Partnership Feature: UAB Admissions Team

IMG_5534This past year, Ed has been enormously lucky to have expanded our partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham on several programs and initiatives, including College Prep Institute, Bridging the Gap, and College 101.  This past fall, Ed took over 150 students to UAB for a campus tour, and will follow-up in late April with an academic-focused tour, during which 300 Birmingham City high schoolers will have the opportunity to get a first-hand look at one of seven departments: Nursing, Business, Engineering, Education, Arts/Humanities, Pre-Health Science, and Justice Science. The staff at UAB Admissions have been instrumental in the planning of many BEF tours, especially Kirk Kluver, Frank Paige, Jazmund Walker, Will Buie, and Jessica Bobo.

Director of Admissions Kirk Kluver received his Bachelor’s and master’s from University of Nebraska and has worked in admissions for 13 years.  Before coming to UAB, Kirk served as Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at the University of Nebraska College of Law, but has worked in undergraduate admissions for most of his career.  “I love working on a college campus,” Kirk says, “Because you get the opportunity to see the personal growth and maturity that takes place as students reach their full potential.”

 Jazmund Walker is a college admissions counselor, life coach, and freelance writer from Birmingham, AL. She holds a BA in communication studies from UAB and has written for publications such as The Birmingham News, Health, Birmingham Home & Garden, and UAB Magazine. In 2008, Walker founded a personal development program for female youth called Leadership, Intellect, and Femininity Training (LIFT), which has been featured in UAB Magazine and the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists Newsdesk.

IMG_0027Senior Admissions Counselor Frank Paige is a longtime Birmingham resident with close connections to the city and Birmingham City Schools (his daughter graduated from Ramsay High School and his grandson currently attends Wenonah High School).  Frank completed his Master’s in Counseling at UAB and began his second career in the admissions office in 2008 after retiring from the quality assurance division of a local manufacturing firm.  He currently serves as the UAB Admissions representative for Birmingham City Schools.

IMG_5532Will Buie graduated from UAB in 2008 and soon after began working with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as an Admissions Counselor.  In 2011, he was promoted to the position of Senior Admissions Counselor and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, for which he supervises a staff of four in-state counselors and is responsible for UAB’s in-state recruitment efforts.

Jessica Bobo is originally from Cartersville, Georgia and has lived in Birmingham for the past 9 years.  She received a BA in History from Samford University in 2009 and and MA in Education from UAB in 2011.  She loves working in the education field and especially working with high school students.  Jessica currently works in the Office of New Student Programs at UAB as the Campus Tour Coordinator.

For Ed, UAB has been an immeasurable ally, providing insight and expertise into the college admissions process for many, many Birmingham City students.

“The unknown can be intimidating to a high school student,”says Kirk, who first visited a college campus with a program similar to College 101. “There is no better way to demystify college than to spend a day on a college campus touring classrooms, meeting current students, learning about academic programs, seeing the residence halls and eating in the dining hall.  We hope that all students leave these visits excited about college and with the belief that a college degree is attainable for each student.”

Student Voice: Deja Robinson and Bridging the Gap

IMG_0010On March 19th, students in the Academy of Urban Educators at Parker High School got to see what careers in education look like outside of the traditional classroom setting as part of Ed’s Bridging the Gap series.  For this event, students visited the Southern Museum of Flight to hear about career options in community outreach education and museums, and interacted with partners from Jones Valley Teaching Farm, Birmingham City Community Schools, McWane Science Center, Birmingham Museum of Art, Vulcan Park, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

IMG_0063Southern Museum of Flight Executive Director Brian Barsanti led students through a session with the flight simulator, and gave students a tour of the museum from the perspective of an educator. “There are so many lessons you can connect to the history of flight,” Barsanti said, “From calculating how much fuel is needed to travel a particular distance to talking about segregation in the military to demonstrating angles of ejection from a plane in distress.”

IMG_0016Additionally, partners from McWane, BCRI, and JVTF led students through sample activities so they could experience the types of interactive learning that their jobs typically warrant.  McWane Director of Education Lawrence Cooper asked students to perform a series of operations to a simple piece of white paper – with their eyes closed – in order to demonstrate how different people interpret directions in different ways.

You can see more pictures for the day here.

But this is the Student Voice section, so we’ll hand it off now to Deja Robinson.  In this month’s video, Deja talks about what the experience meant to her and what opportunities she hopes to pursue.

Visit the Bridging the Gap program page to learn more  or to become a program partner.

Carver Academy of Engineering students get sneak peek into the E.C. Gaston Steam Plant

IMG_0068 Last Monday, 10th-grade students in the Academy of Engineering at G.W. Carver High School got a behind-the-scenes look at the intricate processes that are involved in the simple act of turning on a light.  At Alabama Power’s E.C. Gaston Steam Plant, students saw first hand how electricity is generated through the processing of coal and steam.

As part of Ed’s Bridging the Gap program, Academy students visit sites of local business to learn more about the variety of careers related to their areas of interest.  At Gaston, students heard from chemical and process engineers about the plant’s daily operations and also met operators in the control rooms who explained to students how they monitor the various functions, activities, and outputs in the plant.

IMG_0014The E.C. Gaston Plant is one of the largest in Alabama, generating more than 1.8million kilowatts of electricity per year.  The plant is also the official site for the National Carbon Capture Center project, an international initiative launched in 2009 to “develop and test technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-based power plants.” The NCCC is managed at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF), a site visited be researchers from around the world.

Carver student Raven Miller noted that the best part of Bridging the Gap experiences are “being up close to the machinery and [experiencing] the environment of a real work place.”  In additional to career exploration, Bridging the Gap also emphasizes the importance of setting academic goals and planning for college.  During the career panel, Alabama Power employees in a wide variety of fields impressed upon students the importance of learning about multiple fields of engineering, noting that they often end up working together, and can utilize each other’s varying skills and knowledge.

IMG_0013Ed would like to extend special thanks to Alabama Power and specifically to Melissa Hyche and Jim Dorsten for orchestrating the Gaston Plant tour, and also to Brett Anderson and the many other engineers who took time out of their day to talk to students, design presentations, and demonstrate engineering processes in what was for students (and one Ed staffer) an extremely informative and memorable experience.

Click here to see more pictures from the event.

To learn more about Bridging the Gap, visit the program page or check out recent stories about the Woodlawn Academy of Business and Finance partnership with Regions Bank or Carver and JO’s Academies of Health Sciences partnership with UAB Hospital.

Student Voice: Walter Carr and Bridging the Gap

IMG_0026If you haven’t noticed it yet, some of our favorite times at Ed are the ones during which we get to spend time with students.  Bridging the Gap provides a perfect platform for this, both for Ed and a host of local business and community partners that help support career exploration for student in Birmingham City Schools Career Academies.  As part of the program, tenth-grade Academy students have the opportunity to visit our partners’ host sites once a month to learn about a variety of careers in their fields of interest.  Each month, students hear from 5-7 professionals and get to see the environments where they work everyday.

The January tour at UAB Hospital focused on lab careers, and students went behind the scenes at the blood bank, cytology and pathology labs, and in decedent affairs in the morgue.  But, we know you’d rather hear about it straight from the students, so watch the video below for an inside look into Bridging the Gap.  


For this month’s students voice piece, we follow Walter Carr, a 10th-grade student at Carver’s Academy of Health Sciences as he participates in a Bridging the Gap tour at UAB Hospital last month for Carver and Jackson-Olin students.  Bridging the Gap was the brainchild of Ed staff and our partners at UAB Health System, who wanted to get students into the hospital as often as possible.  Because of the success of the program at UAB, Ed has expanded the program to serve students at Parker’s Academy of Urban Education, Carver’s Academy of Engineering, and Woodlawn’s Academy of Business and Finance for spring 2014, and will seek to expand to Wenonah’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism and Huffman’s Academy of Architecture and Construction for the 2014-2015 school year.

Birmingham Rotary Club members help prep Academy students for Career Development Conference

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On March 14th, eleventh-graders in the Birmingham City Schools Career Academies will have the opportunity to participate in the first Career Development Conference, sponsored by Birmingham Education Foundation and the Birmingham Rotary Club.  At the Conference, students will participate in three break-out sessions on professional skills and sit for a live fifteen-minute interview with a local Birmingham professional.  In preparation for the conference, members from Birmingham Rotary and the Urban League are visiting each Academy to relay to students some basic information about interviewing, and giving them an idea of what to expect and what to do.  

This past week, students at in the Academy of Urban Educators at A. H. Parker High School heard from Rotary Club member Kennon Walthall about the importance of interview preparation and presentation.  Walthall is the President of RDS, Inc. in Birmingham, and he relayed to the students the importance of using interview skills at anytime and anyplace during interactions with others and gave examples from careers in health, law, sales, and research.  Walthall also told students that they should get to know the company with whom they are interviewing, be prepared to ask questions during the interview, and send letters to the interviewers thanking them for the opportunity.  At the end of the presentation, students shared their own experiences in being interviewed and what they took away from it. 

Untitled Similarly, Rotarian Kelly Bownes, founder and CEO of MedPlan Recruiting, spoke to students at Carver’s Academy of Health Sciences two weeks ago.  At the beginning of the program, Bownes talked about the importance of a good first impression, and gave students pointers on body language, especially how to sit upright in a chair and give a good handshake.  After sharing the information, Bownes shook hands with each student and delivered feedback n how to improve.

The Career Development Conference is part of Ed’s College Prep Institute and will take place March 14th from 9a-2p at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham.  Approximately 200 students and 50 local professionals will participate in the event, and Cedric Sparks and Sanjay Singh will deliver the event’s keynote address during lunch.