Last week, GEAR UP Alabama hosted our first ever mini-camps! We welcomed over 500 of our students from twenty-two different schools to UAB’s campus May 14-15 and 16-17. These camps were designed to give our students an idea of what it’s like to attend school at UAB.

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Our days were jam packed with different activities around campus. Once the students arrived on campus, we welcomed them to UAB before dividing them up and sending them to class. Thanks to an amazing group of over fifteen different UAB professors and grad students, we were able to give our GUA students the chance to attend all kinds of different classes. From nursing to debate, filmmaking, songwriting, community health, accounting, leadership, engineering, STEM, and more, our students got to experience the variety of fields and majors UAB has to offer.

After class, the students spent their afternoon around different parts of campus. While one group was led around a campus scavenger hunt, another was in the recreation center, while other students listened to a presentation from the admissions department. The afternoons were long and hot, but gave the students the chance to learn more about all UAB has to offer.

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In the evenings, half of the students were given time to complete assignments given to them during class while the other group went to dinner. After both groups had eaten, the entire camp joined together for a play, student panel, and talent show. Our students had the opportunity to watch a play performed by UAB students, sponsored by Vulcan Park and Museum, depicting a conversation between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. The actors, Antonio Mitchell (who played Booker T. Washington) and David Parker (who played W.E.B. Du Bois), then answered questions from the GUA students. After the play, our UAB student volunteers shared about their own college experience, explaining why they chose their specific major and encouraging the students to pursue what they’re passionate about. To end the night, a number of UAB students performed for the GUA students, showcasing different areas of campus they could get involved in, including the writing, the arts, and fraternities. After a long first day, the students were able to return to their dorm room in the New Freshman residence hall, but they didn’t go to bed before practicing the college tradition of late night snacks.

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The next morning, students went to breakfast before being taken back to the class they’d visited the day before. For a lot of classes, this meant the students were presenting a project or discussing the homework assignment from the previous day. After class, all the students came together to hear from a panel of professionals, learning about different career journeys and specific jobs and what it took for the professionals to get there. Finally, wrapping up the camp, Dr. Perry and Dr. Briggs led a closing ceremony, complete with a student raffle, slideshow, and words of encouragement from our GUA leaders.
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We are so happy about how UAB’s mini-camps came together! We have to mention, though, that we couldn’t have done it without the help of our UAB volunteers, UAB professors, the talent show performers, UAB Housing, UAB Dining, the career panel, and so many more. The students had a great time on campus and we loved having them! We’re already planning for mini-camps next year!