Inclusion Scholars


The Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion awards* $500 travel scholarships to students who are currently working in inclusion, equity, and diversity! Individuals who received these travel funds are now a part of our "Inclusion Scholars"! We are so excited about the opportunity to fund students who are leading initiatives and making changes happen.

*To be eligible, students must present their research or creative activity at a conference. 

  • Ashley Massey (2019)
  • Julie Richardson (2019)
  • Nicholas Edwards (2019)
  • Bethany Turner (2023)
  • Emma Higby (2023)
  • Hope E. Buckley (2023)
Meet our Inclusion Scholars below!
Persuing: Masters in Social Work
As an extension of my independent study with Dr. Berkowitz on advocacy and policy work, attend advocacy day for the NASW in Montgomery.
Persuing: Bachelor's in Cinematic Arts and Theatre
With The Business of Auditioning and Directing, I propose that I combine these two crucial skills. Under the direction of Abigail Dillard, I will assist her with all aspects of the semester’s stage production, help with anything that is needed regarding her classes, and will aid her with anything else she may need. The auditioning aspect of this study will include local theaters, student films, and outside opportunities. With these audition opportunities, I will write about my experience with each one I attend and whether or not I got the job. This will also include updating my resume if I receive any job offers, as well as two (2) audition reels (one for strictly acting and another for vocal highlights), a standard Musical Theatre audition book, and a website. If possible, attending certain productions throughout the semester will also be included in the study, with a reflection due after each production. By the end of the semester, I will have a comprehensive journal of every audition or job I attended, as well as any assignments I was given regarding classes and the semester’s stage production.
Persuing: Master's in Social Work
This semester I am enrolled in an independent study elective that focuses on legislative advocacy. When I decided to pursue an MSW, I chose this field because of how broad it is. My educational background is in political science, and my hope for this program was that I would learn how to effectively engage with communities and organizations and develop a strong foundation of advocacy skills. This independent study course will allow me to collaborate with NASW-AL to plan Advocacy Day in Montgomery during the 2023 Legislative Session. One of my main responsibilities in preparation for Advocacy Day will be working in collaboration with another student to create one-page fact sheets summarizing the bills that we will be advocating for and stating the social work position on the proposed bills for students to bring with them to their appointments with state legislators. I think we often forget that as citizens we hold the power to change our communities when we can come together, share our stories, and make our voices heard by those who are elected to serve and represent us. Helping prepare for Advocacy Day is a great learning experience, but nothing beats being able to participate in person. Advocacy Day will be a full-day event of speakers from organizations in our state that advocate for equality and social justice year-round and a panel discussion on policy, in preparation for meetings with legislatures.

Persuing: Master's English Literature

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Katie Owens-Murphy

Title: Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program Instructor Training

Abstract: From June 14th to June 20th, I will be attending an Instructor Training Institute at Limestone Correctional Facility in order to become an Inside-Out Instructor. The training program is a comprehensive, 60+ hour intensive week that covers everything necessary to develop a course in the Inside-Out model. I will be learning through observation, hands-on experience, and engagement with groups of incarcerated individuals who have years of experience in the Inside-Out methodology. After completing this training, it is my hope that I will then be able to teach an Inside-Out course on gender studies at Limestone Correctional Facility through the University of North Alabama.

What is your inspiration behind your project?

I am inspired to enroll in the Inside-Out Instructor Training Institute because I believe education should be accessible to everyone and that higher education is at its best when more diverse and non-traditional voices are able to participate, collaborate, and be heard.

Why/How is your project important to inclusion and what do you hope to do with your findings/outcomes?

I believe an important part of being inclusive especially at a university is by spreading our educational reach to people who are incarcerated. The students who are incarcerated and enrolled in the Inside-Out Program are some of the most dedicated and hardworking students I have ever studied alongside of. I have witnessed the incredible, positive impact the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program can have on incarcerated "inside" students as well as on "outside" UNA students. After I complete the training, I hope to be able to add to the impact already started at Limestone Correctional Facility by teaching a course on literature and gender.

What is your favorite aspect of your research/project?

One of my favorite parts about the program is how quickly social barriers can be taken down and how transformative education can be, especially to those who do not have access to higher learning;  I am honored to have the opportunity to be part of taking down those barriers and continuing to extend the reach of higher education after I complete this training.

Persuing: Bachelor's in Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ryan Zayac

Title: Mind the gap: An assessment of faculty gender composition in applied behavior analysis graduate and undergraduate programs.

Abstract: As Li, Curiel, Pritchard, and Poling (2018) have noted, according to authorship data, women’s participation in behavior-analytic research has increased substantially over the years. However, they are still underrepresented as both authors and editors. One reason this may occur is due to women occupying fewer behavior-analytic faculty positions than males, despite 82.2% of all Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) being female (68.3% at the doctoral level; Nosik & Grow, 2015). The current study was designed to examine the gender composition of faculty teaching in applied behavior analysis (ABA) graduate and undergraduate programs in the United States. Despite 82.2% (68.3% at the doctoral level) of all BCBAs being female, our results showed that only 59.8% of faculty affiliated with VCSs in ABA are female. Furthermore, of those individuals who had been promoted to Full Professor, males were almost three times as likely to have achieved that rank than females (57% vs 43%). These results are consistent with prior research that found gender disparities in ABA faculty, including a significant gender pay gap (Li, Gravina, Pritchard, & Poling, 2019). Although substantial progress has been made by women in the field of ABA in the areas of research and service (e.g., fellowships, leadership in professional organizations), clearly females are still underrepresented and undercompensated in academia (Nosik, Luke, & Carr, 2019). Our hope is that by having a clearer understanding of these discrepancies, our field can begin to address these concerns.

What is your inspiration behind your project?

My personal inspiration for this project is my own interest in the field of ABA. I am currently pursuing a career in this field and, as a female, I am concerned with the opportunities and possible disadvantages females in the field might come across. It is my hope to both give ABA services in a clinical setting and, later, teach ABA methods in an academic setting. Therefore, if there are discrepancies in the male to female ratio (and our research suggests that there is) I am personally impacted by it. Also, ABA has made a tremendous difference in the life of my youngest sister (diagnosed with ASD), along with many other individuals’ lives, and so I am passionate in my desire to see the field continue to grow. However, if it is to grow, it is my hope that it grows into a field that has equal opportunity and promise for each person in it, regardless of one’s sex.

 Why/How are your findings important to inclusion and what do you hope to do with your findings?

The findings of our research are important to inclusion because they show aspects in which the field of ABA is not as inclusive as it could be. If persons are less likely to be involved in certain facets of ABA due to their sex, the ABA field may miss out on the uniques skills and ideas of those persons. It is therefore to the advantage of both the field and of the individuals therein to be fully inclusive. I hope to make this research available so that the issue of male/female discrepancies can be addressed and the field can prosper, as well as become a more fair and opportunity rich field for those interested in it. 

What is your favorite aspect of your research?

My favorite aspect of this research was seeing how many people and institutions are involved in the field of ABA. In my personal experience, not many people who I interact with on a day-to-day basis are familiar with ABA. It was very eye-opening to see the amount of interest in ABA across the country.

Persuing: Bachelor's Political Science

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Leah Graham

Title: Digital hatred: The rhetoric of Internet hate groups and militants

Abstract/Description: This project seeks to create a model to predict the likelihood of terrorist/extremist violence based on the rhetoric of individuals on the Internet.  The model will also determine if there is an increase in extremist language on the Internet prior to terrorist/extremist events.  

What is your inspiration behind your project?

The prevalence of politically-motivated violence in recent years has been my primary motivator in exploring this topic.  Initially, I became interested in the topic of political violence after the events related to the "United the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the death of Heather Heyer.  Other events like the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand have further demonstrated the value of researching political violence and searching for effective means of prevention.  

Why/How are your findings important to inclusion and what do you hope to do with your findings?

Ultimately, the prevention of political violence -- especially that which is racially/religiously-motivated -- is paramount to creating a more equitable society.  Our findings are meant to protect the victims of these tragedies; and, these victims are commonly members of marginalized communities.  The Christchurch shooting and El Paso Walmart shooting, for example, both targeted communities of color in white-majority countries.  In Christchurch, the shooter's victims were also members of a religious minority.  Our early warning system analyzes online rhetoric for violent intent in an effort to protect these communities, who are the subject of othering language. 

What is your favorite aspect of your research/project?

I am primarily interested in the qualitative aspects of this project.  I am interested in the theoretical foundations of rhetoric and the other.