Tag: Students

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, http://ccbp.ua.edu, 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 www.hardage-giddensbeacheschapel.com.

Published in Tuscaloosa News on May 10, 2012