Hats Off to the Graduates

From the 2020 Collegian | We are so proud of all of our incredible 2020 Arts and Sciences graduates. To celebrate their resilience, ingenuity, and dedication to their education, we want to highlight a few of our newest alumni. Join us in congratulating the Class of 2020!

Lota ErinneLota Erinne | English and Finance

My Post-Graduate Plans: I’m currently proofreading for Grammarly and participating in a book editing mentorship, and next year I’ll be working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in La Rioja, Spain.

One Thing Every Student Should Do: Every student needs to climb to the top floor of the art building on a clear, quiet day and just look out over Tuscaloosa for a little bit. My friends and I spent a lot of time up there freshman year, and it was one of the last things I did before moving out of town.

My Path at UA: Some Fulbright alumnae came to talk to one of my Spanish classes in my sophomore year. It seemed like something I would be super interested in, and between the other informational sessions I attended and all the help from our amazing Fulbright advisor Dr. Beverly Hawk, the whole process was really intuitive and uncomplicated. I also attended workshops about getting published and working as a literary agent, which were informative and have helped me plan what I want to do once my time in Spain is done.

My Favorite Class: Fiction Tour (EN 301) with Dr. Wendy Rawlings was the best class I took at UA, without a doubt. Dr. Rawlings is such a great professor, and she fostered a warm, collaborative environment where my classmates and I gave each other the perfect balance of positive feedback and constructive criticism. I learned so much more in that single semester than I ever thought possible. Additionally, my classmates were just a great group of people who I’m so glad I got to hang out with every week, and people brought their dogs in every now and then. So that was also a plus.

My Favorite Memory: My favorite memory from UA has to be one of the many times my best friends and I spent exploring campus at night, wandering through the historic district, or walking home down University Boulevard after a football game. Tuscaloosa is so full of excitement and interesting people, and I always had the best time just being in the middle of it all.

Anna Thigpen
Photo by Natalie Layton

Anna Thigpen | Communicative Disorders and French

My Post-Graduate Plans: I started graduate school at UA this August pursuing my master’s in speech language pathology.

My Path at UA: My time at UA has absolutely shaped me into who I am today, and helped me pursue my next steps. The Capstone provided me with valuable knowledge, leadership opportunities, research experiences, and the most amazing community that built me up and pushed me forward. I am now a graduate student at UA—I just couldn’t get enough!

My Favorite Class: For my communicative disorders courses, I really enjoyed Speech Disorders 1 (pediatric disorders) and Speech Disorders 2 (adult disorders). These two courses provided the foundational knowledge about populations I will be working with (and am currently working with) in my profession. They really applied what we were learning to real experiences, and this made the lessons more valuable. In my French courses, I enjoyed Cultures and Conversations. I feel like this class really allowed me the space to practice my conversational French, and prepared me to use my French language skills when I studied abroad.

One Thing Every Student Should Do: One thing every student should do before they graduate is go have a picnic in Woods Quad! It is beautiful and tucked away—I just love it!

Malik R. Seals
Photo by Lensey Shaw

Malik R. Seals | Biological Sciences

My Post-Graduate Plans: I am currently completing a Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Biomedical Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) specializing in immunology and infectious diseases. Following my graduate work at UAB, I intend to complete my doctoral work in neuroimmunology, a field that bridges my two interests. Ultimately, I hope to translate discoveries in basic science to clinical applications for patients living with autoimmune diseases, like my mother.

My Path at UA: My time at the University was very beneficial in both the conventional academic sense, but also in facilitating personal growth. I was able to take a diverse range of courses, including biology, foreign languages, political science and philosophy. This flexibility in my coursework allowed me to appreciate the interconnectedness of my studies in science and policy to public health. It was precisely this love for interdisciplinary studies that I gained during my undergraduate tenure that fueled my desire to complete a Ph.D. in my chosen field. Lastly, my work as a student leader allowed me to see the importance of strong communication skills, both orally and written. Being able to give speeches in front of hundreds to thousands of incoming students and their parents allowed me to gain confidence in my public speaking; it’s a skill I don’t use quite as much as I used to, but it’s an invaluable skill to gain.

My Favorite Class: Surprisingly, some of my favorite classes weren’t science, as they allowed me to think differently than science courses required. My favorite class was Civil Leadership Dialogues, taught by Lane McLelland. Her class was profoundly influential in shaping how I viewed ordinary conversations on, honestly, incredibly challenging topics that we should be conversing about more. Further, the class taught me how to navigate these difficult topics in an ever-increasing partisan climate with a sense of humility and desire to understand rather than respond.

My Favorite Memory: One of my fondest memories was being “tapped” in Jasons, the men’s senior honorary, honoring 40 of the, supposedly, most influential men on the university’s campus. I felt that it was an incredible honor at the time and served as the perfect culmination to the end of my undergraduate tenure.

Natasha Burrell
Photo by Makalya Craig

Natasha Burrell | Microbiology

My Post-Graduate Plans: I am currently enrolled in the biology medical sciences master’s program at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. I intend to apply to medical school in the summer of 2021.

One Thing Every Student Should Do: Students should attend at least one event in the arts, whether it be a jazz concert in the Moody Music Building, a play in Rowand-Johnson Hall, or a student-choreographed performance with Dance Alabama! It constantly amazes me the talent that my peers have, and I know that it means the world to them to have our support.

My Favorite Memory: My favorite memory at UA was participating at ONYX my senior year. ONYX is a exhibition put on by the Black Student Union in partnership with University Programs to highlight minority-centered student organizations. At this event, I was able to tell my peers about the Women of Excellence, an organization that I served as presiden, which is committed to uplifting and empowering minority women of campus. I had the opportunity to spread the word about a fairly new auxiliary style dance team that I was proud to be a part of. I also had the chance to perform a routine that I helped choreograph with my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Needless to say, this event allowed me to admire the hard work of myself and my peers to make the University a welcoming environment for minorities. I was truly in awe that night.

My Path at UA: For me, UA was what every college experience should be. My time here helped me grow and mature into the person I am today. In four years, I learned so much about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, and, honestly, how to have fun and enjoy life. What I value the most is the exposure I got to a diverse student and faculty body, to various events that, on one hand, kept me involved in my community, and on the other, taught me how to be comfortable in formal situations. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at UA is to take advantage of the resources given to me. I came into college as a “do it on my own” person, but UA taught me that no person can do anything alone. That is one lesson that I know has helped me and will continue to help me.

Sean Drummond
Photo by JC Nichols

Sean Drummond | Biological Sciences

My Post-Graduate Plans: I’m attending medical school at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

My Path at UA: The classes, experiences, and relationships among professors and students that UA provided was unmatched in preparing me for my first year in medical school. A great example is the Pharmacology class I took my senior year that was taught by Dr. Luke Ciesla. I am currently in my Pharmacology block for medical school and feel very confident after being exposed to the information at such a high level in undergrad.

My Favorite Class: My favorite class was my organic chemistry lab. This was because I had an incredible TA, and a lot of friends that I got to know my first two years of school in the lab with me. Sometimes, we were able to finish the experiments early and grab breakfast on the quad in our extra free time. These were unexpectedly sweet memories from a class that proved to be challenging but exciting.

One Thing Every Student Should Do: Every student should get to know the faculty and staff in Clark Hall. They are some of the kindest and most genuine people you can meet, and they really do care about each student in the College and their future.