Category: People

CCBP Summer Camp Helped Marengo County Student Choose Life's Direction

By Kirsten J. Barnes CCBP Graduate Assistant

What started out as a summer camp experience inspired 19-year-old D'Anthony Jackson to launch his own business, select a major in journalism and compete for a summer internship two years later at the UA Center for Community Based Partnerships (CCBP).

After spending two summers as a participant with the Black Belt 100 Lenses project, a photojournalism camp that prepares high school students in the art of photography by talking photos of people and places throughout Alabama's Black Belt Region, Jackson was hooked on the art form.

"I just loved it. My major is journalism and the program gave me a chance to express my love for journalism and photography," said Jackson, a rising sophomore at the University of West Alabama.

The program not only helped him decide on a career, but it also gave him the foundation to try his hand at professional photography by starting his own photography business.

"I started the business my senior year in high school," said Jackson, a Linden High School graduate and Marengo County native. "I do senior portraits and weddings and other events."

As a student participant in the program, Jackson focused on taking photos of Linden, Ala., in Marengo County.

"I took photos that explained what my community is to me," Jackson said, adding that it was easier to tell his story through photos. "I took pictures of railroads, buildings, people and stores. We had to have 50 black and white photos and 50 color photos. When I tried to explain my community with my mouth, it was different from taking and showing photos. You can see more perspectives about the community using photos."

This year, Jackson will attend the camp, not as a student, but as a facilitator, working as a CCBP intern. The camp is scheduled for Sunday"“Thursday, June 10"“14, 2012.

Dr. Heather Pleasants, CCBP director of Community Education, whose office oversees the program, is thrilled to have Jackson's participation.

"D'Anthony represents the best of what we hope students will be able to accomplish through and beyond their participation in the project," said Pleasants, who has worked with the program since joining CCBP in 2009. The project is a partnership between the Black Belt Community Foundation, CCBP and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

"The program uses creative activity as a vehicle to help kids explore their potential," Pleasants said. "We use photography and writing to work with the students who come to the camp. It helps them see themselves and the communities around them differently and in a way that they hadn’t previously been able to articulate."

100 Lenses is the brainchild of Elliot Knight, a doctoral student who came up with the concept as a UA undergraduate and launched a similar project with UA students prior to launching the program for high school students. This year's program will involve 60 youth. "My favorite part of the program is the time I get to work with the students," said Knight, who for the past two years has been working more in a support role rather than a lead facilitator because of his dissertation research. He is using the program as a basis for his doctoral research and has interviewed participants extensively.

"A lot of them talk about getting out there and seeing the importance of interacting with people and being proactive," he said. "They see things in their communities differently. They learn to consciously think about what's important to them."

Like Jackson, Knight said students take away something life-changing from the program. Many of them start their own businesses or major in an area related to their interest, but all of them take photos and examine their surroundings more closely.

"The pictures help them to develop pride in where they are from," Knight said, adding that interacting with other students from small towns just like theirs throughout the state also increases their self-esteem and makes the state seem smaller. By interacting with other students with diverse perspectives, he said they come to realize that not having a place where young people can hang out together and share interests is not limited to their community. And they don't just rubber-stamp what they've heard in the past: They become critical examiners of their entire environment, Knight said, which leads them to embrace grassroots change, beginning with themselves.

Jackson is exited to be furthering his skills by working with the 100 Lenses directors and participants in the 2012 summer camp. The program has a mission to give youth a voice and a forum to raise and address issues that affect them and their community through analyzing and depicting the culture of the Black Belt region. Jackson will be helping to establish a network of citizens, who through cultural analysis and both visual and written expression, are committed to improving the quality of life in the Black Belt.

There will be the usual camp activities, but this year "I'll have more of a leadership role," continuing to develop skills he began in high school and is continuing in college. During his first year at UWA, Jackson was named Freshman of the Year after being nominated by Director of Student Support Services Vicki Spruiell.

Jackson was recognized because of his active college life and high grades. He made the Dean's List, is a Student Support Services Orientation Ambassador, Residence Hall Association President, and he is a member of the Scarlet Band from Tiger Land, the UWA choir, Phi Eta Sigma, the Student Government Association and the student newspaper MUSE. In addition, he was cast in a play in cooperation with the university and Pickens County.

"I just like to be involved," said Jackson, adding that was one of the reasons the program was a perfect fit for him. "I don't like to just sit in my room. I like to help people and stay involved. I guess they picked me as Freshman of the Year because while doing all of these things, I was still able to keep my grades up." He reports a GPA of 3.75.

Jackson said he is using skills honed in the 100 Lenses program to make connections and meet important people. Following one of the budding theater actor's performances of "The Face in the Courthouse Window," he got to meet Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his wife Diane, who were in the audience as guests of UWA President Richard Holland.

Today the 100 Lenses archives has more than 7,000 images depicting the work of more than 200 high school students from 12 Black Belt counties in Alabama: Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox counties.

"The past couple of camps we’ve had an emphasis on photography and writing, but now we have added performance," Pleasants said. "These creative areas come from the backgrounds of those who are participating in the camp. Videography and spoken word will be incorporated as well."

The Division of Community Affairs promotes engagement and outreach scholarship and major community events such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture and Concert. In fall 2012, the division will host the 13th annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference. Community Affairs subdivisions are the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, the Crossroads Community Center, and Equal Opportunity Programs, each with their own mission and objective.

The Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) provides leadership and operational assistance for hundreds of engaged scholarship projects locally, nationally and internationally, including publishing one of the leading research journals in the field, the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. CCBP's motto is "Engaging Communities and Changing Lives."

Dodson Found Independence, Academic Success, Happiness at The University of Alabama

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

(Editor's Note: Our lead writer here at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships completed this profile of our top work-study student, Zach Dodson, on the day we learned of his sudden death.)

Zachary David Dodson did not come to the University of Alabama looking for two national football and gymnastics championships or to be named Student Employee of the Year. He came here searching for independence and an education.

"I wanted to get away from home," said Dodson, 21, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. "I wanted to have my own independent lifestyle for a while. I didn't expect the championships. I didn't expect the awards and accolades, or a great place to work."

The economics major visited several other campuses "” University of Mississippi, University of Michigan and the University of North Florida ­"” before settling on UA.

"This was my favorite. The campus "¦ it's beautiful," said Dodson, who said he had no regrets about his selection. "It was everything I thought it would be and more."

Student supervisors from throughout the university nominated students for the award presented by UA's Financial Aid, which administers the Federal Work Study program for the campus.

"Mr. Dodson is not only one of our most intelligent and resourceful students; he is also one of the most willing to help out with whatever task is at hand," wrote Dr. Ed Mullins, director of the Center for Community-Based Partnership's Office of Research and Communication, when recommending Dodson for the award. "As an economics major, he has a GPA of 3.71 and has been selected to both the Dean's List and President's List."

Although this was the second year Dodson was employed by the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, he said he had no idea he was up for the award.

"I was really surprised because I didn't even know they had nominated me or that they thought that highly of me," Dodson said. "I told my mom. She was really happy for me."

Dodson took his job seriously, but said he knows not all students treat work-study positions as "real work." However, he offered this advice to student workers: "Don't get into the habit of thinking of it like government money or free money. Take it seriously and have a great attitude."

He said students should not treat this federally funded program "like something you should be entitled to, because maybe in the future there won't be any money for it."

During this tenure at CCBP, Dodson preformed various office duties and assisted with conferences and events sponsored by the office. In addition, he wrote press releases and assisted with the various publications produced by the office.

"I do whatever they ask me to. They've taught me to do a lot of stuff," Dodson said. "I've worked with everyone in the office."

His recommendation was a reflection of his efforts.

"Zach approaches every assignment with concentrated attention and performs these assignments in an exemplary manner," wrote Mullins. "Some students have a narrow comfort zone; but not Zach. Regardless of which of our several offices assigns him a work task, he carries it out as if that office were the only one he worked for. He is simply one of our best and most loyal students."

Dodson said he hoped his work-study assignment would be the kind of work environment he hopes to find upon entering the work-force full-time.

"If you like the people you work with and you enjoy your job; then it's going to be great," Dodson said. "There's a lot of diversity in this office. We have fun, but we also work hard for the community. It's very flexible, but they want you to work and get things done."

In addition to these job-related skills, Dodson said he learned much about himself in college.

"School was a big part of it, but the whole college experience of having to deal with everything on your own and keeping commitments on your own time was a big part of growing up and becoming independent," Dodson said.

The former Florida Gators fan, said it only took one season to convert him to a Bama fan.

"I used to wear my Gator pajamas around the dorm and I'd get funny looks," said Dodson, who was a huge Tim Tebow fan when he came to UA. "No one wanted to hear that, but it only lasted the first year. I'm an Alabama fan now."

Dodson said he is most proud of having graduated in four years, something he promised his parents, Paul and Tara Stutts, if he could go to school out of state.

"That was the key thing for me," Dodson said. "If you are out of state you need to get in and get out. I took five classes and I went to summer school."

Looking at the next step in his career, Dodson was excited about life and the prospect of selling insurance and/or remaining at UA for graduate school.

"I'm ether going to grad school here for an MBA or marketing degree, or go and work," he said. "I'm looking at AFLAC right now."

In addition to Mullins, directors Christopher Spencer and Heather Pleasants also wrote letters supporting Dodson's award. And the Center's fourth director, Angelicque Blackmon, initiated discussion to set up, as she said, "a scholarship opportunity for an undergraduate student to complete a project involving engagement scholarship that would continue Zach’s legacy."

Death of CCBP Model Student Saddens Family, Friends and Co-Workers

By Edward Mullins
Director, Research and Communication
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

Zach Dodson, Student Employee of the Year

Zachary David Dodson, just 21, died suddenly this past Saturday, May 5, on the day he was scheduled to receive his college diploma. He spent two years here at the Center as a work-study student making us look good. This past summer he worked here without pay, volunteering to help the faculty and staff with whatever needed to be done.

No job was too small or too large for Zach to give it his best. Zach had just recently learned of his acceptance into UA’s master’s program in management and marketing. Although once a Gator fan, the native Floridian loved the University, the Crimson Tide, and his friends and colleagues all over campus. They also loved him, as was seen in the outpouring of grief that has followed his death.

His friendliness and positive attitude were as big as he was, all 6-3, 225 pounds of him. Anytime I needed something from the high shelves in our office, I didn’t get a ladder; I just hollered for Zach.

Zach affected everyone with whom he came in contact so much that the directors here at the Center nominated him this semester for the federal work-study program's Student Employee of the Year. That he won this campus-wide honor surprised no one here at the Center.

We are all devastated, but his family and close friends are especially saddened at the irreplaceable loss. Recently, I had a big tree I wanted to plant in my back yard. It was too big for me to budge. I told Zach about it, knowing what would happen next: He offered to help plant it. We drove out and in a flash he had lifted the 18-foot-tall tree with massive root ball and dropped it into the hole. I tried to pay him for helping me. Of course he refused. That was Zach.

I’ll never be able to look at that tree, a Japanese cherry, without thinking of Zach.

All of Zach’s student colleagues were saddened by his death and spent the first few days writing thoughtful memories about him for Zach’s family.

As you will see from the Tuscaloosa News obituary below, a memorial scholarship is being established in his name. Donations should be sent or delivered to Community Affairs, The University of Alabama, Box 870113, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.

Reprinted from the Tuscaloosa News

TUSCALOOSA Zachary David Dodson, age 21, passed away suddenly May 5, 2012, in Tuscaloosa on the morning of his commencement ceremony at the University of Alabama.

Zach was born in Jacksonville, Fla. and graduated from Episcopal High School in 2008. Zach graduated from the University of Alabama Magna Cum laude with a BS in Commerce and Business Administration. At Alabama, he was on the Dean’s List, President’s List, a member of Phi Eta Sigma, and voted Student Employee of the Year in 2012 for the Center of Community Based Partnerships (CCBP). The loss of Zach will leave an indelible mark on our community.

He is survived by his adoring mother, Tara Stutts; grandmother, Sandy Stutts; great-grandmother, Juanita Pruett; numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins, and countless friends.

Services will be 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2012, at Neptune Baptist Church, 407 Third St., Neptune Beach, FL 32266. Interment will follow in Ponte Vedra Valley Cemetery. The family will receive friends during visitation and viewing Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Neptune Baptist Church and Friday one hour prior to the service at the church.

A memorial scholarship fund has been established in Zachary David Dodson’s name by the CCBP at the University of Alabama,, in care of Dr. Samory Pruitt.

Arrangements are under the direction of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 1701 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250.

Words of condolence may be shared at

Published in Tuscaloosa News on May 10, 2012

Fairley receives Auburn engagement award

By Kristen J. Barnes
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

Nan Fairley, pictured on the cover of Beyond Auburn magazine, received the 2011 Auburn University Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach.

Nan Fairley believes the best way to learn is by doing. That's why she challenges every one of her journalism students at Auburn University to get out of their comfort zones and become actively involved with communities.

The West Point, Miss., native has taught at Auburn for 20 years, where her teaching strategy in community journalism has been an ever-evolving process, but the key is getting her students to do real-world stories.

For her ability to inspire the next generation of journalists and the service this work provides for communities, Fairley recently received the 2011 Auburn University Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach, one of the highest honors the university gives to faculty.

The foundation for that award can be found in scores of Alabama small towns where her students have been able to connect with people and places through journalism assignments. Two recent examples can be seen at Front Porch Magazine and Valley Vision.

Fairley "“ like her students "“ learned how to practice good journalism by working as a journalist while earning her undergraduate degree at Mississippi University for Women. After working on newspapers in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama, she returned to school to earn a master's degree in journalism from The University of Alabama, where Dr. Ed Mullins, director of research and communication at CCBP, was her adviser.

"Her master's project dealt with the history and culture of her hometown," said Dr. Edward Mullins, former dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA. "Her family, Mississippi upbringing and small town background influenced her, all perfect training for what she is doing today at Auburn."

Fairley introduces her students to her world through classroom assignments that expand their minds and broaden their viewpoints. In the process, her students have turned engagement into community service, serving as mentors and taking up their own causes.

"Journalism can make a difference by shining a light on problems and connecting people to each other, and I hope we don't lose that," Fairley said. "Stories are powerful, and we need to know how to find the important ones and tell them."

Fairley has a way of getting people to work together, Mullins said. "She's not a pushy person by any means; she's just so willing to do her part that others see that and say, "˜I'm willing to help too,'" Mullins said. "She goes about her work in a very competent and joyous manner. So, it doesn't surprise me at all that she's gotten this recognition."

Students in her fall 2011 feature writing classes traveled to and wrote about Tuskegee and several towns along the Alabama and Georgia side of the Chattahoochee River.  Student stories were published in the Tuskegee News, the Montgomery Advertiser and in an online publication, Chattahoochee Heritage,

"Some of the projects I've been involved with have helped students understand that what they do can make a difference," Fairley said.

In her Valley Vision project, students wrote about past, present and future of Valley, Ala. They produced a special publication that received national recognition at the 2010 Imagining America Conference in Seattle, Wash., and the National Outreach Scholarship Conference in Raleigh, N.C. Fairley is now at work on a manuscript she hopes to publish in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, which is published at UA.

Through their work students gain a better understanding of their surroundings and the true meaning of community journalism. "Good community journalism reflects every community's unique sense of place and deals with tough topics that affect real people. I do my part to help students understand that important role," Fairley said.

"I really benefited from working with Dr. Ed Mullins and certainly his connection to and appreciation of community journalism in Alabama has always been an inspiration to me," Fairley said. She said she uses her connections with surrounding communities to help her students shatter small-town stereotypes, helping them understand the differences in each community and the people who live there.

International Expert on Rebuilding After Disasters Visiting Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA "” An international expert on rebuilding after disasters, Dr. Adenrele Awotona, a University of Massachusetts professor who directs the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters, is in Tuscaloosa for two days (Wednesday and Thursday, June 29-30) to lead a workshop for area and university officials and citizens.

The College of Education and the Division of Community Affairs are co-sponsors of the workshop, which focuses on children and their families. The workshop covers such issues as assessment of impact, identifying children needs before, during and after disasters; developing a comprehensive post-tornado action plan; and future disaster risk reduction, said Dr. Rick Houser, professor and head of the Department of Education Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling.

"The aim of the workshop is to ensure that the needs and priorities of children are integrated into official reconstruction policies," Houser said.

About 75 individuals representing cities, counties, schools, churches, foundations, businesses, neighborhood organizations, academic and service departments are on hand for the workshop.

Dr. Samuel Addy, director of UA's Center for Business and Economic Research, released a six-page study to participants that estimates the economic and fiscal impact of the April tornadoes. Addy's report is careful to point out that these are estimates and that all of the storm effects are temporary.

"¢ 6,000 unemployed, but after returns and other factors, reduces to 3,761 as a direct effect of the tornado.

"¢ Jobs temporarily lost range from about 5,600 to 13,200.

"¢ Total lost earnings, $219 million to $508 million

"¢ Taxes lost, $19 million to $44 million

"¢ Recovery activities (cleanup, assistance, rebuilding, etc.) will pump $2.6 billion into the state economy in 2011. These funds will come mostly from insurance and federal sources.

"¢ Another $2 to $3 billion in rebuilding will continue into 2012, resulting in about 37,000 to 74,000 jobs and $1 to $2+ billion in earnings for an average of about $32,000 per worker and $63 to $126 million in state income and sales taxes and $24 to $47 million in local sales tax receipts

All of this "will generate enough revenue to cover damage-induced losses to state finances as well as the state spending for cleanup," if assumptions hold, according to the report by Addy and Ahmad Ijaz, CBER director of economic forecasting.


Dr. David Wilson to Speak at CCBP Awards

Dr. David Wilson is the twelfth president and the tenth full-term president of Morgan State University. Appointed to the presidency on July 1, 2010, he brings to the University a background of extensive experience, a wealth of skills, a long trail of accomplishments as educational leader and an exceptional appreciation for, and strong devotion to, Morgan’s educational tradition.

President Wilson holds the bachelor’s degree in political science and the master’s degree in student personnel administration from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and both the master’s degree in educational planning and administration and the doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University.

He joins the Morgan community after more than thirty years of experience in higher education at Tuskegee Institute, Radcliff College, Kentucky State University, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, Auburn University and the University of Wisconsin, as well as at the Research and Development Institute of Philadelphia, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

In addition to teaching for a number of years at Rutgers, Dr. Wilson has gained administrative experience and established a record of effective administration in a variety of positions: Assistant to the Associate Dean of Students, Project Director, Research Associate, Director of Minority Programs, Assistant and Associate Provost and Vice President for University Outreach. Most recently, Dr. Wilson served as Chancellor for the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin- Extension.

In addition to establishing a record as an educational leader, Dr. Wilson has also accumulated a significant profile as scholar and authority on issues in higher education. He has authored more than twenty scholarly articles on successful university-community partnerships, the challenges facing African-Americans in the 21″ century, social and economic inequality, diversity and tolerance in higher education, federal aid to local education systems, athletes as role models, the effects of racial stereotypes on African-American men, and desegregation in higher education; and he has coauthored two books on higher education: Opening the American Mind: Race, Ethnicity and Gender in Higher Education (with G. Sill and M. Chaplin 1993) and University Outreach: University Connections to Society (with R. Foster 2000).

A world traveler who has visited or served as educational consultant in Europe and over twenty countries around the world-including China, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Egypt, Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan-as well as the Caribbean, David Wilson has also served on accreditation review boards for many American and international universities and as consultant to the United Negro College Fund, Ayers & Associates and Lucent Technologies. He has also served on the boards of civic, cultural, community and philanthropic organizations across the nation. The winner of numerous awards-including the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Administrative Fellowship, the Salzburg Seminar Fellowship, the Kellogg Foundation National Fellowship, and the “America’s Best and Brightest Young Business and Professional Men” Award of Dollars and Sense magazine-David Wilson was recognized in 1998 as one of the nation’s top 100 leaders in higher education.

In February 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him to his l l-member Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Wilson’s qualifications to lead Maryland’s Public Urban University are clearly outstanding, but it is the special character that he brings to higher education in Maryland, a character shaped by the intangibles of his background, that is perhaps most impressive and makes him suitable for this new role. Dr. Wilson grew up with nine siblings on a sharecropper farm outside the small town of McKinley, Alabama. Through hard work, tenacity and the encouragement of his father and his teachers, he became the first person in his family to attend college.

Therefore, he comes to Morgan with a special sensitivity for students from similar backgrounds and an appreciation of the challenges that many urban and minority students face as they pursue a college degree. He brings to Morgan the strong educational philosophy always to put the students’ experience first and an equally strong commitment, as a leader, to be a consensus builder and a strong advocate of administrative transparency.

His goal is to make Morgan a leader in producing the next wave of innovators in the U.S. and to create at Morgan an atmosphere where “people don’t see what they do as a job” but rather as “a calling.” The theme of his leadership of Morgan is “Growing the Future, Leading the World.”

Legendary Blues Artist from Pickens County Dies at 65

 Willie King, 1943-2009


King was well known for appearing unannounced at small gatherings of blues devotees all over the state. The Tuscaloosa program of the Alabama Blues Project especially benefited from his appearances and is supporting a memorial fund to help with funeral costs and to keep his annual festival alive on his farm.

A number of University of Alabama faculty, staff and students knew King as a member of the Board of Directors of the Black Belt Community Foundation. Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, is also a member of that board, and the Center for Community-Based Partnerships has been active in many BBCF projects.

The following is an excerpt of the March 10 New York Times obit on King:

Willie King, a renowned Alabama blues singer and guitarist, died Sunday near his home in the rural community known as Old Memphis, Ala. He was 65. He died suddenly of a heart attack, said Rick Asherson, his keyboard player for several years.

With a voice reminiscent at times of Howlin' Wolf and a style similar to John Lee Hooker's, Mr. King appeared at blues festivals here and abroad. He first came to prominence outside west Alabama with his critically acclaimed 2001 CD, "Freedom Creek," on the Rooster Blues record label. He brought an understanding of history and contemporary subject matter to songs like "Second Coming," which invoked John Brown and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King started the Freedom Creek Festival in 1997 on his farm on Freedom Creek in Pickens County, Ala., near the Mississippi line. Since then, it has attracted top blues musicians and bands. It is scheduled for May 29 and May 30. Asherson said there were hopes of keeping the festival going as a memorial.

Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of UA's Crossroads Community Center, wrote: ""¦ Crossroads and our community friends celebrate the life of a gifted Alabamian, legendary blues artist Willie King who passed away March 8, 2009. Willie King was a civic leader and motivator of youth. His kind and loving spirit offered encouragement and support to many community efforts. We at Crossroads remember the energy he contributed to the Black Belt 100 Lenses Project and the University of Alabama Community Culture Fest at McKenzie Court in Tuscaloosa."
"His community contributions created history every day of his life and the youth of our community will benefit from his energies for years to come. Thank You, Willie King."

The Alabama Blues Project has created the Willie King Memorial Fund for those who wish to help with funeral expenses and to create a historic marker celebrating Willie King’s life and works. Send donations to:

The Willie King Memorial Fund
c/o West Alabama Bank
Box 406
Aliceville, AL 35442

CCBP intern from Pelham puts passion into her photography

Find Your Passion: Combining Passions

Photojournalism student captures images for good

By Deidre Stalnaker

Andrea Mabry was always catching her friends in the act.

"In high school, my friends probably wanted to kill me sometimes because I was constantly taking pictures of them eating, sleeping, working and talking," she says.

Her photo albums and scrapbooks aren't filled with the usual "say cheese" pictures.

"I've never particularly liked taking posed pictures because usually they don't give much of a sense of a person's personality," says Mabry, a junior majoring in journalism in The University of Alabama's College of Communication and Information Sciences. "Fundamentally, for me, taking pictures is about presenting an experience or feeling."

Her infatuation is not limited to photography. "I also have this gnawing urge to travel," she says. Mabry made a promise to herself if the opportunity to travel ever arises, take it.
And she got the opportunity of a lifetime last May. She studied and photographed the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest as part of a UA biology class.

"We traipsed through the rainforest for two weeks, learning about the flora and fauna and how things work together there," Mabry said.

She learned of the class through participation in UA's Computer-Based Honors Program, a nationally recognized undergraduate research program which pairs academically elite students directly with leading research professors to complete scholarly research projects in their field of study.

The Pelham, Ala., native lived only an hour's drive from The University of Alabama campus but had never been to campus until she was an upperclassman in high school. Mabry said she "fell in love with the campus immediately. CBH made me feel like I was supported at UA as an individual, not as a number."

Soon after she enrolled at UA, Mabry started working as a photojournalist for the University's student-produced newspaper, The Crimson White. She gained valuable experience and even captured bird's eye photos of the Bryant Denny Stadium while in a helicopter before a football game.

However, she discovered newspaper photography is not what she wants to do. She wants to delve deeper into her subjects. "You skim the surface of the story because you really only need a few good pictures," explained Mabry.

The study abroad class, not her last one she notes, was practice for what she wants to do in life. "I want to do documentary work, living someplace for weeks or months to get the story. Still or video, I'll be happy," Mabry says. "I combine my passion for photography with a love of travel and the unusual."

"When I decided to be a photojournalist, I knew I wanted to so some public good," she said. She plans to use the images captured in Ecuador during her class to bring attention to the deforestation in Ecuador and certain reforestation plans.

This story is part of the Find Your Passion feature section of the UA home page. For more stories, please visit Find Your Passion or Crimson Spotlight. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.

Procrastination is Not Part of Joseph Seals’ Vocabulary

April 23, 2008

By NiCarla J. Friend
CCBP Student Intern

As spring semester 2008 winds down, many students, some for the first time all year, start thinking about what they'll do during the summer break, or if they are seniors, what comes after college.

Joseph Seals, a junior from Selma majoring in language arts, is the perfect example of a student who did not procrastinate about his future. He arrived on campus with a plan and immediately set about to build his experience portfolio.

For example during "National Veterans Awareness Week," last November, Seals set up a giant card display to encourage the campus to keep veterans in mind leading up to Veterans Day. Seals had been inspired to do something to for veterans after spending time at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center and carried out his project under the guidance of UA's Community Crossroads Community Center.

 "A lot of the soldiers at the hospital are lonely and away from home, so I wanted to get people to give them the attention they deserve," Seals explained. "People don't know what it's like for them." While spending time with the veterans, Seals noticed that many had no family visitors and felt forgotten or unappreciated.

He decided to do something. With backing from students and staff at UA's Crossroads Community Center, Seals created a giant Veterans Day card and set it up in the Ferguson Center for people to sign and show their support and appreciation for local veterans. Later, he presented the card to the veterans at the VA.

But the project won't end there, Seals said. He wants UA students to do something unique for veterans each year. Almost immediately on completion of the Veterans Day card, he and other students began discussing ideas for next year, "so the project does not become a cliché," he said.

Crossroads Community Center, which recently celebrated its third birthday, leads students and others in the University community in programs that promote awareness, knowledge and understanding of different cultures. Each year scores of students work with African and Native American Heritage, the Intercultural Student Council, Sustained Dialog and many other programs. Dr. Beverly Hawk is director and Brice Miller is the assistant director of the Center.

Seals began his quest for career-building activities early, attending UA's Multicultural Journalism Workshop as a rising senior in 2004.

As a student assistant at Crossroads, as well as residential adviser at Burke East, president of the Intercultural Student Council, a member of the Residential Assistant Selection Committee, a leader in the 2007 and 2008 Hip Hop Summits, as well as several other activities, Seals has little spare time on his hands.

 "UA is what you make of it," Seals said. "You have to get involved and try new things."

In doing so, Seals proves it's never too early to be doing something, somewhere for someone that benefits others and helps secure your own future in the world of work. His long-term plans are to become a junior college teacher.

(For more about Crossroads Community Center, go to

Retired UA Journalism Professor Receives Multicultural Recruiting Award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ Dr. Ed Mullins, a retired University of Alabama journalism professor, is recipient of the 2007 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruiting Award for helping create a more diversified journalism workforce.

Mullins received the award from the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in a Washington, D.C. meeting Saturday, Aug. 11, 2007.

Monica Hill, scholastic journalism director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented the award. Like Mullins, Hill is a former director of UA's Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2008.

"It is gratifying to see our good work recognized by this award," Mullins said. "For the second time, our workshop and related activities are seen as among the nation's best."

In 1999, then journalism instructor and MJW director Marie Parsons also won the Knight Award in recognition of her work.

Mullins was dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences when the workshop was founded in 1984. He has worked as a teacher for each of the 24 workshops and will serve as volunteer director for his fourth workshop in 2008.

In notifying Mullins about the award, Hill wrote, "This award is for your years of devotion to multicultural recruitment and for your leadership of others who have followed in your footsteps."

"Diversity in the journalism workforce is a critical issue for a democracy," Mullins said.

Plans are under way for a reunion of MJW alumni, teachers and directors as part of the 25th anniversary workshop. "This is an impressive group, people who have made their mark in a tough profession," Mullins said. "We look forward to having a large number of them back on campus."

Mullins, who retired this year, continues to be active in teaching at UA's Knight Fellows Teaching Newspaper Program in Anniston and on campus as MJW director and volunteer with the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

"˜This is a wonderful recognition of the many years that Ed has put into developing and sustaining MJW," said Dr. Loy Singleton, dean of the College. "It is also a great distinction for this College."

The College of Communication and Information Sciences is among the largest and most prestigious communication colleges in the country, having graduated more than 12,000 students and ranking among the top institutions in the country in the number of doctorates awarded. Communication graduates have earned four of the six Pulitzer Prizes awarded to UA alumni.