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The University of Alabama

UA’s Black Belt Experience Partners Students with Perry County Communities

Note: Media are invited between 9 a.m. and noon Monday, May 19, to downtown Marion as University Fellows students engage in a number of projects to rehabilitate areas of the core of the city. For details on the projects and for morning locations, contact Richard LeComte, media relations, or 205/348-3782.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Participants in The University of Alabama’s University Fellows Black Belt Experience are engaged during May in an array of initiatives in Marion and Perry County. The projects include revitalizing a school library, producing a cookbook and creating a short film on the history of the city.

The group consists of 26 students, eight student leaders and four staff members working on 14 different Black Belt projects. The program is in its sixth year and is part of the UA Honors College’s 57 Miles partnership with Perry County. The Black Belt is an area of central Alabama named for its dark, rich soil.

Addressing issues of systemic poverty, the students will engage with a wide cross-section of the population, the community’s organizations and businesses. Among the projects are:

— Documenting history: Students will produce a short educational film about the history of Marion.

— School library revitalization: Students will work to improve the Albert Turner Elementary School library to boost reading among the school’s population. The school is at 901 Pegues Circle.

— Perry Lakes Park: Students will develop a presentation promoting Perry Lakes Park to groups throughout Alabama.

— Read and lead: A literacy program will pair Albert Turner pupils with student mentors from Francis Marion Middle/High School.

For a complete list of projects, contact Chris Joiner, Honors College, at or 850/698-9175.

The University Fellows Experience is a community of elite scholars from diverse disciplines who share a similar passion of being change agents through commitment to leadership and service. Following the classical purpose of education — the production of good citizens — the University Fellows Experience strives to prepare the most able and dedicated students at UA for remarkable lives of leadership in, and service to, their community, state, nation and world.

The students, all of whom are enrolled in UA’s Honors College, spent the academic year researching issues affecting the Black Belt and developing programs to help address some of those issues.

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.