First African-American faculty member speaks at UAB

By on April 10, 2014
(from left to right)
Dr. Delois Guy, Emmanuel Talley, Adrienne Brown

The African-American Faculty Association (AAFA) had their fifth annual scholarship reception last Thursday, April 3, at 4:00 p.m. in the Sterne Library’s Henley Room. Dr. Delois Guy, who became the first African-American tenure-track faculty hired to UAB in 1969, was the guest speaker.

Awarding two scholarships for the first time in its history, the AAFA reception’s theme was aptly titled “Remembering the Past and Moving Forward”.

The program began with opening remarks from Dr. Kathryn Morgan, director of the African-American Studies Program and associate professor of the Justice Sciences at UAB, and a general acknowledgement of guests representing the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine’s Office of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity. To hail the transition to the featured speaker was past AAFA scholarship recipient Jeffery Byrd, who was awarded the scholarship in 2012, and introduced Dr. Delois Guy, who served as a nursing professor at UAB.

“I’m glad that I came to UAB,” exclaimed Guy at the opening of her talk. “UAB was like the rest of the world at that time,” she continued.

Comparing to the nascent undergraduate campus at the time to an “urban community college”, she recalled an open segregation between the undergraduate side of campus and the medical college, and how they learned to cooperate in order to move toward the overall growth and unity of UAB.

Speaking to the conditions of UAB at the time, she remarked that one of the main and presently enduring challenges was and is “sensitivity to racism.”

“Race is still important, but now we have to deal with issues regarding gender, age, sexual orientation, and special circumstances, and all of the issues presented by protected groups. We are trying to grow, and we have grown,” she said.

“Equality is still an elusive concept in this world and in this university,” Guy asserted sternly, further saying that “we have overcome some but [that] we have yet to [fully] overcome.”

Guy then geared the rest of her lecture to the recipients and present students by speaking to four stages of the journey to successful career and life: Self-awareness; Preparation/Discipline; Productivity; and Celebration.

“First, respect and value yourselves,” Guy said, emphasizing it by adding the quote from Myles Munroe asserting that “the discovery of self is the birth of leadership.”

“Know what your name is,” Guy stated, comically adding that “your parents didn’t give it to you to mess it up.”

Speaking to discipline and preparation, Dr. Guy stressed that good company is essential to maintaining a good course and that “life is a balance of work and play.”

“Success comes when preparation meets opportunity,” affirmed Dr. Guy as she transitioned to the key to being productive.

“UAB didn’t hire me because I was pretty and had brown skin,” she said with a chuckle. “UAB hired me because I could do the job.”

Guy concluded her encouragement by saying that “you must be anchored in something,” and urged that students take the charge to be ambitious and give back to said anchors, especially the community.

“The AAFA wants to support African-American students in furthering their education and careers, and [we want to] let them know that there are people here willing to support them,” Chair of the Scholarship Committee Heather Martin said.

Erica Jackson, past recipient of the scholarship and current graduate occupational therapy student at UAB, intimated that receiving the scholarship meant everything to her.

“Growing up in a single parent home, finances were tight, and without this scholarship, I would have been unable to continue my education,” Jackson said.

The $1,000 scholarship was awarded to Adrienne Brown, a freshman pre-nursing student, and Emmanuel Talley, an accounting major with aspirations to become a certified public accountant.

In addition to academic prowess, as both recipients made the Dean’s List and President’s list respectively, both recipients had distinguished service learning contributions that included Habitat for Humanity and volunteering at the UAB Children’s Hospital.

“It’s an honor to receive an award such as this that recognizes African American students,” Brown said. Talley echoed the same sentiments by saying that “it’s an honor, and it will help me on my path to become a CPA.”

For more information about the AAFA visit UAB AAFA.

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