The University of Alabama

UA Social Work Professor Named 2013 Last Lecture Recipient

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School has announced Dr. Cassandra  “Cassie” Simon, associate professor of social work, is the recipient of the 2013 Last Lecture Award.

Dr. Cassandra Simon will give her "Last Lecture" on April 22.

Dr. Cassandra Simon will give her “Last Lecture” on April 22.

Simon will give her lecture titled “Through the Doors: Lessons Learned from an Unexpected Life Journey” at 6 p.m., April 22 in room 159 of Russell Hall.

Simon, who came to the Capstone in 2000, was chosen from a group of seven finalists. Faculty members from across campus are nominated by students; finalists and the winner are chosen by an eight-person student committee.

Students are asked to nominate the professor that they would most like to hear deliver a lecture based on this premise:  “If this were your last time to address a group of UA students, what would you say?”

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Simon, who was a finalist in previous years since the award was established in 2007, said she’s appreciative of the honor because of her work with students and student groups.

“I’ve learned a lot from working with students,” said Simon, “and how they’ve worked to make campus their own. Whenever I’ve worked with students to have their voices heard … those moments have been extremely meaningful. I’m very honored to have this opportunity.”

Simon’s life journey includes a successful triumph over breast cancer, which she said motivated her to leave a lasting impression on the people around her.

“I did my bargaining and negotiating with God when I was sick,” Simon said. “I told him I’d make my life meaningful on earth, and I’ve tried to keep that part of the bargain. Everything became more intensive after that.”

Surviving cancer, along with an upbringing in a tough neighborhood, has helped Simon develop some of the elements of self-actualization, a psychological theory that describes the motive to reach one’s full potential and to reach the “highest level of the human experience,” she said. Simon will discuss self-actualization in her Last Lecture.

“I had a wonderful mother, but a lot of the people I grew up with had very different life journeys – drug addiction, incarceration,” Simon said. “That’s the neighborhood I grew up in. In some ways, I still view myself as a black girl from the other side of the tracks; I’m still surprised when people want to hear me speak.”

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.