Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA grads starting families, careers in and out of state

This year’s fall freshman class marked the first group to be composed of more than 50 percent out-of-state students. Some claim this out-of-state recruitment will bring geographical diversity to Alabama and eventually help the state, but only if these students decide to stay post-graduation.

Calvin Brown, director of alumni affairs, said just as we recruit the best and brightest students, we also want as many of these students as possible to make Alabama their home after college.

“In order for the state to grow economically and culturally, it is important that we offer these bright young people the kind of job opportunities that will encourage them to consider Alabama after graduation,” Brown said.

Despite the recent out-of-state draw, Brown said the University remains keenly focused on in-state students.

“No academically qualified in-state student who applies to The University of Alabama is denied admission,” he said. “I firmly believe that UA is fulfilling its mission as the Capstone of education in the state and serving the in-state students. The fact that we are able to do this and recruit top notch out-of-state students is a testament to our academic reputation nationally.”

Philip Westbrook, director of the Blackburn Institute, a group that strives to improve the quality of life in Alabama, said it is good for UA graduates to stay in the state to increase the educational level of the citizenry and workforce.

“Economically, it makes sense and positions the state to be more competitive in recruiting business and industry,” Westbrook said. “Overall, it also adds to the quality of life by having a better educated populace to serve as leaders in Alabama communities, both in government and civic organizations.”

Westbrook explained his organization consists of a network of people who are passionate about the state of Alabama.

“Our goal is to educate our members on the unique history, people and places in Alabama and hope that they develop a strong desire to stay in the state and make a difference,” he said. “Even those who do not reside here can make a difference through serving as representatives of the state.”

Westbrook said out-of-state students only enhance the diversity of our student population and bring different backgrounds and perspectives to the classroom and campus.

“Many of them will develop strong connections within the state and choose to live here after graduation,” he said. “Even if out-of-state students don’t stay in Alabama after graduation, they leave with an understanding of our state and can help change the image of the state.”

One Texas native, Paige Niewerth, who graduated in May 2011 and now works in Atlanta, Ga., said she was not opposed to staying in Alabama but ultimately was ready to live in a new city and experience a new place.

“I felt Atlanta had the most ideal career opportunities for me,” Niewerth said. “Atlanta has professional sports teams and, geographically, is convenient to so many other places.”

Niewerth said the University should encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and be independent.

“After graduation is the time to try new things,” she said. “We have a huge alumni presence here in Atlanta, and I have friends all over the country that have found their Alabama niche outside of the state.”

Another student originally from California, Brett Jaillet, who graduated in 2009, chose to make Alabama her home post-graduation when two of her three sisters joined her on campus.

“Because my family came here, I was definitely more inclined to stay after graduating,” Jaillet said. “Plus, in my field, which is journalism, local connections helped me find a job, and of course my then boyfriend, now husband lives and works in Alabama, too – perfect.”

Jaillet said she encourages graduates who think the state is a right fit for them to stay and enjoy a non-student life for a little while.

“I have really enjoyed giving back to the community that helped educate me and make me who I am,” she said. “Alabama has become my home, and I enjoy working, living and being a part of a wonderful state.”

Jordan Tullidge, a student from the state who graduated in 2012, said with both her and her husband’s families living in Tuscaloosa, she would love to stay somewhere near home but is excited about the possibility of living in another state.

“Being a recent graduate of The University of Alabama, I am so proud to be affiliated as an alum with such a prestigious school,” Tullidge said. “As I do see it as important to retain alumni in the state, I also know how important it is to have connections with many other states.”

Tullidge said by having alumni and people who know and understand how great our school is in other states, the University maintains a strong recruiting base. Tullidge explained her family travels to a restaurant in New York called The Ainsworth every Labor Day, which is the first Alabama football game.

“The Ainsworth is a restaurant where Alabama fans from all over New York go to watch the games and ‘Rammer Jammer’ is yelled so loud it is just like being in Bryant-Denny,” she said. “Experiencing a game with other alumni in a state so far away is an awesome experience and definitely proves how important having graduates in other states can be.”

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