Honors College | Spring 2013
Mosaic is a publication produced at The University of Alabama Honors College. The magazine is completely Honors College student-generated through the efforts of student writers, photographers, and designers. The publication material may not always reflect the views of The University of Alabama. Content is controlled and edited by the staff editors. Its purpose is to serve as a publication to inspire, inform and entertain past, present and future students at The University of Alabama. It showcases the spirit of the Honors College through diverse accomplishments of honors students both inside and outside the classroom. The publication is comprised of features and profiles of students and activities within the various programs of the Honors College, including University Honors, International Honors, Computer-Based Honors, and the University Fellows Experience. By covering a broad range of students, professors and alumni, the magazine will fulfill its mission of showing the diversity within the Honors College.
Uniting the Honors College piece by piece
Editor-in- Chief Assistant Editor Production Manager Creative Director Photo Editor Design Editor Business Manager Web/Media Manager Editorial Advisor Photography Advisor Graphic Design Advisor Writers
Cover designed by Katie Clarke Editor’s Letter photographed by Amelia Brackin Editor’s Letter and Table of Contents designed by Lakeshia Doctor Mosaic Ads designed by Ally Mabry
Laura Monroe Katie Thurber Amelia Brackin Katie Clarke Sara Johnson Shamaria Borden Jay Kennedy Waseem Hussaini Mark Mayfield Chip Cooper Laura Lineberry Molly Cory Caroline Meintzer Allison Terrell Sophia Jones Anna Price Olson Alexandra Ellsworth Jordan Moore Cora Lindholm Hannah Grace VanCleave Julia Hoven Parker Muff Amanda Sockwell Nicole Doctor Lakeshia Doctor Sloane Arogeti Ally Mabry Mary Lieb Jon Colón Daryne Forbes John Beam Joanna Busahardt Dr. Shane Sharpe Dr. Jacqueline Morgan
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
f you ask any UA journalism student what class they can’t wait to take and what class they are most afraid to take there’s a chance you will get the same answer to both: Advanced Magazine Writing with professor Rick Bragg. The Pulitzer Prize winning author has been known to make a few students cry. As a warning, he tells each group of new students the horror stories of those who didn’t make it. While some heed the advice and drop the class, others stick around with hopes to learn from one of the best. I was one of the lucky few to enroll in Mr. Bragg’s class this past fall. My experience can only be described with a cliché, something he would hate me for using. It was a rollercoaster ride. Each assignment required that I dig deeper, work harder and tell a story, all while trying to impress a writer who had done it flawlessly so many times before. I signed up for the course knowing that it would be one of the most challenging courses I would ever take and I wasn’t wrong. I convinced myself that it would be worth it to say that I had studied under Rick Bragg, even if I didn’t learn a thing. I’ve since realized that there was a major mistake with that logic because the thing is, I did learn. He forced me outside of my comfort zone and taught me to write about tragedy, poverty and homelessness. I learned to write about family, the good times and the bad. He taught me how to write about love and hate and he taught me how to tell a story. Bragg once asked us to “write the way bacon smells,” and his words “show me, don’t tell me” will follow me forever. It was through lessons like these that I learned to capture detail, place and feeling with a pen and paper. He calls himself a one trick pony, his trick being that he can “paint a picture and hang it on the air.” If his students could learn to write like that, we could do anything. Yet, the most valuable lesson I gained from his class wasn’t listed on a syllabus, nor was it something we spent hours studying. It wasn’t something hard to understand or unheard of. Rick Bragg taught us to write with passion and he taught us through examples of his own work. Whether it’s a breaking news piece about inner city crime, a page from a book about his southern roots, or an ode to mayonnaise, Rick Bragg writes everything with passion. I hope you will see that same passion in this edition of Mosaic. Everything we did was with passion- photography, design, and editorial. It fills these pages, from the people we interviewed to the programs we explored. Their passion inspired us, as I hope it will inspire you.
Shanghai Adventure (page 3)
UA’s Spider Whisperer (page 13)
The Art of Remembering (page 32)
Editor’s Photo Essay (page 35)
The 49 (page 6) Into the Wild (page 8) Favorite Place Photo Essay (page 10)
Cooking D’Italia (page 17) Across the Water (page 20) This is Alabama Photography (page 24)
Legacy Fact or Fiction (page 37) Remembering William (page 40)
Mosaic Invitation (page 28) Mosaic Website (page 12)
Staff (page 43) Art Exploration Photo Essay (page 29)
Mosaic Spring 2013
i a h g n a h S e r u t n e v d A
Daniel Connors learned Chinese the hard way, by overcoming obstacles that might have stopped a less courageous student.
aniel Connors’ journey didn’t begin or end with a successful internship in Shanghai and his completion of a minor in the Chinese language last December. It began in childhood with a hearing loss that might have debilitated a less determined person. For Connors, courage has been the story of his life. “Without his hearing devices, Daniel is completely deaf,” Daniel’s father, John Connors said. “He never ceases to amaze his mother and me. Daniel started out as a child who hid in the corners and now he is a man who never shies away from a challenge. Daniel simply doesn’t believe people when they tell him he can’t do something…He’ll attempt it anyway.” Now a senior majoring in marketing and management with a concentration in global business, Daniel Connors has been studying the Chinese language since his freshman year at UA. He finished his last course towards the minor while he was in Shanghai for four months in Spring 2012. “Daniel gives 100 percent to everything he does,” United Way of West Alabama President Jackie Wuska said. “To have challenges with his hearing and to have a
By Sophia Jones
minor in Chinese – one of the most difficult languages with over 1000 characters – is amazing. Daniel works harder than everyone else, but he doesn’t have a problem with doing that because he is proud of who he is.” Wuska, former director of advancement for the Honors College, helped Connors get the financial opportunity to study in China. Connors was formerly Wuska’s student assistant in the Honors College and had expressed his interest in world travel many times. “An early exposure to multiple cultures around the world is what started my interest in what I’m into and who I am today,” Connors said. Connors interned with the Bergstrom Group, a marketing consultant company in Shanghai, living in a dorm for four months as part of the Alliance International Business Program. With an Army lieutenant colonel for a father, Connors experienced much of the world at a young age. He and his family lived in Kansas, Florida, Italy and Germany – all before he turned 8. By age 10, Connors had traveled across Europe. He spent the rest of his youth in Enterprise, Ala., after his family moved there permanently when he was UA Honors
in the third grade. “Traveling is something Daniel has been interested in for a long time – whether he is traveling in person or in his own mind,” John Connors said. During the first week Connors was in Shanghai, the program directors gave the students a list of opportunities for internships in the area. One of the companies seeking an intern was the Bergstrom Group, which concentrates on the growing market of China. Although he had just moved to a foreign country and was surrounded by strangers speaking a foreign language, Connors decided to apply for the job. On the first day of a new job, the average person is worried about first impressions and completing tasks well. Connors was worried about merely understanding what his supervisors were saying. “The biggest obstacle was the language,” Connors said. “As a hearing impaired student, it was personally hard to understand the language, but I knew they would not slow down for me. That intimidated me, but time made me more comfortable. I stopped worrying about
every little thing they were saying and started focusing on the bigger issues of the conversation. Patience was my most important tool.” With the focus on a market defined by 15-to-30-year-olds, the Bergstrom Group was looking for an intern who could speak English and Chinese. Connors decided to apply and sent in his resume and a picture he took of a Mandarin woman wearing a traditional Chinese outfit in a museum in Shanghai. “The company wanted something different that would catch their eye,” Connors said. “My picture captured their attention because of how I tied in traditional culture with contemporary society. I made the woman appear alive. I also used my credentials and experience with the Honors College and on campus. You just have to stand out.” The Bergstrom office was a small house, hidden in a residential area. Connors’ supervisor was Mary Bergstrom, an American and the author of All Eyes East. “Every Monday we would talk about something interesting and timely going on in the Chinese market,” Connors said. “Like one
“You can do book work, study a foreign language, do your preparation and forecast what a foreign country is going to be like, but you can’t actually learn until you get to a place and immerse yourself in its culture.” 4
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day we discussed ‘love in China’ and how Valentines Day, which is not a traditional Chinese holiday, is becoming more popular.” Connors worked Monday through Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., searching out social media outlets and helping Bergstrom prepare for her March 2012 book release. “Daniel is used to putting himself out in the world, and he is not afraid to venture off the beaten track,” John Connors said. “That preparation gave him a rudimentary way of fitting in while he was working in China.” During the time Connors worked with Bergstrom, the company was also rebranding itself, so he was able to generate ideas about the company’s new direction. “The Bergstrom Group took my advice seriously,” Connors said. “I got to understand the business side of social media.” Ellen Levet, a senior double majoring in German and management with a specialization in global business, met Connors three years ago through the Honors College. She said that Connors’ openness was his greatest asset while in China. “Daniel is always very open to everyone and everything and he is friendly to
everyone, no matter what,” Levet said. “That’s a winning combination.” Although Connors enjoyed his time in the Bergstrom office immensely, he got his fair share of shocks while roaming the streets of Shanghai. At first, the clothing, cats and dogs roaming around in restaurants, animal skulls for sale in the street shops and the unsanitary conditions of the meat markets, surprised Connors. “In the U.S., we value order, cleanliness and time management. In China, those things are gone,” Connors said. “I had to take the culture differences with a sense of humor and understanding. If you don’t, you will have a miserable time.” Through his experience, Connors learned more about China and its culture than he could from a classroom. “You can do book work, study a foreign language, do your preparation and forecast what a foreign country is going to be like, but you can’t actually learn until you get to a place and immerse yourself in its culture,” John Connors said. “Daniel’s experience in Shanghai gave him a more realistic idea of what China is really like – both the good and the bad.” Rather than being baffled by the societal contrasts between his home and China, Connors pulled a common theme from the experience. “When it comes down to it,” Connors said. “We are all essentially the same.” Both Connors and Levet, who studied in Germany, left their time abroad with a new appreciation for difference. “After working abroad, both Daniel and I agree that we have different views of ourselves and of the world,” Levet said. “Now, we can see the bigger picture. Daniel always relates everyday occurrences in life back to his experience in China. He is very grateful.” Connors and Levet encourage all students not only to study, but also to work while abroad. “It is so important for Americans to have the experience,” Connors said. “Working while abroad gives you a better understanding of the business environment on an international scale. I would tell students not to just study and chill out while
“In the U.S., we value order, cleanliness and time management. In China, those things are gone. I had to take the culture differences with a sense of humor and understanding. If you don’t, you will have a miserable time.” they’re in another country, but to take it one step further and try to get a job or internship in something that you’re passionate about.” Connors’ internship with the Bergstrom Group helped him realize how much he wants to live and work abroad. After Connors graduates, he plans to work in Southeast Asia. “I want to bring the smaller companies in those parts of the world to an international scale,” Connors said. “They don’t have the same skills as the rest of the world. I want to help them better compete in the international market.” When Connors returned from China, he was able to use the skills he learned at his internship to help student organizations at UA, including the Honors College Assembly, where he was a communications director.
Connors sent Wuska multiple letters and emails while he was abroad that inspired her and brightened her days. “Daniel’s spirit is so inspiring,” Wuska said. “He’s a great representative for UA. Whether it’s in China or once he’s employed as a graduate of the Honors College, he is a great example of what it takes to succeed and fulfill your dreams.”
Designed by Amanda Sockwell
Home Away From Home
By Molly Cory
owhere is the University of Alabama’s national recruiting effort more obvious than in a dorm shared by four Honors College roommates, each from a different part of the nation. Initially attracted by scholarship offers, the four—from California, Idaho, New York and Tennessee—have returned to campus for their second year as undergraduates. Each has experienced the initial challenges of being away from home and is learning to adjust to life on campus. One of them, Michael Carton, a National Merit Scholar, moved from San Diego, Calif., to study metallurgical and materials engineering. As a half-Japanese student, Carton said he takes pride in his minority status and has adjusted without much difficulty. “I got involved with St. Francis Catholic Church and especially its intramural teams, which is how I met my roommates for this year,” Carton said. Matthew Lambert, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is also a National Merit Scholar who hates grits and is unaccustomed to humidity. Despite his aversion to these two Southern staples, Lambert said he came to the University to “take advantage of the scholarship and watch good football.” Lambert, a finance and accounting major, has since become highly involved with the business school. As a member of the Culverhouse Investment Management Group, he helps run an investment fund with a stock portfolio of about $400,000. He is also conducting research alongside Dr. Robert Brooks of the finance department. Lambert has adapted to the distance from 6
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home and seized the opportunity to develop his interest in business. Another roommate, Tee-Jay Greene from Long Island, N.Y., stepped onto campus last year expecting people to embrace his markedly different style. “Before college, I always envisioned what life as a Yankee living in the South would be like,” Greene said. “ I figured that everybody would like me because I was unique.” Although Greene did not receive quite the reception he hoped for, he has found many people who have accepted him and is now excelling within the Honors College. “Even though I am still adjusting, I have loved each and every minute that I have been here,” he said. Ten years ago, less than a quarter of the student body at the University of Alabama was from out of state. Now, as the 59 percent out-ofstate majority of the Honors College class of 2016 indicates, students from across the nation have gained a commanding presence on campus. As the fourth roommate in this out-of-state dorm, Douglas Fair from Knoxville, Tenn., has decided to focus on this significantly increased enrollment of out-of-state students. While Fair has not experienced much difficulty adjusting to campus, he noticed that most out-of-state students, including his roommates, face a variety of challenges. With these challenges in mind, Fair has teamed up with Alex Chase, a sophomore from Springfield, Ohio, to lead a new organization geared towards assisting out-of-state students: The 49. The 49 was founded in October of 2011 by advisor Josh Burford and several students,
ASIDE FROM HIS ROLE AS THE FINANCIAL COORDINATOR OF THE 49, CHASE IS MAJORING IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING AND HAS PARTICIPATED IN NUMEROUS SERVICE ACTIVITIES.
including Fair. It has evolved quickly from a representative assembly to an open student organization with sights on becoming the largest student organization on campus. The goal of The 49, according to Fair, is to serve as a “stepping stone for students to get involved.” The 49 encourages students to move beyond their initial culture shock and embrace the culture of the University by becoming involved on campus. “You don’t have that network that you have at home,” says Chase, noting that The 49 is there to help fill that role. To underscore its success, The 49 drew more than 200 students to an out-of-state student event to kick off the 2012-2013 school year in The Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The group has also developed a mentoring program, called “foUndAtion,” for out-of-state freshmen. The program already has at least 90 committed mentors and a continually expanded list of students. After receiving an email from a concerned mother whose son was considering leaving UA, Fair described his hope for foUndAtion and its efforts to be able to reduce transfer rates. “There are students who fall through the cracks and aren’t able to meet anybody,” Fair said. “The goal of The 49 is to catch them in a net of involvement and social activities and essentially acclimate them to campus.” Both Chase and Fair agree that The 49 is a way for them to encourage other out-of-state students to take advantage of everything the University has to offer. As out-of-state students themselves, they have had the experience of
arriving in a place completely unknown to them, but have become extensively involved with the University since then. Chase and Fair are prime examples of outof-state students who are making a difference at the University and encouraging other students to do the same through The 49. “Put people first is all we’re really trying to do,” Fair said. “We want to help people find their niche. That encompasses friends, involvement and general well-being on campus.” While out-of-state students will continue to have their own stories of struggling to adjust to campus, due to the efforts of The 49, these students may have an easier time calling Tuscaloosa home in their years at the University.
“OUR GOAL IS TO SERVE AS A STEPPING STONE FOR STUDENTS TO GET INVOLVED.”
THE 49 ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO MOVE BEYOND THEIR INITIAL CULTURE SHOCK AND EMBRACE THE CULTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY BY BECOMING INVOLVED ON CAMPUS.
Photographed by Julia Hoven Designed by Nicole Doctor UA Honors
INTO THE WILD
A sense of accomplishment is among the rewards that awaited students on a memorable trip to Ecuador By Alexandra Ellsworth
hirteen University of Alabama students, armed with machetes, are dropped off alone in the middle of the lush Amazon rainforest. Large trees packed closely together tower over them, and a fear of snakes lingers in the back of their minds; but they are told to “go for it,” and so they do. “The plants were so dense that it was impossible to tell where we were or how to get back to where we came from,” says Mary Kate McClintock, a junior majoring in exercise science. “We had also been told to be careful where we stepped, because there were several different species of poisonous snakes that live on the rainforest floor. I was already stressed out by this point, and then we were handed machetes and told to get to work.” Feeling tense and in an unfamiliar place, the students set to work clearing invasive plant species and replanting hardwood trees in their place. “At first, the job seemed impossible, but after learning how to use the machetes and getting used to our surroundings, the job was actually fun and really rewarding,” McClintock says. “Luckily, we avoided seeing any snakes, because our group was fairly loud and we scared them away.” The students are a part of UA’s Alabama Action Abroad program. They traveled 2,384 miles to Quito, Ecuador to spend 10 days in one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world.
From the Andes Mountains to the Amazon rainforest, the team experienced life in Ecuador while serving the people there and recieved class credit at the same time. “It was something I never thought I could have done, but it turned out to be the most rewarding experience, and it was really fun too,” McClintock said. “I am proud of what we were able to accomplish as a group and how well we worked together on the project.” Alabama Action Abroad, a service-learning program offered through the Honors College, is a three-hour UH humanities credit, and can count for IHP credit as well. The class culminates in a 10-to-14 day trip in May to one of three locations: Costa Rica, Belize or Ecuador. The focus of each trip is different; for Costa Rica, the emphasis was teaching English; for Belize, it was literacy; and for the trip to Ecuador, it was construction and sustainability products, as well as some ESL teaching. The program partnered with Outward Bound Ecuador to do environmentallybased projects in the Andes and the Amazon. The students spent five days in the Andes Mountains and five
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“Even though we did a lot of stuff and we were always going, it was nice to just live in the moment and enjoy it and not stress about what you are going to do next.”
days in the Amazon rainforest. They taught children in elementary schools about recycling, planted gardens and cleared paths in the rainforest. “I loved it,” Burke Smith, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, said. “It was an incredible experience. I didn’t really know what to expect honestly, but that was one thing that was kind of cool, everything was new.” Although the class they took once a week in the spring prepared them for the trip, McClintock and Smith agree that nothing bonds people together like sharing a bathroom and sleeping in tents or a concrete hut together. “Looking back, we were really awkward with each other during the class period,” Smith says. “But after the trip, we were really close because of the experiences we had.” It helped, nevertheless, for the students to spend class time together before heading to Ecuador. “They wanted us to get to know each other in class, and we did,” McClintock said. “We got to know where everyone was from, what their major was and what they did on campus, but we didn’t get to really know each other until we got to Ecuador.” McClintock says the girls stayed in a cinder-block house with one main room, one bathroom and two small
bedrooms while in the Andes. “I think we fit nine girls in sleeping bags in a room that was probably, my guess would be, nine feet by nine feet,” she said. “So we got really close!” The guys slept outside in tents and the whole team shared one bathroom. Davis Hill, one of the team leaders for the trip, says he believed that living in close quarters helped bring the team together despite varying personalities and backgrounds. “There are no technology distractions, no outside distractions, so all you can do is the service projects you are working on together and just talk to each other,” Hill said. “It is a great way to bring people of different personalities together and different areas of the University that you probably would not have another chance to get to know that well because you are so different.” The slower pace of Ecuadorian life made a lasting impact. “One thing they told us was to live in the moment, and one thing I noticed a lot about the culture over there was they weren’t always looking ahead,” McClintock said. “I know here I get caught up in ‘I have a test tomorrow’ or ‘I need to do this,’ but they just worried about what was today. It just seems that their cares were probably more important because they are more worried about their family, their friends, taking care of themselves and we had to learn to do that too.” Hill and Smith agreed that it reinforced enjoying the moment for them as well. “It was a good way for me to put things off and for me to enjoy that
experience, and not let anything be a distraction,” Hill said. For Smith, learning to live in the moment during his time in Ecuador was a valuable experience in light of a busy and stressful schedule. “It is easy to get stressed about stuff here, but there it was very freeing and relaxing,” he said. “Even though we did a lot of stuff and we were always going, it was nice to just live in the moment and enjoy it and not stress about what you are going to do next.” For McClintock, the trip was more challenging than she expected and forced her out of her comfort zone, but in a rewarding way. “There were definitely things I got to do that I never would have experienced otherwise, and opportunities that, I think, if I had known what we were going to have to do beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have applied for just because of the way they sound on paper,” she said with a laugh. “But actually doing them was totally different than I think I would have expected.”
Designed by Amanda Sockwell UA Honors
My Favorite Place Photos and Intro by Hannah Grace VanCleave Sometimes you may wonder what’s truly your favorite place. Your favorite spot to relax and free your mind of the world’s distractions or a place to have fun and have no worries. My favorite place is in the middle of the woods just 30 minutes out of Athens, Ga. My Uncle Scottie and Aunt Ginni’s house is not only a place where I can enjoy the company of my family, but it is also a place where I can relax. No cable, no service, 10
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no distractions. You can go play outside, go down by the river and go canoeing, go to the farm or go wherever you please. Every year for Thanksgiving, they invite all their family and friends, where around 50 of us eat a lot and celebrate our time together. It is one of my favorite times of the year, and I cherish every time I get to drive up to their house. This place truly makes you realize all that there is to be thankful for.
Designed by Sloane Arogeti UA Honors
re you an Honors College student interested in learning the ins and outs of the magazine industry? Are you interested in writing, photography, design or business? If your answer to these questions is yes, Mosaic is just what youâ€™re looking for!
Mosaic is a student-run magazine with opportunities for students interested in editorial, photography, design, business, video and web. Like the many aspects of the Honors College, all of these pieces combine to create one pretty incredible Mosaic! With the help of our faculty advisors, we strive to tell the stories of other UA students and alumni through our website and biannual magazine. If you are interested in joining Mosaic, please contact us. Weâ€™d love to have you on board!
The University of Alabama Honors College Box 870169 Tuscaloosa, Al 35486-0169 email@example.com 12
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By Caroline Meintzer
Hannah Rath returns from an extraordinary year of culinary study in Florence
“I love food and health, and I really wanted to combine studying abroad with a culinary program.”
year ago, Hannah Rath, a University of Alabama junior, regularly made her morning run through a far different location than her fellow students. Instead of jogging across the Quad or through the rec fields, she zipped through vineyards and swept past historic castle walls. Every now and then, she’d have to ask herself one simple question: “Am I really here?” The answer was yes. The nutrition major was across the globe in Florence, Italy, birthplace of the Renaissance. For her sophomore year, Rath went to culinary school at the Apicius International School of Hospitality in one of the finest culinary capitals of the world. “I love food and health, and I really wanted to combine studying abroad with a culinary program,” Rath said. This meant taking classes ranging from Italian breads to sugar artistry, and everything in between. Not many college students get to take a wine appreciation class, but Rath found herself studying all the elements of turning grapes into fine wine and what foods to pair it with. Her classes were small, often around 10 people, and taught by Italian chefs. Naturally, the classes were taught in Italian, and the kitchen was her classroom. For Rath, that meant brushing up on a language she had only studied for one semester at UA. “Your brain is in a constant translate anything mode because you’re just trying to survive,” Rath said. Survive she did as she became engrossed in all aspects of Italian cooking—the wines, cheeses, breads and more. “We got to make everything you’d eat in an Italian restaurant, so it was very legit, and it was all made from scratch,” Rath said. Some of those dishes included her new favorites like cappellacci di zucca, pumpkin-filled ravioli, and seppie inzimino,
which is squid and Swiss chard in a spicy tomato sauce. Not all proved to be favorites, though; Rath described cow tongue as simply “nasty.” Rath also traveled around Italy to appreciate the different niches of each region, including fish and seafood along the coast and one of the real Parmesan sites, complete with cheese rounds and warehouses full of hanging ham. When not in school, Rath worked both semesters at local restaurants. Her first semester, she was a waitress at Ganzo, but she moved up to an internship as a prep cook at the upscale restaurant, Ora d’Aria. Working in an Italian restaurant was not without its difficulties. “Sometimes I’d have absolutely no clue what they were saying, but at least with food, you can sort of demonstrate what you mean,” she said. Not all her time was spent cooking: Rath traveled extensively. While her friends back home were going to Bama football games, Rath was hiking mountains in Switzerland or riding gondolas in Venice. But despite having Europe at her disposal, she enjoyed her daily life in Florence. Her routine included a visit to the same bakery every day or running into friendly old Italian men who would talk for hours. When her trip ended in May, returning home proved to be quite the reverse culture shock. “I missed everything being close and historic and the chance to have a little adventure every day,” Rath said. The transition from three-hour pisolinos and wine-filled aperitivos to dining hall food was one of the harder transitions. Now, even while living in a dorm, Rath still tries to pull out a few college cooking tricks, including microwave stir-fry or pizza crust made in a waffle maker.
“I want to use cooking as a form of nutrition counseling. People don’t know how to eat healthy unless they know how to cook healthy.”
After spending a year in Italy learning exactly those basics and more, she hopes to share that knowledge with others. But even after an entire year cooking decadent foods in Italy, Rath is still a nutrition major first. She’s involved with Project Health on campus and wants to merge delicious food with a healthy lifestyle. “I want to use cooking as a form of nutrition counseling,” Rath said. “People don’t know how to eat healthy unless they know how to cook healthy.” She’s steadfast in her belief that once people know the basics of how to put a meal together, eating healthily won’t be such a chore. After spending a year in Italy learning exactly those basics and more, she hopes to share that knowledge with others. “I think there’s something pretty cool about sharing a meal together, just the fellowship and conversation—that’s something I learned in Italy that I want to bring to my friends, my family and anyone in the future who comes to me for nutrition help,” Rath said.
Photographed by Jordan Moore Designed by Nicole Doctor
UA Honors 19 UA Honors 3
Across the Water UA rower and Honors College student Logan O’Neil knows what it takes to be a champion. By Laura Monroe
t is still dark in Tuscaloosa at 5:30 a.m. when members of the University of Alabama’s women’s rowing team, in teams of twos and fours, haul their boats toward the glassy-smooth water of the Black Warrior River. Most college students are still asleep at this hour, not having to deal with the chill of a pre-dawn autumn morning, or a workout that begins even before the boats hit the water. Together, the athletes lift the boats above their heads and sidestep to the edge of the dock before carefully placing them in the river with precision and timing, a sign of what is to come. Their clothing is not uniform for practice, but one thing is consistent: their expression of persistence, patience and concentration. They are at home on the water and while rowing is a newfound love for some members, they don’t show it. They sail across so gracefully that the fog seems to open like curtains for their arrival. “It’s so peaceful,” Logan O’Neil, a sophomore team member, said. “I forget about everything when I’m on the water.” She and her teammates forget about everything except the importance of a successful practice. As they pick up speed, so does Tuscaloosa. Cars pass overhead on the Hugh Thomas Bridge and joggers race along the river trails. Sleepy fishermen seem to sit up straighter when they hear the motivating commands to row straight and together. The crew concentrates on their movements. Today isn’t about being the fastest; it’s about being together. “Rowing is a sport that requires patience and teamwork, for sure,” O’Neil said. “It’s really exciting when you go out and work hard day in and day out and you know others are doing the same and then a piece at practice, or even better, on race day comes together stronger than it was before. It makes those early morning hours all worthwhile.” Devotion to practice is nothing new to O’Neil, who became interested in rowing the summer before sixth grade when her father took her kayaking. It inspired her to try rowing at a camp the 20
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“It’s so peaceful. I forget about everything when I’m in the water.”
following year and she was drawn to the beauty and challenges the sport presented. “Many people have compared the movement of the oars to making music in an orchestra when each person is working individually yet in unison to create rhythm,” O’Neil said. “Having played piano and violin, I think that aspect of rowing spoke to me.”
Chinese for six weeks in high school and having diversity in her college classes and her team was important. She was impressed to discover that close to 50 percent of UA students were from out of state and she was intrigued by the rise in the population of international students. Alabama’s rowing team was also a good match because its team members represent 16 different states on the varsity alone.
they had last year in order to move towards another Division 1 title. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is exciting to know we are part of building an athletic program at UA,” she said. She has set her sights on going further, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t proud of her last season. Her collegiate rowing career began with the Crimson Tide when she
“Many people have compared the movement of the oars to making music in an orchestra when each person is working individually yet in unison to create rhythm.” O’Neil, an Albany, N.Y. native, began competing with a club team through the Albany Rowing Center during the spring of her freshman year in high school. As a senior, she was part of the 1st Varsity 8+ boat that came in second place at the 2011 New York State Scholastic Rowing Championships. She was also in the 1st Varsity 8+ in 2009 and 2010 at the Head of the Charles in Boston, which is the world’s largest two-day rowing competition. O’Neil and her team ranked 16th out of more than 70 teams both years. “It was a great experience to have as a high school rower in preparation for the larger collegiate races,” she said. When choosing a collegiate team, O’Neil looked for diversity, a factor that others might overlook. She had traveled to China on a U.S. Department of State National Security Language Initiative Scholarship to study 22
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“I think this diversity enhances the collegiate experience by creating more cultural awareness and opportunities to work with and value others’ contributions,” O’Neil said. UA’s Women’s Rowing is a relatively young program; it is now in its seventh year as a Division 1 program under the direction of Head Coach Larry Davis. Being a part of a growing program is exciting, challenging and a privilege, O’Neil says. She calls the 2011-2012 year a true building and growing year for the program and believes that with 70 percent of the team being sophomores and freshman, this year will continue in the same way. They finished last year’s spring season by ranking seventh at the Conference USA Championships, just one point from sixth place. O’Neil and her teammates are part of the largest class of incoming rowers in UA’s history. Their goal is to build on the successes
earned a silver medal in the 1st Varsity 8+ boat at the Chattanooga Head Race. During the fall, O’Neil traveled with the team as an alternate to the Head of the Charles in Boston. In the spring season, she rowed in the 1st Varsity 8+ boat in Tennessee, San Diego, New Hampshire and at the home race on the Black Warrior. In Rhode Island, O’Neil rowed with the 2nd Varsity 8+ boat, in what Coach Davis called an almost masterful race, coming in just behind URI and ahead of Boston University and UCF. However, one of her proudest moments didn’t take place on the water. In October 2011, O’Neil, her team members and coaches unloaded more than 2,500 elementary school books that she had collected from her hometown to donate to the Tuscaloosa County schools that were damaged or destroyed by the April 27 tornado. Just when she thought her first year couldn’t have been
better, Davis called her over the summer and asked her to represent the team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, an honor that she was thrilled to receive. “Logan is a creative, proactive person who looks for ways to improve and help others,” Davis said. “She has great leadership potential and I felt being a SAAC rep would help her grow as a leader and be a benefit for the entire team.”
Being a student athlete is a balancing act for O’Neil. She sets two or three alarms each morning and plans her days down to the minute before going to bed. She is motivated by the energy of the people who support her—coaches, teammates, professors, directors and fellow students. “My parents always told me growing up that I was blessed with a good brain and an
to put them into action,” O’Neil said. “It is through the experiences I have participated in with UFE that I have developed as a leader and as a servant to various communities.” Her time at UA has been exactly what she had hoped. She has learned the importance of diversity, service and time management. She sees the value of others’ talents and understands the worth
“It is through the experiences I have participated in with UFE that I have developed as a leader and as a servant to various communities.” She couldn’t have asked for a better freshman year, she says, and often tells people that she wouldn’t have had the experiences she has had at any other university. The mathematics and statistics major, minoring in Chinese, brags about UA’s combination of academics, social involvements, community engagement and athletic atmosphere. She achieved the President’s List in the fall and the Dean’s list during the spring semester. She was also awarded a Conference USA Academic Medal and was named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the Southeastern Conference Honor Roll. She is now an Outdoor Action leader and was part of UA’s Honors in Oxford program last summer. O’Neil is also part of the Honors College and the International Honors program.
able body, to use them well,” she said. It is her passion, Davis says, that allows O’Neil to be such a strong athlete and student. “She maximizes her gifts by being a great time manager and having an amazing work ethic as well as a passion for both academics and rowing,” Davis said. If anyone could endure the busy schedule, it’s O’Neil. The proof lies in the fact that she is the first Division 1 athlete to be a member of the University Fellows Experience, an elite group of students given the opportunity to learn through service. “UFE is special to me because not only does the program highly value the ideals of leadership and service, it gives us the opportunities
of communication and teamwork. Today reminds her that it’s not always about winning the race, but instead, it’s about working together. “Rowing is a sport that allows you to challenge yourself individually but in the end it is a team concept,” she said. “It is a real life lesson in what works in the real world.”
Photographed by Amelia Brackin Designed by Shamaria Borden
THIS IS ALABAM A PHOTOGR APHY BY LAURA MONROE
PHOTOGRAPHER AMELIA BRACKIN REVEALS A NEW PERSPECTIVE OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL 24
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n the past four years, the University of Alabama football team has won two Southeastern Conference championships and three Bowl Championship Series titles. Most of us watched these games from the stands or our living rooms, but Honors College student Amelia Brackin watched with a view most can only dream about. With her eye behind the lens of a camera, she was on the sidelines, capturing the moments Crimson Tide fans will want to see again and again. Brackin, who graduated last December, has worked with the UA Athletic Photography Department since the spring of her freshman year, when she began as a volunteer. She soon became a student photographer and then a department intern in 2012. It was a natural move for the Tuscaloosa native who had grown up a coachâ€™s daughter and loved all things Crimson Tide. She began playing sports at the age of 5 and has always had a love for the game, whether she was on the field or in the stands. CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Running back Eddie Lacy in action. Photographer Amelia Brackin in action. The defense against LSU and the offense against Notre Dame, doing what they do best. Brackin (on right) preparing to witness yet another BCS Championship. UA Honors
ABOVE: The 2011 BCS National Champions celebrate. RIGHT: Their 2012 counterparts do the same. “It is a funny feeling, at first, heading out to the field or the court with equipment in tow, but instead of a sports bag or pompoms, it’s camera equipment,” Brackin said. “Instead of focusing my mind on the game at hand, readied by practice after practice, or preparing to cheer on my team with friends at my side, I’m steadying my gaze through a viewfinder. I am now a silent observer working to capture the entire event before me.” Brackin covers all sports within the athletic department and the many events that surround each sport. Her photos are used on rolltide.com, by other media outlets and in the department’s photo store. Her passion for sports hasn’t changed, but when Brackin is on the field, she isn’t there as a fan. She is there to do a job. “It is an honor to be involved in such a fantastic and historical sports event, but with that honor comes great responsibility in fulfilling the duties of the job,” she said. “There is no cheering, no chanting, no excitement and no fanfare from the sidelines. Everyone there has a job to do and you cannot afford missing the next play, or the 26
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celebration shot, or the fans going crazy in the stands.” Brackin has witnessed national titles in women’s golf and softball, and photographed two gymnastics national championships and two football BCS national titles. She was on the sidelines or the floor for each of the events she photographed, but with all of her responsibilities, Brackin can only hope she doesn’t miss the experience of an important play. “Sometimes I want to go back and watch a recording of a game,” she said. “Even though I am very attentive to what is taking place, I am so focused on what I have to do that I miss out on a lot of what happens.” She said she wouldn’t trade her view for anything, but sometimes wishes she could be in two places at once. “Most people would not think to ask if I ever wished I could be in the stands, yet, as the end of the 2012 regular season drew to a close, I did wish to experience at least one game from the stands,” Brackin said. “I was grateful to be able to go to the very last game of the regular season, my last game as an undergraduate, and our biggest rivalry. I cheered on my Tide as a student
"IT IS AN HONOR TO BE INVOLVED IN SUCH A FANTASTIC AND HISTORICAL SPORTS EVENT, BUT WITH THAT HONOR COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY IN FULFILLING THE DUTIES OF THE JOB." from the stands for the first and the last time at the Iron Bowl.” Brackin was one of three athletic department photographers sent to Miami in January for the 2013 BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame. She covered press conferences, practices and team events during the busy week filled with early mornings, many photos, lots of editing and late nights. A year earlier, she was on the field at the Superdome in New Orleans for Alabama’s BCS championship game against LSU, but said the trip this year to Miami was a completely different experience. She felt more comfortable and had the background to know how to roll with any changes. For both games, she was assigned to be in the stands for the final celebration shots and knew from past experiences to be there early. She was more prepared than ever and was in her position in the stands with seven minutes left in the game, but there were last minute changes to the layout of the post game celebration and she ended up sprinting through half of the stadium’s concourse to get the shot. “I made it into the stands in just the right
amount of time, climbed into a seat and shot what I could,” she said. When the on-field celebration had ended and her job was complete, Brackin took a deep breath, put her equipment back on her shoulder and rushed to post her photos. The game was over, and even though she still had work to do, Brackin could finally revel in the excitement of being a Crimson Tide fan. “It is then, in the late hours of the night into the early hours of the next day while editing photos that you get to talk about the game as a photographer and a fan with your coworkers. In the days and weeks to follow, it sets in that it all took place,” she said. “That is when you realize you never left sports completely behind; you just picked it up through a lens instead. That is when you realize that once you become a part of The University of Alabama, a part of it always stays with you because it was there that you gained much more than an education and there that you made friends that will last a lifetime.”
Photographed by Amelia Brackin Designed by Katie Clarke UA Honors
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The Art Exploration Project Through the Art Exploration Project, Honors College students are working with Matthews Elementary, Flatwoods Elementary and Holt Elementary schools to bring art back to the classroom. “Our goal is to introduce students to the fun and educational aspects of art instruction and creation,” Davis Jackson, an Honors College intern, said. “Creative expression is a form of voice that empowers many of the children and each semester we receive feedback from the school staff that the program has a direct impact on their academic success.” The program consists of
Intro by Laura Monroe Photos by Hannah Grace VanCleave, Amelia Brackin, and Jordan Moore
volunteers and students who are enrolled in the Honors College service learning courses that focus on education, issues of poverty and social inequalities. The relationships created between the children and their mentors have proven to be beneficial for both. “This project provides Honors College students with an opportunity to be engaged and give back to a community which they call home for at least four years,” Jackson said. “The children gain the ability to express themselves creatively, which in many cases gives them a sense of confidence and pride.”
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Designed by Sloane Arogeti UA Honors
The Art of Remembering Through his Arts to Life program, Daniel Potts is teaching others that healing can be found through art.
By Anna Price Olson
ester Potts always used his hands. He used his hands to slice lumber at the only sawmill in Pickens County, Ala. He used his hands to build birdhouses. He used his hands to rescue scraps of wood when the weather called for a fire. And when he lost control of almost everything else, he used his hands to paint. As Daniel Potts watched his father lose the ability to control his hands, he saw a man suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that affects memory, thought and behavior and gets worse over time. “The very crafty, capable man that
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I knew was not able to do that anymore,” Potts said. “He couldn’t use the screwdriver. He couldn’t put Christmas tree lights on the tree— he quit smiling.” Beneath his father’s wrinkled eyelids, which for years were sprinkled with sunlight and sawdust, Potts discovered the unfamiliar—a depressed and broken man. “I knew I had to help him. I had to save this strong man from the disease,” Potts said. In an effort to restore the man who once defined strength by comparing the trait to a well-rooted tree, Potts sent his crushed father to art therapy. After a few days of
exposure to painting, drama and music, Potts says his father uncovered a hidden talent, found himself and, as a result, transformed as a person. When Lester returned from therapy sessions each afternoon, Potts says he and his mother saw a smiling man with better communication skills and improved behavior. They saw the old Lester Potts shining through. “The transformation that happened to him gave us a story of hope,” Daniel Potts, a physician, said. “It made a believer out of me.” When Potts saw his father’s first watercolor—a hummingbird nested in the sun rays of south Alabama— he knew he needed to share his father’s story as a campaign for the arts. By simply taking the hammer away and replacing it with a fine-tip paintbrush, Potts says his father’s story took on a life of its own. So inspired by his dad’s improvement through an exposure to the arts, Potts created Cognitive Dynamics in 2006. The program takes expressive art therapy to dementia patients in an effort to improve their quality of life. Potts shared his vision with the University of Alabama in the spring of 2011 through the Honors College course, “Art to Life.” “It all came out of my dad’s story, the story of Lester Potts,” he said. “It absolutely made a believer out of me.” Through the course, Potts connects about a dozen college students with four to six patients living in
the community who suffer from mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to using therapy to document and preserve the life stories of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Potts uses the course to teach college-age students about the dementia disorder. In addition to the class on campus, the students join Potts, their assigned patient partners and Karen Gibbons, a therapist from Birmingham, six Fridays during the semester. In these therapy sessions, Gibbons exposes many of the patients to art for the first time by asking them to create an image using any combination of watercolors, sand, glitter and paper plates. “The bottom line is that we aim to improve their quality of life—if only for the duration of a session,” Gibbons said. “Art has the power to heal and healing is different from curing. It means to make whole. And our goal is to help them heal through art— to help them feel whole.” As they watch their partners unlock memories and explore the creative process, Potts says he hopes the Honors College students will learn about them in such a way that they can, in the process, create and preserve their life stories. While he wants them first to understand the disease, he asks that his students also find the person beyond the disease. Most of all, Potts says the program is about relationships. “Through the relationship, the students validate a person who is struggling,” he said. As a neurologist, Potts
explains the reality of the disease. While they are in the mild to moderate stages, he says the patients are very much in the process of learning who they are again. As a response to the disease, patients lose their cognition and they begin to lose the identity they have carried for life. “To be a human being, you’ve got to have a life story, and you have to know what it is—and you’ve got to be able to communicate it,” Potts said. For an Alzheimer’s patient who struggles to maintain an intact sense of self, Potts says the therapy sessions pull out the details of life that they have difficulty remembering. Potts says that, through the course, he is marrying art therapy with a life story creation process. “We are telling them: ‘This is your life. You are a person and the world needs to know your value,’” Potts said. As the participants unlock memories, which are sometimes even unfamiliar to their families, Potts says students are there to watch, gathering the details of their partner’s life. “As they are painting an early childhood memory, they start talking about it,” Potts said. “And before you know it, the rich beautiful web has actually come out.” The students track their partner’s growth over the course of the semester by taking photos and writing in a journal once a week. Emily Broman, a student in the class, says it is a learning experience for her as well. UA Honors
After participating in the course two times, she argues that the students are the main beneficiaries. Broman remembers sitting next to her classmate, Jacqueline Koncsol, and the female Alzheimer’s patient they were paired with in Marion, Ala. during the spring of 2011. As the patient painted a garden scene—most likely a memory embedded from childhood, Broman says she remembers watching her paint the individual brush strokes of the final flower, a yellow rose. Rather than stand upright like the other bright flowers in the pictures, Broman says the rose was placed horizontally across the canvas. Naturally, she asked about the
flower when the scene was complete. “She immediately responded saying that the yellow rose is special because you only get yellow roses from someone who loves you,” Broman said. To this day, Broman says she can’t help but think of her partner and the significance of that single rose. She says this moment stands out because while the yellow rose meant so much to the participant, she wouldn’t have known the significance of the flower if she has not asked. She wouldn’t have known that the woman’s husband was the only man to give her yellow roses—ever. And she wouldn’t have known that, to the
woman, the bloom symbolized the capacity for love. “She was expressing to us— all young ladies— about how it felt to know your other half,” Broman said. “She was telling us about love.” Potts feels as if each participant in the course improves and grows—whether by simply making a new friend, improving communication skills or learning about another’s life story. However, he needs to transfer what he feels into answers. “We are working with four patients this semester, but we want 500 more,” Potts said. “We want 800, or even a 1000.” This semester, Potts hopes to gather the statistics he needs by incorporating research into the
Photographed by Cora Lindholm Designed by Sloane Arogeti 34
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course for the first time. To gather the data, Potts says he is asking the caregivers, usually a spouse or adult children, to answer a series of questions once before the course and again three months after the therapy has ended. While he
says that he knows the therapy, the course and the students are making a difference in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients, he needs research to expand the program.
“They just get better from this,” he said. “But we want to prove that.”
The Artistâ€™s Hands Intro and Photos by Sara Johnson This photo essay explores the interaction and relationship between artists, their hands and their mediums. The amount of self an artist pours into his/her work develops a special connection between the art-making process and the end result. I strove to visually capture the essence of artists becoming one with their art.
Designed by SLoane Arogeti 36
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Chip Cooper riding on his motorcycle.
FACT AND FICTION The Honors College’s Chip Cooper and Andy Duncan release new books that capture reality and imagination.
By Allison Terrell
Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes,
formats and genres. It can create dragons, UFOs and ghosts or it can unveil a culture that has been largely off-limits to most Americans. Honors College faculty members Andy Duncan and Chip Cooper have used their passions to reveal the unknown to students and readers alike through published books in science fiction and photography. While Cooper has captured striking images of Cuban life in his book, Old Havana, Duncan depicts multiple fictitious characters through vivid detail in The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories.
Tales steeped in history Halflings, UFOs and geocachers accompanied with scenes of love, revenge and horror comprise just the beginning of what is to be found in Andy Duncan’s most recent story collection. Despite its genre, The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories was written to be enjoyed by a variety of audiences. “People think science fiction is just Star Wars and Game of Thrones, but it’s not,” Duncan said. Even though he lives about 800 miles away in Maryland, Duncan has remained close to UA’s Honors College. He received
a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University in fiction writing, and now alternates between teaching 21st-century science fiction and fantasy classes through distance learning. While teaching at both UA and Frostburg State University in Maryland, Duncan has found time to write his two critically acclaimed fictional story collections. The books have earned him a World Fantasy Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award and nominations for the Hugo, Nebula and the Shirley Jackson awards. Duncan’s work, atypical perhaps from other short story UA Honors
“I hope that they transport you into someone else’s world and give you that immersive experience where you wake up when the book is over.”
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efforts, often stems from his interest in regional settings and the past.“So many of my stories are based on some odd bit of history,” Duncan said. With many historical events leaving gaps and holes, Duncan has tried to make up creatively some of the missing pieces and still leave his readers trying to sort out what was made up and what was real. He said that people can never know enough about the past, and maybe they can learn from the truth behind his tales. “I’d like to think the stories contain a tiny bit of educational or inspirational content,” Duncan said. When asked for a favorite among his new collection of stories, Duncan said that would be like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. Yet, he did offer that he’s particularly proud of “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Although this story didn’t receive the recognition that many of his others did, he said he worked hard on making it just right. “I went farthest out trying to play with the language,” he said. “I wound up writing in a way I wouldn’t otherwise.” Duncan’s effort and dedication shows throughout The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories. His collection gathered much attention and recognition, but Duncan’s wish for his stories is pretty simple. “I hope that they transport you into someone else’s world and give you that immersive experience where you wake up when the book is over.” Cuba, As Rarely Seen Unlike Duncan’s fictional stories, Chip Cooper’s photographs in Old Havana offer a strikingly real glimpse into Cuban culture. Cooper’s past books have dealt primarily with the American South, but his most recent endeavor highlighted a place most Americans have never had the opportunity to visit. “All of my other books have been regional,” Cooper said. “This was my chance to get out of the South and do something national.” He had already been to Cuba once in 2002 as one of the few American photographers who were allowed such access. Later, he was invited to take part in an experience offered by a historian of the city of Havana and the University of AlabamaCuba Initiative. With this opportunity, Cooper
was asked to photograph the oldest and most historical corner in Cuba’s capital city. “Cuba really holds my interest. I’ve worked with the Black Belt and the South, and Cuba has that same edge,” Cooper said. Assigned to work with Néstor Martí, a native photographer from the Havana Historian’s Office, Cooper had to work past the language barrier to communicate. Soon, Martí’s slang English, learned from MTV, was overlooked as the two formed a close collaboration over their shared passion for photography and their inspiration, American photographer Walker Evans. “This was the first time an American and a Cuban had worked together on such a book,” Cooper said. Street life played a large part in the subject matter of the photos. Cooper and Martí focused on the people, the architecture and the life that filled the country. The natives were Cooper’s favorite part of the experience.
“They help each other because times are hard, just like Sept. 11, when we as a country pulled together,” he said. “They had such a good spirit.” Cooper said that the best compliment he received on the book was from a Cuban woman who said he had captured the island nation’s spirit. This experience not only took him out of the South and gave him national recognition as a photographer, but also gave him an insight into another country. “I hope this book brings lots of curiosity about this land off the coast,” he said. For students to experience Cuba for themselves, they can open up Old Havana, or they may have a chance to see it first-hand. The Honors College is considering an ongoing program in Cuba for faculty members and students. As part of that effort, Cooper said he also intends to publish another book that focuses on the nation just 90 miles south of Key West, Fla.
This experience not only took [Cooper] out of the South and gave him national recognition as a photographer, but also gave him an insight into another country.
Photographed by Amelia Brackin Designed by Shamaria Borden
A BELOVED FILM PROFESSORâ€™S INFLUENCE ON THE LIVES OF THE STUDENTS HE TAUGHT. BY CAROLINE MEINTZER
hen Dr. William Nolan first arrived on the University of Alabama campus in the fall of 2010, he brought more than a doctorate in comparative literature and a love for film. His teaching method went beyond the classroom and inspired lasting conversations with students. Nolan, 39, died in a tragic swimming accident this past fall, but his encouragement and creative energy have forever impacted the students, friends and faculty of the Honors College. 40
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RIGHT: Nolan and his wife Katie capture a memory together and Nolan walks the walk of the scholar.
“I don’t think there was a distinction between Will the man and Will the teacher,” UA film professor and Nolan’s close friend Andy Grace said. “He lived his work, and I think that’s what connected him to people.” Nolan’s first day at the University also marked freshman Rachel Croon’s first day. She recalled how his “Animals in Film and Literature” class completely threw out her fear of an uninvolved 500-person lecture hall. “It was a very small, engaged class,” Croon said. “It wasn’t the type of class where he asked a question and everyone stared at him. Everyone wanted to answer and be a part of it.” Coming to the campus from Missouri,
“I DON’T THINK THERE WAS A DISTINCTION BETWEEN WILL THE MAN AND WILL THE TEACHER.”
Croon found an adult figure and mentor in Nolan, whom she could ask for anything. “In his class, I was an individual rather than a number,” Croon said. “If anyone was born to teach, it was him. He loved to learn, and he loved to express his knowledge. Not in a condescending way, but in a way where he genuinely wanted to help.” Class discussions of Moby Dick or Life of Pi morphed into genuine discoveries that left an impression far beyond any single lecture. When Croon turned in her final project for her class, Nolan pointed out the former psychology major might be more interested in speech pathology. Now a junior majoring in communicative disorders, Croon has stuck with the change and not regretted it once. This type of “Will Nolan effect” was also felt by UA graduate Walker Donaldson, who attributes getting his middle school teaching job to a piece of advice Nolan offered him. Before flying up for a job interview in Denver, Donaldson came to Nolan’s office to talk about his teaching lesson for the interview. Nolan’s words to him were simple: “When you start teaching, your first idea
probably won’t work, so have a back-up plan.” That wisdom came in handy at 2 a.m., before Donaldson’s 7 a.m. lesson, when a friend pointed out his lesson was terrible. One Will Nolan back-up plan later, Donaldson had the job. For Donaldson, that was just one of many impacts that Nolan had on his life. Having taken two classes with Nolan, he could talk to him about anything, from Star Wars and light sabers to life itself. One highlight for Donaldson was a trip with Nolan to North Carolina for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an opportunity that Nolan created and attended with students in 2011 and 2012. The line was never drawn for Nolan between his work inside the classroom and out; he also advised the Honors College Assembly and worked with students to create a documentary series. Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College, said she knew immediately after meeting Nolan that he would be perfect for the college. Over the years, she was continually impressed with his sense of self and dedication to others. UA Honors
“You don’t realize how he’s changing you,” Morgan said. “Slowly your eyes are opened, and you see the world differently and in a more meaningful way, because he did not live life at a superficial level.” No one was more impacted than Nolan’s wife, Katie, and their newborn son, Henry. The qualities that she loved in him are many of the same shared by students—his passion for the little things and his accessible intelligence that wasn’t pretentious. “He was the first academic I met that could talk about his dissertation and have it actually be interesting,” she said. It didn’t matter whether they were watching The Big Lebowski (one of his favorites) or just a fluffy Hollywood blockbuster, she said, because Nolan would find something to appreciate. “He was a really happy person,” Katie Nolan said. “He found joy and interest in almost everything.” That dedication and interest was there from the very start of their relationship. Their first date occurred at the beginning of her law school finals, and after the date, she told Nolan she wouldn’t be able to see him until finals were finished. “He asked what time I would be done. I told him 5, and he said I’ll see you at 5:15,” Katie Nolan recalled. “When he made up his mind, he was a very determined person.”
The birth of their son Henry Isaac, appropriately bearing the initials of a Coen brothers’ movie character, marked one of the happiest moments in Nolan’s life. As a father, he was smitten from the start. Katie Nolan said she constantly thinks about making sure Henry gets to know his father and the amazing dad he was. Through the help of family and friends, Nolan won’t be forgotten. Katie Nolan’s establishment of the Will Nolan Memorial Fund for Film Studies intends to bring films to Tuscaloosa and create scholarships for students. And in addition, it will serve to remember a great man.
“HE WAS A REALLY HAPPY PERSON. HE FOUND JOY AND INTEREST IN ALMOST EVERYTHING.”
ABOVE: William and Katie Nolan enjoy good times together. LEFT: Henry Isaac Nolan spends quality time with his father.
Designed by Katie Clarke
Mosaic Spring 2013
Meet the Team Editor-in-Chief Laura Monroe
(From left to right) Molly Cory, Caroline Meintzer, Allison Terrell, Sophia Jones, Anna Price Olson, and Alexandra Ellsworth
Amelia Brackin, Production Manager
Katie Thurber, Assistant Editor
Jay Kennedy, Business Manager
(From left to right) Waseem Hussaini, Mary Lieb, Jon Col贸n, Daryne Forbes, John Beam, and Joanna Busahardt (not pictured).
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Sara Johnson, Photo Editor
Katie Clarke, Creative Director
Shamaria Borden, Design Editor
(From left to right) Amanda Sockwell, Lakeshia Doctor, Sloane Arogeti, Nicole Doctor, and Ally Mabry (not pictured)
Chip Cooper, Photography Advisor
Laura Lineberry, Design Advisor
Photographed by Sara Johnson and Amelia Brackin 44
Mosaic Spring 2013
Mark Mayfield, Editorial Advisor
Designed by Shamaria Borden
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