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Real People, Real Success


Ray Albritton
Science

Erin Bethea
Theatre

Allison Miller
Education; English/History

Big Daddy Weave
Music

Heidi Hutcheson Boone
Accounting

Dr. Endel Lee
Religion

Maryann Dean
Nursing

Dr. Rick Payne
Biology

Steven. V Taylor
Music Education

Paul Carter
Business

Rebecca Durham
Marine Science & Biology

Brandy Nelson
Religion

Jill Puckett Aldridge
English

Normalynn Garrett
Nursing

Philip Searcy
Theater & Psychology

Jordan Van Matre
Political Science and Humanities

April Livingston
Art

Barbara Steineker Saunders
Science

Stephanie Hewett
English

John Hooper, Jr.
Science

Ray Albritton
Major: Science
Currently: Doctoral Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When he graduated from the University of Mobile and received the H. Austill Pharr Award, the university's highest honor, Ray Albritton had one goal - to contribute to the research which is steadily working toward better cancer treatments as well as a cure. Having had a sister and nephew diagnosed with the same type of cancer approximately 25 years apart, he was able to witness firsthand the vital role research plays in the advancement of cancer therapy. It was because of his personal experiences with his family that he decided to pursue a career in research. Now, as a doctoral student at MIT, he is working in conjunction with the Department of Radiation Oncology at a local Boston hospital to help analyze and evaluate certain cancer therapy treatment plans in hopes of providing a more time-efficient and cost-effective way of analyzing cancer treatment success. Thus, during his time at MIT, he has already made one important discovery - that the solid academic foundation he received at the University of Mobile prepared him to succeed at one of the nation's premiere research institutions.

 

Erin Bethea
Major: Theatre
Currently: Lead Actress in "Fireproof"; Entertainer, Walt Disney World

Class of 2004

Sirens wail in the background, the sound of a fire truck racing to a house ablaze. But Erin Bethea is calm. It’s just another day on the movie set of “Fireproof,” where she plays the leading actress opposite veteran television and movie actor Kirk Cameron. From her first film acting role as a sportscaster with four lines in “Facing the Giants,” to her role as a Disney World entertainer in the largest show on Disney property,  “Fantasmic!” at MGM Studios, Erin’s years as a theatre major at the University of Mobile taught her the importance of each person’s role in creating the whole picture. Erin says her years at UMobile prepared her for her most important role -- to go into the world and change it, one movie at a time.

 

 

Allison Miller
Major: Education; English/History
Currently: High School Teacher

Class of 2001

Allison Miller teaches 9th grade English. This former UM student leader also teaches leadership skills to her high school students through her work with the high school student council. She assists students in organizing campus events and community service projects.While a student at UMobile, Allison was an active member of the Student Government Association. Today she volunteers with the Mobile County Young Republicans and sponsors a Young Republicans club at her high school. Her students assist in campaigns from the local to national level. During the summer, she volunteers as a chairman on the national finals committee for America's Junior Miss.

 

Big Daddy Weave
Major: Music
Currently: Dove Award-Winning Christian Artists

 

Before they were Big Daddy Weave, Mike Weaver, Jeremy Redmon, Jeff Jones and Joe Shirk were students at the University of Mobile. They wanted real-world experiences, and they got them in class and on stage at UMobile. Today, their music is making a real difference in the hearts and minds of people worldwide. Just another example of how University of Mobile graduates are "Changing Lives to Change the World."

 

Heidi Hutcheson Boone
Major: Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Currently: Managerial Accountant, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Class of 2005


Running to win: during college, it was a priority for Heidi Boone. As a student-athlete on the cross-country team at the University of Mobile, she knew the hard work it takes to win a race and trained with determination. Transferring that drive and desire to excel into the classroom, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years through UMobile’s five-year integrated accounting program. Then, an internship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started her racing down her career track.But every runner faces obstacles. A few days before she took the first of four tests for the Certified Public Accountant exam, Heidi broke her foot. During the second test, she developed severe stomach pains. But this UMobile graduate doesn’t let life’s hurdles keep her from her goal. She finished the test before driving herself to the hospital, and, despite the hardships, earned the highest score on the CPA exam in the state of Alabama during the January/February 2006 testing cycle.Now, as a managerial accountant Heidi uses her trademark determination and energy with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helping our country by managing its resources as efficiently and effectively as she ran her races.

 

Dr. Endel Lee
Major: Religion
Currently: National Coordinator fo Crisis Response Chaplaincy, NAMB-SBC
Commander, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy (Reserve Component)

Class of 1985

When catastrophes erupt, Dr. Endel Lee has a crucial job to do.

As National Coordinator of Crisis Response Chaplaincy for the Southern Baptist denomination, a newly-formed position of the North American Mission Board, Endel facilitates the recruitment, training, mobilization and management of Southern Baptist chaplains - and is a lead responder - during times of personal, community, regional and national crisis.

As a Navy chaplain of 14 years with 25 years total spent in military service, Endel has the experience to do his job well. He has ministered on behalf of Christ in places and during times that might have been inaccessible if not for his chaplaincy: to Marines in Iraq and during some of the nation’s worst tragedies, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Endel said his work centers on caring for people in Jesus’ name, adding that it was at the University of Mobile that God shaped the vision of his life. It was there that he caught the vision of what his Savior could do through the Great Commission, and he’s been effectively working to follow it ever since.

 

Maryann Dean
Major: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Currently: Registered Nurse

Class of 2004

Nursing is a demanding profession – and a profession in high demand. As a registered nurse in a critical care unit, Maryann Dean works every day bringing comfort and healing to patients with acute needs. People depend on her for excellent health care, and for a caring, healing touch.

The education she received at the University of Mobile prepared her to succeed. Maryann said UMobile’s smaller classes and direct access to faculty—faculty who want you to do your best—created a positive environment that led to her success in the classroom and in her career. With the encouragement and support of the School of Nursing faculty, she gained a head start on achieving her career goals by working as a nurse tech in her current unit while still a student.

Now, thanks to UMobile, Maryann has the skills and confidence she needs to meet all life’s demands, making her a critical part of the caring profession of nursing.

 

Dr. Rick Payne
Major: Biology
Currently: Pediatrician

Class of 1979

Children in the metro Atlanta area – and the world – have a friend in Dr. Rick Payne.

Building a pediatric medical practice requires long hours, but for this University of Mobile graduate, the benefits outweighed every difficulty. Now, as co-owner of Cartersville Pediatric Associates in the metro Atlanta area, Dr. Rick Payne has emerged as a leader in the healthcare community. A current board member and former chairman of the Board of the Children’s Health Network in Atlanta, he is also chairman of the pediatric section of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, an organization with 17,000 members internationally. Whether treating a sick child or helping guide a healthcare organization, Dr. Rick Payne works to improve children’s lives every day through his professional excellence and tremendous work ethic.

As a committed Christian, his compassion extends far beyond his immediate community. Each year Dr. Rick Payne leads a medical mission trip to Ghana, West Africa, to provide desperately needed medical care to some of the world’s poorest people. He says God has given him more than he can ever fathom – and giving back his talents in service to others is one way that he can show God’s love.

 

Steven V. Taylor
Major: Music Education
Currently: Owner of Taylor Productions/A6 Studios, 
Dove award winner, Grammy nominee

Class of 1977

From albums like “VeggieTales Worship” to award-winning musicals, University of Mobile alumnus Steven V. Taylor has worked on one tremendously successful project after another during his years in the contemporary Christian music industry. The Grammy-nominated producer, arranger and songwriter has won 6 Dove Awards for efforts such as the “Friends Forever” musical and the choral collection of “God of Wonders.” He was also nominated for a Dove Award in 2004 for Producer of the Year in Christian Music. Yet Steven, who always has another project on the horizon, still finds time to give back to his alma mater. He presents workshops at UMobile for groups like Voices of Mobile, helping them develop a quality, professional vocal style.

Steven said it was during his own years at UMobile that he decided to pursue contemporary Christian music as a profession, and he encourages current students to look at all the possibilities that are out there including church work, songwriting, artistry, and music business.

 

Paul Carter
Major: Business
Currrently: President & Owner, The Paul Carter Agency

 

Class of 1982

As an undergraduate student at the University of Mobile, Paul Carter's typical schedule consisted of a 50-hour work week and 16 to 18 hours of classes. Keeping up may have been a challenge, but these days those tough hours have paid off: Carter is now owner and president of The Paul Carter Agency insurance and real estate firm. With such a hectic schedule during his days as an undergrad, Carter said he especially appreciated UMobile's user-friendliness. The staff was always eager to assist him with his scheduling needs, and now he can clearly see how God used UMobile to prepare him to own and manage his company effectively and profitably.

 

Rebecca Durham
Major: Marine Science & Biology
Currently: Zoologist

Class of 2005

Rebecca Durham wanted to be at a college where she could spread her wings. For Rebecca, that meant an education in marine science and biology at the University of Mobile. There, she learned the skills that would help her pursue her dream of working with animals. Now Durham works at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, where she tends to a wide variety of creatures and helps people of all ages gain new interest in the wonders of creation. UMobile provided her with a solid academic foundation from a Christian worldview, just what she needed to achieve her goals and soar into a successful career.

 

Brandy Nelson
Major: Religion
Currently: Journeyman through the International Mission Board

Class of 2005

As an evangelist and church planter in Niger, Africa, Brandy Nelson has gained lots of new family. That's how she refers to the Zerma people among whom she works, a people who highly value personal relationships. Whether she's sharing Bible stories with villagers or discipling new believers, Brandy is operating in a close-knit community. It's a community she constantly works to infuse with the love of the Savior.

To prepare Brandy for the mission field, UMobile's Christian studies professors increased her knowledge of the Bible and built up her ministry tools. But they did more than that. Both in the classroom and by example, her professors illustrated what it means to love people as Christ loved them: as they are and for who they are. It's a lesson God used to strengthen Brandy's passion for missions. Now, as she teaches the foundations of Christianity to her Zerma family, she's sharing both her own love for them, and Christ's.

 

Jill Puckett Aldridge
Major: English
Currently: General Editor, Clarity Publishers

Class of 2002

On a University of Mobile mission trip to the Cayman Islands, Jill taught teenagers about God using a Bible study curriculum. That experience ignited a passion in her own heart - to use her skills as an English major to develop lesson plans that communicate God's Word with simplicity and creativity.

Today, as general editor for Clarity Publishers, she is fulfilling that goal, shaping a new series of curriculum for adults, Life Bible Study. Her English degree from the University of Mobile gave Jill the research and communication skills she needed to earn a master of theological studies at Samford University's Beson Divinity School. Her leadership experiences as a member of Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society, Alpha Chi Honor Society, and the UMobile Student Government Association gave her the confidence to take a leading role in equipping believers to live the Word.

 

Normalynn Garrett, Ph.D.
Major: Nursing
Currently: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); U.S. Army

Class of 1980

To help others in a tangible way: that was Dr. Normalynn Garrett’s motivation when she decided to earn a degree in Nursing from the University of Mobile.
 Garrett says UMobile started her on her career as a nurse and as a military officer. Now, as a CRNA and instructor of pharmacology and biochemistry in the anesthesia nursing program, Garrett’s efforts to aid others have been substantial. She has done extensive research to further knowledge of her field. With the aid of student researchers in the U.S. Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing, Garrett recently investigated the interactions herbal remedies and dietary supplements may have with anesthetics. Thanks to her contribution through this project, this UMobile alumna was named 2006 Researcher of the Year by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Foundation.

 

Philip Searcy
Major: Theatre & Psychology
Currently: Actor

Class of 2007

What is a college graduate doing back in high school, playing on the football team and worrying about his dating life? For University of Mobile graduate Philip Searcy, it was just another day at work on the set of the Lifetime original movie “Queen Sized.” Philip played the part of a popular high school football star in a made-for-television movie that featured veteran actors Nikki Blonsky and Annie Potts.

With four years of experience working on stage and behind the scenes in 11 Upper Room Dinner Theatre productions, Philip said the University of Mobile prepared him for any type of challenge. He knows there may be challenges as a Christian in the film industry, just as there are for Christians in any career. It’s  a challenge he’s ready to act on.

 

Jordan Van Matre
Major: Political Science & Humanities
Currently: Student at Liberty University School of Law

 

Class of 2007

If Jordan Van Matre’s dream comes true, the commander-in-chief of the United States in 2020 will be a baritone with a background in barbershop-style singing. As an undergrad, Jordan belonged to the University of Mobile’s traditional barbershop quartet RamTonz. But as much as he loves music, politics is Jordan’s forte. And his aspirations are presidential.

Thanks to his professors at UMobile, Jordan is equipped to harmonize his beliefs and actions in any career. They shaped his love of history and his view on how best to serve his country, instructed him on the nature of government, showed him how to be a leader, and deepened his faith by enhancing his discernment and conviction. However he elects to change the world, Jordan will be ready to do so from anywhere in the nation: even 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

April Livingston
Major: Art
Currently: Artist

Class of 2006

Change how people see the world, change the world: that’s the motto artist April Livingston lives by. Her artwork is the tool she uses to start the process of transformation. And in this process, her imagination is just as necessary as her paint and brushes, or her plaster or clay.



It was at the University of Mobile that April discovered an invaluable key to nourishing her imagination: supportive instructors. They actively listened to her ideas and showed faith in her that cultivated her confidence and sharpened her determination. 

Now, whether honing her craft in Florence, Italy, or sketching in an Alabama studio, April is exploring her inspirations and pushing her own boundaries. She’s also transforming perceptions: the first step to changing the world.

 

Barbara Steineker Saunders
Major: Science
Currently: Medical student at Oklahoma State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine

Class of 2003

As a fourth-year medical student, Barbara Saunders’s life is on fast-forward. Currently a member of nine professional medical associations, the physician-in-training has gained experience working in radiology, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology. Her rotation in pediatrics, however, impacted Barbara’s direction the most. A lifelong passion for medicine and an overwhelming compassion for children and their families combined, giving Barbara the determination to become a pediatrician.

The University of Mobile equipped her to realize that dream. She majored in biology, with a focus on pre-med, gaining the knowledge, confidence and study skills she needed to succeed in medical school. Her professors encouraged her to explore a variety of subjects both in the classroom and through independent study, and the Christian environment helped her grow spiritually as she answered God’s calling in her life. In a few short months, Barbara will graduate from medical school and begin a residency in pediatrics, providing outstanding, compassionate medical care to children. For her, that’s a dream come true.

 

Stephanie Hewett
Major: English
Currently: Copy Editor, The Montgomery Advertiser

Class of 2003

Stephanie Hewett did more than earn a degree at the University of Mobile. She expanded her world. Camping out with English professors and students during a 36-hour Moby Dick reading marathon, working as a tutor in the Chora Godwin Learning Center, and volunteering each week with Campus Ministries in the Salvation Army kitchen were just a few of Stephanie’s experiences. She performed with the Upper Room Dinner Theatre, interned in the UMobile Public Relations Office, and made friends who continue to pray with her and share each day’s ups and downs.

With the encouragement of English professors who really enjoy the subject – and the students – they teach, Stephanie developed the skills and the confidence to follow her dreams. Today she is using what she learned at UMobile proofing, editing and designing the pages of The Montgomery Advertiser, expanding the world of information for people in Alabama’s capitol city.

 

John Hooper, Jr.
Major: Science
Currently: Public Health Senior Environmentalist,
Public Health Area 5 Emergency Preparedness Team,
Alabama Department of Public Health

Class of 1996

In a world where natural disaster and disease are daily news, and the threat of terrorism looms, readiness is paramount. That’s why John Hooper’s job is vitally relevant. As the environmentalist on one of Alabama’s emergency preparedness teams, John makes plans in preparation for the catastrophic: disasters, emergencies or bioterrorism threats that could affect the health of 450,000 people in central Alabama. John’s job requires a scientific understanding of how the human body can be affected by everything from avian influenza to anthrax. It also requires the leadership skills and confidence to work with a variety of hospitals, emergency management agencies and other organizations to develop strategies for disaster response.

John relies on his background in biology and chemistry to understand potential public health dangers, a foundation that was established at the University of Mobile. There, he says, professors challenged him to go beyond the obvious, to think, “What if?” His ability to find the answers to this question, and to face the challenges of real-life, life-threatening situations, is grounded in the education he received at UMobile. It’s an education that is helping keep hundreds of thousands of American citizens safe and well.