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SOUTH U S A N AT I O N A L A L U M N I A S S O C I AT I O N

Fall 2019

Ken Simon ’76 From humble beginnings to Board of Trustees Chair at USA


SOUTH Contents VIEW FROM THE BELL TOWER

Fall 2019

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NEWS 4 STUDENTS 8 The Fall 2019 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, M.P.A. ’13, Secretary-Treasurer Doug Whitmore ’05, Past President National Alumni Association Board of Directors Earl Blackmon ‘80 Sharon Davis ‘02, MBA ‘07 Kimberly Hargrove ‘89 Clyde Higgs ‘97 Douglaus Johnson ‘09 Patsy Kennedy ‘96 Justin Labrato ‘98 Dan Lafayette MBA ‘07 Amy McCoy ‘02, MD ‘06 Robert McGhee ‘93 Mike Mitzner ‘05 Jody Montelaro ‘00 Nicholas Morisani ‘05 Brian Rhodes ‘95 Laura Sergeant ‘91, MEd ‘05 Ronnie Stallworth ‘03 Melanie Sumerlin ‘07, MBA ‘11 Paige Vitulli ‘86, MEd ‘00, PhD ‘06 Robbie Waller ‘02 Trent Walters ‘08 Charlie Warner ‘76 Frank Wendling ‘88 National Alumni Association Executive Director Karen Webster Edwards ’80 Associate Director Stephanie Powell ’97 Associate Director Patty Howell Assistant Director Ailey Arrow Cometti Secretary Robyn C. Drinkard Editor Julie Jackson Assistant Director of Creative Services Kimberly Lovvorn

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

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ALUMNI 16 ATHLETICS

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BOARD OF TRUSTEES SCHOLAR

Stephen Azar scores a perfect 36 on his ACT composite

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THE ART OF LEARNING

USA nursing student studies art history in Italy

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A PLAYGROUND FOR INNOVATION

Rick Green ‘10, ‘18 turned a love of barbeque and a solution to his broken charcoal smoker into a community makerspace

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PRESCRIPTION FOR GOOD HEALTH: LEARNING TO COOK

JAN-LOUW KOTZE

MCI Cancer Survivors Culinary Program

Sporting Glory Gives Way to Something More Fulfilling UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA

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VIEW FROM THE BELL TOWER

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We are honored to welcome the newest addition to our Jaguar family, the class of 2023. As South matures as a university, our incoming freshman classes continue to excel in their achievements. This year’s 1,617 freshmen boast a record-high average GPA of 3.72 and an average ACT score of 23.9. This year’s freshmen also reflect South’s ever-growing student population, with students from 28 states and 13 countries. This fall, we also welcomed 303 first-generation college students to campus. This diversity enriches our total student body and, ultimately, creates successful, compassionate and inclusive alumni. Our freshman class will be the first to visit the MacQueen Alumni Center, which opens in January 2020. They will also be one of the first to attend a football game in the new Hancock Whitney Stadium in September 2020. All of these achievements and milestones would not be possible without the support of you, our loyal alumni. I hope you will have a chance to visit campus soon to speak with our students and see your beautiful University. Go Jags! Karen Edwards ’80 Executive Director USA National Alumni Association

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NEWS

Board of Trustees Scholar Stephen Azar is the USA Board of Trustees Scholar for the 2019-2020 academic year. The scholarship is awarded each fall to the most academically talented student in each incoming freshman class, based on ACT/SAT score and, if needed, GPA, followed by rigor of high school coursework. Azar scored a perfect 36 on his ACT composite, an accomplishment reached by only 0.2 percent of the nearly two million high school students who take the national exam. He also achieved a 4.3 weighted grade-point average at St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi, Miss. Azar is majoring in biology and plans to attend medical school at South.

MacQueen Alumni Triangle North Center to open Carolina Area January 24 Alumni Chapter established

The National Alumni Association will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting for the MacQueen Alumni Center on Friday, January 24 at 2 p.m. The 15,000 square-foot building, the first permanent home for alumni on South’s campus, will house the Chief Calvin W. McGhee Grand Ballroom, the McKinney Family Greek Plaza in honor of Sigma Chi Fraternity, a 30-seat boardroom, meeting rooms and administrative offices. The grand opening event is open to all South alumni and the community.

The USA National Alumni Association board of directors approved the Triangle North Carolina Area Alumni chapter in August. The Triangle area includes Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C. For more information about this chapter, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@southalabama.edu.

South signs Galapagos agreement

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University of South Alabama faculty and students will be able to gain world-class research experiences in the Galapagos Islands, thanks to a recent agreement with the Galapagos Science Center. As a member institution, South will be able to offer research opportunities in the areas of natural sciences, social sciences, archaeology and health sciences, among others. S O U T H | FA L L 2 0 1 9

“The Galapagos Science Center is an important opportunity for our faculty because they will be able to interact and cooperate with scientists from all over the world with research going on in multiple disciplines,” said Dr. David Johnson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at South Alabama.


September 24-27, 2020 #SouthAlumniWeekend The University of South Alabama welcomes you home for its first Alumni Reunion Weekend, September 24-27, 2020. Whether you graduated decades ago or this year, South will always be your University. From tailgates to campus tours and class reunions, this is the time to reconnect with your South Alabama family. For more information, visit southalabama.edu/2020reunionweekend.


NEWS

“When the Emperor Was Divine” chosen as Common Read book Julie Otsuka’s novel, “When the Emperor Was Divine,” has been selected as the 2019-2020 Common Read/Common World book. The voluntary program is for all University of South Alabama students, especially freshmen, and aims to improve understanding of differences and commonalities across the world while engaging in academic discourse and critical thinking. Throughout the year, students and faculty interact with the book in a variety of academic settings.

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College of Medicine students awarded Blue Cross Blue Shield scholarships Four medical students at the USA College of Medicine will receive $60,000 scholarships from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama as part of a $1.2 million initiative aimed at improving access to healthcare in medically underserved areas of the state. Angela Mosley-Johnson, Hannah Brooks, Kimberly McWilliams and Samantha Lee, all third-year medical students at the USA College of Medicine, will receive $30,000 a year, which covers tuition for the final two years of medical school. Following their residency training in a primary care specialty, the four will commit to practicing in underserved communities in Alabama for a minimum of three years.

USA awarded more than $4 million to improve health in underserved areas The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently awarded the University of South Alabama College of Medicine a $4.4 million grant to improve the health of underserved areas and increase the number of primary care physicians. USA was one of five institutions across the United States who received grant funding through the HRSA Population Care Pathway Program. “This funding allows us to expand the curriculum for our medical students in order to better serve the needs of citizens who live in underserved and under-resourced areas of our county,” said Allen Perkins, M.D., M.P.H., chair and a professor of family medicine, who also serves as the principal investigator for the project.


South awarded $3.8 million for ionic liquid research

NEWS

USA researchers have received a NASA grant of $1.1 million and a $2.7 million grant from the Department of Energy. The NASA grant is for the use of ionic liquids in development of the next-generation carbon dioxide scrubber for the International Space Station, as well as for future space travel to Mars. The DOE grant focuses on developing more energy efficient technologies for use on Earth. Dr. James Davis, professor of chemistry, Dr. Matthew Reichert, assistant vice president for research and associate professor of chemistry and Dr. Kevin West, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will work together on both grants. Dr. T. Grant Glover, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will join them on the NASA grant research. Dr. Christy West, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Dr. Brooks Rabideau, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will work with them on the DOE grant research.

First Black Alumni Weekend held The National Alumni Association and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs celebrated the legacy of diversity at South Alabama during the first Black Alumni Weekend, Sept. 6-7. This event, themed “Come Back, Give Back,” was a time for black alumni to reconnect with each other, mentor current students and raise financial support through scholarship opportunities for current students.

Southern writers collection gifted to Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of South Alabama received a 166-piece collection of published works from the Palaemon Press of Winston-Salem, N.C. in September. The collection includes books, poems and broadsides as well as photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Eudora Welty.

Save the Date for USA Giving Day 2020 The University of South Alabama will host its third USA Giving Day on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. For 24 hours, South’s alumni, faculty, staff and friends are encouraged to support USA. In 2019, USA Giving Day resulted in a total of $314,390 raised from 1,048 donors to help fund academics, scholarships, athletic programs, USA Health initiatives and National Alumni Association programs.

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STUDENTS

She initially felt overwhelmed by the multitude of international programs offered. Jan Dominique Santos, a study abroad advisor in USA’s Office of International Education, guided Moon through the process. “She sat down with me and broke it down realistically into what would be most beneficial and what I could afford,” said Moon. That’s when she found the program that would take her to Italy for two weeks last summer to study art history. A self-described people person, Moon was thrilled to study abroad and experience a new culture, but the academic focus felt a bit daunting. “It was an art program, so it was way out of my comfort zone,” laughed Moon.

“It felt like home,” Moon said. “I thought, ‘maybe I am supposed to be here.’”

The Art of Learning

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As a nursing student, Kelsey Moon never imagined she would be studying art history in Italy. But pushing herself beyond her comfort zone is a challenge Moon readily accepts. A sophomore in USA’s College of Nursing, Moon grew up in Birmingham, the youngest of three. Originally, she wanted to attend college out of state and never even considered applying to South. A summer beach vacation changed Moon’s trajectory when her mom encouraged her to tour the University. She immediately fell in love with South’s campus.

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Moon in front of Orvieto Cathedral, Orvieto, Italy.

“It felt like home,” Moon said. “I thought, ‘maybe I am supposed to be here.’” Her goal of becoming a nurse is one area that has never wavered, much like her passion to travel overseas. Early in her freshman year, Moon began researching study abroad opportunities that would allow her to complete a few of her elective classes. “I knew I wanted to study abroad early in my college career, so that I can focus on nursing school later,” said Moon.

Moon’s program took her to the well-known art meccas of Rome and Florence to visit some of the most well-regarded museums and historical sites. However, it was the lesser-known Orvieto, with a population just over 20,000, that became her favorite destination. “It felt like the real Italy,” said Moon. Moon doesn’t speak Italian, but she didn’t let that obstacle hinder her from diving headfirst into the culture. She relied mainly on hand gestures to communicate with the locals. “It made me realize that, even though we don’t speak the same language, we can still communicate. We’re not that different,” said Moon. An unexpected challenge came in the form of a more laid-back class structure than she is accustomed. “Naturally, I am very structured and time-oriented,” she said. The program offered students free time to experience the Italian culture. “It helped me learn how to manage my free time, and that was a big take away.” Moon is hoping to take a little bit of the laissezfaire attitude with her this semester. “I’m trying not to take things so seriously,” she said. “Yes, I have schedules and deadlines, but I really want to enjoy this time of my life, because I won’t get it back.”


STUDENTS

Conversing in Another Culture

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Kelvin Herring has always loved meeting new people. It’s what drew him to the field of psychology and the goal of one day becoming a counselor. But as a first-generation college student from Ashville, Ala., he never dreamed he would have the opportunity to create friendships that span an ocean. Thanks to a South Alabama admissions counselor who visited Herring’s high school his senior year, he did just that. Herring visited South’s campus, enrolled and the rest, as they say, is history. Herring spent six weeks last summer studying Spanish language at the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, before graduating from South in August with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish. Growing up around Spanish-speaking relatives, Herring was familiar with the language but never became fluent. After studying Spanish for four years at South, he knew he wanted to really immerse himself in the language before graduating. Associate professor of Spanish, Dr. Zoya Khan, encouraged him to take advantage of a study abroad program in Spain. “It completely exceeded my expectations,” said Herring. The intimate class setting at Universidad de Alcalá forced Herring to acclimatize quickly to

Herring and his classmates in Segovia, Spain.

speaking with his Spanish professors. “Within the course of a week, I got used to their dialect and speed,” Herring said. “It helped me to adapt to the new culture.” Adjusting to the language meant Herring was able to accomplish his main objective: meeting people. During his free time, Herring explored the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and Toledo. He struck up conversations in shops, at the local barber shop, and, of course, with his professors and classmates. A few people were taken aback by his outgoing personality, but that didn’t bother Herring. “People were mostly open and wanted to ask questions,” he said. And Herring was happy to oblige. Herring’s openness to having meaningful conversations with strangers has served him well throughout his psychology studies at South. To gain more hands-on experience, one of Herring’s professors suggested he take an internship at Lifelines Counseling Services in their crisis call center during his junior year. As part of the internship, he received extensive training to become a suicide prevention counselor—a challenge for even the most experienced adults. However, Herring has never shied away from a challenge. “I learned a lot, and I found it very rewarding,” he said.

Herring would like to return to Spain in the future. But first, he has a little more studying to complete. He started graduate school this fall at South to complete a master’s in psychology and plans to earn his doctorate as well. And just like his dream of studying abroad, Herring knows with hard work and determination, he will transform those goals into realities. “I made it happen,” said Herring, “and I’m proud of myself for that.”

Herring on Calle Mayor in Alcalá De Henares.

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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. Since 2013, USA license plates have raised more than $1 million for students to follow their dreams. Though the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative, the proceeds from your Jag Tag are automatically matched. Get your Jag Tag today! #WeAreSouthAlumni

(251) 460-7084 | alumni@southalabama.edu | SouthAlabama.edu/Alumni

Sahilee Waitman ‘20 2019-2020 SGA President

2020 DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD MR. JAMES J. “JAKE” GOSA ‘73

2020 V. GORDON MOULTON DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD DR. JOSEPH F. BUSTA, JR.

2020 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI & S E RV I C E AWA R D S MACQUEEN ALUMNI CENTER MARCH 5, 2020

2020 INSPIRATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD MR. WILLIAM J. “HAPPY” FULFORD ’73, ’91

2020 COMMUNITY PARTNER AWARD MRS. MERCERIA LUDGOOD

2020 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS MR. WILLIAM B. BURNSED, JR. ‘72 MR. JOHN T. CROWDER, JR. ‘69

For more information, visit alumni.southalabama.edu.

MR. BRIAN J. CUCCIAS ‘79


FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

A playground for innovation RICK GREEN ‘10, ‘18 TURNED A LOVE OF BARBEQUE AND A SOLUTION TO HIS BROKEN CHARCOAL SMOKER INTO A COMMUNITY MAKERSPACE

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Like many great inventions, Rick Green’s was born out of necessity. A necessity for the perfect smoked ribs. Green is an instructor in the University of South Alabama’s School of Computing, and he’s always had an aptitude for learning how things work. So, when his favorite barbeque restaurant closed, Green took matters into his own hands. He bought a charcoal smoker and began to perfect his technique. But after two years, his beloved smoker died. Instead of tossing it to the curb, Green decided to learn how to not only make it work again, but to transform his budget-smoker into a technologicallyadvanced cooking machine. He found an Arduino controller (an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software), a few other inexpensive items and created a high-tech, computer-controlled smoker. Thus, the idea for a makerspace was born. “I called my college buddies and said, ‘hey, I’m going to start this thing called a makerspace and it’s going to be based around this Arduino controller,” said Green. “That’s where it started.” Green, who graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USA’s School of Computing, always wanted to teach. At the time, he worked as the information technology manager at Lenzing Fibers in Axis, Ala. The makerspace filled Green’s desire to share his talents. He started small, teaching computing, electronics, robotics and 3-D printing at the downtown Mobile Public Library at no charge. First, his students were predominately kids; then adults became interested. He realized there was an opportunity for growth. A makerspace is a collaborative facility where people of any age can gather to learn new skills or hone skills they already possess. The tools

“It’s a playground for you to figure things out, and make mistakes,” said Green.

can range from high-tech 3-D printers to low-tech woodworking devices. The emphasis lies in creative process. Until recently, Green’s space, named Mobile Makerspace, shared a small building with another nonprofit organization on St. Francis Street. Despite its tight quarters, it housed several 3-D printers, a laser cutter, a variety of woodworking tools and a CNC (computercontrolled carving machine). The premise is simple. Anyone who is interested—or even just curious—about the tools and their creative possibilities, can use the makerspace. There’s a membership fee, which includes access to the tools as well as to the people who know how to use them. Green emphasizes that no experience is necessary to join. “I’ve taken people who’ve never heard of a laser cutter, and within 20 minutes they are cutting their first thing,” Green said. “It’s really that simple.” Members have created everything from simple wedding cake toppers to elaborate cosplay costume pieces. Two students from South’s College of Engineering utilized the makerspace to build drone parts for their senior projects. In October, the Mobile Makerspace relocated to another downtown building, which offers 2,500 square feet. Green is excited about the possibilities this more spacious area holds for the community, including more tools, a larger workspace and a finishing area. At its core, Green emphasizes, the Mobile Makerspace is a place to learn. “It’s a playground for you to figure things out, and make mistakes,” said Green. Just like perfecting the perfect barbecue.

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ALUMNI

“Educate Thyself Brother, And You Will Go Far” USA ALUMNUS AND RECENT CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, KEN SIMON '76 FOLLOWED FOOTSTEPS TO SOUTH A N D T H E N WA L K E D H I S OW N PAT H .

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The way Ken Simon tells it, the future University of South Alabama trustee never had a choice. “To be honest, I didn’t really choose South. I intended to attend college out of state. But my mother put the kibosh on that plan, and essentially told me where I was going to go; where she and my two older brothers had gone.” It’s right here where you need to know something about Ken Simon’s mother. Lavonne Simon was the University of South Alabama’s first African American graduate. She and her husband, Lewis, raised seven children in Mobile’s Roger Williams Homes, a public housing complex, but her eye was on a college education. So, nearly 20 years after she graduated as valedictorian at Mobile’s Central High School, she walked with the first graduating class at USA in 1967. “She was extremely determined,” Simon said. “She had a vision of herself and a sense of who she was and where she wanted to go.” The fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Ken Simon graduated from Toulminville High School – today’s LeFlore Magnet High School – and, following his mother’s directive, enrolled at South Alabama. Like many students before and after him, he had to work to pay for college. He got a job on campus with the grounds department. It was a humble start for a future board chairman. “I worked all summer planting grass, trimming shrubbery, watering flowers, moving dirt and digging holes,” he recalled. “I expected to feel a sense of embarrassment when I encountered friends and acquaintances. But, oddly enough, I didn’t feel embarrassed. In fact, I was proud of what I was doing. I came to a greater appreciation of the dignity of simple work.” That work ethic led Simon to try out for the University’s debate team. Why the debate team? “Ever since high school, I wanted to be a lawyer,” Simon explained. “Yet, I lacked the confidence and skill one needs to be good in the courtroom.” In that same first summer at South, he met the debate team coach, Howard Pelham, from whom Simon’s brother, James, was taking a speech class. They encouraged him to try out for the debate team. He was an immediate success. Actually, no. “At the beginning, I was terrible,” Simon laughed. “No, not terrible. Awful!” But he persevered, acquiring what he calls “the fundamental tools of lawyering; research, analysis, argumentation, persuasion and discipline. Moreover, it gave me the tools to overcome my lack of skill as a public speaker.”


Debate team friends, including future Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr., encouraged Simon to join them in the Student Government Association. He did, becoming a freshman and sophomore senator, and later, SGA vice-president and president, the first African American SGA president in the University’s history. And yet, despite his mother’s example, and despite his debating and SGA successes, deep down Ken Simon still doubted himself. “Am I good enough?” is a question he often asked. “A letter I wrote several years ago to a professor shows how that question was answered,” Simon elaborated. “In fact, Professor Walt Darring is a special inspiration, although he never knew it. I wrote to him about an English composition course I took two decades before sending the letter. I explained that I had attended segregated schools all my life. Segregation had isolated me and fueled self-doubts whether I was as good as white students. My initial experiences at USA drove home for me the gap that then existed between black and white educational experiences. I wrote further:

Dear Professor: Your class is memorable because of the first composition assignment. I don’t remember the specifics of the assignment. I do remember your face and demeanor when you returned the graded papers. You expressed disappointment that, as a group, our writing skills were so deficient. You began calling our names to retrieve our papers from the front of the classroom. I recall several classmates returning to their desks with long faces. I prepared for the worst and walked to the front when my name was called. I mustered the courage to look at my grade and was shocked when I saw the verdict: A-. More important than the grade were the words you sketched in the upper right-hand margin of my paper. You wrote, “Educate thyself Brother, and you will go far.” Me? These words were meant for me? Was there a mistake? I can’t tell you the impact of this message. It boosted my confidence and affirmed my self-worth. I know it sounds corny, but I was inspired to do well at South and in life. Indeed, life has been good. I did reasonably well at South, went to law school, and practiced law in Mobile, Washington, D.C., and in Birmingham. I

“Mr. Darring wrote me back,” Simon continued.

Dear Mr. Simon, You are right about one thing--I don’t remember your face or name. But I do recall the note I scrawled on your paper. An unusual message, it sprang from a gut-feeling that here was intelligence and understanding, and the right words might convey to you the need to develop your potential. So, I tossed the words out into the unknown, and you and they have “gone far;” and now, 20 years later, they return to me in the form of thanks. Well, it is just in time. I have been teaching English for some 27 years now, and have recently begun to wonder whether it’s worth the effort, trying to teach people to read and write in the Age of Television. Your letter seems to say to me: “you never know, Brother, what your words can do for others.” You have restored my faith in teaching. And so the prophecy has been fulfilled; the circle is complete; and now it is my turn to thank you. Thanks.

Simon graduated from South, then graduated from law school. He and his wife, Sabrina, – also an attorney – pursued careers in Washington that included him serving a year as a White House Fellow assisting U.S. Attorney General William French Smith. “From a career standpoint, we both were well positioned for successful careers in the nation’s capital. But from a personal standpoint, something was missing,” Simon said. That “something” was Alabama. “After our son, Zac, was born, it was clear that he and his siblings to come were unlikely to grow up really knowing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins unless we headed back South. And after attending a law school class reunion and getting

ALUMNI

Simon's Mother, Lavonne Simon ‘67.

to see many old friends, we decided to come back home. It was a decision we’ve never regretted.” A few years after returning, he was sworn in as a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge. Today, he has his own practice – Ken Simon Law – based in Birmingham. His lifetime of persistence, success and service was recognized by his alma mater in 2007 with a Distinguished Alumni award and with his 2009 appointment to the USA Board of Trustees. “As a kid who started in the projects, who attended segregated schools, whose mother made him attend South and whose first college job was watering bushes and laying sod, I have a keen appreciation for the inherent grace, unmerited favor and cosmic irony of my service as a trustee.”

am not sure if you ever knew my name, but I have drawn on those words you gave me many times. It’s time now to thank you for them. Thanks.

Simon as a USA student. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA

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USA HEALTH

Prescription for good health: Learning to cook CANCER SURVIVORS USE C O O K I N G TO C O M B AT D I S E A S E

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Clad in chef’s whites, instructor Gabi Wilson addresses the class. “Tonight we’ve got avocado toast. It’s super trendy right now,” she says. “Group 2 will make a spinach and feta frittata, essentially a crustless quiche.” In this teaching kitchen in midtown Mobile, healthcare meets culinary arts. The USA Health Culinary Medicine Program aims to motivate participants in the class to eat more fruits and vegetables, and arm them with the cooking skills they need to prepare delicious meals. At one table, Janice Carr, 57, heats up an electric griddle for oatmeal pancakes in keeping with the breakfast theme of the evening’s class at Bishop State Community College in Mobile. “I found out about this (class) when I went to a cancer survivor’s event,” said Carr, a breast cancer and lymphoma survivor who also suffers from diabetes. “I said, ‘I need to learn to cook better for myself.’” The goal of the forward-thinking program is simple: identify people who struggle with multiple health problems and offer healthy cooking as part of the remedy. In 2016, leaders at USA Health’s Mitchell Cancer Institute championed an idea they had admired at other academic settings such as the Harvard School of Public Health and Tulane University. Two years later, MCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Prevention is on its sixth course using a curriculum licensed from Tulane’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.

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“I gradually learned over years of practice that most chronic diseases I was treating were actually lifestyle diseases or related to unhealthy lifestyle choices.” In addition, a team of faculty from the USA College of Nursing has been working to offer Culinary Medicine lessons to an interprofessional class of medical, nursing and physical therapy students. Their thinking: why not get future healthcare providers to teach their patients about the serious benefits of healthy eating? One early supporter was Robert Israel, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician with USA Health in Mobile. “I gradually learned over years of practice that most chronic diseases I was treating in the office — cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, falls with injury and such — were actually lifestyle diseases or related to unhealthy lifestyle choices,” he said. “The way

we in healthcare were dealing with that was not working. In fact, it was failing miserably.” Israel looked into what other universities were piloting and delved into Michael Pollen’s “Food Rules,” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” What he learned was life changing. “I also realized that saying, ‘Go eat more vegetables and fruit’ to a patient who might not even know how to hold a knife, made no sense,” he said. “So we had to start where our grandmothers and great-grandmothers started, in the prep kitchen.” The collaboration has resulted in a total enrollment of 85 community participants over the past two years, not counting 48 students in health professions.

In the kitchen

On one Thursday night, Chef Gabi

demonstrates how to use a chef’s knife to chop a bell pepper. She sets the stem and top aside, explaining to the students that they can be frozen and used to make vegetable stock for future dishes. Two rows over, a husband and wife sauté chopped onions in a saucepan on one of the industrial stovetops. Nearby, another participant shreds an apple to make turkey and apple sausage. Also on the menu are breakfast tacos and a peanut butter/banana smoothie.


USA HEALTH

“These recipes are great, because they work on building a lot of flavor,” explains Chef Gabi. She stops a student here and there to tweak their cooking techniques. Nancy Brumfield, a registered dietitian nutritionist, has worked with the Culinary Medicine Program for the past two years. Before Chef Gabi teaches knife skills and cooking safety, Brumfield has already briefed students on how to interpret labels and conserve calories. “Breakfast can be a real trap for hidden sugars,” she warns, adding that a healthy goal for breakfast is 300 calories including fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat, at least 5 grams of fiber and fewer than 10 grams of sugar. What about Raisin Bran? “A serving has 17 grams of sugar,” Brumfield explains to a surprised class. “Look for 5 grams or less.” One night, the curriculum calls for sandwiches with hummus as a spread, bean and bell pepper nachos, chicken salad and cucumbertomato salad. Everyone is encouraged to sample

each other’s cooking. “Next week, I want you to come back, and tell me how you used fruits and vegetables in what you cooked,” Brumfield says.

University of South Alabama. “This program gives patients the tools, and the meals are very affordable.”

Prevention at its best

‘Enlightening’ course

Program leaders see a growing need for

nutrition-culinary education in Alabama, where almost one-third of adults are obese, putting them at a higher risk for chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and hypertension. So far, funding for the program has been provided under a CDC grant through the Alabama Department of Public Health. The Daniel Foundation of Alabama has also backed the effort. Organizers are seeking even more funding to take the program to the next level. “This is prevention at its best — changing behaviors so you don’t need a pill for cholesterol or hypertension,” said Margaret Sullivan, one of the early supporters who is now vice president for development and alumni relations at the

Walking into her fifth class, Carr, the

two-time cancer survivor, said that she and her mother, 86, have been watching what they eat more closely. Already a proficient cook, she said she had sautéed whitefish and added it to corn salsa and beans on warm corn tortillas to make tacos. “We’ve been noting ingredients on different items and looking at the serving sizes,” said Carr, who works as a licensed investigator for the City of Mobile. By the end of the course, Carr had more good news to report. “My favorite class was the sixth. We prepared all types of snacks, including popcorn, that were good and good for us,” she said. “This has been enlightening for the way I eat and cook.”

“This is prevention at its best — changing behaviors so you don’t need a pill for cholesterol or hypertension. This program gives patients the tools, and the meals are very affordable.”

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“Now, I feel at home here because my co-workers make me feel at home, and they have been patient with me. It’s a flexible job.” —Jasmein Davis ‘19, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

#MyFirstJob A S E R I ES FO CU SED O N U N IVERS IT Y OF S OUT H A L A BA M A C LASS O F 20 19 GRADUAT ES WH O

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A R E BEGI NN IN G THEI R C ARE E RS .

New University of South Alabama graduate Jasmein Davis is one of those rare individuals who loves words, but settled on numbers for her career. Immediately after graduating from South in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she began working in accounting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, located at the old federal building in downtown Mobile. “My favorite subject in high school was English, but I took accounting in my sophomore year. I was also able to shadow a forensic accountant at the FBI, and I discovered I loved accounting too,” she said. The Birmingham native, a graduate of Ramsay High School, came to South because of the friendly presentation of a recruiter during her senior year. “She was really welcoming, and then I found out about how the Mitchell College of Business was highly accredited and how nice the professors were.” She credits internships during her junior year and going into her senior year as the reason she landed a federal job so quickly after graduation. “My first internship was with the state of Alabama in the department of revenue in Birmingham. I worked with a mentor to gather information, then write reports. My second internship was with the Corps of Engineers,”

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she explained. “Now, I feel at home here because my co-workers make me feel at home, and they have been patient with me. It’s a flexible job.” While at South, Davis participated in the Women of Excellence, Abeneefoo Kuo Honor Society, the Accounting Club and Students Today Alumni Tomorrow. She also pledged and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. During her first year on campus, she lived in Epsilon 2, then the remaining three years she lived in The Grove. Now she lives by herself, and she admits that has been an adjustment. “Going to work has really been a big change because I’d been so involved in school, but I’ve grown to enjoy it now,” Davis said. “The best thing about working full-time is the freedom to enjoy the things I enjoy doing and not have to study all the time.” She enjoys trips to visit her family in Birmingham and going to the movies. And, she admits she has hopes of getting another degree that will help her in future work with the federal government. “I hope to eventually get into forensic accounting and work with the FBI at some point in the future,” Davis said. “But, right now, I’m just going to enjoy where I am.” Read more #MyFirstJob stories at southalabama.edu/myfirstjob.

Billie McKinney ‘19, B.S. Civil Engineering Structural engineer, Ingalls Shipbuilding

Lacey Bolden ‘19, B.S. Nursing Registered nurse, USA Health University Hospital

Tara Principe ‘19, B.S. Strategic Communications Marketing and communication director, Distinguished Young Women


#MyFirstJob |

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Zane Patterson grew up with his parents telling him he could sell ice to an Eskimo. Today he’s selling a way to use that water, and other resources, more efficiently. Patterson, who graduated in May with a major in biology and a minor in entrepreneurship, is an account manager at Mobile’s Shipshape Urban Farms. He took the job after completing a spring internship with the company. Shipshape’s core business is selling large container garden systems that utilize reimagined shipping containers to grow crops in a way that uses less energy and water. The company’s mission is to create hyper-local food systems that alleviate food deserts while providing a safer, fresher, more cost-effective food source. As a way to raise revenue, support the mission and use the produce supplied by the prototype models – the first is nearly complete – Shipshape also sells its vegetables and produce through weekly and monthly memberships. Patterson is charged with selling both, and pitching in to help wherever he’s needed. That can mean literally getting his hands dirty in the garden, located in south Mobile County. The other-dutiesas-required role is something that drew Patterson to Shipshape.

“I love the start-up culture,” said Patterson. “I enjoy the flexibility of entrepreneurship.” Patterson points out that Shipshape cofounder Jeff Marcus, who graduated from USA in 1982 with a degree in psychology, jumps in on everyday tasks along with everyone else. And he used to be vice president of a $3 billion business. At a large, established company, Patterson said, people tend to stay in their lanes. At a start-up, everyone has input and can bring ideas to the table that propel the company forward. Patterson attributes his fit to the company to three things: His attraction to start-up culture, human interaction and connection to the earth. Gardening and light farming runs in the family’s DNA, Patterson said, so there’s a familiarly with the product he’s selling. Patterson grew up in northwest Alabama near Muscle Shoals and once helped his grandfather harvest two tons of potatoes. His grandparents grew produce to take care of themselves and their neighbors. He recalled that they would grow corn and give some to the family across the street, who in turn would make tamales to share. And, just like that, Patterson jumped into a sales pitch.

ALUMNI “Our goal is to bring communities together by helping them have access to fresh local produce, no matter where you are in the world,” he said. “That’s the beauty of our system, as long as you have power and water, you can put our container gardens anywhere in the world and they will produce food for people.” The company has plans to put eight container gardens on a quarter-acre lot in downtown Mobile. That quarter acre, Patterson said, will produce the equivalent of 30 acres of food. Patterson said he has business ideas of his own, and working at Shipshape is the continuation of an education he started at South. The classroom taught Patterson what he needed to know about how start-ups work and gave him the tools he needed to build out his sales strategy. The struggle, he has to live. “It’s like a lab version of class,” he said of his job. As Patterson prepared to graduate, he only applied for one job. He may have been able to get better pay and benefits and a more comfortable beginning elsewhere, but Shipshape offered something unique. “It’s a start-up,” he said. “I get to help shape this business.”

“O U R GOAL I S TO BR I NG COM M U N I TI ES TOGETH ER BY HE LP I N G T HE M H AVE AC C ESS TO FR ES H LOCAL P R O DU C E , NO MATTER WHE R E YO U A R E IN TH E WO R LD” —Zane Patterson ‘19, Shipshape Urban Farms

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SPORTING G L O R Y G I V E S WAY TO SOMETHING MORE FULFILLING

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Jan-Louw Kotze came to the University of South Alabama hoping to compete for a discus gold medal in the Olympics. That didn’t work out (although he hasn’t quite given up on it yet). In the meantime, his experience at South has led him to something more satisfying. “One thing that always bothered me about athletics is that, especially in an individual sport like track and field, it’s a relatively egoistic pursuit,” Kotze said. “I wasn’t really helping anybody by throwing this implement really far.” So he has begun studying at the University of Minnesota for a doctorate in counseling psychology — an interest he discovered as a South undergrad. “Actually helping people deal with problems in their lives or reach a better place,” he said, “that’s going to be ultimately more fulfilling, I think, than sporting glory.” For even more fulfillment, he’s thinking of taking up ballroom dancing. And the piano. “I like the concept of a Renaissance man — someone who can do a lot of things pretty well.” Kotze (his name is pronounced “yon low COAT-zuh”) has certainly done well at athletics. He came to South from Paarl in the South African province of Western Cape, about 35 miles northeast of Cape Town.

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“It was halcyon, those days at South,” he said. “I miss them now already, but I know they will always be with me. Wherever I go, there South will be.” As a high school track and field athlete, he drew international attention for his skill in the discus throw, the shot put and the hammer throw. Several

U.S. college coaches reached out to him, including Paul Brueske, head coach of the South men’s and women’s track teams. In 2012, both Kotze and Brueske traveled to Barcelona, Spain, for the World Junior Championships — Kotze to compete, Brueske to recruit. The coach had never met Kotze’s parents and didn’t know what they looked like, but coincidentally bumped into them anyway, struck up a conversation and discovered who they were. “For me, that was a sign,” Kotze said. “I’m a Christian, and that was my divine guidance, if you will, that I had to go to South Alabama.” It worked out brilliantly. He arrived at South in January 2013 and stayed until July 2019, earning a double bachelor’s degree (B.S. in exercise science, B.A. in psychology) and then a master’s in behavioral and brain sciences. “It was halcyon, those days at South,” he said. “I miss them now already, but I know they will always be with me. Wherever I go, there South will be.” Kotze won the discus throw four years in a row at the Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship and was the 2017 Sun Belt Postgraduate Scholar Athlete of the Year. He also won 22 discus and five shot put competitions at other meets. In 2016, he finished sixth in the discus at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships, earning first-team All-America honors. He holds the school and conference records in the discus, and the school record in the weight throw (an indoor version of the hammer throw). He stands second on the South career list of longest shot puts. “Discus throwing was my main event,” Kotze said. “I didn’t get good enough, unfortunately, to make it to an Olympic level. I was not far off, but in a sport like that, unless you are one of the top five in the world, you’re not going to make a living out of it. And even if you do, it’s only while you’re good, which is not a very long time. So ultimately it was, at least economically, not an especially sustainable way to build a future.” He does hope to continue his training at Minnesota. “I resolved that I’ll give it a shot until at least the next Olympic games, which is next year at Tokyo,” he said. Meanwhile, another interest he discovered at South has turned into a passion. He took a couple of psychology classes, “and I realized I loved it.” He’s excited about the Ph.D. program, even though it will take six years to complete. “They’re trying to develop you as a researcher, as a clinician and then as a teacher,” he said. “So that just takes a while to do.”


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As a psychology student, or maybe just as a person who tends toward introspection, his chief subject for analysis is himself. He’s aware that athletes sometimes have trouble transitioning from the sport that took up so much of their time and shaped so much of their identity. They lose not only the thrill of competition but also their support network: teammates and coaches. “It’s very difficult to overcome that sudden loss,” Kotze said. “In some way, it’s as though somebody died.” No matter what, he plans to keep active. At 6 feet, 1 inch tall, he weighs 210 pounds, down from his peak of 240 as a student-athlete but still solid. “I doubt that I’ll ever stop lifting weights unless the injuries pile up so much that it’s not worth it anymore,” he said. “I’ll probably still try to be strong and have power because I feel those are good things to have.”

He also wants to develop his artistic and creative side through dancing and music. “Next year, I hope to start learning an instrument,” he said. “I feel as though I should be able to play at least one at a non-embarrassing level. So I’m thinking of taking up piano.” The University of Minnesota, with more than 50,000 students, feels a little overwhelming so far. In contrast, the University of South Alabama seemed the perfect size for him: approachable, but big enough to include lots of subcultures for him to explore. He got to know members of the band, representatives from student government, cheerleaders, nursing students, international students, commuter students, military veterans and many other different types of people.

“I found it stimulating,” he said. “I’ve always struggled with shyness throughout my life. I still struggle with reaching out to people, but it got better at South. If you talk to my parents, that’s one of the things they appreciate the most.” For academics, social life, athletics and personal development, “I sing the praises of my university,” Kotze said. Maybe most important, he said, “I was appreciated and liked by my fellow students. I felt loved in a sense. I felt welcomed by people from all across the board. How unlikely is that? I might never have that again. I feel very lucky and fortunate and blessed.”

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA

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usahealthsystem.com

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Join the Rec!

South graduates who are members of the National Alumni Association are eligible to join the USA Recreation Center. 35-foot rock climbing wall Outdoor recreational pool/ Indoor lap pool n Padded indoor soccer court n 4 basketball courts n State-of-the art cardio theater n Group fitness classes n Outdoor adventure trips n Child care available n

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U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H A L A B A M A C A M P U S R E C R E AT I O N (251) 460-6293 | src@southalabama.edu southalabama.edu/studentrecreationcenter

24 Hours to Show Your for South

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GOLDEN JAGS CLASS OF 1969

T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H A L A BA M A N AT I O N A L A LU M N I AS S O C I AT I O N H O N O R E D T H E C L AS S O F 1 9 6 9 ’ S 5 0 T H R E U N I O N I N O C TO B E R W I T H A W E E K E N D C E L E B R AT I O N . W E AS K E D A F E W MEMBERS OF THE CLASS TO RECALL SOME OF THEIR MEMORIES AND TO OFFER ADVICE FOR CURRENT SOUTH STUDENTS.

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HOLLE BRISKMAN

HAROLD HODGES

JEANNE SANDERFORD

Degree: B.S. Secondary Education, Languages Career: Community volunteer leader

Degree: B.S. Accounting Career: Tax and corporate accountant

Degrees: B.S. Elementary Education, M.Ed. School Counseling Career: Elementary school teacher & counselor

1. Why did you choose to attend South?

1. Why did you choose to attend South?

1. Why did you choose to attend South?

Fortunately, for so many Mobilians of a certain

I chose to attend South because of its proximity

I completed my sophomore year at St. Mary’s

age, the University of South Alabama had opened

to home and also because of the opportunity to

Dominican College, an all-girls college in New

its doors for us. We were able to access a college

afford a college education without the expense of

Orleans and decided it was time to meet a

education at a more than reasonable price point,

going “off to school” to a larger, more established

“Mobile boy” to marry. I graduated two years

at hours that allowed for outside employment.

college. Even though it seemed like a long

later in elementary education from South and was

Those open doors gave us untold job opportunities

commute from the South end of Mobile County,

engaged to marry that June.

and created an appreciation for things unknown to

it was a great experience to be a part of a new

us previously-just like a good college should. I am

institution that started out with one main building

2. What is your best memory of South?

very grateful to then-President Fred Whiddon and

that has now grown into a major university.

I enjoyed sorority life at South. I served as vice-

those business and government leaders who were

president of Phi Mu during our first year as a

able to achieve the goal of a major university in

2. What is your best memory of South?

national sorority. Annual events were the Kappa

southern Alabama.

One of the most exciting times and best memory

Sigma Bed Race and the Song Fest.

was being elected as a senior senator in the 2. What is your best memory of South?

SGA as an independent, as even back then most

3. What advice do you have for South students

During the matriculation process, President Whid-

organized group members had a fraternity or

who are graduating in 2019?

don spoke to the incoming class of 1969. He talked

sorority affiliation.

Fifty years will fly by! Nurture your relationships,

about the challenges we were going to have. “One

and if you find joy most of the time in the work you

must do at least two things each day that are hard

3. What advice do you have for South students

do, stay. If not, make a change. I taught school for

to do,” he said. Dr. Whiddon said his two things

who are graduating in 2019?

20 years, and then went into the counseling field for

were “waking up and going to bed.” Good advice

Even as a graduate, there are still many challenges

13 years.

couched in humor. As time went on we knew he

to overcome, but if you seek guidance from family

had done far more difficult tasks than those two,

and close advisors and mentors you will be better

and he had served his students and his community.

prepared for the best job offer. Be ready with a solid resume, and be prepared to answer standard

3. What advice do you have for South students

interview questions. Also, do some research to be

who are graduating in 2019?

able to ask good questions during interviews. The

My advice to current students is to study more, stay

first job should be a method of gaining experience

open and take advantage of all your university has

and knowledge in order to prepare you for the

to offer.

career path that you desire for a lifetime.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA

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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 SouthAlabama.edu/compassforyourcause.


Help us reach and exceed our goal! The Upward & Onward Campaign ends September 30, 2020. Give now to make a lasting impact. giving.southalabama.edu

Goal

$150,000,000

Total raised $145,212,555


1974 — SOCI E TY —

Your gift of $1,974, payable over three years, allows you to become an integral part of the new MacQueen Alumni Center. Only 1,974 memberships are available, and all 1974 Society members will be recognized in a central location in the MacQueen Alumni Center. Join the 1974 Society today, and become a part of USA alumni history. alumni.southalabama.edu/alumni-giving | (251) 460-7084


JOIN US FOR THE OF A

Learn how at SouthAlabama.edu/alumni (251) 460-7084

Gaelic Inspiration July 12-22, 2020


Invest in scholars. “My scholarship and this University have been instrumental in allowing me to grow academically and professionally, and I cannot thank Mr. Mitchell enough. Without it, I would not have been able to travel, learn to manage a stock portfolio and get connected into great internship opportunities.” — IAN PEEK, SENIOR ECONOMICS AND FINANCE ANDALUSIA, ALABAMA

Double Your Impact Today.

The Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative will match your investment in any undergraduate scholarship dollar for dollar. Help students like Ian turn their dreams into realities. giving.southalabama.edu | (251) 460-7032 | mmsi@southalabama.edu


#WEARESOUTHALUMNI

Join the USA National Alumni Association today! Annual member benefits include: • Admission into Jaguar Junction football tailgating • Eligibility for Children of Alumni Scholarships • Eligibility to join USA Rec Center (USA alumni only) • USA Bookstore discounts • And more!

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South Magazine - Fall 2019  

The official magazine of the University of South Alabama National Alumni Association.

South Magazine - Fall 2019  

The official magazine of the University of South Alabama National Alumni Association.

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