Author: admin

UA HomeFirst Program Recognized by International Town and Gown Association

Two women standing holding an award

Dr. Nicole Prewitt, right, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, accepts a 2022 ITGA Presidential Excellence Award recognizing UA’s HomeFirst Program.

Photo courtesy of Clemson University

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

At the recent annual conference of the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA), held at Clemson University, The University of Alabama’s HomeFirst program received a 2022 ITGA Presidential Excellence Award. Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), accepted the award.

“HomeFirst exemplifies a volunteer effort that contributes to the quality of life in our community by supporting each participant’s path toward homeownership by focusing on core areas related to homebuyer readiness and foreclosure prevention through financial capability, including savings, money management, access to banking, credit building and debt reduction,” Prewitt said.

Housed in CCBP, HomeFirst is a financial wellness initiative that serves Greene, Hale, and Tuscaloosa County individuals and families on their path toward first-time homeownership or foreclosure prevention.

“The ultimate purpose of the HomeFirst program is to expand the pool of eligible homeowners by improving financial capability, and we are so honored to extend the university’s resources to serve the people of Alabama,” Prewitt added.

Since 2017, HomeFirst has served more than 150 individuals and families on the path to homeownership over the life of the program. Since Prewitt took the helm of HomeFirst in 2019, HomeFirst has served 123 of those 150 households, and 31 HomeFirst coaches have logged more than 432 coaching meetings with community participants. On average, participants enter with a 4.53 financial capability scale (FCS) score and exit with a 6.14 FCS. This progress is comparable to financial coaching programs offered by professionals.

“It was excellent for the program to receive the award and really shows how others value our work,” said James Renshaw, program coordinator for programs and partnerships for community engagement at CCBP. “We believe that HomeFirst is an amazing program that can really make a huge difference in so many lives. The fact that ITGA, and many others at the conference, have viewed the work and agreed with us really feels like a great accomplishment.”

ITGA is a global non-profit association dedicated to strengthening town-gown partnerships through college campus and community interests. The ITGA Presidential Excellence Award is a way to highlight ITGA members who demonstrate exceptional performance in one of the following areas: volunteer service, leadership, or educational achievement in town-gown communities or for ITGA. The ITGA Presidential Excellence Award is presented annually at the ITGA Conference.

More than 250 attendees representing multiple states and countries — including Canada and the United Kingdom — were in attendance to share best practices and identify opportunities
for improving town-and-gown relationships.

The event attracted individuals representing a broad spectrum of affiliations in higher education, as well as city administrators, council members, law enforcement, department directors, CEOs and executive directors representing 10 nonprofits, 26 private sector organizations, 76 cities, towns and boroughs, and 150 universities and colleges.

New Faculty Community Engagement Tour Returns, Encourages Partnerships

  • June 2nd, 2022
  • in News
New Faculty Community Engagement Tour

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

After a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division of Community Affairs resumed its New Faculty Community Engagement Tour (NFCET), connecting University faculty, staff, graduate students and community members across various counties in the Black Belt region, Wednesday through Friday, May 11–13.

“What I discovered with these tours, with our work and just with life in general, is that most people want to do things that make life better for someone else,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for the Division of Community Affairs. “Our purpose for these tours is part of the mission of The University of Alabama … to seek to improve the quality of life for folks in Alabama and beyond.”

Each day, faculty, staff and graduate students traveled by bus to a new area of the Black Belt and listened to panels of community leaders highlighting areas for collaboration in community-engaged scholarship. On the first day, tour attendees visited Walker, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties. The second day included stops in Greene, Sumter and Hale counties. The tour concluded on Friday, May 13 with stops in Perry, Clarke and Dallas counties.

Day 1

The tour began at the historic First United Methodist Church in Jasper, the oldest church in the city and famous for its architectural style. This was also the tour’s first-ever stop in Jasper.

While Walker County experiences similar challenges that rural communities across the nation face, it has emerged as the center of the opioid epidemic in Alabama, providing additional barriers in health and wellness for residents to overcome.

Rachel Puckett, deputy director of Capstone Rural Health Clinic, shared how the Capstone has addressed community needs in health services, elaborating on the relevance and reciprocity of UA community partnerships.

“In 2017, we had a project with University partners that equipped all our clinics with the competency, tools and staffing to serve our patients’ mental health needs,” Puckett said. “From there we were able to build on that model and integrate a medication assisted therapy program, which is a specific treatment program for folks with opioid use disorder into the primary care setting. Our community is the epicenter of the evolving opioid epidemic. It hit us hardest first, and we’re working diligently to be part of the solution … and create a model for our community.”

Healthcare also spearheaded the discussion in Carrollton, in Pickens County. Panelists highlighted the impact of “SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching All Transforming Lives) clinics” in improving access to healthcare, but they also stressed the need for more resources to address mental health and the challenges law enforcement officials face in Pickens County.

The first day concluded at City Hall in Northport, where City Administrator Glenda Webb led a discussion on economic growth and initiatives in Northport.

A purpose of the tour is to create meaningful relationships between university personnel and community members, and students participating in the tour expressed their eagerness to engage in this reciprocity.

“I’m on this tour because I want to further my learning opportunities, my learning experiences,” said Anika Ames, a student assistant in the Crossroads Civic Engagement Center. “It doesn’t just stop for me with graduation on Saturday. It continues with experiences like these.”

Day 2

The first stop of the second day was in Greene County. Attendees gathered in the Robert H. Young Community Center in Eutaw, formerly known as Carver High School, the site of the historic 1965 student boycott and protest that took place during the height of the civil rights movement.

The bulk of the discussion centered on educational initiatives to strengthen the community, a theme that carried forward in other county stops. For example, Lillie Jones-Osborne, district judge for Greene County and chairman of the Greene County Children’s Policy Council, explained how the program “One Book, One Community” unites community members and improves literacy rates as each member of the community reads the same book for a period of time. Dr. Carol Zippert, of the Society of Folk Arts and Culture, added how the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, which began in Eutaw in 1975, connects the community through art and music.

The group stopped for lunch in York, where panelists encouraged attendees to consider the economic impact of investing their educational skills into rural communities.

“Part of being educated is sharing that knowledge,” said local business owner Jeffrey Artis. “It does no good to put a million dollars in a jar and never spend it to put back into the community. That knowledge that you’re getting at The University of Alabama is that millions of dollars. You have to take it out and invest it to get more back.”

Next, the tour proceeded to Project Horseshoe Farm in Greensboro where Jovita Lewis, Hale County coordinator for cooperative extension, shared the existing partnerships with UA and the Hale County Extension Office.

“We are also in partnership with the UA HomeFirst Program where we’re working with individuals to build their credit in order to purchase a home,” Lewis said. “One of the newest things that I’m involved in with the University is our health science technology camp. It’s out of the College of Nursing. We are presently trying to draw students into that program now.”

Other panelists discussed challenges and areas for growth in Hale County.

“We really want to try and have folks focusing more on what our assets are than what our deficits may be, depending on how you look at it, because our assets are the things that are going to make a difference,” said site coordinator Llevelyn Rhone.

The day concluded with a tour of the Safe House Museum, the home in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought shelter from the Ku Klux Klan during the civil rights movement.

Day 3

The group began the final day of the tour at the West Perry Volunteer Fire Department in Perry County.

Emefa Butler, one of the site coordinators and founder of C.H.O.I.C.E. (Choosing to Help Others in our Community Excel), informed the group of many areas for university partnerships in Perry County, such as addressing transportation needs for school choice, increasing community involvement with local schools through school-based projects, medical training in rural health, lack of housing, access to recreation and grant writing.

One of the main issues facing rural communities in the Black Belt is the “brain drain” of young adults leaving these communities for opportunities in bigger cities, which panelists at the second stop in Thomasville debated.

At Selma, the group reconvened at the Selma Dallas County Public Library, which was recently renovated to include a new children’s center, designed in part to address pitfalls of virtual learning for county schoolchildren during the pandemic.

“Our job is to bring people together,” said Becky Nichols, library director.

Bringing people together is also a goal of the Black Belt Community Foundation. Daron Harris, public relations director for the Black Belt Community Foundation, informed attendees of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Selma, a partnership between the Black Belt Community Foundation and Selma Center for Nonviolence that is funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

Other panelists stressed the importance of collaboration in partnerships, highlighting the many ways they work together to address community needs. “Partnership is how we get work done in the Black Belt,” said Lydia Chatmon, the director of TRHT Selma and the prevention director of Selma AIR, Inc.

The tour concluded with the group walking across Edmund Pettis Bridge and touring the Civil Rights Memorial Park in Selma before boarding the bus back to Tuscaloosa.

“One thing I have learned from these tours and working with the CCBP (Center for Community-Based Partnerships) is that community is how far your reach goes,” said Zahkeira Brown, a CCBP graduate assistant. “It’s not just the people around you.”

Alabama Fulbright Association Selects Dr. Beverly Hawk for Lifetime Achievement Award

Six people smiling

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Auburn University Photographic Services.

Left to right: Dr. Elizabeth Quansah, director, Auburn University Outreach Global; Dr. John Bader, executive director, national Fulbright Association; Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement, University of Alabama Division of Community Affairs; Dr. Stacey Nickson, director, Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement, Auburn University, and a member of the National Fulbright Association Board of Directors; Dr. Chippewa Thomas, director of the Auburn University Office of Faculty Engagement and president of the Fulbright Association Alabama chapter; and Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, The University of Alabama.

by Dr. Ed Mullins
Director of Research and Communication, Division of Community Affairs

Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement in the Division of Community Affairs at The University of Alabama, is the recipient of the Alabama Fulbright Association Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first person to receive the award, which recognizes her many contributions and years of service to the Fulbright mission of mutual understanding through international educational exchange.

The award was presented in a ceremony at the President’s Home at Auburn University on May 10, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Fulbright Program.

In a letter to Hawk, Dr. Chippewa Thomas, director of the Auburn University Office of Faculty Engagement, wrote: “As the current president of the Alabama Fulbright Association Chapter, I commend you for your long-standing commitment and meritorious service to the Fulbright Program … . Your work in the first 20 years as the founding president of the Alabama chapter has led to the fulfillment of the Fulbright mission … .”

In accepting the award, Hawk responded:

“My heart is full. To look around the room and see Fulbright alumni I have worked with in the Alabama chapter over the last 25 years brings back to me all the work we have done together building the Fulbright chapter, welcoming Fulbright visitors to our state, sharing our culture with them, and advising applicants to submit their applications to the national competition. I see some of the winners here tonight. I think of how our Fulbright chapter brought together the many different educational institutions of Alabama to work together for cultural understanding, and, historically, many had not worked together. We are a great success, and I am thrilled to be honored during our 75th Anniversary celebration of the Fulbright Program.”

Hawk was accompanied to the awards dinner by UA Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt. “Dr. Hawk has been instrumental in helping to make Fulbright opportunities for students and faculty at the University,” said Pruitt, to whom Hawk has reported for the past 10 years. Pruitt continued: “Hawk has applied wisdom from her own Fulbright experiences in Kenya, Malawi and Morocco in developing an innovative strategy” in recruiting UA students for Fulbright awards.

At the Auburn ceremony, as she presented the award to Hawk, Dr. Stacey Nickson of Auburn University, herself a Fulbright grant recipient to South Africa and Ghana, as well as a former chapter president and a member of the National Fulbright Association Board of Directors, said, “Like so many of us here, I was drawn to the Fulbright Program by Dr. Hawk. She literally changed the trajectory of my life and career by identifying my potential and mentoring me in becoming a Fulbrighter. We join here tonight to recognize her contributions to both the Fulbright program and its core mission of world peace.”

Three years after Hawk was asked to take on the task of promoting and recruiting Fulbrights, UA won national Top Producer status for the first time in its history. As a dedicated member of UA’s Fulbright advising team, Hawk has contributed to more than 100 student Fulbright awards and repeated national Fulbright Top Producer recognition for the University.

Thanks in large part to Hawk’s work, the Fulbright advising team at the University in 2022 can claim five research and study award winners and 10 English Teaching Awards, very likely earning UA another year in the Top Producer ranks.

As director of Global and Community Engagement in UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs, Hawk brings international students and UA students together as language partners to build ties and create mutual understanding.

A lifetime member of the Fulbright Association, Hawk is the founding president of the Alabama Chapter. In 2000, the U.S. secretaries of state and education honored Hawk with the Millennium International Volunteer Award for her initiatives in pursuing international understanding.

She describes her professional life as one “motivated by a desire to share the Fulbright ideal to promote mutual understanding through international educational engagement.”

Since Hawk began recruiting Fulbright student applicants to serve as English teaching assistants or to conduct research and study abroad, the University advising effort has grown and UA has been a national Top Producer five times.

Hawk rec­eived her bachelor’s degree in political science from John Carroll University, her master’s in African studies from Howard University, and a master’s and her PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the recipient of the Sigma Delta Chi Award Medallion of the Society of Professional Journalists for Africa Media Image, a book that shaped the field of media studies in the African studies discipline.


UA Students Receive U.S. Fulbright Program Awards


by Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The University of Alabama is celebrating student achievements in the Fulbright Program. Five University of Alabama students have received Fulbright Student Research Awards and 10 have won Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) Awards for the 2022–2023 academic year. Three students have won Fulbright Summer Study Awards to Canada. Additionally, four students were awarded alternate status in this year’s competition and may have the opportunity to serve abroad if more funding becomes available or if a finalist is unable to participate. They are Makenna Berry (Israel), Castiel Lisko (Romania), Marco Pflanzen (Colombia) and Declan Smith (Ireland).

“The Fulbright Program offers extraordinary opportunities for our students to deepen and expand the global learning experiences that they have on campus or through study abroad after they graduate. Our students’ time researching or teaching during their Fulbright year abroad has lasting impacts on their personal and professional lives,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “The cross-cultural dialogue and daily experiences that they share with the people of their host country help to build a better and a more peaceful world for us all. Congratulations to all of our winners and alternates.”

Fulbright is the most prestigious U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals. The Fulbright Award of the U.S. Department of State offers one-year grants for independent study and research and for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program selects approximately 1,500 award recipients from more than 11,000 applicants each year. The University of Alabama has received national recognition as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Students five times in recent years.

“Our Fulbright team is proud to introduce each of these honorees to the public and recognize the international resources on the UA campus that prepared them for success in international academic engagement,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “Their Fulbright Awards are opportunities for them to share their U.S. culture and build ties with the people in their host communities.”

Fulbright Student Research Award recipients:

  • Mathew Cieśla, of Northport, received a Fulbright Award in cognitive science to research “Early Neural Correlates of Adult Second Language Learning” at the University of Warsaw in Poland. He is a 2022 graduate with an interdisciplinary degree in psycholinguistics and foreign languages with studies in German and Polish. He is also an active contributor to the professional published literature in his field. He served as a mentor for students with autism spectrum disorder at UA-ACTS and as a volunteer at the UA Speech and Hearing Center summer clinic. His experience is drawn from research at the Jülich Forschungszentrum in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany and professional work at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
  • Andrew Deaton, of Auburn, Georgia, received a Fulbright Award to research “The Czech Hussite Wars and the Rise of Modernity” at the Centre for Medieval Studies in Prague and the Dissident Networks Project at Masaryk University, Brno, in the Czech Republic. A doctoral candidate in history at UA, he is a Blount Scholars Fellow and holds a BA from the University of Georgia and an MA from UA. He studied the Czech language at the University of Pittsburgh and archival research at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. His academic leadership has been recognized with the Max Kele Award of the European History Section of the Southern Historical Association.
  • Ihuoma Ezebuihe, of Washington, D.C., received a Fulbright Award to research “Translation and Validation of the Michigan Diabetes Knowledge Test (MDKT) in Nigeria” at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, College of Medicine. She is a 3rd-year PhD student in nursing science at the Capstone College of Nursing at UA. She holds a master’s in public health, a master’s in community health and clinical doctorates in medicine and nursing practice. During her Fulbright year, she will serve as a bridge between medical professionals in the U.S. and Nigeria, translating the most widely used diabetes knowledge survey and education instrument into the Igbo language, spoken by 23 million Nigerians, and validating the psychometric properties of the translated instrument. She is a member of the Physicians Committee, American Public Health Association, The Transcultural Society of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing. Through her work, she seeks to share with the health community in Nigeria an important tool, the MDKT, in a form that is accessible to many of the public in their language and with respect for their culture. After her Fulbright study, she will deposit her published results and training materials with the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center to support professionals seeking to expand the benefits of the MDKT in years to come.
  • Tegan Murrell, of Western Springs, Illinois, received a Fulbright Award to the University of Oslo, Norway, to study how trauma has passed across the generations among immigrants. A 2021 UA summa cum laude graduate in mathematics with a minor in creative writing, holding both a BS and MA, she will be engaging with her host community through poetry and sharing the experiences of her matrilineal Norwegian ancestry. An Honors College mentor and campus leader in the presentation of the written word, she will complete her poetry manuscript while serving in Norway.
  • Samuel Watson, of Hazel Green, received a Fulbright Award to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Korean Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. A 2022 Honors College graduate in computer science with a minor in Korean language, he now holds the distinction of winning four highly competitive national awards: the Gilman Scholarship Award, the Boren Scholarship Award, the Critical Language Scholarship Award and the Fulbright Award during his undergraduate years. At UA, he is a Coca-Cola First Generation Scholar, a member of the International Peer Advisory Council, an ESL language partner at Global Café and a member of the International Students Association. He is currently a Korean language trainer for the UA Critical Languages Center. In Korea, he has served as an ESL instructor in Namu Children’s Center in Seoul and as a full-time English teacher at Ansan University. Through these studies at UA and in Korea, he has developed advanced language proficiency in Korean and a foundation in Korean studies to support his academic plan at Yonsei University.

Fulbright ETA Awards offer U.S. students the opportunity to serve in an English classroom overseas, assisting the teacher and exchanging culture with the people of the host country.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award recipients:

  • Judson Braly, of Fairhope, a 2022 graduate in history with a minor in civic engagement and leadership, will teach English in Kenya. During his time at UA, he served as battalion commander of Army ROTC, co-captain of the Ranger Challenge Team and assistant public affairs officer on the ROTC Public Affairs Team. Braly is currently an ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences and has also served as secretary of the Undergraduate Historical Society and as a mentor in the UA History Peer Mentoring Program. In summer 2021, he participated in the USAFRICOM Volunteer Internship Program, where he served as narrator for the African Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference (attended by more than 20 African partner nations). Braly came to UA on an Army ROTC Three-Year (Active Duty) National Scholarship and will be commissioned as an Army aviation officer. Many Kenyans have excellent skills in English and Braly seeks to contribute to ESL classes for Kenyans who are seeking to build their international competitiveness by expanding their English fluency. Through his work, he will share his American culture and bring Kenyans into international training opportunities through cultural knowledge and language fluency
  • Nicholas Hayes, of Long Valley, New Jersey, a 2022 summa cum laude Honors College graduate with a BA in German with a minor in interdisciplinary linguistics and a BA in mathematics with minors in psychology and physics, Phi Beta Kappa member, has been selected to teach in Germany. With superior/distinguished fluency in German and work experience as a translator, tutor and teacher, he has speaking and writing skills that will make him an asset to his host school, language classroom and local community. A Boren Scholar (Tanzania), Hollings Scholar (environmental science) and Randall Research Scholar (four years), he has extensive leadership experience with the UA Environmental Council, the Journal of Science and Health at The University of Alabama (JOSHUA) and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, as well as TEDx University of Alabama. In addition to his selection for the Fulbright honor this year, he was chosen as one of 32 Americans to receive a Rhodes Scholarship for study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He is the 16th Rhodes Scholar in UA’s history.
  • Sarah Homoky, of Kingsport, Texas, is a 2021 graduate in anthropology, biology and German, an Honors College Randall Research Scholar and a member of Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society and Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor Society. With advanced fluency in the German language, further developed through her experience in Germany with the prestigious GAPP program and a Bell endowed scholarship for an academic semester in Mannheim, she will teach in Germany.
  • Lauren L’Etang, of Northport, brings Spanish fluency, experience as a graduate teacher in the language classroom and a master’s degree in Spanish linguistics to teach in Mexico. She is a 2019 summa cum laude Honors College graduate in Spanish and international studies with a minor in music. A Phi Beta Kappa member, Spanish interpreter at the UA Speech and Hearing Center and former AmeriCorps member, she has completed coursework in Latin American studies and intensive Spanish at Universidad de Belgrano (Argentina) and plans to share cultural treasures from her choral work and performances in Argentina and the U.S.
  • John “Jack” Lombardo, of Schenectady, New York, was selected to teach in Germany. A secondary education and German major, he plans to pursue a career in education. His campus activities include the UA rowing team, recruitment of its applicants and campus orientation for new members. Through his mentorship, he taught new students college skills and contributed to their success at the collegiate level. He is a member of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Society. He has tutored German at Tuscaloosa Academy and among UA students. Through his academic study and his foreign exchange experience in Germany, he has developed German language fluency.
  • Marie Neubrander, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will teach in Taiwan. A UA Honors College student and Randall Research Scholar, she graduated summa cum laude in mathematics and computer science with a minor in economics. She is a co-founder of UA Planned Parenthood Generation Action (recipient of UA top student organization award) and is a member of The XXXI, an honor society that recognizes the most outstanding women at UA. She represented the Honors College as an ambassador to the public and potential students. She will use this experience as she represents U.S. culture in her host community in Taiwan.
  • Wesley Clay Richmond, of Cypress, Texas, a 2021 summa cum laude graduate in history with a minor in German, will teach English in Germany. His years on the Alabama campus included participation in the Million Dollar Band, service as an Al’s Pals elementary school tutor and mentor, and translation volunteer for the Wendish Research Exchange. He has experience in Germany with a 2019 stay in Telgte, Nordrhein-Westfalen, sister city of his neighbor Tomball, Texas. Born in West Virginia, Richmond plans to share the Appalachian culture of his youth with his host city. His Fulbright in Germany will allow him to apply his advanced German language skills and share his well-rounded experience in American culture.
  • Channler Dakota Smith, of Town Creek, a 2022 graduate in electrical engineering with a minor in math who is active as a language partner and tutor in UA’s Global Café, will teach in Taiwan. He has studied two years of Mandarin, has Chinese language skills assessed at intermediate and has engaged with language partners from China and Korea as a language partner for English learners for four years. Active in the Computer Science Club, Chess Club, Engineering Club and the Japanese Language and Culture Club, Smith has served as a mentor for many new students and international scholars. He has expanded his studies of Asian cultures and languages through his Gilman Award to Korea during his senior year. He anticipates expanding his fluency in Mandarin and developing his understanding of culture as he shares his own northwest Alabama culture with his students and community in Taiwan.
  • Bryan Winkler, of York, Pennsylvania, will teach in Spain. With his Master of Arts in Romance languages and a specialty in Spanish literature and his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in global and cultural perspectives, summa cum laude, he brings exceptional preparation and academic maturity to his Fulbright service. He was recognized by UA with the Distinguished Undergraduate Scholar Award (highest scholastic average in the college) and the George Griffen Brownell Sr. Award for excellence in Spanish (best overall undergraduate student). He brings experience from his work as a graduate teaching assistant in the Spanish department, academic experience from conference presentations and his forthcoming publications in two academic journals, El Cid and Celestinesca, management experience as a resident advisor and international experience from his internship and studies abroad in Bolivia and Spain.
  • Leona Yeager, of Northport, will teach in Mongolia. An Honors College graduate and member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, she holds degrees in international studies and interdisciplinary studies, summa cum laude, with a focus in international relations in Asia and interdisciplinary health sciences. She brings a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language and experience as a language partner, mentor and tutor through UA Global Café, the ESL program at Shelton State Community College, the UA Learning Initiative and Financial Training ESL and Math program, Tide Watch and Al’s Pals. As a member of New College, she represented her program to the larger community and will take this experience to Mongolia, where she will share her U.S. culture as she learns from her host community.

Fulbright Award to Canada recipients:

Three UA students were awarded Fulbright Canada – MITACS Globalink Internships for summer 2022. The Fulbright-MITACS Globalink is intended for U.S. students to undertake advanced research projects in Canada.

  • Abigail Foes, of Rockford, Illinois, majoring in mathematics and chemistry with a minor in global health and the Randall Research Scholars Program and member of the UA Honors College, will be contributing to research in Quebec, Canada, titled “Monitoring exposure to food toxins using mass spectrometry.”
  • Abbie Giunta, of Onalaska, Wisconsin, majoring in French and biology with a minor in the Randall Research Scholars Program and a member of the Honors College, will be contributing to research in New Brunswick, Canada, titled “Les instruments territoriaux en contexte de gouvernance locale / Territorial policy instruments in local governance context.”
  • Anna Kate Manchester, of Brentwood, Tennessee, majoring in history and political science with a minor in the Randall Research Scholars Program and a member of the Honors College, will be contributing to research in Ontario, Canada, titled “Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in Resource-Rich Communities: A Study of Global South and High North Cases.”

UA Fulbright advisers Megan Legerski, Dr. Matthew Feminella, Dr. Beverly Hawk and Dr. Lucy Kaufman helped students polish applications for success in the national Fulbright competition. Students with an interest in applying for next year’s Fulbright program can learn more at and, or email

PTLA Celebrates 2022 Program Graduates

  • May 4th, 2022
  • in News

by Sophia Xiong
CCBP Graduate Assistant

On April 7, parents and teachers gathered at the Bryant Conference Center for this year’s Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) graduation. After meeting virtually for the entire 2020–2021 academic year, 2021–2022 offered an opportunity to meet in person as well as online.

Andrea Ziegler, director for Community Education, welcomed everyone. “We are delighted to have each of you with us here tonight to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments. This evening, we are proud to recognize more than one hundred graduates from our four participating districts. Graduates, we are pleased to honor you this evening,” she said.

Ziegler recognized school district superintendents Dr. Wayne Vickers, Alabaster City Schools; Vance Herron, Lamar County School District; Dr. Michael Daria, Tuscaloosa City Schools; and Dr. Keri Johnson, Tuscaloosa County School System.

Dr. Jim McLean, Community Affairs vice president and executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, gave the opening remarks. “Please let me congratulate this years’ parents and teachers for your achievements. I was especially excited that we could finally be in person again this year. It’s been really nice to see people in these sessions interacting,” said McLean. “This program intends to build the relationship between home and school, and we hope that took place during the year. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so supportive of the program. It really makes a difference.”

In 2020–2021, PTLA began a pilot academy, during which Tuscaloosa City Schools’ Paul W. Bryant High became the first high school to join the program. This year, two more high schools joined: Holt High from Tuscaloosa County School System and Thompson High from Alabaster City Schools.

Jake Peterson, program coordinator for Community Education, announced awards of certificates and plaques. Three school teams were declared Social Media winners. They are Sipsey Valley Middle School, Thompson High School and Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary. Twelve school teams’ projects won grants — Arcadia Elementary, Big Sandy Elementary, Central Elementary, Collins-Riverside Intermediate, Creek View Elementary, Davis-Emerson Middle, Hillcrest Middle, Matthews Elementary, Meadow View Elementary, Skyland Elementary, The Alberta School of Performing Arts and Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary.

In closing, Dr. Samory Pruitt, Community Affairs vice president, said. “I never miss one of these programs. I always enjoy hearing participants talking about their experiences, what it means to them to use what they learned to help the community and support each other. I also want to thank those superintendents. During the pandemic, we often see signs outside the hospital saying, ‘heroes are here.’ I would say heroes are also in these school buildings. We wouldn’t' be who we are without education. If you all didn’t continue to do your job and give our young generation a good education, the consequences would be devastating. I know it wasn’t easy, but you all did it anyway. I really want to say thank you to the group of teachers and parents who joined PTLA during the pandemic, and to this group of teachers and parents here tonight.”

The Math in Motion grant winner was Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary (TMS-E), an ongoing collaboration between TMS-E and UA’s Honors College. Alice Stallworth, 2nd-grade teacher at TMS-E, said, “About two years ago, there was a student who always wanted to be a professional basketball player, and he told everyone that he would grow up to be a professional basketball player. But it only took one time for the students from the Honors College to come, and this student saw them doing a robotic project. After that, this student expressed an interest in engineering. This project really shifted our students’ thinking about what they can accomplish in their lives. And it is so important to lead them to see those entrances at a young age so that these ideas can grow with them.”

Global Café Celebrates End of Year Friendships; Hawk to Retire

  • May 3rd, 2022
  • in News

Global Café volunteers, language partners, former Fulbright recipients and members of the University community honored Dr. Beverly Hawk during the end-of-the-year celebration.

Man and woman holding flowers

Vice President for Community Affairs, Dr. Samory Pruitt (left) congratulates Dr. Beverly Hawk (right) on her retirement, thanking her for her commitment to Fulbright opportunities and global community engagement at UA.

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

Global Café recognized its Language Partners and congratulated Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, on her retirement in an end-of-the-year celebration on Tuesday, April 26, in the Student Community Engagement Center at Capital Hall.

Hawk, who served at UA for 17 years and will retire May 13, was instrumental in helping UA become a top-producing Fulbright institution, with more than 100 Fulbright winners during her tenure, thanks in part to her commitment to Global Café and the Language Partners Program.

“She had a vision for it,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’ Dr. Hawk, this has risen on your leadership.”

Building friendships through cultural exchange has been the mission of Global Café since Hawk first proposed the café to Pruitt several years ago. The Language Partners Program assists that mission by pairing international community members with native English speakers to aid their conversational skills.

True to its name as a café, the celebration featured refreshments and live music while UA students, faculty, staff and community members bonded through intercultural engagement.

Two graduating students, Shabari Patterson and Catherine Bedore, were recognized with a certificate and carnation pin for assisting the program.

Following acknowledgement of the rest of the Language Partners, several former Fulbright winners thanked Hawk for her dedication and kindness, better known as “Hawkness,” during a video presentation. Several of the students, faculty, staff and community members who participated in Global Café also shared memories and words of gratitude for Hawk and the Global Café program.

“Seeing Dr. Hawk’s passion with us as federal work-study students and also our international students makes me want to come to work every single day, and I really enjoyed my time and my conversations with my language partners,” said Jordan Alexander, an undergraduate student with the Language Partners Program. “Over here we’re building friendships. We’re building memories, and that’s all thanks to Dr. Hawk.”

“We just have the most wonderful students in the world, and that’s why they’re winning so many Fulbrights,” Hawk said, as she looked around the room. “I am just so grateful for the wonderful opportunity that I’ve had to work with you and have people who can create this. When you dream something and you want to create that wonderful thing, it is just great, and I thank you so much.”

The celebration concluded with cake, ice cream and a special visit from Big Al. Hawk received flowers and a commemorative photo album in honor of her vision, which is now a staple of international community engagement at UA.

“For the folks who have participated over the years, those have been recognized this evening, and some that have worked in this before and have come back, we just thank you for buying into an idea that we had and the relationships that have been built as a result of that,” Pruitt said.

To view event photos, visit

Realizing the Dream Performing Arts Series and Lecture Commemorate King and the 1300

Realizing the Dream Performing Arts Series

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

On April 4, 2022, 54 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, those sitting in the Bean Brown Theater at Shelton State Community College were reminded of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ legacy during the Realizing the Dream (RTD) combined lecture and performing arts series, featuring cultural historian Wil Haygood and a performance of George W. Stewart’s socio-drama, King and the 1300.

Presented by Stillman College and Shelton State, two of the three RTD Coordinating Committee institutions, the events occurred back-to-back, a first in Realizing the Dream history. Haygood’s lecture began at 4 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. and the play at 6 p.m.


During the 30th anniversary of King’s assassination, a young journalist was tasked with writing an article commemorating the event. Wondering what happened to the sanitation workers at the forefront, he traveled to Memphis. At the union hall of the sanitation department, the journalist asked about the sanitation workers.

“[The man there] said, ‘There are still 12 men in this city on the sanitation trucks who marched with King. They consider it their duty to remain on those trucks,’” Haygood recalled. “And right then I said to myself, ‘I'm going to find every one of them. I'm going to find them in their trucks, and I'm going to have their voices in this story.’”

Haygood then shared the story he wrote about those 12 sanitation workers; the patriots, he said. Men who bent down, so others could stand.

“It was the men in Memphis who bent down in the gutters to pick up the garbage to earn a living in the boundaries of the law in a nation that didn't always love them,” Haygood said. “Some of those men had fought in World War II for a nation that would have lynched them. The definition of a patriot. All they asked of America is that you treat us as men.”

Haygood earned a Martin Luther King scholarship to study journalism at Miami University. He has served as a national and foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and The Boston Globe and chronicled America’s civil rights journey through biographies of Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson and Eugene Allen, the real-life inspiration for Lee Daniels’ award-winning film, The Butler.

“Of all the stories that I’ve written in my journalism career, [I’ve] been all over the world, watched Nelson Mandela walk out of prison,” Haygood said. “The story that I keep coming back to is this story, Memphis. The garbage men. I stand as a man because of them.”*

Following the lecture, Haygood participated in a brief Q & A with the audience.

King and the 1300

Under the direction of Stewart and featuring the American Gospel Quartet Convention, Inc., and Last Psalm Productions, King and the 1300 is a tribute to King and the 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers who invited him to Memphis in 1968.

“It’s kind of like a mandate that we leave inspired to not let the bravery and not let the sacrifice of the 1,300 sanitations workers and, of course Dr. King, die,” said Stewart, addressing the audience before the start of the performance. “Those gentleman were certainly brave, bold and willing to pay the price for a better day. Thank you again, the Realizing the Dream Committee. Dr. Samory Pruitt, we will be forever grateful to you for allowing us to tell this story throughout this country and throughout this work.”

The play tells the story through the household of a fictitious sanitation worker’s life. Although the incidences in the story are factual, they are woven with the events of the visit of a brother-in-law who comes to Memphis to get involved in the exploding music scene. The brother-in- law’s dreams of personal stardom conflict with the bigger picture behind the sanitation movement.

Most of the setting takes place in the couple’s Memphis home, interspersed with archival footage of King’s speeches to coincide with the historical events taking place. The climax occurs at the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated. As the family resolves their internal differences, they hear King’s assassination on a nearby balcony.

 Through comforting each another, the characters come to terms with King’s assassination in the sense that they recognize their responsibility to carry on King’s dream, reminding the audience of their role in achieving equality.

The play concluded with a standing ovation and audience members singing “We Shall Overcome” with the performers.


Sitting in the audience, Carmella Anderson, who lived in Memphis during the 1968 strike, recalled how Haygood’s speech resonated today.

“I was a 13-year-old girl, and I remember the year and everything going on at that time, and I can remember the signs, ‘I am a man,’” Anderson said. “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and those men really helped a lot.”

For those in attendance, the play echoed this year’s theme, “Realizing the Dream Through Kindness and Respect for Others.”

“They had different visions, but they were able to connect as one,” said Marshae Madison-Pelt of the characters in the performance. “Tonight's play was just so awesome. This is a great way to honor the life of Dr. King and all of the things that he has done.”

*Editor’s note: While modern terminology would dictate the use of the term sanitation workers, the men Mr. Haygood interviewed referred to themselves as garbage men, so we include Mr. Haygood’s use of that terminology in this instance to maintain authenticity.

Realizing the Dream Committee Announces Combined Lecture Series and Performing Arts Event

Realizing the Dream Performing Arts Series
Man standing in front of brick wall

by Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the first time in Realizing the Dream history, Shelton State Community College and Stillman College will host back-to-back presentations. On Monday, April 4, cultural historian Wil Haygood will chronicle the time leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., laying the foundation for the performance of George W. Stewart’s socio-drama, King and the 1300.

Both events will take place on the Shelton State campus in the Bean Brown Theatre. Haygood’s lecture will begin at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation of King and the 1300 at 6 p.m. These events are free and open to the public, and promise to provide an unparalleled educational opportunity, as well as an impactful and memorable evening for all who attend.

About Wil Haygood:

Wil Haygood is a best-selling author, prize-winning journalist, acclaimed biographer, Pulitzer finalist and cultural historian. His work has chronicled America’s civil rights journey through biographies of Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson and Eugene Allen, the real-life inspiration for Lee Daniels’ award-winning film, The Butler. He served as a national and foreign correspondent for three decades for the The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, covering events such as Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after 27 years and the ascent of President Barack Obama. He has been described as a dynamic speaker who leaves audiences inspired and moved, and with a deeper, richer understanding of our shared American history.

About King and the 1300:

King and the 1300 is an original, dramatic socio-drama by George W. Stewart. The play chronicles King’s last days, up to and including his assassination. Stewart is a native of Tuscaloosa and studied at The University of Alabama. He now lives in Birmingham, where he works with Last Psalm Ministries and the American Gospel Quartet Convention.

The Realizing the Dream initiative is a collaboration among Shelton State Community College, Stillman College, The University of Alabama and the Tuscaloosa Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The initiative seeks to educate the next generation and keep alive the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Contact: Carol Agomo, Division of Community Affairs,, 205-348-7405

Realizing The Dream Essay and Art Winners Deliver Messages of Hope

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –  To quote author Neil Postman, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” During the 2022 Realizing the Dream Essay and Art Contest Reception on March 24, those “living messages” were on display for the Tuscaloosa community in the form of winning students’ essays and artwork in the Cadence Bank Gallery at Shelton State Community College.

“When you think about that, and you get a chance to look at the artwork or read the essays and you see what these young people are thinking and what the world looks like to them, we ought to be encouraged about the living messages that we’re putting through that time,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs at UA. “Thank you for inspiring us.”

Through their creativity, students from across the state showcased how they interpreted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy to build a better tomorrow, as Zena Terry, one of the essay category winners described in the video shown during the reception.

“To me, Realizing the Dream means to able to showcase your talent, while reflecting on what you have done in your community that has exemplified what MLK dreamed of,” Terry said in the video.

“My artwork represents a dove spreading love across the globe to create a peaceful world for everyone,” echoed Aeesha Mulani, one of the artwork winners, in the video.

This year marked the first in-person reception for the contest, which was formally added to the Realizing the Dream celebration after its creation in 2021. Statewide middle and high school students were provided rubrics and asked to submit a 500-word essay or artwork reflecting the 2022 theme, “Realizing the Dream Through Kindness and Respect for Others.” Judges consisted of faculty and staff from UA, Shelton State and Stillman College.

Out of 43 artwork submissions, 10 students were chosen as the winners:

  • Ella Bryan, 6th-grader at Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School
  • Jada Childs, 8th-grader at Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School
  • Cody Merrymon, 7th-grader at Duncanville Middle School
  • Aeesha Mulani, 6th-grader at Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School
  • Samantha Tolbert, 8th-grader at Thomasville Middle School
  • Paulina Liston Carrera, 12th-grader at Hillcrest High School
  • Savannah Dockery, 10th-grader at Sipsey Valley High School
  • Meredith Pearson, 11th-grader at Paul W. Bryant High School
  • Jacqueline Perez, 11th-grader at Paul W. Bryant High School
  • Serenity Thomas, 12th-grader at Thompson High School

From 141 essay submissions, 10 students were selected:

  • Henry Duke, 7th-grader at Phillips Preparatory Middle School
  • Madison Lee, 6th-grader at Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School
  • Tim Li, 8th-grader at Phillips Preparatory Middle School
  • Sariah Hossain, 8th-grader at Phillips Preparatory Middle School
  • Madelynn Nguyen, 7th-grader at Phillips Preparatory Middle School
  • Jailyn Burnside, 10th-grader at Hillcrest High School
  • Briana Hanks, 12th-grader at Paul W. Bryant High School
  • Hannah Jackson, 11th-grader at Central High School
  • Kaci Lollar, 11th-grader at Berry High School
  • Zena Terry, 11th-grader at Ramsay High School

Each winner received a Chromebook, and their respective schools will receive up to $1,000 in the form of reimbursement for educational resources and/or programming to support this work.

Dozens gathered to view the winning submissions, pose for pictures and munch on hors d’oeuvres before the program began at 6:00 p.m. in the Alabama Power Recital Hall. Dr. Lane McLelland, director of the UA Crossroads Civic Engagement Center, delivered the opening remarks. Then, the audience heard from winners in their own words during a brief video presentation before winners were recognized. Carson Grubaugh, instructor of visual arts at Shelton State and one of the artwork judges, announced the artwork winners. Serena Blount, instructor of English at UA and one of the essay judges, announced the essay winners. Pruitt provided the closing remarks.

The next event in the Realizing the Dream celebration is a lecture featuring journalist and author Wil Haygood and George W. Stewart’s play, “King and the 1300,” on Monday, April 4, at Shelton State. The lecture will begin at 4:00 p.m., with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the play at 6:00 p.m.

26 Named Semifinalists for U.S. Student Fulbright Program


Twenty-six University of Alabama (UA) students have been named semifinalists for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program. Their applications will now be forwarded to their respective host countries around the world for further consideration. Students selected as finalists will receive a Fulbright award and could live abroad as teachers, graduate students, or researchers for the 2022–2023 academic year.

The Fulbright Program is the most prestigious U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals. The Fulbright Award of the U.S. Department of State offers one-year grants for independent study and research, as well as for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program selects approximately 1,500 award recipients from more than 11,000 applicants each year.

“All 44 of UA’s Fulbright 2022–2023 student applicants should be applauded for their interest in furthering the Fulbright mission of mutual understanding between the peoples of the U.S. and those of other countries,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “As the world unites in solving the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, that mission is more important than ever.

“We are eagerly awaiting host country selections of finalists and offer our best wishes to these semifinalists as they move to the next level of the competition.”

Eight UA students have been selected as semifinalists for graduate study and research:

Makenna Berry, urban studies, Israel

Mathew Ciesla, cognitive science, Poland

Andrew Deaton, history, Czech Republic

Ihuoma Ezebuihe, nursing, Nigeria

Tegan Murrell, creative writing, Norway

Declan Smith, history, Ireland

Nathaniel Trost, installation art, United Kingdom

Samuel Watson, Korean studies, South Korea

Eighteen students were selected as semifinalists for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in a classroom overseas for a year: Madeleine Bohnett (Colombia), Judson Braly (Kenya), Heather Gann (North Macedonia), Nicholas Hayes (Germany), Sarah Homoky (Germany), Lauren L’Etang (Mexico), Vanessa Lent (Costa Rica), Caroline Lisko (Romania), John Lombardo (Germany), Otavio Menezes (Indonesia), Mary Marie Neubrander (Taiwan), Wesley Richmond (Germany), Channler Smith (Taiwan), Matthew Southern (Spain), Marie Trestrail (Germany), Aidan Winiewicz (Germany), Bryan Winkler (Spain) and Leona Yeager (Mongolia). If selected in the final round, they will live and work abroad representing their American culture and learning about daily life in another country.

“We appreciate the dedicated faculty, staff and administrators who advise our students each year in application for these awards,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement. “As we await news of finalist status from around the globe, we hold immense pride in these exceptional student leaders and the manner in which they represent The University of Alabama and the U.S.”

A team of Fulbright advisers from UA’s Capstone International Center, the modern languages and classics department and the Center for Community-Based Partnerships helps students polish applications for success in the Fulbright competition each year.

Students interested in applying for next year’s Fulbright Program can learn more at and, or by sending an email to UA’s Fulbright advisers Megan Legerski, Dr. Matthew Feminella and Dr. Beverly Hawk at