South Magazine - Fall 2018

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Fall 2018



Fall 2018


NEWS 4 DEVELOPMENT 8 The Fall 2018 issue of SOUTH is a publication of the Office of Alumni Relations and the USA National Alumni Association. It is intended to inform alumni and friends of current events and issues concerning them.





University President Dr. Tony G. Waldrop Vice President for Development & Alumni Relations Margaret M. Sullivan Vice President for Marketing & Communications Michael R. Haskins National Alumni Association Officers Patrick Dungan ’06, President Jim Moore ’90, Vice President Kim Lawkis ’11, ’13, Secretary-Treasurer Doug Whitmore ’05, Past President National Alumni Association Board of Directors Mr. Earl Blackmon ’80 Mrs. Sharon Davis ’02, MBA ’07 Mr. Clyde Higgs ’97 Mr. Mike Mitzner ’90 Mr. Hugh Keating ’74 Mrs. Patsy Kennedy ’96 Mr. Justin Labrato ’98 Mr. Dan Lafayette MBA ’07 Dr. Amy McCoy ’02, MD ’06 Mr. Robbie McGhee ’93 Mr. Jody Montelaro ’00 Mr. Nick Morisani ’05 Mr. Brian Rhoades ’95 Mrs. Laura Sergeant ’91, MEd ’05 Mr. Jimmy Shumock ’80 Mr. Ronnie Stallworth ’03 Mrs. Melanie Sumerlin ’07, MBA ’11 Dr. Paige Vitulli ’86, MEd ’00, PhD ’06 The Honorable Robbie Waller ‘02 Mr. Trent Walters ’08 Mr. Charlie Warner ’76 Col. Frank Wendling ’88 Shirley Zhang, President, USA Southerners National Alumni Association Executive Director Karen Webster Edwards ’80 Associate Director Stephanie Powell ’97 Associate Director Patty Howell Assistant Director Ailey Arrow Shirazi Alumni Membership Specialist Coleman Wolf ‘14 Secretary Robyn C. Drinkard Editor Julie Jackson Director of Creative Services Diana Nichols



Edwin “Pete” Peters ’75 , Edmond Naman ’87 and Norman McCrummen co-founded NEST, an organization that helps at-risk youths and families in Mobile County.

Alumni Center

Alumni Center

Welcome Home A Campaign for the Julian and Kim MacQueen Alumni Center




Two major building projects are underway on South’s main campus. A Campaign for the Julian and



Drs. Todd McDonald and Todd Andel prepare students for the world of cybersecurity.



South grad transitions from Army life to academia.



USA Health System gets a new identity to elevate its image and reputation.



Alumni and Athletics take to the road to share the exciting things happening around campus.





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On the west end of campus, adjacent to the football field house, is the University’s newest addition — the Jaguar Training Center. At 96,000 square feet, the JTC is the largest facility of its kind in the state of Alabama. The training center features a fully-covered regulation football field in addition to a 15-yard practice area for supplemental drills, regulation goal posts, equipment storage and a fully integrated lightning-protection system. Not only is it available for the Jaguar football team, all University athletic teams and even the Jaguar Marching Band will benefit from this new facility. The demand for on-campus student housing continues to increase each year. In August, the University opened a new 370-bed, on-campus residence, Camellia Hall. Located next to Azalea Hall, this 100,000-square-foot student residence features modern rooms with an in-room private bath and individual thermostats in each room. There are spacious lounging areas and multiple study rooms throughout the interior-hallway building. On October 12,the National Alumni Association broke ground on the much-anticipated Julian and Kim MacQueen Alumni Center, the future home for our alumni and friends. Construction is projected to be completed by 2020. If you’ve not been on campus recently, I encourage you to make plans to visit. I know you will be as proud of our alma mater as I am. #WeAreSouthAlumni Karen Edwards ’80 Executive Director USA National Alumni Association UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA



Swaggerty Selected in First Round of MLB Draft by Pirates University of South Alabama junior outfielder Travis Swaggerty was selected in the first round (10th overall pick) of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates in June. Five of Swaggerty’s teammates were also chosen in the MLB draft. Jaguar third baseman Brendan Donovan was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals, outfielder Dylan Hardy was the 13th round pick of the Boston Red Sox, pitcher Zach Greene was the 15th round choice of the Miami Marlins, pitcher Tyler Carr was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 31st round and shortstop Drew LaBounty was the 40th round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays. LaBounty’s selection was in the final round; he suffered a career-ending eye injury earlier this year.

Mitchell Family Internationally Recognized for Philanthropy Benefiting USA The late Mayer Mitchell, his wife, Arlene Mitchell, and his brother, Abraham “Abe” Mitchell, were recognized in July with one of the highest honors given by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education at an event in New York City. The CASE annual Distinguished Friend of Education Award honors an individual(s) whose volunteer service has helped to advance education at an educational institution—even though he or she is not a graduate of that institution.

For more than 40 years, the Mitchells have served as trusted leaders, visionaries, advocates, advisers and benefactors of the University of South Alabama. They have had a transformational impact on both the University and the USA Health system, giving of their time, talent and treasures. Over the course of more than four decades, Mayer, Arlene and Abe Mitchell have made charitable contributions to USA totaling more than $108 million.

Second Generation Jaguar Named Board of Trustees Scholar PHOTO CREDIT: MLB.COM

University of South Alabama freshman Cody Dunlap, the son of Kevin Dunlap ’96, has been named the USA Board of Trustees Scholar for the 2018-2019 academic year. The Board of Trustees Scholarship program recognizes the most academically talented student in each incoming freshman class, based on ACT/


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SAT score and, if needed, GPA, followed by rigor of high school coursework. A graduate of Mobile’s Baker High School, Dunlap registered a 35 composite ACT score (the highest possible score is 36) and a 4.67 weighted grade-point average. He plans to major in mechanical engineering.

SCIENCE. TECHNOLOGY. HOPE. We have cancer surrounded.

As the region’s most advanced cancer treatment center, we’re not just in the fight—we’re leading it. From research and clinical trials to the only CyberKnife in the area, we’re surrounding patients with more hope than ever before—including our newest treatment center location, the USA MCI Kilborn Clinic in Fairhope.

| Learn more at 1660 SpringHill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 | Mobile • Fairhope • Monroeville | 251.665.8000


Common Read/ Common World

“Just Mercy,” the memoir of an impoverished black child who became a Harvard Law School graduate, then devoted his life to freeing wrongly imprisoned poor people in the South, is the University of South Alabama’s Common Read/Common World book selection for 2018-2019. The book is authored by Bryan Stevenson, co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, who most recently has received national and international attention for his and his agency’s role in developing the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery. The memorial is the first in the country to name and honor victims of lynching, slavery, Jim Crow segregation and mass incarceration. The voluntary Common Read program for all University students, especially freshmen, aims to improve understanding of differences and commonalities across the world while engaging in academic discourse and critical thinking.


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New NAA Officers/ Directors Elected The National Alumni Association elected three new officers and six new directors during its annual membership meeting on August 30. The officers will lead the organization, with more than 5,400 members, until August 2020. Patrick Dungan is the Association’s president. Dungan graduated from USA’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2006 and received a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2011. He is an associate attorney with Adams and Reese, LLP in Mobile. Jim Moore, a resident of New Orleans, is the Association’s vice president. Moore earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1990 from the University of South Alabama and has worked with Phillips 66 since 2006, where he serves as process engineering superintendent. He previously served as secretary/ treasurer for the Alumni Association. Kim Lawkis, the Association’s secretary/ treasurer, earned a dual degree in history and English in 2011 and an M.P.A. in 2013. She currently serves as director of policy and programs at the Alabama Food Bank Association. Lawkis also spent more than three years as nutrition programs director at the Bay Area Food Bank. She and her husband, Nick Lawkis ’09, M.P.A. ’11, welcomed their son, Jack, on August 29. New Alumni Association directors include Clyde Higgs ’97, Patsy Kennedy ’96, Brian Rhoades ’95, Laura Sergeant ’91 M.Ed. ’05, Dr. Paige Vitulli ’86 M.Ed. ’00 Ph.D. ’06, and Charlie Warner ’76.

Four Jags Selected for Athletics Hall of Fame Four individuals from three sport programs, each an All-American, will comprise the 2018 University of South Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame Class. Nic Chisolm, David Freese, Ernie Rosseau and Lindsay Schwartz will be inducted on November 10. Eighty-three former student-athletes, coaches and administrators have been honored since the USA Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 1989.


USA Medical Students Selected as Inaugural Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Scholarship Recipients Three medical students from USA’s College of Medicine are the recipients of a scholarship from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, a new initiative aimed at expanding access to quality health care for all Alabamians. Perrin Windham, a fourth-year medical student, and Kyle Clark and Michael Marfice, both third-year

medical students, each received a $60,000 scholarship, which covers the costs of their last two years of medical school. After completing their residencies, the scholars will commit a minimum of three years to practicing as primary care physicians in medically underserved areas of Alabama.

National Alumni Association Annual Awards The USA National Alumni Association annually recognizes five USA faculty members and a young alumnus for outstanding achievement. This year’s recipients are Dr. Eric Steward, associate professor, civil engineering and geotechnical engineering, College of Engineering; Dr. Debra Chapman, associate professor, information systems and technology, School of Computing; Dr. Steven Trout, chair, department

of English, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Claire Cage, assistant professor, history, College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Om Prakash Jha, assistant professor, neonatology, USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital. The Lisa Bethea Kavanagh Young Alumni Award recipient is Doug Johnson, a 2009 graduate with a bachelor of arts in finance from the Mitchell College of Business.

USA Alumna Receives National Teaching Award Chasity Collier ’98, a graduate of the University of South Alabama and a fifth-grade science teacher at Dawes Intermediate School in Mobile County, has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and a $10,000 grant from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. “This well-deserved honor has been bestowed upon her as she exhibits Jaguar Excellence every day as an educator,” said Dr. Andrea Kent, dean of USA’s College of Education and Professional Studies. “We are proud that Chasity’s educational journey began at USA, and that she continues to do great things in the lives of our future, which are the children she teaches.”




For more information about the Get On Campus campaign, visit


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The University launched a fundraising campaign in August with the goal of building an on-campus football stadium by 2020. The campaign, called Get On Campus, is part of a comprehensive effort to fund the new stadium. “Our students, fans, alumni and visiting fans deserve to be on our beautiful campus to enjoy a traditional college football game day,” said Joel Erdmann, the University’s athletic director. The state-of-the-art stadium will provide students, alumni and the Mobile community with an unrivaled fan experience at Jaguar football games and will significantly elevate the University’s growing national profile in athletics, academics and student life. The future stadium will be located adjacent to the Jaguars’ football field house and newly opened Jaguar Training Center. The University has committed that the stadium will

not be paid for with tuition dollars from students. “We are committed to having an on-campus football stadium at South, and we are committed to doing everything within our power to have that stadium open for the 2020 football season,” said President Tony Waldrop. “We also are committed to not using our students’ tuition dollars to build a stadium.” Fundraising efforts for the stadium will be ongoing. The Get On Campus campaign will be evaluated continuously, and the campaign’s progress will determine how quickly the University can move ahead to the next phases of construction. “Now is the time to give all of our alumni, fans and supporters the opportunity to get involved in the Get On Campus campaign, which provides opportunities for everyone, at all levels of support, to help make our oncampus stadium a reality,” said Waldrop.



The University of South Alabama National Alumni Association held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Julian and Kim MacQueen Alumni Center on October 12 on the University’s campus. The MacQueen Alumni Center will serve as the permanent home for South’s more than 80,000 alumni. Located in the center of campus, the 15,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility will house the Chief Calvin W. McGhee Grand Ballroom, the McKinney Family Greek Plaza in honor of Sigma Chi fraternity, a spacious lobby, a 30-seat boardroom, meeting rooms and administrative offices. Plans for a new alumni center began in 2015 and became a reality when Julian ’73 and Kim MacQueen came forward with a $2 million gift. Julian MacQueen, founder of Innisfree Hotels in Pensacola, realized the importance of building a permanent alumni home on campus. “We take care of each other and create a family of support at Innisfree Hotels,” said MacQueen. “It’s very important for us to create unity in everything we do. We’ve realized that can’t happen unless there is a gathering place, and we hope the MacQueen Alumni Center is going to be exactly that.” Patrick Dungan, National Alumni Association president, emphasized the importance of this

groundbreaking event but also the fact that support from alumni and the community for the project is still needed. “We’re very excited to provide the University, its alumni and its student ambassadors a top-class facility that will reconnect thousands of alumni to South for decades to come,” said Dungan. “The support for this project has been tremendous, but we still have work to do to complete funding. Joining the 1974 Society is an easy, budget-friendly way for all South alumni to be a part of the new MacQueen Alumni Center.” The 1974 Society is one of the major sources of support to help fund the MacQueen Alumni Center. Gifts of $1,974 directly benefit the Alumni Center campaign and can be paid over three years. The National Alumni Association has also launched a special campaign, called Welcome Home, to complete funding for the building. The NAA will match all gifts, up to $100,000, through December 31, 2018. Information about the Welcome Home campaign can be found at The Alumni Association selected M.W. Rogers Construction Company, LLC through a bidding process this summer to construct the facility. The MacQueen Alumni Center is projected to be completed by 2020.

For more information about how you can contribute to the MacQueen Alumni Center, including naming opportunities, visit UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA





C For more information on the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Summer Camp, visit


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Cybersecurity is typically not high on the list of priorities for rising high school freshmen. However, for 60 ninth-graders at W.P. Davidson High School in Mobile, cybersecurity is not only a priority; it is a possible future career. Four years ago, Dr. Todd McDonald and Dr. Todd Andel, faculty in USA’s School of Computing, received a grant from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation to hold a cybersecurity camp for high school students on USA’s campus. The goal was to pique young students’ interest in the field and, one day, hopefully, for those students to attend USA’s School of Computing. “We already had a good relationship with Davidson,” said Andel. “It’s a competitive magnet program, and we decided to target students who were entering the EPIC program in the ninth grade.” EPIC (Engineering Pathways Integrated Curriculum) is a specialized curriculum path that prepares students to enter post-secondary education qualified for majors that rely heavily on math and science, like computer science and engineering. McDonald and Andel continued running the oneweek camp with NSA funding through 2017. “Last year we decided to seek industry funding instead because it

allows for more flexibility with the camp curriculum,” said McDonald. But teaching cybersecurity comes with a hefty price tag. This year’s camp cost about $35,000 and more than half was funded by a sponsorship from AT&T’s Aspire program, with the goal of investing in high school-aged students to prepare them for future success in the field of cybersecurity. “Students these days have grown up with smart phones and devices, so they are very familiar with how to use them,” said McDonald. “However, hardly any of them have the understanding of how things can go wrong.” During the camp, students and faculty discuss topical current events, like how to protect their personal information online and on their phones. Students also spend the week learning basic “block code” programming. “It teaches them the concepts of coding without requiring them to know how to program on day one,” said Andel. With basic programming under their belts, campers learn to program Sphero balls (think BB-8 from Star Wars) that they use to race through mazes in the Shelby Hall lobby. “We won’t see the fruits of this until 2019,” said Andel. That is when the camp’s inaugural students will graduate from Davidson and, possibly, enroll in USA’s School of Computing.

Invest in scholars. “My scholarships have opened doors for me to gain experiences and achieve goals I never dreamed of having. They have allowed me to study abroad in the Galápagos, conduct and present research and minor in studio art.” — SHIRLEY ZHANG, SENIOR BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES MAJOR SOUTHERNERS PRESIDENT VESTAVIA HILLS, AL


Double Your Impact Today.

The Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative will match your investment dollar for dollar. Help undergraduate students like Shirley turn their dreams into realities.


Give online: | (251) 460-7032 | email:

A Judge Who Cares Builds a NEST F O R AT- R I S K K I D S


Edmond Naman ’87, a Mobile County Circuit Court judge and head of Mobile County Juvenile Court, dreams big. He co-founded an organization called NEST of Mobile that, as its website says, “aims to Nurture children, Equip parents, Strengthen families, and Transform communities.” After just a few minutes of conversation with him, you will believe that he and NEST can do every bit of that. And you will have been recruited to help. The judge says he developed his persuasive powers on stage at the University of South Alabama. He likes to reel you in with stories. Here are four that describe the arc of a life of service. When he was 12 years old, he saw an ambulance door swing open to reveal his beloved uncle, mortally wounded. Naman’s grandfather


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had come to the United States from Lebanon. The family had worked hard and done well. Naman’s father was a dentist. The uncle ran a grocery store. That’s where a robbery turned into a tragedy. Torn by fury and despair, young Edmond endured the funeral, the trial, the grief, the loss. “It was one of the most horrible times in my life,” he said. “I think that really inspired me to be a DA.” Naman was a Mobile County assistant district attorney from 1995 until 2007. A Mobile native, he had attended Mobile’s UMS Preparatory School (now UMS-Wright). He has a degree in English, biology and philosophy from the University of South Alabama and a law degree from Jones School of Law in Montgomery. What most helped his career is something he did at South for fun. “I took a theater class on a lark and loved it so much I got real involved

in it,” he said. It taught him how to communicate. “It was really that department that I think had a real big impact later because so much of my job is going out in the public and conveying messages. Going out to children and families and trying to make a clear case for what I’m trying to do and how I’m trying to change their lives.” As a prosecutor, Naman encountered many lives that needed changing. “I was handling all types of cases dealing with children,” he said. “I was noticing that so many of the children that I was sending to prison and jail all had one thing in common. They were all high school dropouts.”

“It was really [the theater] department that had a real big impact later because so much of my job is going out in the public and conveying messages — (making the case of) how I’m trying to change their lives.” —JUDGE EDMOND NAMAN

That leads to the next story. It opens in a grocery store where Naman liked to stop for coffee. Over the years, he watched the son of the owner grow up into a fine young man. The father had brought the family to America from Iran and had worked tirelessly to provide for them. The boy was studying engineering so he could get a good job and take over some of the burden. Then one day came shouts, gunshots, screams. Two young men robbed the store for money to buy new clothes to wear at a football game. The bright, selfless engineering student died. “I prosecuted that case, and I was so into it,” Naman said. “I remember almost feeling a sense of hatred for those two young men. Almost the way I had felt when I was a 12-year-old boy.” He won the case. At sentencing, he pressed for the death penalty. Then the families of the killers testified. “Mothers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles,” Naman said. They asked, not that the young men escape responsibility or get out of jail, but simply that they not be executed. “They were begging, please, just let my child die in prison,” Naman said. “It was not just one family that had lost their son. There were two other families that had lost something dear to them.” In 2006, Naman won election as a Mobile County Juvenile Court judge. Twice since, he has run for reelection unopposed. The third story begins with him looking down from his bench at a 12-year-old boy arrested for selling drugs in school. “He’s just a little guy,” Naman said. “The jumpsuit that we have for inmates almost swallowed him up. He was so scared, and he was so lost. Rather than want to fuss at him, I wanted to hug him.” The boy lived with his 80-year-old grandmother. There was no money for nice clothes, cool shoes, a PlayStation. No problem, said a neighborhood drug dealer. Just take this stuff to school and sell it. You’ll get rich. Instead, the first time the boy tried it, he got caught.

Naman’s court works with organizations in and out of government (including the University of South Alabama) to help such children. “We got him in the programs,” Naman said. “We got him in a good tutoring class. We got his grades up. We got his behavior where it needed to be. Because he was really just a good kid. He just needed a little help.” The day the boy completed probation, he called Naman. His grandmother was so proud of his progress that she said he could go to the Greater Gulf State Fair. But his ride had fallen through. Naman recalled, “I said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. What can I do for you?’ He said, ‘I just wondered, Judge, what are you doing tonight?’” Naman had a commitment. But there would be other nights. He and his chief of probation, Lawrence Battiste (now Mobile’s chief of police), began taking the boy to football games, having him over for dinner, just spending time with him. That sets the stage for the final story. It opens with Naman trying to sneak out of a meeting he hadn’t wanted to attend. Then Dr. Norman McCrummen, former pastor of Spring Hill Presbyterian Church in Mobile, stood up. “As soon as he started speaking, I realized I had to stay,” Naman said. Here was a man, Naman realized, who could help him bring hope to those who had no power over their lives. Together, they talked to successful people who wanted to help others achieve that same good fortune. McCrummen brought in Edwin “Pete” Peters, a financial adviser. “Pete’s another graduate of South Alabama,” Naman said. “He has wholeheartedly thrown his whole life into this program. He has been the president of our board since its inception.” NEST ( sends volunteer teams to mentor at-risk youths and families in Mobile County. The teams help families with employment, budgeting, meal planning, housing—basic life skills that nobody has ever taught these families. The volunteers tutor, encourage and do whatever else they can to keep kids in school. Mostly, they care. “All my life, I have had people who pushed and pulled and overcame obstacles for me,” Naman said. “They would not let me fail. They gave me everything that I needed to be successful.” All successful people have a support system. NEST volunteers provide one. “That’s all it is,” Naman said. “Just someone who cares and loves you.”

Judge Edmond Naman ’87, center, is featured with with NEST co-founders Edwin “Pete” Peters ’75, left and Norman McCrummen. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA


ATHLETICS This summer, more than 500 South alumni came out to meet our two newest coaches, head football coach Steve Campbell and head men’s basketball coach Richie Riley. The Jaguar Jamboree traveled to Fairhope, Pensacola, Gulfport and Birmingham before coming home to Mobile.


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Jaguar Jamboree

Jaguar Junction

ATHLETICS MANY THANKS TO OUR 2018 JAGUAR JUNCTION SPONSORS Austal Budweiser-Busch Coca Cola Roberts Brothers, Inc. Springhill Toyota USA Health Walters Controls, Inc.



ALUMNI On June 19, Julian ’73 and Kim MacQueen hosted an alumni gathering at their Pensacola Beach Hilton Hotel to share the story of their unique trip around the world (featured in the Spring issue of South Magazine). Read about their 80-day adventure at southmagazine.


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ALUMNI University President Dr. Tony Waldrop and his wife, Dr. Julee Waldrop, along with alumnus Lee McKinney and his wife Candice, hosted an intimate alumni gathering at the Birmingham Zoo this summer. Guests had the opportunity to meet head football coach Steve Campbell and head men’s basketball coach Richie Riley as they mingled in the Trails of Africa exhibit and even had the chance to see the zoo’s resident jaguar, Khan.




From the Battlefield to the Classroom


“You adapt to the environment you’re put in.” As a graduate-level physical therapy assistant professor in USA’s Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions, Jeremy Fletcher not only tries to pass his knowledge to his students, he lives it. When Fletcher entered Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., as a freshman in 1997, he dreamed of one day being drafted into the major leagues as a pitcher. After playing for NSU and the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Fletcher realized that baseball was not in the cards for him as a long-term career. Newly married to his wife, Cherish, and with a bachelor’s in health and physical education in-hand, Fletcher needed to find a way to support his family. “I decided to join the U.S. Army Reserve, partly because I would have money to go back to school and partly because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I graduated,” said Fletcher. With a background in athletics, coaching and physical education, Fletcher began his military career as an enlisted medic, which led him to a physical therapy specialist course at Fort Sam Houston in 2004 and the real beginning of his career trajectory. He applied and was accepted into South’s doctor of physical therapy program in 2005, but the Army had different plans. Fletcher was mobilized for the next 18 months as a physical therapy specialist at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk, La. Fast-forward five years. In May 2010, Fletcher completed his doctorate degree at South and received a direct commission as a captain in the Army Reserve. At Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Ga., Fletcher was assigned as the only physical therapist for 4,000 soldiers, preparing them for deployment.


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This daunting task forced Fletcher to, once again, adapt to his surroundings and prepared him for an even more important mission. In 2013, the Army deployed Fletcher to FOB Shank (a forward operating base of the U.S. military, located in the Logar province of eastern Afghanistan). His duty was to travel, by military helicopter, from one combat outpost to another, to treat 50-100 combat soldiers at each post. He continued this grueling routine for nine months. “My role was to get them back in the fight as quickly as possible,” said Fletcher. Upon his return to the states, Fletcher decided to pursue a more stable career—one that would allow more time with his family of five. He contacted Dr. Dennis Fell, then chair of USA’s physical therapy department and found there was an assistant professor position available. He was hired and made the transition from Army life to academia in 2015. Fletcher didn’t leave his military roots behind, though. Outside of the classroom, his focus is now volunteering with Veterans Recovery Resources, a nonprofit organization with the mission of delivering highest-quality, compassionate, affordable substance abuse and mental wellness services to all veterans–and their families–who need help. As a veteran adviser and part of a 10-person clinical team, Fletcher is helping to develop a process of in-patient residential treatment at the VRR’s facility that recently opened in Mobile. Fletcher’s adaptability from the baseball field to the battlefield to the classroom has served him well. “There’s a great ability to impact the students and the community,” said Fletcher. This veteran-turnedprofessor plans to use his unique life experience to make positive impacts on both.


JAGUAR VETERANS ALUMNI SOCIETY Last year the National Alumni Association established the Jaguar Veterans Alumni Society. We spoke to its president, Frank Wendling, to learn more about the new group.


ABOUT THE JAGUAR VETERANS ALUMNI SOCIETY stablished on Veterans Day E in 2017, the Jaguar Veterans Alumni Society is open to all USA alumni who have served, or who are currently serving, in the military. n The Society’s events have included a Veterans Day lunch, Medal of Honor Park cleanup in Mobile and a 9/11 remembrance ceremony. More events are planned for 2018-2019. n There is no fee to join the Jaguar Veterans Alumni Society. n Interested in joining? Contact the National Alumni Association at (251) 4607084 or email shirazi@ n






“The purpose is to bring people together who’ve had a shared experience in a meaningful way.” —FRANK WENDLING ’88


to Mobile during his senior year in high school and started at South in 1982. Co-op with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while at South, but decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation. Served as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot for 29 years and was stationed across the country and the world. Moved from Quantico, Va., to Fairhope in 2013 for his last assignment at the Naval Education and Training Command in Pensacola. Started volunteering as the alumni adviser for Kappa Alpha fraternity and was elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2017. Officially retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps on October 1, 2018.





In order to improve the level of awareness among the communities, and encourage additional referring doctors and patients to use USA Health services, USA Health leaders launched a rebranding effort in 2016. Through a 10-person core team and a 50-person branding team, the process culminated in fall 2018 with a new introduction of USA Health to our community. The new branding emphasizes the academic medical difference at USA, including a new name for the USA Medical Center. USA Health University Hospital has been introduced as a way to tie the region’s only Level I trauma center to its University of South Alabama origins, academic core and research focus. A new website,, will be launched in mid-fall as a way to showcase the people and technology. With more than 3,800 employees, the University of South Alabama’s health system is unlike any other health care organization on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It includes an acute care medical center, a hospital for children and women, an academic research and cancer treatment center and an academic physician practice. At least onethird of local physicians, some 2,500, received their training at USA Medical Center. More than 10,400 nurses and 5,600 allied health professionals received training at USA hospitals. USA Health provides the region’s only Level I trauma center and regional burn center, as well as the area’s only neonatal and pediatric intensive care units. Yet despite these unique services, and nationwide accolades for quality and outcomes, USA Health has a low level awareness among Mobile and Baldwin county communities as well as the regional counties in South Alabama, and the Mississippi and Northwest Florida Gulf Coasts, according to research by the USA Polling Group and Lewis Communications.


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The Region’s


in Births

At USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, more families trust us to deliver their babies than any other hospital in the region. With that trust comes our commitment to health care focused on the needs of infants, children and women.

Our highly trained team of physicians and nurses will give you and your baby the best care close to home. And if your baby needs more specialized care, you won’t have to be separated. We have the area’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Our promise to you is our mission: We help people lead longer, better lives.


Quintuplets Enroll at South


Every student at the University of South Alabama is part of the University community. But five of this year’s incoming freshmen can say they were, quite literally, born into the USA family. This fall, five quintuplet siblings, born in August 1999 at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, began their college careers at South. Their story is one of adversity and challenge, but also one of joy, faith, hope and perseverance. They were premature, of course. Amelia Rose, Isabella, Shipley, Sophia and Hallie Zimlich came into the world weighing less than two pounds apiece. In the world of medical care, some 19 years ago, it was somewhat of a miracle that they not only survived, but eventually thrived, with no severe health complications. At first, however, there were several challenging months of care in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit before their parents, Jeannette and Mark, were able to bring their babies home. Now, 19 years later, the quintuplets are experiencing another chapter in their amazing journey. When it came to deciding on a college, South Alabama was at the top of their list – for many reasons. Both their parents are South alumni. Jeannette earned a bachelor’s in education and Mark holds a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Jeannette’s mother, Jane Aromi, also graduated from South Alabama with a master’s degree. Her father, Dr. Eugene Aromi, served as a professor of education at South Alabama for more than 25 years. After they were born, the children’s grandfather had shared their story with the late USA President Emeritus Gordon Moulton, who was so inspired that he offered all five of the babies a full tuition

“Every child cared for in our NICU holds a special place in the hearts of our University community, and we’re so pleased that they will be staying with the South family as students.” —USA PRESIDENT TONY WALDROP

scholarship to South Alabama as long as they met the qualifications for admission. Jeannette pulled out the letter from Moulton, which she had saved for 18 years, and sent it to University President Tony Waldrop, who was delighted to honor the promise that his predecessor made to the family. “I was very moved by the story of these children who had been born in our hospital and now wanted to attend our University,” said Waldrop. “Every child cared for in our NICU holds a special place in the hearts of our University community, and we’re so pleased that they will be staying with the South family as students.” Mark and Jeannette had decided to wait to tell the quintuplets about the academic scholarships, making sure that the decision to attend South was one that their children could make on their own. They surprised their children with the scholarship this spring. “We will always be grateful to South and my grandfather for the scholarship we are receiving,” said Shipley. “This is a great legacy. Education is very important in our family.”



Your Jag pride can turn dreams into reality. When you purchase a University of South Alabama license plate, 100% of net proceeds benefit USA student scholarships. USA license plates have raised more than $1 million for students to follow their dreams. Through the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative, the proceeds from your Jag Tag are automatically matched. Get your Jag Tag today! #InvestInDreams

Mikayla Johnson, Sophomore Radiologic Sciences major Dothan, AL

(251) 460-7032 |

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Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards T HURSDAY, MARCH

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H O N O R I N G T H E 2 0 1 9 AWA R D R E C I P I E N T S Sr. Marilyn Aiello, O.P., MD ‘78 Mr. Caleb Crosby ‘03 Ms. Tanya D. Fratto ‘83 Mr. Ralph A. Hargrove Dr. Edward Alan Panacek, MD ’81, MPH

F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N A B O U T T H E D I S T I N G U I S H E D A L U M N I A N D S E R V I C E AWA R D S , V I S I T S O U T H A L A B A M A . E D U /A L U M N I #WeAreSouthAlumni


S O U T H | FA L L 2 0 1 8

Support the USA National Alumni Association with BBVA Compass for your CauseÂŽ. The BBVA Compass debit card is the only debit card that helps support the University of South Alabama National Alumni Association with every purchase. Through BBVA Compass for your CauseÂŽ, BBVA Compass will donate $50 to the USA National Alumni Association with each new consumer checking account opened using our organization promo code (128133). Also, with each new debit card, BBVA Compass will donate 0.25% of the amount of every signature-based qualifying purchase to the USA NAA. This is an easy way to show your South spirit and to give back to your alma mater.

To learn more visit


02 14 19

Your South Alabama Alumni Association membership gives back to USA and sets a foundation for generations to come. JOIN TODAY! Membership Benefits Include: • Lifetime Member’s name inscribed on our Wall of Honor at Moulton Tower (paid-in-full Lifetime Members) • Eligibility to join USA Recreation Center (USA Alumni only) • Admission into Jag Junction football tailgating events • Eligibility for Children of Alumni Scholarships • USA Bookstore discounts | (251) 460-7084





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University of South Alabama Office of Alumni Relations Alumni Hall 5930 USA Drive South Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002 University of South Alabama National Alumni Association @USAAlumni University of South Alabama National Alumni Association usa_alumni

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