group photo of alumni award receivers
The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Alumni Association honored seven graduates at the annual Alumni of Achievement Awards Dinner on Sept. 21, 2023. Alumni of Achievement honorees, left to right, are Kevin Long, Dr. Jeff Sparks, Dr. Erin Davis Doggette, Dr. Ellise D. Adams, Dr. Kimberly Robinson and Tammy Paltchikov. Dr. Albert Patterson, far right, received the Outstanding Young Alumni of Achievement Award.
Jeff White | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Alumni Association honored seven graduates during the Alumni of Achievement Awards Dinner on Sept. 21 on the campus of UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System. The annual ceremony was a signature event of Alumni Weekend 2023, which continues through Sept. 24.

The Alumni of Achievement Award recognizes graduates from each academic college who have distinguished themselves professionally and personally and who exemplify the high standards of UAH. The Outstanding Young Alumni of Achievement Award is presented to graduates age 40 or younger who have shown outstanding achievement in their profession or field, demonstrated exemplary service to the community and supported the university in meaningful ways. These are the highest honors bestowed by the UAH Alumni Association.

Congratulations to the 2023 winners of the Alumni of Achievement and Outstanding Young Alumni of Achievement awards:

  • Dr. Ellise D. Adams, College of Nursing (B.S., nursing, 1983)
  • Dr. Erin Davis Doggette, College of Education (B.A., English, 2006; M.A., English, 2009)
  • Kevin Long, College of Business (B.S.B.A., management, 2012)
  • Tammy Paltchikov, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (B.A., Slavic studies, 1992; M.A., public administration, 2000)
  • Dr. Kimberly Robinson, College of Engineering (M.S., industrial and systems engineering, 1999; Ph.D., industrial and systems engineering, 2010)
  • Dr. Jeff Sparks, College of Science (M.S., chemistry, 2005; Ph.D., biotechnology, science and engineering, 2007)
  • Dr. Albert Patterson, Outstanding Young Alumnus (B.S., mechanical engineering, 2013; M.S., industrial and systems engineering, 2014)

The award recipients shared memories of their years at UAH and vital lessons learned with the Alumni Association.

Adams, who is retired, began and ended her nursing career at UAH:

“When I was completing my undergraduate degree at UAH, I was spellbound by the wisdom of nursing faculty who taught me in the classroom and in the clinical setting. Their dedication and patience and ability to teach hard concepts inspired me to teach one day. When I walked onto campus with a badge that read ‘Faculty,’ I felt I had achieved my professional goal. UAH was the best decision for me, as a student and as a nurse educator and researcher.”

Doggette, an instructional specialist at the University of Central Florida, says she appreciated the “sense of community” she felt with her UAH professors and classmates. She recalls a difficult period as an undergraduate when she wasn’t living up to her high academic expectations:

“The major lesson I learned from this experience was I had to focus on the things that truly mattered. I vowed to never put myself in such a compromising position ever again. From that point on, I focused on what mattered and earned a 4.0 in my certifications, my Ed.S., and my Ph.D. studies. I didn’t waiver from my commitment. I now operate in the same manner with my work, in my family and in life in general.”

Long is majority owner and chief operating officer of Ethic Tech in Huntsville. He notes the importance of “real-world experiences” his professors brought to their classrooms:

“UAH contributed to my success by providing me with critical tools and knowledge that I could leverage within the business industry. Through classroom instruction, relationships, and being immersed early into real-world scenarios, I was able to strategically plan my transition and the route I wanted to take upon graduation. UAH was always a resource even after graduation.”

Paltchikov, a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, is “passionate about making a difference”:

“This is what I loved most about my time at UAH and what is so rewarding about my current job: the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world – to exchange ideas and personal histories – to be able to share the best of the United States – our diversity, our strength, and our self-determination – and to know that such interactions can be life-altering for all involved. This is what motivates me each and every day.”

Robinson, executive director and CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, says she values the “people component” of engineering that she learned during her graduate work at UAH:

“People are the most complex part of any system. They are somewhat unpredictable as the same input will not always produce the same output. Combinations are important; timing is important. Learning human behavior in organizations was essential to my success. This is true of the most amazing accomplishments that we have ever done. The technology may be great, but navigating through vast networks of human systems is the real testimony of how major projects are accomplished.”

Sparks, senior director of process development and clinical manufacturing at IMUNON, HudsonAlpha, says he learned how to be a scientist at UAH:

“I learned tough lessons about perseverance, to take advantage of every opportunity to experience new things, and that persistent hard work will yield good results. A well-designed and executed experiment is never a failure. We can learn from every result, and it's often the unexpected ones that lead to light-bulb moments.”

Patterson has four siblings who are also UAH graduates. That makes eight UAH degrees in the family: five from the College of Engineering and three from the College of Business. He is an assistant professor and director of the Manufacturability-Driven Design Lab at Texas A&M University.

He credits much of his success after graduation to UAH’s academic curriculum, “amazing” professors who still serve as valued mentors and the network of friends and professional contacts he established:

“The atmosphere and teaching style at UAH gave me a love for learning and mentorship. It taught me both to work hard and to be grateful for my blessings and career opportunities.”