runway

64 • Honors College

Designs by Effie Guenther. Photo by: Effie Guenther

Designed by Ivana Maclin

By Jordan Nenni



Designed by Ivana Maclin


iana Vreeland, former editor-in-chief of Vogue once said, “Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.” This idea is cultivated and reinforced by the Fashion for Life show, put on annually by senior students registered for the CTD 450 Advanced Apparel Design course at The University of Alabama. All proceeds from the fashion show are donated to a worthy cause. This past year, the earnings went toward metastatic breast cancer awareness and research. “Each year, the senior students nominate a charity for money raised from Fashion for Life, and it’s different each year,” said Brian Taylor, professor in the Department of Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design and overseer of the show. “This year, one of our students was personally affected by metastatic breast cancer – her mother was diagnosed. This student nominated the cause and the senior students voted on it being the charity for Fashion for Life.” When he first began teaching at UA, Taylor required seniors to create a collection that represented their design philosophy. It wasn’t until his second year in 2009 he kick-started the Fashion for Life as a chance for students to professionally showcase their designs to a larger audience. Originally, the show was held at the Old Train Station in downtown Tuscaloosa, currently known as the restaurant 301 Bistro. Since then, the show has grown in size and impact, and is now held in the Ferguson Center ballroom to accommodate the backstage and audience. The student designers of the show are responsible for creating three or more complete outfits to showcase their collection, and prepare models to display their work. The preparation is extensive and requires an acute attention to detail. “Prepping for the show was crazy, just to get all your models ready, hair—makeup, making sure everyone had their shoes, right undergarments—it’s a lot,” said Effie Guenther, a UA student who participated in this past show in 2017. “My models were all amazing though, as well as my professors

in the Apparel Design department over in Doster Hall. I feel so blessed having had them guide me through prepping through the show. I most definitely couldn’t have done it without them.” The show is an opportunity for design students to present their hard work and design philosophy to family, friends and younger students pursuing a future in design. Though the prep-work seems relatively intense, the result proves highly rewarding. “Watching my garments walk down the runway was so exhilarating,” said senior apparel design major and Honors student Amanda Eidson. “My whole family was there, and a lot of my friends, so it was really special to showcase my work off. It honestly was a very surreal and emotional moment for me. So much time and effort went into my collection, and to see it all walk together was amazing.” Fashion for Life is an exemplary way for students to prepare for a professional future in fashion. The responsibilities students face help develop the skill sets necessary to succeed in the fashion industry. Designers further develop their creativity, time management, sewing skills, communication skills, and attention to detail, among numerous other necessary artistic abilities. As a result, many of the designers in the show have big plans for their future. Guenther, for example, aspires to move to New York City and work for a design company, where she’ll continue to design everyday attire and party-wear, incorporating 3D modified shoes. “Part of my goal From “Elizabethan” Collection. as a designer i isPhoto by: Eric Gray Photography

The University of Alabama • 65

to increase model diversity, including race, gender and size,” Guenther said. “The fashion industry is also one of the most wasteful industries in the world, so I hope to get to a point where I can influence environmentally friendly practices.”

“Expose yourself to the wide variety of brands, designers and the history of fashion.” The beauty of the show is that every designer creates a collection that is completely extraordinary and different from one another. As a result, the designs seem to rightfully reflect the values and personality of the designer. Designer Amanda Eidson took her collection in a personal and poetic direction, basing her design concept off the personality and character of her best friend, Elizabeth Cheek, who passed away in 2016.

Designs by Effie Guenther. Photo by: Effie Guenther 66 • Honors College

“I wanted to honor her and bring her spirit to life through my clothes,” Eidson said. “She was so bright, bubbly and feminine, with a contagious laugh. My clothes directly reflected her in that they were girly, sophisticated and made you want to go out and show the world who you were and what you were wearing. The name of my collection is ‘Elizabethan.’” As such an expressive form of art, the impression that one’s designs have are different for everyone and connect on an individual level. The fashion industry is an intimidating one, but that doesn’t dictate the path many artists like those of Taylor, Guenther and Eidson choose. “Expose yourself to the wide variety of brands, designers and the history of fashion,” Taylor said. “Familiarize yourself with the technical part of fashion – garment construction, fit, pattern making, illustration and learn your fabrics.” Participating and even simply viewing events like Fashion for Life can be a pivotal moment for a growing designer, proving to reflect just one of UA’s many opportunities to gain valuable experience.

From “Elizabethan” Collection. Photo by: Eric Gray Photography

Life In Color By Callie Rickert

My best friend’s color of choice is Sunshine Yellow, and I always chastised her for her peculiar taste in color! On the grueling stroll to class one day, I stumbled upon a beautiful yellow bike parked all by itself. Camera in hand, I began my collection of yellow. Despite my opinions about the color, the beauty of yellow began to jump out at me everywhere I looked. From man-made road signs to flowers and food, a bit of yellow is always ever-present. My love for yellow grew more and more with each photo, and after completing this story, this vibrant and happy color holds a special place in my heart.

Photography By Callie Rickert // Designed By Ramsey Chandler

The University of Alabama • 67

68 • Honors College

People 70



Guarding the


labama and Georgia football fans face off under the LED lights of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, awaiting kickoff of the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game. The atmosphere is super-charged with the roar of tens of thousands of fans shouting and chanting back and forth, divided by their devotion to one of the two teams Live more, complain less.” and joyously anticipating a -Stephanie Haydee Cartegena victory.

Stephanie Cartagena (20) remained strong and influential among her teammates despite her diagnosis. Photo by: Katie Boyd

70 • Honors College

Their lines are clear-cut, with fans literally wearing their loyalty on their sleeves in the form of crimson and white for Alabama or red and black for Georgia and together creating a sea of color inside the new stadium. Yet one thing unites thousands of them: a tiny gray ribbon in honor of Stephanie Haydee Cartagena. A UA Honors student and color guard member, Cartagena began a battle against a rare form of brain cancer, known as ganglioglioma, just prior to the 2016 Iron Bowl. Though she lost her life just hours

Designed by Kaitlyn Forsythe

By Christina Ausley

Designed by Kaitlyn Forsythe

“The first thing she asked me was, ‘Do before the 2017 CFP national championship game, her lasting impression makes it I still have a spot on winter guard?,’” Gueclear she did anything but lose the battle. ret said. “In the midst of everything, in the midst of cancer and surgery, laying in She owned it. “Stephanie was always known for be- a hospital bed, all she cared about was her ing a hilarious balance of sweet and savage position with the color guard, like brain cancer was just a bump with color guard,” said in the road.” Aimee Gueret, a senior “The encouragement After her visit, color guard captain and Gueret and her fellow close friend of Stephashe provided her color guard teammate, nie’s. “And she carried teammates as she Lena Paradiso, conthat through her journey with cancer, fight- cheered from the edge of structed over 500 gray ribbons for UA’s band ing her hardest fight but always with a smile on the mat made her just just days before the her face. It’s no surprise as much a part of the Sugar Bowl. Over the we called her Wonder next few months, Cartlong practices and Woman.” agena and the hundreds Following her diof gray ribbons reflectperformances.” agnosis, Gueret spent ing her story acted as an time with Cartagena in inspiration both within the hospital. After just a few moments with and beyond the color guard team. one of her best friends and just a few words “Live more, complain less—that’s of positivity from someone who could have what she’d say,” Gueret said. “Even through been anything but, Gueret was immedi- the cancer she was so strong. I remember ately inspired to begin a project of support when she came to band camp there would and awareness. Little did she realize, these be times when we’d be going over flag techfounding inspirations would turn into nique and she’d try to jump in, or we’d try choreography but her stamina wasn’t quite something much greater.

UA color guard and band members showed support and awareness for Cartagena and her battle with cancer through handmade gray ribbons. Photo by: Jon Whitaker Photography

where it needed to be, so she would literally run laps around the gym, she did everything she could and then some.” After recovering from her first surgery, which removed close to 97 percent of her tumor, Cartagena worked hard to recover and rejoin her team in any way possible. Though she wasn’t physically performing on the mat herself, the encouragement she provided her teammates as she cheered from the edge of the mat made her just as much a part of the long practices and performances. “You would have never known a year before she had brain surgery,” Gueret said. “It inspired us to work harder. We’d circle up to pray before every performance, we’d do it for Stephanie, and it helped us be better performers and appreciate every moment we got on the field.” After noting the success of the first set of ribbons and Cartagena’s continuous strength amid a remarkably difficult time, Gueret and Paradiso felt compelled to expand Cartagena’s message to the Georgia band as well. Within just a few days, the two and their mothers ran Alabama’s stock of gray ribbon almost completely dry, and had to make another set of more than 500. “We probably had two or three days Cartagena (fourth from the right) and color guard teammates pose in Capitol Park. Photo by: Katie James The University of Alabama • 71

“I’ve learned how lucky and loved I am, how to enjoy life more, how to love more, how to stop complaining and try to make things better, how to appreciate things I never really paid much attention to. This experience has helped me grow to be better to this world, those around me, and to be happier for my own sake. Thank you to everyone and much love. Enjoy every breath and every second, try to laugh and smile more, and tell people you love them. Life is way too short and unpredictable to spend it sad or mad.” -Stephanie Haydee Cartagena before we were leaving for the game, so I’m not going to lie, part of the thought process was like ‘I can’t believe we’re actually doing this,’” said Paradiso, a senior color guard member. “But then it’s also like, Stephanie would have done this for anyone, so I have to do this.” Sitting in an apartment living room, four Disney movies later, all of the ribbon was gone. Though the team struggled with the loss of Cartagena’s life just hours before the national championship game, they pushed on under Stephanie’s calming presence as they took the field alongside her memory in the hundreds of uniting gray ribbons. “To be honest, at first it was a very solemn morning. Then we all put on our ribbons, and as we headed onto the field there was this calming effect,” Paradiso said. “We were running past these Georgia band players and the ribbons we gave them just the night before, and it was like, wait, she is here, she gets to see all of this, and she gets to see all of it completely pain-free.” As a rainbow of confetti rained from

above and UA took home another national title after an excruciatingly close game, the stadium erupted in celebration. Under a thunder of cheers, both friends and strangers held one another with tears of joy staining their cheeks. “I just remember looking up at the JumboTron and seeing all of these people celebrating, but also all of these gray ribbons,” Gueret said. “It showed me that no matter how competitive or how deep a rivalry runs, you still show humanity and love and support, because in the grand scheme of things, her situation and her strength was so much bigger than any football game.” Her inspiration takes on a much larger world-wide message, encouraging those of and beyond the color guard to unify with their rivals under one simple concept Stephanie emphasized throughout her journey: love. “Especially now with everything that has happened, we need more love in the world, and she embodied that,” Paradiso said. “If more people could just open up

On the day of the national championship, Georgia and UA band members collectively united to support Cartagena’s battle and lasting legacy. Photo by: Aimee Gueret

72 • Honors College

to a rival, per say, and look in their eyes, and still genuinely care about this other individual, the world will be a better place, and that’s all we can ever hope for in what Stephanie taught us.” As the team traditionally pulls out their mat throughout their competitive season, hitting the mat and blowing a kiss to Stephanie, their routine has grown to embody everything she left behind for the team, for the university, and for the world to observe. “The theme of our routine is ‘The Light of the World,’” said Savannah Cambron, a senior color guard member. “Coincidentally, I think this show unintentionally turned out to be Stephanie’s message. It shows that, yeah, you turn on the television and you see all the hatred and sadness, but look, look at the happiness and positivity that can bring you out of it. Have love, have passion and be the light of the world.” Though you might not be able to find a roll of gray ribbon in most Alabama stores, you’ll find an inspired message and lasting legacy of Stephanie Cartagena within any individual wearing one of her ribbons around, raising awareness for both the cancer and her story. “Being told you have a brain tumor at 19 is nothing good, but even in the worst possible news I tried to find the positive,” Cartagena wrote in a Facebook post last year, 2017. “I’ve learned how lucky and loved I am, how to enjoy life more, how to love more, how to stop complaining and try to make things better, how to appreciate things I never really paid much attention to. This experience has helped me grow to be better to this world, those around me, and to be happier for my own sake. Thank you to everyone and much love. Enjoy every breath and every second, try to laugh and smile more, and tell people you love them. Life is way too short and unpredictable to spend it sad or mad. God let me live, so I might as well try and spread what I learned, right?”

The Most Important

Five Minutes

of My Educational Career

By Darren Surman


o you remember the most important, educational moment of your college career? Do you think you have had it yet? I’m thinking of moments that serve as epiphanies, paradigm shifters, moments when certain things began to click. Sometimes, it can be the ultimate justification for the path you’ve chosen. It may also force you to think about things

that you may never have before. You may find yourself saying, “I never thought of it that way!” As the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” What he meant, obviously, is that often times in life, we are improvising. We are doing the best we can. We must move forward, sometimes with no assurances or

security. Over the years, I have enjoyed talking to people about such things and most, if not everyone, has some moment that they can point to as some sort of revelatory moment. You will find that many people, when asked such a question, can become deeply reflective and quite enjoy recounting such events. The most important, educational The University of Alabama • 73

moment I ever had in my educational career happened in five minutes. I was in my fourth year of my doctoral program, which was political theory, and the topic that I chose for my dissertation was the “politics of love” as it related to the work of Kierkegaard. The politics of love is a wonderful area of thought that has a long and rich tradition within political theory. One of the thinkers that I encountered, enjoyed reading, and was greatly inspired by, was Cornel West. West speaks often, and publicly, about the capacities for love to serve as a political concept. One of my favorite West statements, one that I carry around with me as a sort of anchor point within such ideas, is, When I talk about love, I’m talking about the most difficult, the most dangerous, the

When I talk about love, I’m talking about the most difficult, the most dangerous, the most subversive force in the world.” most subversive force in the world. Because when you’re talking about love it means you have a steadfast commitment to the well-being of others and you’re willing to do what it takes to ensure that their humanity is always affirmed. During that year that I found out that West would be attending the annual conference of the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C. My dissertation advisor, who knew West, emailed him to let him know that I might 74 • Honors College

be attending the conference, and perhaps we could get together for a few minutes. With that, my wife, who was five months pregnant, and I jumped in our car and drove from Alabama to Washington. We arrived at the hotel and found our way to the room where the West’s panel discussion would be held, with about five minutes to spare. The first thing I noticed was how the other panel members were all studying their presentation notes with earnestness. West had no notes. During the others’ presentations, they each read their papers; at least they looked up from time to time. West read nothing. It was another example of his, almost unparalleled, skill at improvisation. He just talked to the crowd. It was fun. After the panel, I made my way quickly to West. As I shook his hand, I said, “Hello Dr. West. My name is Darren Surman and I’m a graduate student at The University of Alabama. If you have any time during the conference I’d love to get together with you and talk about Soren Kierkegaard and the politics of love.” To which he replied, “Works of Love!” (referencing one of Kierkegaard’s most famous works), “What a powerful book! Yes, I’d love to talk about love with you. Do you know of Robert Putnam?” Of course, I said. Putnam is one of the more famous political scientists in the country. West suggested we walk to his Putnam’s presentation “and we’ll talk about Kierkegaard and love along the way.” I told my wife that I would be no more than 15 minutes. I figured West likely had many better things to do. Off we went, and as we walked people would come up to meet West, and he would introduce me to them as well. I felt very … important. Right? Wouldn’t you? Here I was, I’d been in town for a couple of hours, and I was now walking through a beautiful hotel in downtown Washington,

The castles were the philosopher’s work, projects, efforts, the big systems of ideas and truths that philosophers are often known for creating. The castles were, often, what the philosophers lived for.”

D.C. with Cornel West on my way to see Robert Putnam, and West is introducing me to people and talking about the work that I was doing. Yes, I felt … important. As we walked, and as I kept feeling important, and as I kept blabbering on like a graduate student often does in an effort to impress, I could see our destination ahead. It was a very large ballroom It was a professional, academic conference, and everyone looked like they belonged at an academic conference. They were all dressed professionally, carrying their conference programs with dog-eared pages, carrying their coffees, wearing their conference name tags, etc. West and I walked with them and as I blabbered on we came to the ballroom entrance and there was a young woman emptying the trash West put his hand up and said to me, “Hold on a minute.” He went up to the young woman and asked, “How are you doing today?” I emphasize “you” because he did. “How are you doing today?” To which she replied, “Oh my God! Dr. West! I heard that you might be here. I’m so happy that I’ve had a chance to meet you. Do you know that I’ve read all of your books?” West said, “Pfft. Those boring things. Seriously?” She said yes, and they proceeded to talk together about politics for about five minutes. It was a wonderful, brief, encounter that was rich with philosophy and life. Now, not for a moment do I believe this encounter was done for my benefit. I just happened to be there, on the sidelines. Cornel West did what he is known to often do. It proved, however, to be what I now consider the most important five minutes of my educational career. Why? It took about five seconds after West invited

me to walk along with him for me to feel important. As I reflect back, I can see how easily, how tempting even, it is for such a feeling of importance to get in the way of meaningfully engaging with the world around you. Kierkegaard critiqued a similar temptation of importance that philosophers have which is to construct for themselves, in their work, castles of philosophy, while they happen to live in the shack nearby. The shack is life itself, full of people and all that we are capable of being and becoming together. The castles were the philosopher’s work, projects, efforts, the big systems of ideas and truths that philosophers are often known for creating. The castles were, often, what the philosophers lived for. This is a wonderful metaphor that works for more than just philosophers. We all, too easily, can make such a distinction between our work and our life. It is easy to get caught up in types of encounters, work, and relationships in which we are constructing our castles of philosophy, or spaces of life that are actually removed from life. How many people do you think that passed by that young woman were as busy talking about their work, as I was with West? How many of them were busy having conversations that would support their applications for new jobs? How many of them were making important connections for their careers? While doing so, how many of them took absolutely no notice of that young woman? How many of the people that passed the young woman by make their livings writing about people like her; her experiences with the economy, education, healthcare, etc.? And yet, look at what they missed out on. Conversation that was as rich and deep as

anything they would encounter from other academics for the rest of the weekend; but they did not know that. To them she was invisible. What a shame. I learned, in the space of that five minutes what was really important. I learned how easily we we can allow life to be a set of roles that we each play out, as if we were actors. What is really important, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, is the essential bridging of intelligence and character. King stated, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” That is the only way to be in the shack and not create castles of philosophy. No matter what our educational journey to our chosen profession is, we must be vigilant that we are not in pursuit of only our own self-importance, advancement, and intelligence. We must take notice of the world and of others in it. We must have the character to engage it. We must have the character to listen to, learn from, and work with others to build it into the best world that it can be. As long as we are walking through life with others, oblivious to that which has been socially accepted as invisible, the shack of life will never be as good as it can be. Such a deficiency of listening and engaging, no matter how well we climb our ladders of success, will only result in a loss of community. Intelligence is not enough. Success is not enough. Making the right connections is not enough. Looking like you belong at the conference is not enough. Intelligence and character. Intelligence and character. That is what I learned in those five minutes.

The University of Alabama • 75

We must have the character to listen to, learn from, and work with others to build it into the best world that it can be.”

Dr. Darren Surman teaches in the Honors College at The University of Alabama. He holds a doctorate in the field of political theory. He teaches courses on a variety of topics in the Honors College, some of which include the political philosophy of love, existential philosophy, environmental political philosophy, and the nature and 76 • Honors College

meaning of work. When he is not teaching or reading about the politics of love, he is probably playing guitar...to the music of the Beatles. Cornel West is one of America’s most important public intellectuals today. He is professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University, and a prolific author

(having written 20 books and edited 13), teacher, and speaker. Two of his most widely-known works are Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He has appeared on television, in films, and has produced spoken word albums as well. He is well known for his rhetoric of the politics of love.

? d n e f e D or Not to Bolin By Sara Beth

If Thomas Jefferson was right, then representing the worst of us says something about the best of us.


Hanes’ office is decorated with lots of memorabilia, including his prized Crimson Tide Helmet.

’m going to tell you how to ruin a little boy forever.” That’s how Arthur Hanes, Jr. begins the story of his fascination with The University of Alabama. It started during homecoming of 1946, right after his father returned from World War II. His entire family had come to watch the homecoming parade, and at just five years old, he was enchanted by the band, cheerleaders and real bull elephants marching down University Boulevard, all sporting crimson and white. With tears in his eyes, he describes the traditional homecoming bonfire that lit the town up with spirit and captured him for life. Hanes played football through high

school, and after attempting (and failing) to persuade coach Paul “Bear” Bryant to let him play for Alabama, he went to school at Princeton. Eventually, he came back to Tuscaloosa for law school, where he was almost immediately thrown into the world of criminal law. “Three Klu Klux Klansmen were accused of killing a civil rights worker from Detroit on the Selma to Montgomery march,” Hanes said. “I was fixing to be a second-year law student. My dad called and said, ‘These Klansmen have come, they want me to represent them. I’m not going to take the case unless you will join me in working on it, and we will commit ourselves to being lawyers, to representing

From defendant to judge.

people who need representation.’” And from then on, Hanes represented some of the most controversial, infamous defendants of the 20th century. He and his father worked side-by-side to represent people no one else would represent, like James Earl Ray of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. “Thomas Jefferson once said that you judge a society not by how it treats its privileged, but how it treats its meanest wretch,” Hanes said. “And we committed ourselves to doing that, not approving of what our clients did or who they were, but to represent people fairly, within the law and vigorously.” With Ray’s case, that is exactly what they did. From day one, they argued Ray

Hanes points out the most important piece of evidence in the case defending alleged Dr. King assassin, James Earl Ray. The University of Alabama • 77

78 • Honors College

“I have loved every moment of my life. I’m awfully lucky. Life can be a lot of fun if you let it. It sure can.” Aurthur J. Hanes poses by Alabama memorabilia in his office.

ing four young girls in the process. Initially, Hanes took the case and said that yes, Chambliss was a racist, mean old man, but there were 10,000 others just like him in Birmingham, so that didn’t mean he planted the bomb. However, this changed during the trial when Hanes told Chambliss to take the stand, and Chambliss refused. “At that moment, his face shimmered with evil, and I knew right then, he was the most unrepentant, guilty person I had ever met,” Hanes said. “And it was my epiphany because I knew from that moment forward, I could not bleed on council tables for the likes of that again.” From there, Hanes decided to take on the other side of the bench and try his hand at judging. And he fell in love. “Nobody ever loved being judge more than I did,” Hanes said. “Nearly every day, I’d go to sign something, and I’d pick up my pen and think ‘be very careful, be very thoughtful,’ because the judge can really wreak havoc if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, if he doesn’t care what he’s doing or if he has some agenda other than calling it straight.”

Through his years of judging, Hanes dealt with many of the same kind of cases that he tried as a lawyer. As the circuit judge of the civil division for the 10th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Hanes saw divorces and low-level crime, as well as felonies and more difficult cases that other judges would not take on. While he was a judge, Hanes also came back to UA, teaching trial advocacy at the university’s law school. Although he only taught for two years, it captured his heart in a way that distinguished it from his other work. “I loved teaching,” Hanes said. “If I could have afforded it, I would’ve spent my whole life on a college campus.” Hanes fought for justice, even for those who didn’t deserve it in the eyes of the public, for the majority of his life. Whether it was leaving everything he had on the council table as a defending lawyer or signing sentences as a judge, Hanes left his mark on the Alabama court system. “I have loved every moment of my life,” Hanes said. “I’m awfully lucky. Life can be a lot of fun if you let it. It sure can.”

Designed by Ivana Maclin // Photographed by Sara Morgan

couldn’t have done this alone, and that the bullet wasn’t even from Ray’s gun. Hanes knew the evidence from the case inside and out, even the exact location Ray would have had to be in order to kill Dr. King. He still has “defendant’s exhibit one,” or an overhead of the city block where the assassination occurred, hanging on his wall. After this case was tried and through, Hanes didn’t stop taking controversial cases. He defended “black panthers, klansmen, bombers and dopers,” and even if he did not agree with their actions or beliefs, he represented them because he felt that’s what the law required of him. “Doing not only high-profile, but devastatingly unpopular cases is very difficult and they’re not everybody’s cup of tea,” Hanes said. “A lot of lawyers can’t do it. A lot of lawyers can’t even understand why other lawyers do it. But if you are a little altruistic, if you have sort of a grand view of the Constitution and the way the law works, and if your mind is right in that, you can do it and do it well.” Many UA Honors students weighed in on this ethical conundrum, and each had their own opinion about what they would do in Hanes’s situation. “I think it’s commendable that he represents people that others wouldn’t,” Krymson Hammond, a sophomore Honors student majoring in math and interdisciplinary studies, said. “I don’t think I could represent people like that from a moral standpoint, but at least someone is.” “It’s a really complicated thing,” Elise Helton, an English major and Honors student, said. “I want to say that, no, I wouldn’t be able to do that because it would be so difficult and I wouldn’t be able to separate my emotions. But I’ve also read things that say you’re saying you don’t want to do the dirty work, you’re not committed to the law, you’re committed to your emotions.” It seemed that Hanes defended anyone and everyone throughout his tenure as a lawyer, from a suspected bomber of the United Nations General Assembly room to a top army sergeant accused of stealing from officers’ clubs to the wives of circuit court judges. But everyone has their breaking point, and for Hanes, that was Robert Chambliss. Chambliss was accused of bombing the 16th StreetBaptist Church in 1963, kill-




MosaicMagazineUA UAMosaic UAMosaic

Learning From Near and Far






Driven to Succeed Honors college women take charge in a national competition within a male-dominated field

Designed by Terry Mantooth// Photographed by Natalie Kilic

By Madison Kilpatrick

82 • Honors College



he roar of engines and networking filled the air. The topic of conversation focused on the future, both long and short term. Where will green-energy be in the next 20 years? Which advances will change the face of the automotive industry? Who will win the competition? The questions were endless and the answers took nearly two weeks to explain. Altogether, 16 teams and countless industry professionals were gathered from across the nation to compete in the third rendition of an advanced vehicle technology competition called EcoCAR 3. EcoCAR 3 is a four-year competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, and is centered around designing and building an eco-friendly version of the Chevrolet Camaro. It is led by several of the College of Engineering’s brightest individuals at the University of Alabama. Haley Loftis, Bethany Corne, Hannah Larson and Ashley Phan are just four of the six women on the EcoCAR 3 team and each of them hold a leadership position.

Designed by Terry Mantooth// Photographed by Natalie Kilic

rge in a

Working and studying in a male-dominated field, these women are quick to point out that the gender gap has never held them back. For Ashley Phan, team diversity coordinator, working in a male-dominated field started with a healthy dose of motivation. During her first year at the university, she signed up for a computer class thinking it would be mostly Microsoft Office-based assignments and was thrown for a loop when it turned out to be a coding class. Her teacher moved quickly and before she knew it, she didn’t even know how to start her first assignment. She turned to a fellow classmate for assistance and was later shocked when he gave her some unwelcome opinions on her major. “The kid who had helped me actually came up to me after class and told me that I should probably just change my major,” Phan said. “That was my first day of school.” After the disheartening conversation, she reached out to her father, who encour-

aged her to simply ignore her classmate. Within two weeks, Phan had managed to study her way to the top of the class and suddenly her formerly discouraging classmate was asking her for help on assignments. “I actually became, not friends, but acquaintances with him and he still asks me for help from time to time,” Phan said. “He tried to make a friendship, but you can’t just go up to a girl and tell her to change her major and then try to be friends with her once she’s proven herself.” Many of the other women have experienced varying levels of discomfort within their field, but they all insist that they don’t notice it anymore. In fact, they each shared that the only time they do actually notice it is when other people, outside of their field, bring it up. “There’s a lot of emphasis on the ‘whole women in engineering’ thing and to be completely honest, I’m all about empowering women, but sometimes I feel like when we put too much focus on it, it detracts from the point,” said Hannah

EcoCAR 3 is sponsered by GM and the U.S. Deparment of Energy and organized by the Argonne National Labratory.

The University of Alabama • 83

Larson, systems modeling and simulation team lead and Honors student. “It’s like, we want to just go along in our normal days without being discriminated against or thought of as any different.” It is important to let women in engineering and other male-dominated fields feel as if they are welcome, but also for them to feel normal in their jobs. By overemphasizing the importance of women in these fields, an additional layer of pressure and intimidation is added, making women feel as though they have to be the best in their field in order to make it at all. Something sometimes overlooked when considering the issue of gender diversity is the benefits of being the smaller group. Project manager, graduate student and Honors alumna Haley Loftis shared how close her and the other women of EcoCAR 3 are due to often being thrust together on things like overnight trips. She also expressed the benefits of having female mentors in her internships. “This past summer, my section man-

ager was the only female in the office, and it was really inspirational to see her in that leading role and to know that she started in a time when there were even fewer females and was still able to climb those ranks,” Loftis said. Realistically, these women don’t often have to look further than each other for inspiration. Each of them have been an integral part of the creation and success of the vehicle, working on everything from motors, to engine harnesses, to coding and all of the in between. They’ve spent countless late nights dedicating themselves to the competition and expanding their knowledge well beyond what is required of them within their degrees. Each of the women expressed that the best part of working on EcoCAR 3 is the real-life and hands-on experience. These experiences allow them to go far beyond their traditional engineering specialties and develop skills that they would otherwise only be exposed to in the professional world. Communications manager

and Honors student Bethany Corne may not be an engineering major or have had a hand in building the vehicle, but these words still ring true for her as well. “I wasn’t a true communicator or leader before EcoCAR 3,” Corne said. “I’d never truly executed a strategic communications plan from start to finish. I’d never been in a position to assign tasks, enforce deadlines or inspire passion from others.” As the team heads into the fourth and final year of competition, they have got their work cut out for them. Alabama’s EcoCAR 3 team placed 14th out of 16 teams this past year in competition. This is a significant drop from their former fourth place finish in the second year of competition. Each member of the team felt the sting of the loss and the theme of this year seems to be that there is nowhere to go but up. If the success of these four women is any indicator, the EcoCAR 3 team has an unlimited amount of potential and the talent behind them to actually reach it.


84 • Honors College

The women spend a lot of time with the car and the team in the EcoCAR 3 garage.

“I wasn’t a true communicator or leader before EcoCAR 3. I’d never truly executed a strategic communications plan from start to finish. I’d never been in a position to assign tasks, enforce deadlines or inspire passion from others.”

Bethany Corne

“The kid who had helped me actually came up to me after class and told me that I should probably just change my major...that was my first day of school.”

Ashley Phan “This past summer, my section manager was the only female in the office and it was really inspirational to see her in that leading role and to know that she started in a time when there were even fewer females and was still able to climb those ranks.”

Haley Loftis “There’s a lot of emphasis on the ‘whole women in engineering’ thing and to be completely honest, I’m all about empowering women, but sometimes I feel like when we put too much focus on it, it detracts from the point.”

Hannah Larson The University of Alabama • 85

s t e k c o R

r e t a W ! e g a g En

An Overview of the Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge Program By: Brett Austin and Karson Holmes


t’s a spring day in Tuscaloosa, and the pollen count isn’t the only thing skyrocketing. Hundreds of sixth graders gather at the University of Alabama’s rec fields to watch the rockets they engineered soar through the air, climbing in altitude as the students observe below. The Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge (TRC) began in the spring of 2014 at Hillcrest Middle School. The program was started by a mechanical engineering student, originally from the Tuscaloosa area, who saw the need for more space curriculum and hands-on learning in the local school system. She developed what is now the base structure of the project, taking volunteers from the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, a student organization on campus, to build and launch water rockets with one sixth grade science class. Over the past four years, that program has matured and expanded, reaching 11 of the 12 public middle schools in Tuscaloosa and putting university students with sixth grade students for a minimum of 86 • Honors College

four hours, where they learn about space and the physics of rockets. The evolution of the program has led to a more comprehensive structure that focuses on increasing volunteer interaction with the students and teaching more in-depth topics in every class. Over the course of a week, Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge facilitators give two interactive lectures, build water rockets out of 2-liter bottles, and launch the rockets in a distance competition. The first lecture covers mankind’s exploration of space up until today and then transitions into the possibilities for getting involved in the space industry and other STEM fields, including NASA’s prediction that today’s middle schoolers will be the first generation to touch Mars. The second day is a split day, briefly covering some basic physics and general rocket design, then moving into the first half of the building sessions. Through the second and third day, TRC facilitators guide the students’ design of their water bottle rockets, allowing them to pick their fin shape and mount them however they like while keeping all other aspects the

same for fairness. At the end of a whirlwind week of space, rockets and duct tape, the sixth graders take their rockets to the fields to have a launch day. Pressurizing the water rockets and aiming them at 45 degrees, the students compete to see which design will launch the farthest. The culmination of the weeks spent in the Tuscaloosa middle schools is a county-wide competition that brings the top eight teams from every school to The University of Alabama’s campus. One can not only earn bragging rights over all of Tuscaloosa, but also see what other opportunities exist in STEM fields besides rockets. The students discover these opportunities by interacting with numerous UA student projects and research groups who bring displays and hands-on stations to show what their work is all about. Although the expansion to now reaching almost all public middle schools in Tuscaloosa has been a significant development, the incorporation of the Honors College has done the most for improving this program. Prior to the Honors College’s involvement

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Photos Courtesy Haden Downey | Design by Ryan Truitt

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with Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge, the program had just expanded to three schools but was struggling with the common downfalls of extracurricular community engagement projects: a lack of organization, an unsteady volunteer base and a lack of resources. At this point in time, we became the leaders of the program and knew that it not only needed a reliable solution to these issues, but could be doing even more than it was at the time. In hopes to get some help addressing these issues, we reached out to the Honors College. We believed the Honors College could offer a service-learning course that provided a steady base of volunteers and helped with the organization of the project. We walked into the Honors College one day, sat down with an Assistant Dean to pitch our idea, and they immediately agreed to partner with our program to not only help solve the issues we were facing, but also to expand the program in ways that we did not recognize it was capable of. The Honors College found the focus on bolstering STEM and space interest and engagement in the Tuscaloosa community important, but also heavily stressed the development of the student facilitators. Up to this point, we had been focusing on the impact we were having in the middle schools

we were working with but had not considered the impact that the program could have on the college students involved. Community engagement projects, such as TRC, transform pure volunteerism into a connection between ourselves and the community we work in. This connection then lays the groundwork for the students to discover a sense of civic responsibility as well as empowerment. A common goal of the Honors College, developing a sense of civic responsibility, leads students to take the skills and opportunities in their life and leverage them to better the communities they become a part of. In addition to the connection with the community, discussing the philosophy of education and its reality in the schools we were working in also developed a sense of civic awareness and empowerment. The Honors College worked with us to develop a four-class series around our program, incorporating the intentional development of the undergraduates. Students enter the first class as volunteers to get their feet wet with the project and begin to understand the realities of the education system in Tuscaloosa. Students that show further interest in the project then have the opportunity to participate in a leadership development course the following semester, where further discussions

on the philosophy of education take place as well as planning for the project the following semester. These student leaders facilitate the general volunteers during the project the next semester. Finally, students that show a continued interest are able to complete undergraduate research analyzing the effectiveness of the program. This final course in the series not only looks at the impact on the sixth grade students, but assesses the development of the college students as well with the ultimate goal of ensuring this program actually achieves what sets out to accomplish. With this sustainable class structure, we have been able to take the program to new heights. The program, after two years of partnering with the Honors College, has expanded from just under 15 volunteers to over 60, reaching 400 students to near 1800, and from three schools to 11. The numbers barely scratch the surface as we try to describe how much the program has flourished during our time with the Honors College, and hopefully are only a mild prediction of the possibilities for the Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge.

The University of Alabama • 87

To the Ends of the Earth UA students Brynley Lacy and Brenton Bicknell are changing the world, one country at a time

The sun is relentless this time of year in Battambang, Cambodia. Although winter in the United States, here, it is summer— the heat index on an early February afternoon like this one hikes up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Bicycles and tuk-tuks, or automated rickshaws, cart people across the city and down the dirt roads extending into the countryside, with dogs and stray livestock ambling alongside them.

Street markets boast colorful selections of fruits, vegetables, meat and large $1 coconuts, the sweet milk inside slurped through straws to cool down in the heat. This is the world that Brynley Lacy, a University of Alabama student from Destin, Florida, finds herself in. She never quite imagined that this is how she would be spending what would have been her sophomore year of college. Nevertheless, here she

Bicknell smiles and looks over crayon drawings with a child. Photo by: Brenton Bicknell 88 • Honors College

is. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall taking notes, this 19-year-old with a contagious smile is halfway around the world, painting murals, teaching English, caring for children and visiting with people on the streets. Wedged in between Thailand and Vietnam and cradled by Laos to the north, Cambodia is a small, heart-shaped country — a far cry from the collegiate landscape of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But when Lacy heard about the World Race, a Christian mission trip that takes young adults aged 18-20 to three different continents in a span of nine months, she felt as if it was what she was being called to do after her freshman year of college. There was an allure, a draw toward the idea of this experience, something that a high school friend had done two years ago. “I knew that God was calling me to do something radical with my life for Him the next year instead of going into sophomore year,” Lacy said. “It took a lot of faith to say yes, but I am so glad that I did.” After applying online, conducting a phone interview, fundraising and training to embark on a gap year, participants on the World Race venture out to major cities, remote mountain ranges, coastal towns, and

Designed by Terry Mantooth

By Kate Silvey

Designed by Terry Mantooth

Lacy smiles and chats with a child in her lap. Photo by: Brynley Lacy

all ends of the earth to work and spread love to the people that they meet. 4,500 adults have begun the World Race. Some, traveling routes that take them to 11 countries in 11 months, and others to three continents in nine months. But Lacy isn’t far from a reminder of her life in Tuscaloosa. Joining her on her team of fellow college students — there are seven of them in all, from six different states — is fellow University of Alabama and Honors college student Brenton Bicknell. 19 years old and from Huntsville, Alabama, Bicknell loves to read, spend time with friends, and dreams of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. But after returning from a summer mission trip to Moldova, there was a feeling that he couldn’t quite shake. He wanted to do more. “I began considering the World Race in February of 2017, and it slowly got pushed to the side because of the busyness of college life,” Bicknell said. “But after returning from a mission trip to the poorest country in Europe in May, I came home and couldn’t fall asleep before I had applied to go on the trip.”

Now, he joins Lacy in the Kingdom of Cambodia, where they teach children English, help construct a playground for a local school, minister to the people they encounter on the streets and absorb the culture and way of life of a country that was just another jumble of lines and dots on a

“It took a lot of faith to say yes, but I’m so glad I did.”

map one year ago. When their team returns to the United States at the end of their mission, they will have visited Ecuador, Colombia, Thailand, Cambodia, Albania and Montenegro. But it’s not a vacation, and the World Race comes with its fair share of challenges. There’s homesickness for the United States, for family and friends, for comfortable beds and even for just a good Chick-fil-A sandwich. There’s illness, adjusting to drastically

different cultures and an abundance of personal growth. “Adjusting to a culture is something that will always be challenging,” Bicknell said, “but after a few days it becomes second nature and something to enjoy.” Lacy recalls a night in Colombia that greatly impacted her in the early months of her World Race. She and other team members were loaded up into the back of a truck and driven further into Medellín, a large city steeped in the rolling mountains of Colombia’s Antioquia province. The streets they were headed to were different than the scene glimpsed with just a quick Google search — vibrantly painted edifices, bustling crowds of cars and motorbikes and a skyline decorated with lines of cabled gondolas hauling people up and down a mountain. These were the streets where Medellín’s homeless live. Hundreds of people, Lacy said, sprawled out on the street with the few belongings they claimed as their own, many under the influence of drugs and unable to walk or speak. The University of Alabama • 89

Bicknell smiles, holding oragami he and the child on his back created. Photo by: Brenton Bicknell

“It was something I had never seen before,” Lacy said. “We emptied our bags to feed them, and hundreds of these adults dogpiled over each other and fought over each piece. It was scary and eye-opening.” Despite the astonishing nature of what she witnessed that night in Colombia, Lacy said the situation was yet another assurance God is in control and is a good protector. As she continues to spend a year in her life working to bring happiness to those who need it most, she has held this lesson close to her heart. Bicknell, too, has taken away his share of experiences and lessons. “I’ve grown an incredible amount in maturity, life-skills, people-skills, and so much more as I’ve been able to take some time away from learning in school and focus on living life,” he said. In Portoviejo, Ecuador, he spent the day with a medical missionary and his wife after sharing his passion for working in medicine in the future, and learned from them what a day in their life looked like and how other teams of medical missionaries from the United States were using their talents to serve in Ecuador. “I found myself in tears and was so inspired seeing the full-time missionary share the impact these people had made on lives, they did what they could for the week they were there,” Bicknell said. Both Lacy and Bicknell share many of their experiences on their blogs curated 90 • Honors College

“I have a better understanding of myself, of life and what I really want to do.”

through the official World Race website, where friends and family members flock to learn more about their mission, offering comments, support, and prayers as they wait for them to return home. For Lacy’s mother, Debi Lacy, the moment she sent her daughter off with only a backpack and a tent was a life-changing moment within itself. “Sending my daughter off to the World Race was one of the most challenging positions I’ve ever been in as a mother, however, it was also very inspiring,” she said. “The passion for Christ that Brynley displays is contagious, and I knew her dad and I were sending her off on an adventure and a journey that is going to change her life and the lives of others in a positive, radical way.” When the sun sets in Alabama, it’s just rising in Cambodia. Its rays trickle down from the sky above and shine light on the needs of the people below, exposing poverty, hunger, injustice and strife. But through the World Race, students like Lacy and Bicknell are on a mission to make those lives a little brighter. “I have a better understanding of myself, of life and what I really want to do. God showed me what I am truly passionate for and sparked up a new excitement and zeal for life,” Lacy said. In true race fashion, it has inspired her and Bicknell to run and to run hard after their dreams.

Lacy points to letters of the alphabet while teaching children in Ecuador. Photo by: Brynley Lacy

STEMming Into Action By Christina Ausley

General Helios


Stephen Walsh

Garrett Groot

Kyle Costabile

t has been four years since out-of-state students Kyle Costabile, Garrett Groot and Stephen Walsh stepped onto UA's sprawling campus for the first time, bewildered perhaps by a place they had never known but anxious to take advantage of the limitless opportunity here. Four years later, Costabile and Groot, both senior mechanical engineers, along with civil engineer Walsh, have more than embraced UA’s STEM path to the MBA. Though many STEM students will obtain their undergraduate degree and MBA in just five years, these three entrepreneurs have far more in mind. “We’ve created these rotating solar panels that can produce up to double the energy that stationary panels can,” said Costabile, a

Maryland native and member of UA Honors College and UA Fellows Experience. “A single-family home could completely eliminate their power bill.” In its seventh successful year of action, the STEM path to the MBA recruits incoming freshmen majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Students participate in two innovation projects every semester, formally apply for the MBA program their junior year, and execute a year-long project throughout senior year. It was here, Costabile, Groot and Walsh hit the ground running. “Once we jumped into the STEM program we actually discovered this technology that we were able to relate to what we wanted to

do with solar power,” said Groot, originally from Illinois. “Since then we’ve been working on it and it’s come a long way in a pretty short amount of time, thanks to all of the resources and connections we’ve been in touch with.” The group’s startup, formally known as General Helios, has partnered with Southern Company and Alabama Power. It was STEM’s opportunity with NASA, however, that allowed General Helios to make its first and lasting impression. The Technology Transfer Office at Marshall Space Flight Center, offering an annual innovation competition every year for STEM MBA Students alongside NASA, awarded the three one of their highest honors. “That’s kind of how our project first got legitimacy, through the NASA competition,” Costabile said. “We chose one NASA technology and commercialized it into a startup, made gold-level status, and instead of leaving the idea at the competition we decided to run with it.” After developing an algorithm to track solar routes and better customize their panels to nearly any residence across the nation, their team ranked in the top three out of close to 250 other competitors, thereby granting them gold-level status. Dr. Robert Morgan, executive director of Innovative Initiatives, said he has enjoyed watching their project excel at UA and beyond.

General Helios 3D Prototype.

The University of Alabama • 91

Designed by Calvin Madison // Photography by Robert Giagnorio

“Last year we had three companies start off of these NASA projects, but this really triggered something in them, in wanting to invent things and commercialize them, ideas that people hadn’t really thought about,” Morgan said. “It has been cool to watch what they’re doing. After all, innovation and business growth is really the lifeblood of our economy and it’s what keeps us moving forward.” The STEM program similarly teaches and supports collaboration, a key cornerstone to the group’s success. After building a 3D printer and the first rotating solar panel prototype in his bedroom, Costabile turned to Walsh’s experience with construction and civil engineering in an attempt to establish a complete model. “My dad has brought me out to the construction sites he works on since I was a baby, literally, there’s this photo of me in this pack on my dad’s back at one of the sites,” said Walsh, who travelled to UA from Illinois alongside Groot. “I thought I could help Kyle and Garrett because they’re both mechanical engineers and I’m civil, so I see things a little bit differently. From a construction standpoint, we want to find out the quickest and most efficient way to put these panels into the ground.” Though they now prepare to build a rotating 10-foot, 1-kilowatt support system of helical piers, the idea was originally a casual topic of conversation while sitting around their fraternity house before the holidays in 2016. Little did they know their idea would revolutionize solar technology in just a few years. “We were all just sitting around the house studying for finals when this kid mentioned solar framing,” Costabile said. “It seemed really interesting to me, to set up these massive panels and watch as energy came in and out, and here we are a year and half later with prototypes and funding.” Over the past few years, their original project and schoolwork has now become their lifestyle. Despite a variety of successful step-

General Helios showing off their prototype.

ping stones, a certain level of uncertainty still remains, as it would in any early startup. The progress along the way, however, has deemed more than worth the ambiguity of their future with the company currently in Alabama. “Of course you look at it like ‘okay, I’m 21, do I keep working at something and then I’ll pick my head up at 23 and come to find it hasn’t worked out?’ which makes the uncertainty a tough thing,” Costabile said. “But it has been really rewarding, just taking that idea that you have in your head, and making it manifest and making it real.” Similarly, Groot encourages any aspiring entrepreneur or STEM initiate to push their ideas beyond a simple concept. Despite the initial intimidation of a project, the group finds patience and

"Don't give up if someone tells you they don't see or like what you're doing," Groot said.

92 • Honors College

persistence seem to be keys to success in any aspirational realm within and beyond UA. “Don’t give up if someone tells you they don’t see or like what you’re doing,” Groot said. “There were some business competitions we would go to and get shot down, and it definitely hurt our confidence, but you’ve just got to keep grinding at it and getting better at what you’re doing. Have patience, whether it’s with yourself or others. Don’t try to rush the process just to get it done, let it develop.” Costabile, Groot, and Walsh not only draw their inspiration from their parents, but from Dr. Morgan as well. “Dr. Morgan has been so unbelievably helpful,” Groot said. “He has not only put us in contact with a ton of people, but has reached out to them ahead of time and supported us throughout the entire process.” In a way, the program has distinctively expanded its collaborative qualities beyond just the communication among STEM students. Faculty, staff, and influential educators throughout campus remain eager to help students succeed in their creative endeavors. As a result, a communal sense of endless assistance and ingenuity permeates into the academic pulse of UA, making a large campus somewhat smaller yet significantly stronger. “It’s simple, you’ve got to believe your idea is a good idea,” Costabile said. “Do not let your obstacles be detriments, life’s too short to bet the under.” General Helios working on their 3D prototype.

Part of That World by Kate Silvey

Ashley Milligan, UA student and Disney College Program alumna, proudly displays her graduation Mickey Mouse ears in front of Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. Photo by Abigayle Williams


ight has fallen in Florida. The clock is close to striking midnight, yet Main Street, U.S.A only appears to glow brighter than ever before. As a crowd of hundreds gathers in its bustling square, sporting Mickey Mouse ears and sparkling tiaras, magenta fireworks explode over the tallest spires of a familiar castle, dissolving into a darkening sky. The crowd gasps in awe as music blares. Madeleine West is listening from a nearby restaurant as the spectacle unfolds outside. It’s the nightly firework show at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and she has a front-row seat to the magic. Although dressed in her Disney employee uniform, her name tag reveals another important detail: MADELEINE WEST, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, it reads. West is a sophmore, but through the Disney College Program, this has become her classroom for the semester – the “happiest place on earth.” Students from across the globe come to work at Disney World each year through the Disney College Program. A five to

seven month work experience opportunity, the program draws in young adults from all sorts of universities and diverse majors to work inside the parks at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. For West, a hospitality major and Honors college student from Jasper, Alabama, working at Disney through the Disney College Program is a literal dream come true, and something she had set her sights on ever since beginning school at The University of Alabama. “The end goal is always Disney for me,” she said. West received word of her admission to the Disney College Program in the fall of 2017. In a video posted to her Instagram account, she is seen grinning and lip-syncing along to the end chorus of a Disney tune. “I’m going to Walt Disney World!” a This photo was taken in 2008 when Ashley Milligan sign in her hands reads, then scrawled was 8 years old. It was her first trip to Disney and underneath in cursive, “Disney College she never imagined that she’d be returning over a Program Spring 2018!” decade later as a cast member. The application to the Disney College photo by: Ashley Milligan The University of Alabama • 93

Program is a highly competitive three-step process, including an online application, a web-based interview and a phone interview with a company representative. Once students receive notification they’ve been accepted, they also learn about their job posting. Months later, they’re a Disney World employee – name tag and all. “I remember the first day I got my official name tag and everything,” West said, “I went to Magic Kingdom right after that, and it was really, really cool to go with my roommates as our first time as official cast members.” Now, she works at Casey’s Corner, a restaurant on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She enjoys bringing the magic she always experienced on visits to Walt Disney World as a child to guests from all over the world. While not your traditional classroom experience, there are plenty of learning opportunities that come with the Disney College Program. It is possible to take classes and receive college credit while working at Disney World, although classes are not required while working a full-time 94 • Honors College

“While not your traditional classroom experience, there are plenty of learning opportunities that come with the Disney College Program.” job in the parks. But for Ashley Milligan, a semester in the park was the perfect intersection between her academic interests and her love of Disney. A mechanical engineering major at The University of Alabama, Milligan did the Disney College Program in the spring of 2016, then returned to Florida for a professional internship the fall semester of 2017 with Magic Kingdom Engineering Services. When she realized she could learn more about engineering and physics while working at Disney World at the same time, it was

Photographed by Abigsyle Williams//Designed by Channler Smith

Ashley Milligan holds her DCP-issued name tag in front of The World Of Disney Store. Photo by: Ashley Milligan

only natural she apply. The precise movements of animatronics, the mechanics of roller coaster cars and the special effects that went into bringing ghosts, American Presidents and unruly pirates to life fascinated her, and her time as an intern at Disney provided an insightful glimpse into the magic kingdom. “We went to Pandora at 5 a.m. and went and saw all the maintenance bays and how all the rides work, toured distribution services, and then we did a Fantasmic backstage tour,” Milligan said. “That was cool, seeing it all from an engineering aspect.” She even got to explore her favorite attraction, the Haunted Mansion, and got a glimpse at how engineering is used to bring those famous “grim, grinning ghosts” to life. Back on UA’s campus, Milligan still finds small ways to incorporate magic into her role as a college student. Inside Lloyd Hall on a brisk February afternoon, even her wardrobe – a T-shirt for Animal Kingdom’s newest attraction, Pandora: The World of Avatar – speaks to her time spent at Disney World. She smiles as she recalls working at The World of Disney store in Disney Springs, the largest store dedicated to Disney merchandise in the world. Other favorite memories include getting to chat with the members of A capella group Voices of Liberty during a special meet-and-greet, and spending her birthday exploring EPCOT. “I was really glad that I enjoyed my work location,” she said. “And I had really great roommates too.” For her, Disney is a part of life. It even has the power to become the stepping stone for life-long friendships. Milligan found one of her freshman roommates, Taylor Baglietto, on UA’s housing website through their mutual love of Disney. When they were both accepted into the Disney College Program in the spring of 2016, they were happily roommates once more. Baglietto, an Honors student who graduated from UA in December and now lives in Dallas, Texas, still reminisces on her time at the Disney College Program, despite now living over 1,000 miles away from the “happiest place on earth.” “One of the best things about the college program is all the friends that you make,” she said. She laughs at memories

Madeleine West poses in front of Tomorrowland Terrace, one of Magic Kingdom’s iconic restaurants. Photo by: Madeleine West

Photographed by Abigsyle Williams//Designed by Channler Smith

Madeleine West, laughs and chats with Rapunzel, a Disney character she loves and identifies with. Photo by: Madeleine West

of sharing stories after work, late night adventures and chatting with characters at the parks with friends. But being a Disney employee isn’t always all sparkles and glamor. Sometimes, as Baglietto describes, it’s picking up scattered Mr. Potato Head parts off the carpet in a crowded store, or trying to communicate with customers who speak different languages. A job at Disney World is still a job, and requires hard work. “Working at Disney definitely taught me to be more flexible, since I was changing roles all the time, and dealing with people from different cultures and backgrounds,” Baglietto said. “We had to think on our feet a lot.” While accompanied by its fair share of challenges, from being away from the familiarity of home or a college campus, or adjusting to new work hours, all three girls find the Disney College Program to be a rewarding and magical opportunity. “It was just a great experience and I wouldn’t have changed it any other way,” Baglietto said.“I think anybody who has any interest in just a unique college experience, or if you’re a Disney super-fan like

myself – go for it. If your schedule allows it, why not?” 500 miles north, on The University of Alabama’s campus, the Disney Club is available to offer advice to students who think that being a part of this world might be meant for them. “Be patient, be yourself,” Baglietto advised to prospective applicants. “You don’t have to have any work experience, you don’t have to have any volunteer experience. If you think that you’re a good fit and you can prove that in your interviews, it will be fine.” Even at the end of the night at Magic Kingdom, when the fireworks die down, the rides close their doors and the ticket turnstiles stop turning, that feeling of fulfillment and happiness Baglietto described still lingers in the air. “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy,” the famous inscription over the entrance reads. And thanks to the Disney College Program, for these UA students and alumni, that world of fantasy has transformed into reality.

Madeleine West poses in front of Tomorrowland Terrace, one of Magic Kingdom’s iconic restaurants. Working at Disney was a dream come true for her. Photo by: Madeleine West

The University of Alabama • 95


he Spring 2018 Mosaic magazine photography group has grown together as a team throughout the semester more than would seem possible. What started as a random group of students who were scared to even hold their cameras on day one has blossomed into a tight-knit community of confident and capable photographers. On Thursday, April 12th the culmination of the semester’s efforts could be seen in the middle of the road in front of Nott Hall as tripods were being moved around and buses were being dodged by models. Shooting the Mosaic cover stretched the teamwork, communication, and photography skills of the group led by professional photographer and professor, Julio Larramendi and photo editor, Rebecca Fleisig. We decided as a group that we wanted the cover to be unique and creative, something new and fresh. We chose to focus on 2018 being 125th year of women at The Capstone. “We just really wanted to feature how accepting and diverse The University is, to


Kendal Aldridge, Christina Ausley, Ramsey Chandler, Colleen Dolan, Heather Griffith, Ashley Henson, Cora Kangas, Madison Kilpatrick, Jordan Nenni, Johnny Reese, Shana Oshinskie, Danielle Waddell


Ramsey Chandler, Alyssa Comins, Kaitlyn Forsythe, Ivana Maclin, Calvin Madison, Grace Meagher, Shana Oshinskie, Meredith Parks, Channler Smith, Ryan Truitt, Landyn Williams, Sara Wilson

The Making of the Cover

Photo by: Kayla Duffy

embody the respect and pride UA has for the women who call this campus home,” Fleisig said. An idea was suggested in which a group of women of all different ages and backgrounds replicate the famous Beatles album cover for Abbey Road. The title for the issue was then suggested to be one of the tracks on that album, “Come Together.” Everyone instantly fell in love with the idea. Photographing the cover was such a fulfilling experience for everyone involved. From idea to execution, our photographers, staff, Honors College students and faculty demonstrated what it looked like to truly Come Together.

Social Media/ Web Team

Christian Atwater, Shelby Ballentine, Parker Baltazar, Abbey Blanchard, Justin Cenname, Haleigh Ferretti, Anna Field, Angela Licata, Maribeth McClenny, Meg McGuire, Laura Phillips, Rebecca Shofner, Ben Tegtmeyer


By Callie Rickert // Designed by Kaitlyn Forsythe

Photo by: Christian Delacruz

Photo by: Christian Delacruz

Photo by: Christian Delacruz

Harrison Cohen, Dakota Cox, Christian Delacruz, Peter Do, Sai Dwarampudi, Rob Giagnorio, Jackie Heitman, Derek Hitz, Peyton Holdbrooks, Cora Kangas, Natalie Kilic , Sara Morgan, Shana Oshinskie, Anna Rahkonen, Callie Rickert, Ashton Royal, Caitlan Sutherland, Sam Thomas, Abigayle Williams, Paul You


This edition includes work from editors Rebecca Rakowitz, Elizabeth Elkin, Maria Oswalt, Nicole Rodriguez, Matthew Wilson, and members of the spring and fall 2017 staffs. Interested in joining the Mosaic team? Email us at mosaicmagazine@ua.edu. Learn more about our staff at: https://mosaic.ua.edu/current-staff/

The University of Alabama • 97

Profile for Mosaic Magazine

Mosaic Spring 2018  

Mosaic Spring 2018  


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