Public health graduates speaking at Commencement Ceremonies

Shannon Thomason

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will host two days of spring commencement this month, as degrees will be awarded to graduates and undergraduates in separate ceremonies April 27 and 28.

An estimated 2,138 students are scheduled to graduate from UAB this spring. An estimated 715 students will earn graduate degrees, while 1,423 will earn undergraduate degrees. About 1,500 will participate in the university’s ceremonies.

A doctoral hooding and commencement ceremony for nearly all graduate programs will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, April 27, in Bartow Arena. Unlike prior years, students receiving master’s degrees now will receive their diplomas with the doctoral candidates, and there will be no separate doctoral hooding ceremony Saturday. For spring 2018, the UAB Graduate School will confer the university’s highest degrees on 69 students from 15 states and six countries in 27 disciplines; approximately 57 will participate in the ceremony. For the Friday evening ceremony, the mace will be carried by Anthony C. Hood, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods in the Collat School of Business.

Undergraduate diplomas will be awarded to students during two university ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in Bartow Arena. Undergraduates in the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences will be awarded diplomas during the morning ceremony, and undergraduates in the schools of Business, Engineering, Public Health, Health Professions and Nursing will receive their diplomas in the afternoon ceremony. For the Saturday ceremonies, the mace will be carried by the 2017 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Victor M. Darley-Usmar, Ph.D. Darley-Usmar is Endowed Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine and Pathology, a professor in the Department of Pathology, and associate dean for research in the UAB School of Medicine.

A to-do list for graduates, as well as information for guests, is available on the commencement website. Tickets are not required; but seating for the commencement ceremonies are first come, first served. Bartow Arena doors will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. University officials recommend guests leave nonessential bags at home or in the car. The ceremonies will be recorded and added online for viewing at www.uab.edu/commencement about a week after the ceremonies.

The student speaker for the April 28 morning ceremony will be Mugdha Mokashi, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in health behavior from the School of Public Health. Mokashi received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award, UAB President’s Diversity Champion Awards (2018), UAB Outstanding Woman Award (Student 2017), and the Dr. Aaron Lamar Jr. Scholarship and the National Alumni Society Science and Technology Honors Scholarship. During her tenure at UAB, she was involved in campus government and student organizations, especially in UAB’s Undergraduate Student Government Association as president, director of Student Issues and Programs chair on the Executive Cabinet. She was a member and served the executive council of the UAB Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors program. Mokashi was the founder and president of the restarted “Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE) at UAB” campus chapter. Since June 2016, she has served as a student board member, one of only two student board members selected nationwide, of URGE, based in Washington, D.C. As a board member, she has provided input for URGE programming surrounding consent education and reproductive rights on a policy level, as well as strategic planning and operations budget discussions. From 2015-2018, she was a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology. Mokashi will attend medical school this fall.

The student speaker for the April 28 afternoon ceremony will be Amir Ahmed, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in public health. At UAB, he was a resident assistant at Camp Hall, and was a UAB ambassador and served as an official host to administrators, visitors and students at various university events. He is a member of the UAB Honors College and the University Honors Program. Ahmed has received the Steven Smith Discovery Award, Spencer Honors Scholarship, Golden Excellence Scholarship and RA of the Year for Camp Hall. He has worked as a UAB Youth Safety Lab assistant researcher, where his research has focused on distracted pedestrian study. A fan of filmmaking, Ahmed participated in the Ethnographic Filmmaking Seminar, where he co-produced, shot and edited a documentary film, “Company Town,” exploring socioeconomic factors behind closure of the U.S. Steel plant in Fairfield. He presented the film at the 2016 Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, the 2016 National Collegiate Honors Conference in Seattle and the 2017 Southern Regional Honors Council Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. Ahmed has served as a teacher and counselor at College Admissions Made Possible, a nonprofit organization. This organization’s mission is to empower students at underserved schools by equipping them with the essential tools to gain access to the college or university of their choice while partnering with local and national schools to provide a variety of college prep services for students. Ahmed plans to pursue medical school next year.