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People of AUM

The people of AUM—students, staff, alumni, faculty and friends—make an enormous impact every day on the world around them. This is done in small ways and large, but always with a positive, encouraging Warhawk spirit. These are their stories.

If you have a story to share with other members of the AUM family, please fill out the form below and be sure to include photos and videos.

Charissa Stokes was recently elected to Alabama Power’s Board of Directors, Charisse Stokes is an alumna of Auburn University at Montgomery and a native of the Montgomery area.  Stokes is also the founder of a nonprofit organization called EduWerx which is aimed at exposing minorities and females to STEM. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Stokes currently serves as the Director of the Education Foundation for the Montgomery Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Chapter which providing STEM initiatives, grants, internships and scholarships to the local River Region community as well as the Midsouth Regional Vice President for AFCEA International. Stokes is a well-known community leader serving on the AFCEA International board of directors, Trenholm State Community College and Faulkner University Computer Science advisory boards, College of Business advisory board at Auburn University at Montgomery and the Saint James School board of trustees.​

Pandemic Preparedness with Rick A. Bright, PhD. Dr. Bright is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery. Dr. Bright obtained his bachelors of science degree in with a double major in biology and chemistry in 1996. Also, Dr. Bright is the Chief Executive Officer of the Pandemic Prevention Institute (PPI) at The Rockefeller Foundation and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Dr. Bright leads the development of the Foundation’s pandemic data-to-action platform that integrates modern technology, data analytics and global partners to help the world detect, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats to achieve containment as quickly as possible. Dr. Bright serves as an international subject matter expert in biodefense, emergency preparedness and response, pharmaceutical innovation, vaccine, drug and diagnostics development and served as an advisor to the Biden Administration, World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine Forum on Microbial Threats.

Jannah Bailey is named as the new President and CEO of The River Region United Way. Bailey is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery. Bailey obtained her degree in Justice and Public Safety in 1983. Bailey is an active leader in the community. Bailey is a Montgomery Sunrise Rotary Club member, 2018 Leading Lady Award winner for Professional and Community Service by the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama. Also, Bailey has represented District 5 on the Montgomery County Board of Education.

“The board and leadership of the River Region United Way are excited to welcome Jannah Bailey to our team,” said Rhea Ingram, Ph.D., chair of the River Region United Way Board of Directors. “She is bringing to RRUW a deep understanding of the challenges River Region families faces and decades of experience creating broad and diverse coalitions to drive change. We have no doubt that her experience leading nonprofits and her energy and passion for serving others will help RRUW continue to evolve to serve the River Region better.”

Tiarra Knight is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery. Knight received her Bachelors of Science in Accounting in Fall 2019 and her Masters of Accountancy in Fall 2021 from AUM. She is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Knight works as an Estate and Trust accountant at a local CPA firm. During Knight’s free time she serves as a mentor to local high school students and studies to become a CPA. Knight is also the owner of Residual Scents, a self-care and candle company. Knight states her accounting professors contributed greatly towards her success in her career, their knowledge on the industry and outreach allowed her to connect with the right people to determine the path she wanted to take in the accounting field.​

Raven Tolbert is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery. She grew up in Dadeville, Alabama. Raven obtained her Bachelors of Science in Entrepreneurship in Spring 2020. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. After attending AUM, she returned to her hometown and opened a dance studio called Mahogany Masterpiece. Tolbert achieved her goal of owning a dance studio with the skills and assets she received at AUM.

“Not many people know, but I loved dance first. I would come home from school and draft up dance team information and make song lists with the hottest music out. Unfortunately, my town didn’t have anywhere to train for the art of dance, so I moved on to cheering. After years of cheering, I didn’t make the team my junior year. I was devastated, but it was God realigning me back to my purpose. I self-trained and went to clinics and camps. I then realized that it was my original passion and opening a studio became my dream. So now, where there may be many other kids who want somewhere to dance like I did, I’m able to provide them with that space for not only training in dance, but also a place of love that serves as a home away from home.”

Here is the link to Mahogany Masterpiece:

https://www.facebook.com/Mahogany-Masterpiece-102184764945597/

Nick Rankins, AUM Alumnus, is a mentor, a teacher, a coach, and role model. He founded an organization that includes a community garden where he’s not only growing good food, but growing boys into good men.

Video can be seen here.

“We try to catch them young and bring them up through the program. Putting them around positive role models. One of the things is, younger guys see the older guys. They can see them grow up and they grow up and they come back and can be peer mentors,” said Rankins.

It’s called “Young Men on a Mission.” Nick Rankins founded the mentoring organization for 3rd through 12th grade. It’s based on 4 points:

  • Family
  • Education
  • Social Activities
  • Community Service

They’ve built a garden known as the historic Nixon-Times Community Garden to help give back to the community.  And he’s sowing two important values into the lives of the young men in the meantime.  “That’s the key to just teach them how to be a leader. Teach them responsibility because once they grow up, those are two major things once you become an adult,” said Rankins.

From Alabama News Network aired 3/16/2021

cover page of Anniston/Gadsden magazine featuring Dr. Kathy Murphy

“Dr. Kathy Murphy brings small town values, an ambitious work ethic, a love for students and a strong faith to her role as the president of Gadsden State Community College. She took over the helm of the College on January 4 following the retirement of Dr. Martha Lavender.  Murphy’s hard work and commitment to students has led to several accolades from professional organizations and colleagues, including Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s Outstanding Administrator Award; the School Superintendents of Alabama’s District 5 Superintendent of the Year; the Outstanding Leadership in School / Community Relations Award from the Alabama School Public Relations Association and the Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award from the Alabama Art Education Association. She has been named a “Mover and Shaker” by Two Eighty Lifestyle magazine and Business Alabama magazine.”

 

Anna O'Neal, Communications, '20

“It does have a big university feel to it. There are a plethora of ways to get connected on campus with campus life. Anna O’Neal, Communications, ’20

Watch the full video here.

Jack Wright, BSBA Accounting '21

“They have so many options of tutoring and support that really help you in class and outside of class… They really go out of their way to make sure you not only earn a degree but you also get a job in the career you want. Jack Wright, BSBA Accounting, ’21

Watch the full video here.

Jade Anderson, Nursing '21

“AUM has prepared us completely. They work with you, they help you, I have never excelled at anything more in life.” – Jade Anderson, Nursing ’21

Watch the full video here.

Congratulations to Chisholm Elementary kindergarten teacher Neporshaie Jones, the MPS Teacher of the Year!

Ms. Jones joined Chisholm Elementary three and a half years ago and has been receiving awards and recognitions ever since. She believes in bringing love and excitement to each lesson and always keeps her students engaged. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and professionalism she brings and are proud to call her the 2020-2021 MPS Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Jones is now in the running for Alabama Teacher of the Year.

Taken from the Montgomery Alabama Public Schools – Official Site Facebook Page

SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sylacauga City Schools has found its superintendent to follow Dr. Jon Segars.

At a called meeting this morning, the SCS BOE voted 4-1 to declare Dr. Michele Eller superintendent. Dr. Tim Guinn, assistant superintendent of Russellville City Schools. was the other finalist for the position. Board members Price, Marlowe, Crawford and Chadalawada voted fin favor of Eller. Garris was the lone vote for Guinn.

Eller will come to Sylacauga from Chickasaw City Schools where she serves as assistant superintendent. She has been director of secondary instruction at Eufaula City Schools, and from 2003-2013 was at Elmore County schools as curriculum/secondary instructional specialist, and English/theatre teacher. She earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Auburn University Montgomery; master’s as a reading specialist, also from AUM; and Ed.S. and doctorate degrees from Auburn University.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the next superintendent for Sylacauga City Schools,” Eller remarked. “As a pillar of the Sylacauga community, this system has had a long-standing tradition of both outstanding leadership and academic proficiency. I look forward to forging relationships with the community, school board, staff, parents, and students to build upon the current foundation of excellence. Together we will achieve the highest level of success for every student.”

Eller’s professional education background and accomplishments are quite impressive. Under her watch at Eufaula, the school won the Champion of Computer Science Award, and each school improved one letter grade on the on the state report card from the 2018-19 school year. In 2019, she was nominated to serve on the Governor’s Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways where she serves as the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expert. She also received the Public Relations Award from the Alabama Career Technical Association in 2018 and was nominated to serve on the ACTA board.

Eller’s accomplishments seemingly go on forever. BOE President Amy Price is excited to bring one of the state’s top educators to the Marble City.

“This is an exciting time for Sylacauga City Schools. We’re excited about Dr. Eller’s arrival and look forward to working with her to create an environment of academic excellence and opportunities for every student, ” Price remarked.

Next week there will be a reception to welcome Dr. Eller to Sylacauga.

Eller will begin her duties June 1.

Jeremy Law, Dr. Michele Eller named SCS superintendent, https://www.sylacauganews.com/local/dr-michele-eller-named-scs-superintendent, Sylacauga News, May 13, 2021.

 

Cheeriodicals Applying What We Learned

AUM Grads Create New Way to Cheer Hospital Patients

Corporate team building is a term open to interpretation. Too often it comprises mindless exercises that burn time with no discernable results. But not today. Not here. Because these people from Northwestern Mutual are united with a purpose. Each of these green boxes, marked Cheeriodicals, will be delivered to a child at Children’s of Alabama.

Cheeriodicals, the company behind this unique event, is the creation of Mary Martha and Gary Parisher —graduates from the AUM College of Business. And their company, in just a few short years, has impacted thousands of lives.

What is a Cheeriodical?

AUM Prepared Me for a Career in Finance

Auburn University Montgomery, and specifically the department of Economics and that curriculum, really prepared me to work in the field of finance because of the open curriculum, the education of the staff and faculty, and because of the real-world experiences that the faculty and staff have.

My position now is wealth strategy associate. I work for two financial advisors, and we manage a little over $450 million in assets. In between that, I’m actually studying to become a financial advisor, which involves taking securities tests and having certifications that you have to have to essentially manage people’s money. I definitely enjoy what I do every day and look to stay in it for a long period of time.

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Passion of Education Graduates Earns National Recognition

Five programs in Auburn University at Montgomery’s College of Education recently earned national acclaim for their quality from discipline-specific professional organizations and accrediting bodies.

The college’s alternative master’s degree program in early childhood education, clinical mental health counseling master’s program, school counseling master’s program, instructional technology master’s program and physical education undergraduate and alternative master’s degree programs each earned recognition.

Grad Nick Thomas Reports on Pat Priest and Her Munster Memories

Dr. Nick Thomas, an AUM chemistry professor and past Distinguished Teaching Professor, enjoys writing feature articles on a variety of general interest topics for over 600 newspapers and magazines around the country.

Read one from BoomerMagazine.com.

Grad-Nick
Black-Mayor

First Black Mayor Of Talladega Poised To Push City Into the Future

“I was tired of seeing the status quo maintained,” said Tim Ragland, AUM graduate and the first black mayor of Talladega, Alabama. “I decided that instead of being a person that’s going to complain about what’s going on, I decided I was going to do what I could to make a positive change in my community.” Read more at rapida.co.

Opelika’s Jimmy Wright Named to Alabama Retail Association Board of Directors

Jimmy Wright, president of Opelika’s Wright’s Market, has been elected to the Alabama Retail Association’s board of directors. An innovator in mobile and online grocery shopping, Wright earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Jimmy-Wright
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Rising Star: Mon’Tia Moon

Mon’Tia is a senior at Central High School – Coosa County with a 3.7 GPA. She is a member of the SGA, volleyball team and school cheerleader. Outside the classroom, she volunteers through her church, Red Cross, and helps with cheer camps. Her future plans include studying General Business at Auburn University at Montgomery.

She is also a WBRC FOX6 Rising Star. Mon’Tia, congratulations on this honor and good luck at AUM!

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