BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2008
Advanced Systems Engineer
This is my UAH story…
My UAH experience began the summer before my senior year of high school. Although I was poised to be Valedictorian of my high school class, I still had no idea what I wanted to major in…or where I wanted to go for college. My high school guidance counselor and math teachers encouraged me to consider engineering. Two past students of my high school, and then current engineering students at UAH, gladly agreed to let me shadow them one day during their internship. They spoke to me in detail about engineering, showed me some of their duties, and also talked to me about how great UAH was. This peaked my interest and I visited UAH amongst other schools that year. I visited larger schools and although they were impressive, but UAH stood out. The students were happy and enthusiastic as they showed us around campus, they stated that their professors were attentive and readily available, and they all enjoyed the small, tight knit feel of the campus community. I was also impressed that the engineering department I was interested in had several female faculty members and this gave me even more confidence that I could succeed in the field.
I had many great experiences at UAH. One of the most memorable was being awarded the first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in the ISE department. I spent the summer researching integrated product teams with one of the department’s faculty members. She guided me through a thorough research process and really helped me pinpoint my interests. The research I did that summer served as the basis for my Master’s capstone course and a patentable invention. Another great experience I had at UAH was when I served as a new student orientation counselor. I met a particular young lady and her mother and they immediately identified with me as I was also a product of a single parent home. Even after the orientation weekend and over the years, the young lady kept in touch with me. She was able to come to UAH and receive an engineering degree. I recently reconnected with her and was delighted to find out that her education propelled her into a great career with Boeing. Seeing her blossom over the years and having a small part in inspiring her and helping her get to UAH really enhanced the feelings I already had about my alma mater.
Knowing that you’ve paid it forward and also helped someone just as you were helped, that is what motivates me to continue my connection to the university. There are several potential students who need someone to believe in them, an example to look to, or someone to share information with them. Growing up with a parent who didn’t graduate from high school and in a primarily blue collar town, I didn’t know a lot about the things that most people take for granted. If it hadn’t been for my counselor and teachers, the great students at UAH that took the time to mentor me, and the enthusiastic students I met during my visits to the university, I would have never known the extent of my potential. I believe if we’ve had the privilege of being educated and some measure of success, we owe it to our community and to those who invested time in us to help someone else. Many of us have several ways we give back to the community but doing so through our university has the potential for a tremendous impact because we can leverage our own great experiences, the university’s reputation, and our connections with the students and faculty to impact others’ lives. Many alumni associations put particular emphasis on money but I believe the UAH Alumni Association does a great job of encouraging alumni to give of their time and influence as well. All of those things are essential for a great alumni program and great impact on the community.
MBA, Management, 2010
Executive Technical Manager
This is my UAH story…
For several years, I had given considerable thought to the possibility of pursuing an MBA degree to expand my horizons and enhance my career. Unfortunately, there seemed to be so many obstacles in my way at the time. Perhaps these obstacles were actually more “excuses” than anything else but, for example, I didn’t have an undergraduate degree in a business-related field, and I knew that I would be required to complete several pre-requisite undergraduate business courses if I were to ever achieve this goal. In addition, as a working professional, convenient class schedules along with an excellent institutional reputation were imperative requirements for any candidate program – I needed to attend a local university offering evening classes and a rigorous course of study. I was not interested in online programs offered by many universities. I knew that is was crucial to study and interact with other working professionals in a classroom setting. Unfortunately, there was no such program available in the area at that time. No viable option seemed to exist for me and my particular circumstances and requirements.
I had all but abandoned my goal, and then one day I read that UAHuntsville had begun offering an MBA program with an emphasis on technology management. This seemed perfect for me! I already knew that UAHuntsville is an outstanding institution given my first-hand experience years ago while pursuing a Master of Computer Science degree at the university, so I decided to investigate this program immediately. I visited Dr. Brent Wren the following week to discuss the program and my specific areas of interest, and at the conclusion of our conversation, I was so impressed and excited about the UAHuntsville MBA program that I wanted to get started that day! I found that the undergraduate pre-requisites I needed were offered as accelerated graduate level courses, so the time investment required to complete them was actually much less than I had feared. I learned that The College of Business at UAHuntsville is highly ranked and accredited by AACSB International, so I knew that a degree from this program would be quite valuable and worthwhile to me professionally. The technology-based business management curriculum of the program was well-aligned with my career, and I was impressed that the faculty were nationally recognized and heavily involved in ongoing scholarly research.
The next two and a half years were some of the most enjoyable and intellectually stimulating of my entire life. The journey was not easy, that’s for sure, but it was worth every bit of the effort that was required. I cannot express how much I enjoyed learning from both the outstanding faculty of the UAHuntsville College of Business as well as from other working professionals as we collaborated on team projects. I gained lasting friendships as a result of our common pursuit. The faculty was always available and willing to assist students when needed, and went the extra mile to ensure that all of their students had the opportunity to succeed. They were such outstanding mentors to us all. I am so proud that I earned my MBA degree from UAHuntsville – it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would not hesitate to encourage anyone who wishes to earn any degree, start or further their career, or simply continue personal lifelong learning goals, to strongly consider UAHuntsville – you’ll be glad you did!
Charge on, Chargers!
BSBA, Management, 1982
MS, Management, 1989
PointClear Solutions (Healthcare Software Innovations Company)
This is my UAH story…
As a lifetime resident of Huntsville, I chose UAH because it was the perfect place for me to pursue my college education and while working fulltime. During my first three years, I was loosely connected with the university only attending classes around my work schedule and rarely engaging in student life and never fully engaging my professors. But my senior year changed dramatically when I enrolled in a senior level business management course led by Dr. Benjamin Graves. Dr. Graves was an impressive individual with a presence that demanded respect yet he was very approachable and interested in what his students had to say. As the class progressed he began to share his past executive management stories when he worked in the corporate world. These stories allowed me to visualize actual events that fully captured my attention and imagination like no other professor had ever done before. Dr. Graves responded positively and with encouragement to all my questions and invited me to visit with him in his office to talk more. Our frequent discussions lit a fire in me making me realize executive management was where I wanted to be. He encouraged me, and pushed me in the graduate courses that followed – and he loved my ideas. Dr. Graves changed me forever for the better. He instilled in me a confidence that has never left me. I became driven to work hard, take initiative, accept responsibility, make decisions when others wouldn’t, and speak out when others were quiet. My responsibilities continued to grow in every new leadership role I took throughout my career.
I thought of those lively discussions with Dr. Graves often, as I lived out my executive management positions inside three fortune 500 companies throughout my career. I stayed in touch with Dr. Graves throughout the years and shared my experiences with him often and we laughed as our roles changed from ‘student to professor’ to ‘colleague to colleague’. I recently realized it’s now time I step up and fill Dr. Graves shoes reaching out to inspire others. Remembering all those positive moments with Dr. Graves has drawn me back to UAH as an alum to share my experiences and hopefully motivate fellow UAH undergraduates, graduates, and alumni as they take important/leadership roles in their chosen fields – to uniquely contribute their abilities for the benefit of others. It’s now my turn to honor Dr. Graves by taking pride in my alma mater and playing a small part of what continues to make UAH a great university today.
BSBA, Finance, 2003
MBA, Management, 2009
Merrill Lynch & Co.
This is my UAH story…
My Mom remarried and moved to Huntsville in 2000 so I moved shortly after for a much needed change. I came to UAH after going to school for a few years in Illinois where I had changed majors three times. I was working at a local restaurant while getting my registration at UAH in order and one of my co-workers happened to be a current UAH student. We became friends and she told me she knew a bunch of the guys in the ATO fraternity and I should meet them. I ended up going out with her after work one night and meeting the guys. I pledged ATO my first semester and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Some of my best memories are times I spent with my brothers are they are still good friends today. In addition to all the good times at the fraternity house, maintaining good grades was incredibly important. I took my introductory finance classes at UAH and enjoyed them so much I pursued it as a major. Along the way I had Dr. Burnett and Dr. Evans as professors. They pushed me to be a better student and genuinely cared about my performance. I have an immense amount of respect for both of them and still talk to them fairly regularly almost 10 years after graduating. As a student, I didn’t realize the impact my time at UAH would have on me as a professional. I wanted to stay involved with the university because of the immense respect I have for the faculty and the pride i feel in the education i received. The hard work required to complete my undergraduate degree was well worth it and I returned in 2007 to complete my MBA in the fall of 2009.
Donna Swaim Whetstone
BSBA, Marketing, 1997
Marketing Communications Manager
This is my UAH story…
My intention as a college freshman was to spend one year “at home” and then transfer to Auburn University to finish my degree. However, after the first year, I knew I had found “my home” at UAHuntsville. I became involved in Greek Life, as a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, and in other activities on campus. I made many friends and found the classes and professors both interesting and rewarding. So, I made the choice to stay at UAHuntsville and finish my degree.
As a sophomore, I was given the opportunity by one of my sorority sisters to go to work for Dynetics, a local, well-known defense contractor, while continuing to go to school full-time. Almost 18 years later, I am currently the Marketing Communications Manager for Dynetics. I know the classes and experiences I learned in the Business School (College of Administrative Science at the time) have been very instrumental in the success of my career. I often boast that my degree is from UAHuntsville. In my role as MarCom Manager, I have hired several UAHuntsville graduates and will continue to seek our students whenever possible. The University’s reputation for high-quality graduates is excellent and I am proud to say that I am one of them.
As fairly new graduates, my husband and I felt that we could not financially give very much to the University that had given so much to us, so we decided that our commitment would be time. We were both fortunate not to have student loans, as so many of our friends did, so we wanted to be able to contribute what we could financially, but we could contribute more with volunteering and staying involved on campus. The Alumni Board has been one of those outlets for me. I have served two terms on the board and will continue to serve as long as I can contribute. I continue to give back because being a part of the University is rewarding to know that I could be contributing to the success of another student.
Master of Administrative Science, 1979
*2002 Alumni of Achievement Award Recipient
Omega Plus, Inc.
This is my UAH story…
I attended UAHuntsville 1977-1979 to get a Master degree in Administrative Science which is now a MBA. I had an excellent experience at the University even though I was the only Black student in most of my classes. The learning environment was great from both the Professors and Students. The degree help me focus on my career and what I wanted to accomplish. I am proud to say that I had a wonderful career with NASA and the UAH experience really enhanced ability to advance to the top of the Civilian Senior Executive Level. I wanted to become a member of the board to share my experience and knowledge with other to help them and further the goals of UAHuntsville. This is an excellent opportunity to interact with students and help educate the community about the value of the University. I am committed to helping in any way possible.
BSBA, Accounting, 2007
Audit & Assurance Supervisor
Anglin, Reichmann, Snellgrove, and Armstrong, P.C.
This is my UAH story…
Like most high school students from Huntsville, I spent a great deal of time deciding where I would like to attend college. I considered several universities, including, UAHuntsville but settled on a large university away from home. After a couple of years, I lost interest in my major and started researching universities again. I discovered that UAHuntsville’s College of Business is considered a top tier business school by several leading publications, so I returned home to study accounting.
After completing my business basics at a local community college, I was accepted into UAHuntsville’s College of Business where I received my BSBA, Accounting in May of 2007.
It is virtually impossible to illustrate with words how great of an experience I had at UAHuntsville. I became a student instead of just another number on the attendance checklist. The smaller class sizes allowed me build rapports and work closely with several of my professors, such as Dr. Hickman, Dr. Bryson, Dr. Allport, Dr. Evans, and Mrs. Claybourne. These professors played a significant role in my education and in my life. Not only did they provide the foundation for my education, they took time out of their busy schedules to work with me outside of class and provide valuable career advice. I utilized referrals from my professors along with UAHuntsville’s great reputation to obtain a job prior to graduation. The transition was seamless. On Sunday afternoon I walked across the stage to receive my diploma and on Monday morning I started work.
The impact these professors made on my life is one of the fundamental reasons I stay involved with UAHuntsville. By being a member of the alumni association, I am able to contribute my time and experiences to my alma mater and bridge the gap between students and alumni.
BSBA, Management, 1995
Director of Human Resources
Intergraph Corporation, Huntsville, AL
This is my UAH story…
Like many Huntsville natives, I selected UAHuntsville as my college of choice due to its outstanding academic reputation, and very convenient location.
As I began to progress through our Business program, I quickly found that UAHuntsville’s academic standards were high, and in turn realized that I was receiving a top-notch education here at home. As one of the few accredited Business programs in Alabama at the time, the curriculum was both extremely challenging and rewarding. The courses were interesting, Professors were committed to the highest level of learning, and I was able to pick up many valuable skills that have helped me progress in my career, and that I still use today.
And, not only was my educational experience rewarding, I was also able to meet and make many friends and colleagues during my college experience – many of whom are now fellow business professionals here in the Huntsville community.
Please join me and my fellow Board members in taking pride in our Alma Mater, and doing all we can to help make UAHuntsville a success for many years to come.
Dr. Jeff Harper
MS, Management, 1993
Professor, Scott College of Business
Indiana State University
This is my UAH story…
I actually came to UAH’s College of Administrative Science in 1991 as a matter of convenience. It offered the closest graduate business program to my home in Cullman. While the convenience was great, I soon discovered that the education that was being provided to me was nothing short of exceptional. In a very short time my professors raised my plane of thinking, challenged me to achieve more, and supported me in my own passions. The graduate education they provided me changed my life. It gave me the confidence, tools, and skills to allow me to set higher expectations of myself than I ever would have otherwise. Along the way, countless UAH staff provided me with caring and meaningful advice on everything from class advising to financial aid to use of the library.
Now, 20 years later, I am able to see clearly that my Master’s degree set the tone for the successes I was to have in life. While my career has taken me far away from the Tennessee Valley, my heart remains firmly tied to this institution that gave me so much. I serve on the Board of Directors for the UAH Alumni Association as a way of giving back to the dedicated faculty and staff of UAH who gave me so much. Also, I hope that my role will help in directing talented young people toward the institution and assisting graduates of UAH in beginning their careers. Plus, I am proud to be a Charger and enjoy being a part of moving the University forward to achieve ever bigger and better things!
T.R.U.E. Chargers President 2012-2013
This is my UAH story…
I knew that I wanted to go to college for engineering. I looked at schools with strong engineering programs in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. Each university was competitive. I knew about UAH because my mother is an alumna. We visited campus each time I visited my grandmother starting my ninth grade year. The students and staff I talked with were friendly and seemed interested in me. I liked that, even though I was not in my home state, I felt connected to people. UAH provided me with great co-op and internship opportunities since Marshall and Cummings Research Park are so near. Even with out-of-state tuition, UAH was able to provide me with a competitive rate. My involvement with TRUE Chargers, SWE (Society for Women Engineers), NSBE, and other organizations have helped me to improve my leadership skills and bring traditions and fun to the campus.