Katie Hale never intended to go to The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). "I grew up around here and went to Sparkman High School, and no one who lives here wants to stay here and go to school!" she says with a laugh. "You want to leave the nest. So I was dead set on going somewhere else." But after she received a four-year scholarship for academic excellence, her parents were able to talk her into attending UAH. "They were like, we don't want you to graduate with debt," she says. Turns out her parents were right. Not only has Hale been able to graduate debt-free with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, but she now looks back on her time at UAH with nothing but fond memories. "I wouldn't have traded it for anything," she says. "The Art Department here is the most nurturing and best department! The professors go beyond being teachers; they know your work, they're there to talk to you, and they email you all the time."