UAH Sociology major recipient of $20K Soroptimist International Scholarship

Aislynn Roxie Brookshire

Roxie Brookshire with her daughter, Winter, and Beth Douglas, President of Soroptimist International of Huntsville.

Photo courtesy of: Dr. Molly Johnson

Aislynn "Roxie" Brookshire, a senior Sociology major at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, is the recipient of a $20K "Live Your Dream" scholarship from Soroptimist International.

A global volunteer organization, Soroptimist International (SI) features 1275 clubs in 20 countries, working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Brookshire won the scholarship at the local, regional, and federation levels for a total scholarship package of $20,000.

Concerned about paying for graduate school, Brookshire said, "I felt like a weight of worry had been lifted off my chest. I am surprised and grateful at winning this award. I do not see myself as exceptional, merely exceptionally fortunate," said Brookshire who also minors in Women's and Gender Studies (WGS). "The scholarship money will help me pay fees associated with taking the Graduate Record Exam, applications, and most importantly, tuition."

"A diamond is just carbon in the ground until someone mines it, polishes it, cuts it, and shows it to its best advantage to the right person. Value is in meaning - and meaning is formed by who is speaking to whom and under what circumstances"

Roxie Brookshire
UAH senior Sociology student

Brookshire juggles her academic work at UAH with raising a 10 year-old daughter, Winter, and taking care of her husband, James, who was diagnosed with end stage renal failure last year.

"I first heard about the SI scholarship through Dr. Molly Johnson, who I work for as part of the UAH WGS Program. The award is one of a very few scholarships for non-traditional students and she encouraged me to apply," said Brookshire.

"I have had the pleasure of teaching Roxie in three different classes and supervising her work as the Women's and Gender Studies Student Intern. I deeply appreciate Roxie's enthusiasm for the work of our program," said Dr. Molly W. Johnson, UAH Associate Professor of History and Director of Women's and Gender Studies. "Roxie is passionately committed both to the academic study of gender and the advancement of gender equality in society. She has a wonderful future ahead of her as both a scholar and a leader. I am very grateful to SI for honoring Roxie with the 'Live Your Dream' scholarship."

Brookshire, a Madison County native was a SOTA (Student Over The Traditional Age) when she began attending college. "I kept thinking college is not for people like me. I’m over thirty. I have a family and I am poor. The anecdotes about people from these circumstances are uplifting exceptions but the statistics are grim facts," she said.

"When I stepped foot in the university library and saw all the books I could read I cried. While other students complained about lectures or studying I felt lucky and in awe of my good fortune. The faculty and staff at UAH made the difference," said Brookshire. "First, I met them as instructors who are committed to delivering pedagogy that addresses students’ whole selves where they are. Then I met them as scholars whose innovative research, curiosity, and passion for learning inspired me. Finally, I met them as compassionate and wise human beings who supported me and made me feel welcome."

Dr. Christina Steidl, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Brookshire's advisor said, "Roxie challenges" everyone. "In nine years of teaching, Roxie is one of the best students I have ever had the pleasure to teach. She moves fluidly between theory and practice, makes connections that others have missed, and raises important disciplinary questions. Moreover, she genuinely works to transform the classroom into an educational community--organizing study groups, drawing her peers into discussion, and challenging everyone to see the material in new ways," added Steidl.

"What sociology has done for me is to help me critically evaluate evidence, formulate an effective argument, and given me cultural competency which I believe would make anyone more employable. To be clear: you can be brilliant or innovative – but every one of us must navigate our social context and the structures that shape our world so that our ideas can shine further afield than the interior of our imaginations," said Brookshire. "A diamond is just carbon in the ground until someone mines it, polishes it, cuts it, and shows it to its best advantage to the right person. Value is in meaning - and meaning is formed by who is speaking to whom and under what circumstances."

Brookshire is a recipient of the Kathryn Harris Scholarship for Women and Gender Studies minors and the Department of Sociology Scholarship. Last spring, she also won the Department of Sociology's Outstanding Undergraduate Student award, and this summer she received a grant from the UAH Research Creative Experience for Undergraduates Program to work on the research project, "Gender Performance and Gendered Perceptions in the U.S. Military," with Dr. Christina Steidl in the Department of Sociology. Brookshire said the project is about female veterans' experiences in the military. She and Dr. Steidl will present their findings at the Mid-South Sociological Association Conference later this month.

As Brookshire prepares to leave her academic nest at the university, she would like to express her gratitude to some very special people. "Dr. Jason O’Brien, Dr. Richard Simon, Dr. Molly Johnson, Dr. Jon Nale, and Dr. Christina Steidl for their outstanding work as faculty members. I also want to recognize the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences staff assistants Cynthia Small, Lyndsey Torok and most particularly Erin Reid for all their help, support, and coffee. And, I would also like to recognize Miss Shirley in the cafeteria and Mr. Richard who keeps Morton Hall looking beautiful. Every one of these individuals gave me what I needed to succeed in their own way and I can never thank them enough."

In graduate school Brookshire plans to specialize in gender, work, and organizations with a specific interest in women’s experiences with labor markets and inequality.


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