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Student Perspectives on UAB Mini-Camp

As much as we loved mini-camp, it means nothing if it doesn't benefit the students, too! We were so encouraged by these essays from our GUA students, written when asked what they learned while at mini-camp.

Reading about mini-camp through their eyes was such a treat for all of us in the GUA office and we hope it will be for you, too! These essays were selected because they give a variety of perspectives on the mini-camp experience.

Travion Johns, Selma High School

UAB was a fantastic experience. Being that it is my top choice or one of my top choices for schools to go to, I found it a great opportunity to be there. Teachers like Dr. Larry Tyson and our tour guide Ashton provided me with more than enough hospitality. I think this was by far one of the best experiences in my life and I can’t wait to visit again. Thanks UAB and thanks GEAR UP Alabama! Go Blazers!!

Tamera Bell

I learned that it’s okay to go to a community college before transfering to a university. Also, there are many different health care fiels to go into and I’ve been inspired to look into those different fields. I’ve also learned that there are internships on campus, meaning there are a lot of opporunities to get hands-on experience in your major. Before I came to mini-camp, UAB was a college choice, and now I’ve decided that I definitely want to come back for a campus visit because I really enjoyed being here.

Brittany Porter

I’m not a math person, but being at UAB had me questioning myself. I was put in an engineering class. I was upset at first until the stuff that they were teaching caught my interest. It was a challenge that I was grateful for. The volunteers were great. The professors were nice and encouraging.

Jane Martin, Hale County High School

I learned that diversity is important in community and that getting involved in college as possible is important. I was encouraged to also follow my dreams, even through struggles. Dr. Wolfe was amazing to meet and get to know; thank you for showing me how important diversity is. I hope to come to UAB for school in the future.

Kaliyah Williams

I learned that you can major in one field and minor in another field. I also learned that while you are attending UAB, you can work here. There are many fields of whatever you want to do with your life that can help you in other areas of that work. I learned that it is also okay to change your major, because it may be something that is not for you. Therefore, I learned that UAB gives you a great amount of educational opporunities.

Maya Constrol, Greensboro High School

I’ve learned numberous things, such as: diversity, justice being a solution to world problems (long term), charity being a soluation to world problems (short term), how stereotypes affect us, and a lot about the college experience. I was given the opportunity to learn that college is not easy, but having connections and personal realtionships with staff is important. I’ve had a great experience. Thank you to all the leaders and volunteers who made this possible. UAB is great!

Kelsi B, Half County High School

I have learned a lot being here at UAB. I just want to thank whoever made GEAR UP Alabama because without them I wouldn’t have this opportunity.

Aliyah G

I learned about how to make decisions based on the environment. The class I took has influenced some of the decisions I’m going to make once out of high school. Thanks to everyone who helped us come to UAB for this great experience!

Christian Hill

While I was here I learned about the everyday college life. I learned the process of going to class and eating in the commons with my friends. I learned about nursing and the things they do and use. I learned a lot here at UAB.

Like I said, these are just a few of the hundreds of essays we received from students during mini-camp. We are so happy that the students loved their classes and their UAB experience. The goal of mini-camp was to simulate the UAB experience for our GUA students and these essays prove one thing: mission accomplished!

We hope that, through mini-camp, we gained a few future UAB Blazers!

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UAB Mini-Camp 2018

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!

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Pike County High School 9th Graders Offer Advice to the Upcoming Class

Earlier this month, the 9th grade cohort from Pike County High School spent the day with College Admission Made Possible (CAMP) and were able to spend the day learning together. One of the activities led by the CAMP staff was to offer advice to the upcoming freshman.

This is what some of the PCHS cohort had to say:

"Don't hang with the wrong crowd, they will probably bring you down. Stay with the crowd who will keep you out of trouble."  -Lacey

"Freshmen, don't procrastinate, the longer you wait, the worst things become."  -Tamorris

"Focus on your grades and not impressing others. Friends come and go, but your grades will always follow you."  -Aliah

"Live life like a clock, keep moving forward, not backwards."  -Avery

"You miss more shots when you don't take them."  -Anthony


The PCHS students would like to offer their thanks to Ms. Erica Fields for leading the activities and the best of luck to the rising 9th graders! 

Story Submitted By: Palma Strunger 

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University of Alabama Hosts 2018 GEAR UP Alabama Day

On April 25th, the University of Alabama hosted its yearly GEAR UP Alabama Day, welcoming students from Aliceville High School to their campus. The students spent the day on campus hearing from different UA faculty, staff, and student mentors. These sessions included topics like “What’s College REALLY Like?”, “Advocating for Yourself”, an admissions orientation, and “College Close-Up”. They were given a tour of the campus, plus the chance to eat at the Fresh Food Company, a place the students love every year. This day is designed to give GUA students the chance to learn about UA and get them excited for their own college experience.

One way the students were encouraged was in hearing from an Aliceville High School graduate, Dr. Victoria Javine, who works as a faculty member in the Culverhouse College of Commerce. After she graduated from Aliceville High School, she went on to get her doctorate at the University of Tennessee; her story served as proof that graduates from Aliceville truly can achieve their dreams.

We are so thankful for our university partners and they way they encourage our students. Thank you to everyone at UA who made this GEAR UP Alabama day a success!

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UAB Honor's College GUA Service Learning Class

This semester, UAB’s Honors College offered the first ever GEAR UP Alabama service learning course. This class, taught by UAB professor Dr. Josie Prado, was designed to explore the cultural, historical, political, and economic history of the Black Belt while working with the GEAR UP Alabama grant. This class met once a week throughout the semester as the students engaged with topics focused on the history of the Black Belt, the current situation in the Black Belt, and how to address these issues. These conversations were led by Dr. Prado, incorporating a number of guest speakers representing UAB faculty, Community Providers and non-profit organizations working in the Black Belt region.

The students that took Dr. Prado’s class came from all areas of campus. With it being an Honor’s College class, this means that there were students from every year and nearly every area of campus. With a total of twenty students in the class, a few of the majors represented included psychology, education, neuroscience, communications, economics, pre-nursing, and more. Throughout the semester, both the students and Dr. Prado proved to be some of GUA’s most consistent volunteers and supporters.

When I asked Dr. Prado why she was interested in teaching a course on the Black Belt and GEAR UP Alabama, she said, “As a native Alabamian, I felt embarrassed to realize how little I understood about the region. The complex history, destitute poverty, stark educational inequities, rich vibrant culture, and the warm hearts of the people have captured my attention and energized me to connect and empower fellow Alabamians.”

I asked her what her favorite part of the course was, she said that it was the experience of working with both the GUA students and the UAB students, telling me that her interactions with them all continuously inspired her. We are so thankful that Dr. Prado was willing to teach this class and we are so excited to have her continue to work with us in the future.

The final project for the class was focused on providing a resource for GEAR UP Alabama students. The UAB students in the course created a number of videos that explore unique, surprising, but attainable career choices. Each of these videos showcase the UAB students’ personalities and give the GUA students the chance to learn about a variety of jobs. You can watch those videos here.

The GUA team is so thankful to Dr. Prado and her students for investing in GUA this semester!

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