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, jennifer.brady@ua.edu