UNA students receive Promising Alumni Award


Alex Hopper, Staff Writer

The University of North Alabama Alumni Association annually awards eight students the Promising Alumni Award. 

 The Promising Alumni Award is given to graduating seniors who have demonstrated potential for success in their academic career. 

This year the recipients are: Sallye Taylor Cavett, Hunter Tate Gooch, Charles Gordon, Sarah Hand, Sarah Mauldin, Kara Nix, Jacob Williams and Hannah Zimmer. 

“They have shown great promise for future community and university service through co-curricular involvement,” said Justin, “Bishop,” Alexander, Alumni Relations director, in the university press release from Oct. 29. 

Each of the recipients shared their own experience being a part of the UNA family and the goals they hope to achieve in the future. They also offer up advice to the next generation of UNA students. 

Sallye, “Tay,” Cavett is from Madison, Miss. She is a student in the College of Business majoring in computer science and double minoring in mathematics and cyber security. 

“It’s a great honor to be recognized alongside the previous winners and to be acknowledged by UNA,” said Cavett.

Cavett believes she was chosen because of her ability to balance her school work, athletics and social life. 

Cavett is a center midfielder on the women’s soccer team. 

“I am very proud to be a student athlete at this university,” said Cavett. “This town and institution has provided me many opportunities to grow.”

Cavett hopes to find a job that is challenging and rewarding. Specifically, she wants to find a career in which she can help others. Her advice for future students is to get good study habits as soon as possible and to seek help from your professors. 

Cavett also assures other women that they too can achieve a career in a male dominated field such as computer science. 

Tate Gooch, from Killen, Ala. is also a College of Business student majoring in accounting and finance. He also serves as Student Government Association President. 

“During my time at UNA, I’ve always wanted to serve this university and others,” said Gooch. “I think becoming a Promising Alumni is the recognition of this work and hope that it continues past my time as a student.”

Gooch believes he was chosen over many other viable candidates because of his appreciation for UNA that is apparent in his work. 

“From the moment I was on campus,” Gooch said. “I have constantly been involved in campus life.”

Gooch plans to get his certification as Certified Public Accountant and to also attend graduate school to get a Master of finance or accountancy. 

“Do not be afraid to fully invest yourself in this university,” said Gooch. “Everyone is so supportive and there are too many opportunities to just go to class.”

Charles, “Charlie,” Gordon is from Russellville, Ala. Gordon is a College of Arts and Sciences student majoring in communication studies and minoring in history. 

“Being a promising alumni is truly one of the greatest honors and biggest blessings in my life,” said Gordon. 

Gordon feels he has been accepted “with open arms” into the UNA community. 

Gordon’s college experience wasn’t always easy but, with the university’s support, Gordon was able to create a positive experience for himself and become the successful student he is today. 

“My freshman year, I underwent such sorrow and felt so alone,” said Gordon. “But through this university giving me a second chance, I have been so blessed.”

Gordon plans to pursue a Master’s and eventually a PHD in higher education administration. 

He wants to focus on student affairs with a dream of returning to UNA and working in a student affairs professional role. Gordon hopes to impact the lives of students in the same way he was impacted during his collegiate journey. 

Gordon’s advice to future students is to not be afraid to follow your own path. Everyone’s college experience is different. 

“Success at the end of the day is personal happiness and self-worth,” said Gordon. “[if] you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile then that day was a good day.”

Sarah Hand is from Hartselle, Ala. She is a College of Arts and Sciences student double majoring in social work and spanish. 

“For me, being a promising alumni means that I have excelled in my college career,” said Hand. “I feel the award is a nice way to reward the many years of hard work that I have put in.”

Hand believes her choice of majors, mixed with community and campus involvement has helped her to stand out as an applicable choice for this award.

“To my knowledge, I am the first student at UNA to graduate with a double major in social work and Spanish,” said Hand. “I hope to inspire more students to study both fields.”

Hand also believes that UNA has given her the chance to make something of herself. 

“When I first came to college, I was not confident in who I was,” said Hand. “Now, I have truly found who and what I am.”

Hand doesn’t have any set plans for the future but she hopes to go into a career in social work while also using her Spanish skills. 

“My dream job is working with Hispanic students as a social worker in a school system,” said Hand.

Hand’s advice to future students is to find “your niche.” This means find an organization that is best suited for your success. 

Sarah Mauldin is from Crane Hill, Ala. Mauldin is a College of Business student majoring in professional management with a minor in public relations. 

“This prestigious honor is unmatched by any other here at UNA,” said Mauldin. “To me, it means I have met my goal of making the most of my college career.”

Mauldin’s goal for her college career was finding how to give back to UNA. 

“I have always tried to find new ways to serve UNA each semester,” said Mauldin.

Mauldin also feels appreciative of the opportunities UNA has presented her with, as well as her relationships with other students and faculty. 

“I have met so many wonderful people through UNA,” said Mualdin. “[I’ve] had so many opportunities that I never would have had elsewhere.” 

Mauldin plans to attain a MBA in finance from UNA. Through the Accelerated Master’s Program and she is already taking classes towards this goal. 

Mualdin’s advice to future students is to step out of their comfort zones. 

“Never be afraid to take a chance,” said Mauldin. “Be confident, get out of your comfort zone, and always take advantage of the opportunities you are given.”

She also urges students to always be ready to serve others.

Kara Nix is from Muscle Shoals, Ala. Nix is a College of Arts and Sciences student double majoring in industrial hygiene and chemistry with a concentration in pre-medicine. 

“It’s difficult to verbalize the feeling of simultaneously being astonished and honored by the fact that this university believes so highly in me,” said Nix. “[I’m] also being nostalgic about the fact that the word ‘alumni’ means I will be leaving soon,” 

Nix feels she has had wide-reaching opportunities to get involved at UNA. Her major and it’s department, athletics and volunteerism.

“Having such a well rounded college experience has been incredibly rewarding,” said Nix. “It has allowed me to thrive and succeed.”

Nix found UNA to not be a “cut-throat” environment but, instead a university where the students look out for more than just their own successes. 

“I truly believe that UNA students want to lift each other up,” said Nix. 

Nix is currently in the process of applying to medical schools to one day become a pediatrician. 

Nix also encourages getting to know their professors. 

“Most of my successes and the opportunities I have been given came from the fact that professors believed in me,” said Nix.

She also encourages that we, as students, take time to appreciate the friends and classmates around us. 

Jake Williams is from Russellville, Ala. Williams is a College of Arts and Sciences student majoring in mass communications with a concentration in public relations. 

“[This award] means so much to me because I care so much about this university,” said Williams. “Being able to represent the university is an incredibly high honor.”

Williams said he tried his best to always stay involved on campus and to make connections.

“When this award was being voted on I believe that many professors were aware of my passion for networking,” said Williams. 

For Williams, being a UNA student means that he can make a difference while also representing an amazing university that made him who is today. 

Williams plans to attend law school next Fall. 

His advice to future UNA students is to make connections while also focusing on grades.

“Grades are not everything so make sure that you make the most of your four years,” said Williams.

Hannah Zimmer is from Reeltown, Ala. Zimmer is a College of Education and Human Sciences student majoring in secondary education with a concentration in social sciences.

“So much of who I am today is because of the people at UNA,” said Zimmer. “I’m ‘promising’ because they helped me along the way.”

Zimmer is also heavily involved on campus with activities ranging from volunteer work to Greek life. 

Zimmer is a site leader for the volunteer organization Alternative Breaks. She also served as an orientation counselor for the SOAR program for three years. 

She is currently a member of Alpha Delta Pi and Gamma Sigma Alpha. She was formerly a Resident Advisor, Diversity Student Ambassador and the Managing Editor at The Flor-Ala Newspaper. 

“These experiences molded me into the person I am today,” said Zimmer. “And gave me insight into what I want to do.”

Zimmer said that being a UNA student means that you have a network of people who want nothing more than to help you succeed. 

“As cliche as it sounds,” said Zimmer. “UNA truly is a family. I feel like any student can find their home here.” 

Zimmer plans to get a Master’s degree in psychology so that she can open an outdoor recreational therapy program for teenagers with mental health issues. 

Zimmer urges students to connect with their fellow students.

“The more people you connect with, the easier and happier your life will be,” said Zimmer. 

All eight Promising Alumni Award recipients have not only succeeded in their academic career but have also succeeded in juggling their extracurricular lives as well. 

The staff and faculty at UNA recognised these students’ aptitude for success and the tradition of excellence they leave behind.