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UA Students Receive U.S. Fulbright Program Awards for 2024-2025

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Fulbright Program has selected 13 University of Alabama students for various awards for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Fulbright is the most prestigious United States 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 annually.

“Each year, the talent, determination, and wide-ranging interests of our students continue to both amaze and delight me,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “I know that all of our Fulbright winners will pursue their interests with a passion and purpose either ignited or nurtured during their time at UA.”

“I look forward to seeing them build on their UA experiences to advance the Fulbright mission of creating mutual understanding among all peoples of the world. Congratulations to all our winners and alternates.”

In February, UA was recognized as a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright U.S. Students for the seventh time in nine years as well as a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright U.S. Scholars for the first time. UA was one of 12 universities in the nation to receive both designations.

Fulbright Student Research Award recipients

A headshot of Sean Atchison

Sean Coffman Atchison, a native of Chatom, is a May 2024 summa cum laude graduate in Latin American studies through UA’s New College. Sean received a Fulbright award to research “Future Power Makers: Perceptions of Democracy among Brazilian College Students and the Impacts of U.S. Foreign Policy” at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. Post-Fulbright, he plans to attend Georgetown University to pursue a master’s degree in Latin American studies.

A headshot of Lucy Besch

Lucy Besch, of St. Louis, graduated in May 2024 with a master’s degree in economics and bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies, with minors in Spanish and social innovation and leadership through the Dr. Robert E. Witt University Fellows Program.  She was selected to participate in the Binational Business Program, which consists of work at a Mexican company and international business classes at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City.

A headshot of Eden Blackwell

Eden Blackwell, of Jackson, Mississippi, is a doctoral candidate in the department of anthropology, focusing on biocultural medical anthropology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University. She will be conducting research on the holistic impacts of climate change on human wellbeing in agricultural communities in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.

A headshot of Jonathon Clayton

Jonathan Clayton, of Hartsville, Indiana, will research arsenic’s correlation with pressure variations in water distribution systems in cooperation with Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. Graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from LeTourneau University and with a master’s degree in environmental engineering from UA, Jonathan is a third-year doctoral student focusing on water distribution system challenges. He also has a passion for teaching K-12 and university students about environmental engineering and water literacy.

A headshot of Annia Gruchala

Ania Gruchala, of Clarendon Hills, Illinois, received a Fulbright award to research “Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Floodplain-Peatland Ecosystems in Poland” at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. She is a May 2024 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and minor in social innovation and leadership through the Dr. Robert E. Witt University Fellows Program.

A headshot of Morgan Holder

Morgan Holder, of Scottsboro, received a Fulbright award to study at the University of Roehampton in London, United Kingdom, where she will earn a Master of Fine Arts in dance and embodied practice. She plans to study the intersection of dance and neurodiversity. Morgan is a May 2024 summa cum laude graduate with her bachelor’s degree in dance and English, with honors, and minor in the Blount Scholars Program.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship 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

A headshot of Brady Allen

Brady Allen, of Montgomery Village, Maryland, graduated magna cum laude, earning his bachelor’s degree in environmental science with honors. Brady was selected to teach English in Indonesia.

A headshot of Lukas Baltzer

Lukas Baltzer, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduated magna cum laude from UA with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in fall 2023. Lukas is currently an MBA candidate through UA’s STEM Path to the MBA program. He will be serving as an English teaching assistant in Lithuania.

A headshot of Sierra Dugger

Berwyn “Sierra” Dugger, of Montgomery, is a psychology and German major. She is a member of Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society, St. Francis University Parish and Baby Steps at UA. Sierra plans to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. She was selected to teach English in Germany.

A headshot of Millie Dukes

Millie Dukes, of Millbrook, is a May 2024 summa cum laude Honors College graduate in economics with a minor in Spanish. She was a member of the Pre-Law Association and has been selected to teach English in South Korea.

A headshot of Eric Fager

Eric Fager, of Orange, Massachusetts, is a May 2024 summa cum laude Honors College graduate, and member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science, with a minor in the Blount Scholars Liberal Arts Program. He was selected to teach English in Taiwan.

A headshot of Julian Wyatt

Julian Wyatt, of Moundville, is a May 2023 graduate in international studies and German. Julian is a member of the Delta Phi Alpha Honor Society. He plans to pursue a career as a Naval officer. Julian was selected to teach English in Germany.

Additionally, four students were awarded alternate status in this year’s national competition and may have the opportunity to serve abroad if more funding becomes available or if a finalist is unable to participate. They are Joseph Arnold (United Kingdom), Jordan Bosarge (Greece), Kyrsten Myrup (Bulgaria) and Aaron Silvis (Czech Republic).

Students with an interest in applying for next year’s Fulbright program can learn more at or email

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325

ISSS Receives 2024 Sybil R. Todd Award for Excellence in Partnerships

ISSS Team - Sybil R Todd Award 2024
International Student & Scholar Services Team – Sybil R Todd Award 2024

On May 9, 2024, International Student & Scholar Services was honored by the Division of Student Life with the Sybil R. Todd Award for Excellence in Partnerships.

The Todd Award is named for Dr. Sybil Todd, Vice President for Student Affairs from 1998 to 2003. This award is presented to individuals or organizations outside of the Division of Student Life who have demonstrated excellence in partnership and whose service to all our constituents is of an exceptional nature.

From Discouraged to Determined: Graduate Aims for the Stars

From Discouraged to Determined: Graduate Aims for the Stars

 Written by 

(Original article:

Growing up, Sindhu Belki was often discouraged from reaching for the stars.

Belki knew she wanted to pursue a career in aeronautics from a young age, but she realized she would have to leave her home country to achieve those dreams.

“I grew up in Qatar, and we don’t have a space industry. But ever since I was little, I always dreamed of being an astronaut,” she said.

Now, Belki is set to graduate this spring with her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama.

Although leaving her home country and her family seemed scary, Belki knew she had to in order to pursue her dreams. As soon as she stepped onto The University of Alabama’s campus, she knew this was the place where she was meant to be.

“Right from the beginning, it felt like everyone at The University of Alabama wanted to make a difference in my life and my career,” she said.

After she decided to commit to The Capstone due to the wealth of scholarships offered, she immediately felt at home and ready to pursue her passion.

It felt like everybody I talked to was heavily invested in my education and ensuring that I got to pursue my education. Throughout my time here, I have felt nothing but warmth and joy.

Sindhu Belki

Since arriving at The University of Alabama, Belki has garnered many accolades and scholarships. She received the Zed Factor Fellowship, which highlights underrepresented minorities in the aerospace industry, and the Brooke Owens Fellowship. She also served as the project manager of the Alabama Rocketry Association, UA’s student-run rocketry club. Under her guidance, the team placed 18th nationally. She also represented UA at the 74th International Aeronautical Congress, where she presented her first paper on small satellite launch services. At the conference, she was one of the youngest delegates ever, at just 21 years old.

During her time at UA, Belki was able to network with many people in the industry, making connections that helped her secure internships.

“A lot of [UA] alumni go on to work in big-name companies like NASA and SpaceX,” she said.

Belki hopes her accomplishments and actions will inspire young girls to pursue their passion.  This summer, she will be participating in a series of educational talks across Qatar in collaboration with universities and high schools across the country. While in Qatar, she hopes to highlight the space industry’s importance and continuous impact on the world and on our daily lives.

After graduation, Belki will begin a Master of Aerospace Engineering this fall at Georgia Tech — and credits The University of Alabama for helping her get there.

“Bama felt like the only place where I could be anything I wanted to be. I was able to define my identity here, and I will truly miss it,” Belki said.

3 UA Students Earn Boren Scholarships for Foreign Study

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Three University of Alabama students have received Boren Scholarships for the study of languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad.

Aparna Bhooshanan, of Madison; Hari Gunda, of Montgomery; and Madeleine Luther, of Cincinnati will be part of a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal security arena.

A headshot of Aparna Bhooshanan

Aparna Bhooshanan is a computer science major who will spend the next academic year studying Mandarin in Taipei, Taiwan. The Honors College student recently received a Critical Language Scholarship as well as the UA Outstanding Sophomore Award. She is president of UA’s chapter of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers.

Bhooshanan plans to pursue research in natural language processing, a field that unites linguistics with machine learning. She plans to use her knowledge of Mandarin to contribute to the machine translation field and develop methods to combat digital misinformation in different countries.

Hari Gunda is an Honors College student with a dual major in computer science and math and additional majors in foreign languages and literature with a concentration in German. Gunda will be part of the Boren Southeast Asian Flagship Initiative. He will participate in a domestic Indonesian program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer, and then continue his studies at the State University of Malang in Indonesia during the fall semester. Gunda recently received a Critical Language Scholarship and received the German 2nd Year Excellence Award in 2023.

A headshot of Hari Gunda

Gunda plans to pursue graduate study to research computational linguistics and multilingual natural language processing.

A headshot of Madeleine Luther

Madeleine Luther majors in international studies and French. Luther will be part of the Boren African Flagship Language Initiative. The Honors College student will participate in a domestic French and basic Wolof program at the University of Florida this summer, and then continue her studies at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal during the fall semester. Luther is part of the Dr. Robert E. Witt University Fellows Program and member of The Elliott Society.

Luther plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in foreign service and hopes to work in the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer.

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in such regions as Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

The UA Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships assists students in the pursuit of national and international awards including the Mitchell, Hollings, Goldwater, Rhodes and Boren, among others. Students interested in applying for awards that require an institutional endorsement can learn more on the External Scholarships and Fellowships website.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.

Contact Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325

International Students Association, 2024 Organization of The Year

International Students Association, Winners of 2024 Organization of The Year
International Students Association, Winners of 2024 Organization of The Year

On, Tuesday, April 9, The International Students Association were awarded the prestigious, David L Phelps Organization of The Year Award for 2023-24.

The David L Phelps Organization of The Year Award is awarded to a student organization that best exemplifies excellence in student involvement at The University of Alabama.

This award recognizes the amazing efforts by the ISA and their Executive Board: Omid Reyhanigalangashi, Abiodun Wahab, Diweng Dafong, Kazi Hassan Shakib, Zumanah Kamal, Matilde Tricca, Rahul Mondal, and Sophia Xiong.

The Exemplo Capstone Awards is an annual recognition hosted by The Office of Student Involvement, University Programs (UP), Student Government, Student Center, and Center for Service and Leadership (CSL).

This collaborative event honors the contributions of individuals and campus organizations to service and leadership within and outside of the UA community.

These are the highest honors that can be bestowed upon student organizations and individuals in regard to campus leadership and service.

6 UA Students Earn Critical Language Scholarships

Six University of Alabama students have received the Critical Language Scholarship to study overseas this summer.

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS program, is part of a U.S. State Department effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

A headshot of Aparna Bhooshanan

Aparna Bhooshanan, a computer science major from Madison, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. Bhooshanan plans to pursue research in natural language processing, a field that unites linguistics with machine learning. Aparna hopes to use her knowledge of Mandarin to contribute to the machine translation field and develop methods to combat digital misinformation in different countries.

A headshot of Hari Gunda

Hari Gunda, a computer science and mathematics, foreign languages, and literature major from Montgomery, received an award to study Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia. Gunda is part of UA’s International German Student Exchange Program. Hari will pursue graduate study to research computational linguistics and multilingual natural language processing.

A headshot of Belle Hester

Belle Hester, a creative media major from Pace, Florida, will study Japanese in Okayama, Japan. Hester is a member of the McCollough Program and Honors College. A Japanese tutor for students at UA, Belle is interested in becoming a Japanese-to-English translator or localizer in the entertainment industry.

A headshot of Addison Miller

Addison Miller, an international educational policy major through New College from Birmingham, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. Miller is a member of the Blount Scholars Program and Witt Fellows Program. Following graduation, Addison aims to pursue another longer study abroad in a Chinese speaking area before attaining a master’s degree in international educational policy with the goal of working in language policy advocacy.

A headshot of William Muller

William Muller, a history and political science major from Roswell, Georgia, will study Russian through the CLS Spark virtual program. Muller is part of the International Relations Club, Alabama International Justice Mission and Prelaw Student Association. William plans to pursue a career in international humanitarian rights law to advocate on behalf of those whose plight may go unnoticed and/or undefended.

A headshot of Bennett Ogle

Bennett Ogle, an economics and mathematics major from Farragut, Tennessee, will study Azerbaijani in Baku, Azerbaijan. Ogle’s achievements include being named a White House Historical Association Next-Gen Leader and receiving a Certification of Appreciation from Ambassador John Carwile of the U.S. Embassy in Latvia in 2022. Bennett hopes to be an economic officer within the foreign service specializing in areas with significant minority-majority interactions.

The CLS program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 13 critical languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

The UA Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships assists students in the pursuit of national and international awards including the Mitchell, Hollings, Goldwater, Rhodes and Boren, among others. Students interested in applying for awards that require an institutional endorsement can learn more on the External Scholarships and Fellowships website.

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325

Kobe Students Explore American Culture

Kobe University Students from Japan visit UA to explore American Culture

UA students and local social workers, comedians, coffee shop baristas and employees of agencies were some of the people students from Kobe University in Japan interviewed during their stay at the English Language Institute, February 14 – March 25. As part of their short-term program, the students did research about the U.S. in an area of their interest.  To gather information, they got involved with the Tuscaloosa community by attending a comedy open mike night, volunteering at the West Alabama Food Bank and visiting Goodwill Industries and America’s Thrift Stores.

At the end of their stay, the group presented their findings on religion, poverty, humor, discrimination, coffee culture, the civil rights movement and fast fashion. The students agreed that their interaction with Americans was a meaningful part of the program. In addition to their research, they took classes in Pronunciation/Speaking, American Culture and Writing.

New Collaboration – Embedded Office

The Capstone International Center’s Education Abroad department is excited to announce a new partnership with WorldStrides Higher Education, the nation’s leading education travel provider. Starting summer 2024, UA will house a WorldStrides embedded office on campus (in B.B. Comer) to work alongside Education Abroad to provide high-quality study abroad experiences to our students.

WorldStrides (including its subsidiaries ISA, TEAN, and Custom Programs) have been affiliated study abroad providers to UA for over a decade, offering international education opportunities to hundreds of students. This embedded office is an innovative progression to an existing partnership that will further allow us to meet the growing demand for global programming.

  • ISA, International Studies Abroad, offers programs in Africa, Europe, and Latin America
  • TEAN, The Education Abroad Network, offers programs in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Custom Programs partners with UA professors to create unique and customized international experiences that are fine-tuned to the learning outcomes and logistical needs of each program.

Aside from traditional study abroad programs, students can also participate in an internship, conduct research, engage in service-learning, or a combination of these opportunities depending on location.We will be hosting members from the WorldStrides Higher Education team on campus in the coming months. If you are interested in meeting them in person, please email

WorldStrides was chosen through a competitive bid process amongst a list of our affiliated providers and other U.S. study abroad providers. To see the full list of UA-affiliated program providers, please visit:

RAMADAN: Everything you need to know about your students observing Ramadan

RAMADAN: Everything you need to know about your students observing Ramadan

This year, Ramadan takes place March 10 – April 9, 2024.

Ramadan stands as a sacred period in Islam, marking the revelation of the Qur’an. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, fostering closeness to God and nurturing qualities like self-discipline, gratitude, and empathy for the needy. It’s a time of spiritual renewal, characterized by increased Quranic recitation and prayer.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, about 12 hours daily over 29-30 days. It’s a time for spiritual and physical discipline, fostering self-reflection and moral growth. Fasting promotes God-consciousness and encourages good deeds.

  • The first 6 days are typically the hardest.
  • Students may be more tired than usual.
  • They also may be homesick during this time.

Prayer Times: During Ramadan, students may prioritize prayer times, observing the five daily prayers at various intervals throughout the day.

  • Consider allowing brief breaks during class, labs, seminars, or events for prayer or iftar.
  • Additionally, be aware of evening activities that may coincide with worship times.
  • Respect students who may pray in quiet area such as hallways or designated room.

Academics: Reasonable accommodations should be provided for fasting students during finals and exams, such as adjusting exam times or allowing students to eat during the exam if needed.

  • It’s important to minimize stress by offering support and understanding the challenges students may encounter.
  • Recognize that students may adjust their sleep schedules due to late-night prayers and early morning meals during Ramadan.

For more information visit:

8 Individuals Receive Premier Awards, UA’s Top Honors

The William P. and Estan J. Bloom Award

Honors a student who has improved relations among different groups. Past recipients have been chosen primarily for improving understanding and supporting interaction among groups for a common cause.

Rolland Grady

Rolland Grady

Rolland Grady’s drive to elevate the Alabama experience for her fellow students is evident in her endeavors that will surely impact the world beyond The University of Alabama campus.

Serving as the president of Vote Everywhere, a nationwide voting rights initiative, Grady works to unite students from all backgrounds through on-campus missions, including registering voters plus helping them navigate the absentee ballot process and understand their voting rights and why they matter.

But voting education is not the only way Grady is bridging the gaps between student groups at UA. As a student officer in the Blackburn Institute, Grady has learned how to advocate for multiple perspectives among her peers and use that knowledge to help merge their varied experiences into ways to help each other prepare to take on the world.

The Judy Bonner Presidential Medallion Award

This award recognizes a member of the UA community who has gone above and beyond normal expectations to change the culture or implement new initiatives designed to advance the Alabama experience for all undergraduate students or a segment of the undergraduate population. 

Dr. Carolina Robinson

Dr. Carolina Robinson

Dr. Carolina Robinson understands that helping students reach their full potential happens outside of the classroom as much as it does inside it. As the director of the Capstone International Center’s Education Abroad office, she is truly using a global perspective to elevate the UA student experience.

Her peers say that her servant leadership and passion for students are how she fosters a culture of global education at UA. Through donor engagement, she has increased scholarship offerings for students to travel to locations such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Robinson cultivates the Alabama experience by showing what her peers call a “deep-rooted focus on first-generation and Pell Grant students” through programming and fostering opportunities that show these students that they not only belong at UA but they also have a place in the world beyond campus as well.

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award

Recipients will exemplify the life of Morris L. Mayer: selfless and significant service and leadership for the UA community, significant contributions to student life and integrity.

Malea Benjamin

Malea Benjamin

Selfless and service are two words that describe how Malea Benjamin is impacting The University of Alabama campus. Driven to make a tangible change in the world, she knew she had the tools to do that at UA and set forth to do so.

Through her various roles and involvement with the Student Government Association, the Blackburn Institute and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, more specifically her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she strives to be an advocate for every student so they are seen, heard and celebrated.

Benjamin has gained a greater understanding of the various communities across campus as an Outreach Ambassador in the Intercultural Diversity Center, where staff members are educated through programming and conversations with various communities and then serve as a resource for anyone who visits the IDC.

How she engages with other students in bridging the community gaps among them is a constant reminder to her peers that students can and should be advocates for each other in making sure every student knows there is a place for them at UA.

The John Fraser Ramsey Award

The John Fraser Ramsey Award is not exclusively a service, leadership, or academic award: it honors a distinctive kind of excellence. The John Fraser Ramsey Award recognizes the versatility of gifts and attainments, as well as the breadth of excellence in mind and character, that have traditionally been the goals of a liberal education. The Ramsey is awarded to a junior with broad interests related to the humanities who has exerted a positive influence on his or her contemporaries.

Kate Herndon

Kate Herndon

As The University of Alabama’s first-ever recipient of the Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service, Kate Herndon knows the impact that service before self can have on a community and she lives those words every day.

Herndon’s endeavors focus on women, children and senior citizens, and through her academic research, she looks for ways to explore history to understand current policies to shape future policies and laws.

She is immensely involved with the Women and Gender Resource Center and serves as the assistant director for the SGA’s Safe Center Committee. She also is the director of campus outreach and recruitment for the Capstone Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Through the Blackburn Institute’s curriculum, Herndon has gained a knowledge and perspective about how to serve others that doesn’t surprise her peers who describe her as “brilliant and engaging.”

Many feel that Herndon’s passion to serve, curiosity and love of learning are just a few of her many gifts.

The Catherine J. Randall Award

This award recognizes the most outstanding student scholar at UA based on GPA, rigor of course study, and extraordinary scholarly or creative endeavor; applicants may come from any academic program of study, as scholarly and creative activities from within all majors will be considered for this award.

Kittson Hamill

Kittson Hamill

As a woman in STEM, Kittson Hamill is setting the bar high for future generations. Holding various leadership roles across campus and receiving numerous accolades while enrolled in a rigorous course load — she’s also showing them that anything is possible.

Hamill, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, is a computer science major focusing on data security and analytics and a triple minor in the Randall Research Scholars Program, Chinese and art. She earned first place in the 2022 Alpaca Owners Association Student Design Competition using her weaving skills and showcasing how she excelled not only in her STEM major but also in the arts.

She has received recognition for her academic and research endeavors from local, national and international organizations and interned with the U.S. Department of Defense and the NOAA Hollings program, among others.

Hamill’s other work in helping to detect Early-Stage Alzheimer’s disease and with the United Nation’s Girl Up program, all while maintaining a perfect GPA, are just more examples of her commitment to doing the work it takes to be part of the global good.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

The recipients of the award have demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship, leadership and service. It recognizes the practical application of noble ideals and is based on excellence of character and service to humanity.

Abby Morthland

Abby Morthland

Abilene Morthland seeks to unite and uplift those around her, and according to her peers, she already does. But she recognizes the space to cascade these values of identity beyond herself and thus works to create sustaining communities across her campus involvement.

Being part of the Randall Research Scholars Program has helped Morthland actualize opportunities to leverage her privileges and positions for marginalized populations. Through her leadership roles in the RRSP, she instituted mental health initiatives and created the program-wide newsletter to value student wellbeing and foster growing connections with and amongst alumni.

The Honors College student also serves as Chief Justice in the Student Government Association, where she trains Associate Justices and Clerks on compassionate, fair adjudication. This work, her double majors of Spanish and philosophy, her contributions of artwork sales to nonprofit donations and her many other campus experiences and accolades have worked to fortify her passion for human rights advocacy.

Dr. Carolyn Dahl

Dr. Carolyn Dahl

Dr. Carolyn Dahl’s work to make learning accessible has made a lasting impact on everyone around her. Her peers cite tenacity and capacity for “getting the job done” as markers of what she will do for learners and their educational opportunities.

As Dean of the College of Continuing Studies (now the Office for Teaching Innovation and Digital Education), she championed the idea that the University could reach learners of all ages and phases of life. Cultivating buy-in with fellow campus leaders, she helped transform online offerings, expanding higher education opportunities and social mobility for nontraditional learners. She was also instrumental in the development of UA Early College, an innovative early-enrollment program for high school students, and UA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, serving older learners across the state.

Since retiring from UA, Dahl has continued to bring intentional leadership and engaged service to the campus and the Tuscaloosa community as an active volunteer.

Graduate School Premier Award

This award honors a graduate student whose University of Alabama experience encapsulates the University’s tripartite mission of teaching, research and service.

Dalis Lampkins

Dalis Lampkins

When Dalis Lampkins began her graduate school journey in 2019, she knew she wanted to pour into her students and encourage their successes. She would later learn that an institution is only as strong as the people within it and set forth on a meaningful path for herself and others at The University of Alabama.

She serves in roles across campus that foster student and leadership engagement, including president of the Graduate Student Association, where she helped create the Graduate Student Center that opened last fall to serve the 5,000+ graduate student community.

Lampkins also is working through GSA to focus on students regarding issues such as food insecurity, academic fees, departmental pay, student care and well-being and mental health, graduation regalia and child care.

She continues to work with various partners on UA’s campus and volunteers with many West Alabama nonprofits with students she is teaching and learning alongside to help them find their path.

Contact: Jennifer Brady, UA Strategic Communications,