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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.

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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,

USCIS Increasing Filing Fees


Effective February 26, 2024, the Premium Processing Fee to expedite certain USCIS petitions will increase (USCIS Announcement).

The adjusted fees which impact commonly filed ISSS cases:

Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker $2,500  Form I-129 classifications including H-1B, O-1, TN $2,805 Form I-129 classifications including H-1B, O-1, TN
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $2,500 (Employment-based (EB) classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW)) $2,805 (Employment-based (EB) classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW))
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $1,750 (Form I-539 classifications F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-4, O-3) $1,965 (Form I-539 classifications F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-4, O-3)
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization $1,500 (Certain F-1 students with categories C03A, C03B, C03C) $1,685 (Certain F-1 students  with categories C03A, C03B, C03C)


Effective April 1, 2024, numerous filing fees will increase (USCIS Announcement).

The new fee schedule will impact several USCIS form types typically used by International Students and Scholars.

Some select form filing fee changes (see full list on

Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • $460
  • $460 H-1B (unchanged)
  • $510 TN
  • $530 O-1
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  • $700
  • $710
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • $1225
  • $750 (applicants under  14)
  • $1440
  • $950 (applicants under 14)
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • $370 (+ $85 Biometric fee)
  • $420 (online filing)
  • $470 (paper filing)
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • $410 (+ $85 Biometric fee)
  • $470 (online filing)
  • $520 (paper filing)

Fee Schedules will be updated here on April 1:

UA Sweeps Top Fulbright Producer Honors for First Time

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama has been 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 is one of 12 universities in the nation to receive both designations.

The Fulbright Program is an international academic exchange program with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and supporting friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and other countries. The U.S. government oversees an extensive suite of fellowships and scholarships in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide.

“It is with immense pride that we celebrate The University of Alabama’s consistent designation as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “This achievement underscores the dedication and excellence of our students and the remarkable contributions of our esteemed faculty and staff who are shaping UA’s global leaders of tomorrow. And we are excited to announce that the University has also achieved its inaugural designation as a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars, with six faculty members receiving Fulbright awards.”

Fourteen UA students received Fulbright awards for the 2023-2024 academic year. 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.

“UA’s recognition as a Top Producer of Fulbright Students for the seventh time in the last nine years is truly remarkable,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “It speaks to the quality of our students and to the dedication of our Fulbright advisors, Dr. Matt Feminella, Dr. Tori Jessen, and Ms. Megan Legerski.”

UA completed the sweep of top producer designations with six faculty members selected for various Fulbright awards.

“This year, UA is also being recognized as a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars,” Wise said. “This is the first time that UA has earned this achievement. Our world-class faculty understand the value of connecting and working with colleagues and students overseas. They return to our campus re-energized and eager to share new knowledge, experiences and insights at UA.

“I look forward to our students and faculty continuing to seek and participate in Fulbright opportunities that further UA’s mission of advancing the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world through teaching, research and service.”

The UA Capstone International Center offers guidance to students and faculty on a variety of prestigious international awards including Fulbright awards. The Capstone International Center website provides information for faculty members to learn about Fulbright awards as well as students interested in Fulbright and other awards.

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

UA and International Students Learn from One Another through an Experiential Learning Course

ELI UA Students Building Marshmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

On Mondays and Wednesdays in BB Comer Hall, UA and English Language Institute (ELI) students come together in a unique program that provides both groups of students the opportunity to share perspectives on their cultures.

The CIP 202 Introduction to Global and Cultural Perspective Experiential Learning course has two labs which allow UA students to join international students twice a week throughout the semester. UA students can either join a Speaking/Listening 5 and 6 course in which ELI students learn about American history and its influence on culture or a Culturally Speaking course in which UA and ELI students are given topics to discuss or tasks to complete.

The CIP 202 course culminates with an Intercultural Experience Showcase. UA students in the course create posters that highlight the lessons they have learned and perspectives that have changed from their interactions the international students.

Intercultural Experience ShowcaseIntercultural Experience Showcase

Intercultural Experience Showcase

ELI and UA Students Building Marshmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

UA and ELI Students Building Mashmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

ELI Alumna Returns

Dr. Beyza Aksu Dunya

The English Language Institute (ELI) always enjoys visits from its alumni. Our most recent visitor was Dr. Beyza Aksu Dunya, who has returned to The University of Alabama (UA) as a visiting scholar in The School of Education to do research in educational measurement. Beyza studied at the ELI in 2009 on a scholarship from the Turkish government and at the same time met her future husband. After earning a master’s degree at Boston College and a Ph.D at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Beyza returned to Turkey to fulfill her scholarship obligation. Since then, she and her husband have been working as Associate Professors in their country.

Beyza is now taking advantage of a sabbatical to do research at UA concerning computer adaptive testing and student assessment. She appreciates the fact that her “colleagues here are open to sharing their ideas and their time,” and she values the resources available to her. Coming back to Tuscaloosa also attracted her because “it is a safe and affordable college town” in which to expose her 8-year-old son to a new culture and language.

We welcome all ELI alumni to stay in touch and to come back to the campus whenever possible.

Honoring Ifeanyi Anyoku

Honoring Ifeanyi Anyoku

On August 10, The University of Alabama community came together to honor international student Ifeanyi Chidubem Prince Anyoku, who tragically passed away on August 5, 2023.

Ifeanyi came to UA from Nigeria in Fall 2022 to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Biology.

In his time here, Ifeanyi made a tremendous impact on the University, having been named to the academic honors President’s List twice in his first year of study, as an active member of the Blount Scholars Program, the African Students Association, Al’s Pals, Circle K International, the First Baptist Church, and UA Housing and Residential Communities.

These communities came together to share their thoughts and memories of a young man who left too soon.

Many of the attendees left their thoughts and memories, which can be viewed here (View Tributes).

U.S. Visa Fee Increases Take Effect June 17, 2023


On June 17, 2023, the nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application processing fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas (F, M, and J visas), will increase from $160 to $185. The fee for certain petition-based NIVs for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will increase from $190 to $205. The fee for a treaty trader, treaty investor, and treaty applicants in a specialty occupation (nonimmigrant E category) visa will increase from $205 to $315. NIV fees paid prior to June 17, 2023, will remain valid through the expiration date of the fee receipt.

NIV fees are set based on the actual cost of providing NIV services and are determined after conducting a study of the cost of these services. The Department uses an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology to calculate, annually, the cost of providing consular services, including visa services. The fees for most non-petition based NIVs were last updated in 2012, and certain other visa fees were last updated in 2014.

This rule does not change any other fees, including the fee to apply for a waiver of the two-year residency requirement for certain exchange visitors, which remains at $120.

Fee information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website,, and on the websites of U.S. embassies and consulates.

UA selected to receive the IIE American Passport Project Grant

The University of Alabama (UA) has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 UA students to obtain a U.S. passport and support their study abroad journeys. In this third year of the program, IIE awarded 48 institutions in the IIENetwork for this opportunity, which will help up to 1,200 Pell-eligible, U.S. students obtain their U.S. passports and start their study abroad journey. “A passport is the first thing that opens up their world to the possibility of study abroad,” said Courtney Temple, IIE Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer

As a key initiative under IIE’s newly launched Center for Access and Equity, the IIE American Passport Project represents IIE’s commitment to create access to international education opportunities and enable equity. For this program, IIE is removing an initial financial barrier for many – the cost of a U.S. passport; thereby, helping to increase diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. Through the IIE American Passport Project, IIE aims to empower 10,000 U.S. students with their passports by the end of this decade.

In addition, the grant is intended to support the IIENetwork, IIE’s global membership association, in assisting students from their respective campuses to go abroad who would otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education. The program prioritizes first-year students, with limited financial means, for whom this may be their first passport and makes global learning abroad a greater possibility with an earlier start. The awarded institutions will couple the grant funding with their engagement and outreach, advising, programming, and additional support for the students they have identified for this program.

The IIE Passport Project will be managed by Capstone International Center, Education Abroad (EA) office. EA will launch applications for free passports on their website ( at the start of the Fall semester!