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Warhawk Spirit

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 by clicking the link below and be sure to include photos and videos.

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What They Say About AUM

Video Testimonials

My journey of perseverance

Derrick Harris
Video Testimonials

My instructors are willing to work with me even when I can’t see myself going through the process.

Antavia Sanders
Alumni Testimonial

The student/teacher ratio here is small. I look at that as an advantage.

Dustin Hatfield
Video Testimonials

You can have a personal interaction with your professor and ask as many questions as you want.

Simran Kumari
Video Testimonials

How I discovered my career passion.

Elizabeth Meads

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative has selected the president and chief executive officer of Community Electric Cooperative in Windsor as its new chairman  CEC’s Steven A. Harmon was elected chairman of the ODEC Board of Directors. The board named Micheal Malandro as the board’s vice chairman and Gregory S. Rogers as its Secretary-Treasurer. All officers were elected to serve three-year terms.  The election of officers came during the cooperative’s annual meeting last week in Leesburg. ODEC is one of the nation’s largest and most successful generation and transmission cooperatives, according to its news release.   Newsletter Email newsletter signup Sign up for our daily email newsletter  “It is a privilege and a blessing to serve as a steward for this organization and its customers and members. I am honored and humbled to serve as ODEC’s Chairman of the board,” Harmon said. “Our cooperative culture is one that promotes teamwork and unity. With these traits the board will be able to advise and guide ODEC through the many challenges of growth and change affecting the power generation industry.”  In addition to his role at CEC, Harom is CEO of the cooperative’s subsidiary, RECORE, LLC.   Harmon has more than 40 years of experience in the power industry, beginning his career as an apprentice lineman, then journeyman lineman and advancing through various managerial roles to the helm of Community Electric beginning in 2013.   He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bryan College and a masters of business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.  The board’s new vice chairman, Malandro, has been president and CEO of Choptank Electric, based in Denton, Maryland, since 2019.   “Having served as a board member of ODEC for many years representing two different distribution cooperatives, I have a deep understanding of the significant challenges our industry is facing and the varied needs of ODEC’s diverse membership,” Malandro said.   He said he looks forward to serving as ODEC’s vice chair as they work together to meet the growing needs of the communities they serve.  established by the leaders who have come before me.” said Mr. Rogers.  Malandro previously served as president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative in Waverly, while also leading the cooperative’s broadband business, Ruralband. He is a Professional Engineer and holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from West Virginia University. He completed NRECA’s Robert I. Kabat Management program and is a veteran of the U.S. Army and West Virginia National Guard.  Rogers, who will serve as secretary-treasurer of ODEC, is president and CEO of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative based in Rockingham.  “I appreciate the faith that my fellow board members have placed in me by electing me to be an officer of ODEC’s board,” Rogers said. “The energy industry is facing a period of dynamic changes, and I am eager to build on the strong foundation Mr.. Rogers joined the cooperative more than a decade ago, previously working at Allegheny Power for more than 20 years in multiple roles, the last being general manager of operations.   He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech, and is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia. He is from Winchester, where he and most of his extended family still live.  ODEC is owned by and provides wholesale electric power to 11 local electric cooperatives that provide retail electric service to more than 1.5 million people in 70 counties in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

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Murphy promoted to U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Hayneville native Tawanda N. Murphy was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on June 1.    Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Murphy is a 1992 graduate of Calhoun High School where she was involved in many extra-curricular activities including student government and sports. She furthered her education and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and graduated from Auburn University Montgomery.   Murphy is a prior enlisted personnel and received a direct commission through the Army Reserve in 2006.  She reported to U. S. Southern Command in May 2021 and currently serves as the Intelligence Joint Reserve Affairs and Management Officer.    Email newsletter signup Sign up for our daily email newsletter  LTC Murphy’s numerous assignments include: Human Resources Management/Operations Officer, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Evaluations, Selections, and Promotions Division, Ft. Knox, Kentucky; Senior Human Resources Officer (G-1), 84th Training Command, Ft. Knox;  Commanding General Executive Officer, Army Reserve Sustainment Command, Birmingham; Deputy Secretary of the Joint Staff (CJTF), Army Central, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; General Officer Liaison, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Division, Ft. Knox; Mortuary/Casualty Case Manager, U.S. Army Human Resources, Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Division, Ft. Knox; Operations Officer, 97th Training Brigade (ILE), Ft. Sheridan, Illinois; Battalion S-1, 2nd Battalion, 356th Regiment (Logistical Support), Ft. Carson, Colorado; Military Personnel Officer, Garrison, Ft. Hunter Liggett, California; Battalion S-1, Reserve Training Center-West, Ft. Hunter Liggett, California; and Executive Officer, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 485th Regiment (BCT/IN OSUT), Ft. Benning, Georgia.  LTC Murphy completed two operational deployments as a Paralegal NCOIC, 926th Engineer Brigade, Mosul, Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and the Deputy Secretary of the Joint Staff, Army Central, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait (Combined Joint Task Force).    She earned numerous awards and decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal, and others.   LTC Murphy is the daughter of Mary Edwards of Hayneville and married to E’Daniel Means.

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Dear Worried College Student,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you but just like you I experienced failures, fears, and flaws on this journey. In one of the proudest moments of my life, I was grieving about the loss of my grandma and my story was televised around the world. I realized God chose me as a vessel for others.  I am currently sitting here at 27 years old going through the cycle I have once a month of “I am not where I want to be” and “why is my journey taking so long?” Most of my friends have graduated, working, married, and become parents.  Then there’s me still grinding. I’m writing you this letter because my time as an undergrad is coming to an end soon.  I couldn’t be more excited. Heck! It took me seven years just to earn my associates, but through it all I never quit on myself or the process. I found joy in the journey not the destination. I hope this letter finds you well and encourages you if you are worried about your journey.


Derrick Harris

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Amanda Walker is a columnist and contributor with, The Birmingham News, Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette.

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Dr. Agnitra Roy Choudhury is active in applying economic principles in today’s environment in the classroom and the community.  The significance of an organization’s economic impact provides context to the organization, community, and government regarding its importance. Dr. Roy Choudhury completed an Impact Study for the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Board of Directors for the determination of the economic activity during its week long rodeo event.  This information can also benefit in understanding the tax impacts for state legislators and local businesses.

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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.​

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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.ess advisory board at Auburn University at Montgomery and the Saint James School board of trustees.​

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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.”

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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.​

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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.”

Miss Tolbert  dance studio has been home to the great children of Dadeville, Alabama. With such great success in her first shop; she outgrew  and has opened a second shop with bigger space. She will also be taking her dancing students to a dance competition in Orlando Florida Disney World.

Here is the link to Mahogany Masterpiece:

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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

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“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.”

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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

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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,, Sylacauga News, May 13, 2021.

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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.

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.

Watch video here.

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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.


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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

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“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 

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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.

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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!

Evan Mott is a recent AUM Graduate who studied Business Administration Management with a minor in Communications and he is also attending Grad school here for his MBA. When Mr. Mott first started at AUM he was in the Bridge program; because of the staff and fellow students he was able to excel through school debt free and land his dream job,

Recently, he was accepted for another Masters in Logistics Management at Florida Tech. Had this Degree been available at AUM, I would have stayed. He will work on classes at both universities as a full-time Army Civilian. I will be attending full-time for 12 hours and will graduate with my MBA in spring 2023.

In March, Mr.Mott was accepted to the program that he pursued since high school, the Army Logistics Fellows program. This program is at Army Logistics University in Ft. Lee, VA. This is a full-time position where they develop me as a multi-functional civilian logistician with skills to operate and lead in support of the Army. In this program, he will progress from a GS-7 to GS-11 in two years while receiving training and college courses in Logistics. Mr. Mott has received straight A’s in Logistics courses and finished at the top of his class.

He is in the process of creating a third culture club at AUM and would love to connect this club with other universities in the future. I love this University and represent it proudly.He loves the diversity and inclusion AUM offers to students. Because of that it has made him a well- rounded individual.

While attending Auburn Montgomery he has received Graduate focus scholarships every semester, which has made a difference for him to continue graduate school. I also received the Auto-Tags scholarship, which significantly reduced my stress. I would like to give back to this University the way it’s given to me.
He will always be a WarHawk at heart and would like to thanks all of his fellow classmates, family members, and professor for supporting him through college.

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