By Alicia Rohan
Nadia Hollings, a Birmingham native, graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham this month with her bachelor of science degree in medical sociology. As a UAB legacy and Ramsay High School graduate, Hollings always had a desire to attend UAB.
Between middle school and high school, Hollings was in an initial group to attend a new summer camp, the Health Careers Opportunity Program. The program offered Hollings an opportunity to learn about the medical field, meet with physicians and get hands-on experience at what life would be like as a physician. This drove her desire to pursue a degree in the medical field, especially at UAB.
“My parents have encouraged me throughout my life and provided immense opportunity for me to explore what I want to be when I grow up,” Hollings said. “They were both first-generation college students and instilled in me how important higher education is.”
Life At UAB
In the fall of 2016, Hollings enrolled in the UAB College of Arts and Science Medical Sociology program. During her high school years, Hollings participated in the dual enrollment program through Birmingham City Schools and Lawson State Community College. Most of her classes were online, which was an easy transition to her college career at UAB. She attended one class on campus her first semester, and the remainder of her classes were taken online.
“Online classes were so unique,” said Hollings, who is also enrolled in the UAB Pre-Health program. “I got to interact with people from across the country and broaden my perspective through their experiences. Everyone was in class, but not in Birmingham.”
During her second semester, Hollings took a class with Chris Biga, the director of Undergraduate Studies in the UAB Department of Sociology. Biga taught four of her classes over the past three years and advised Hollings through her senior thesis.
“Dr. Biga once told my parents how much he enjoyed reading my papers,” Hollings said. “During the last semester of my senior year, he has pushed me to look deeper into a subject matter and find out the why and how.”
Hollings focused her senior thesis on the increase in school shootings in the United States and how the media has portrayed them. Her study explored a conservative and liberal newspaper’s coverage of shootings in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“I analyzed the front page newspaper articles from three days of coverage, giving consideration to photos, victim counts and offender characteristics to determine if this impacts the newsworthiness of each incident,” Hollings said. “School shootings are happening too often and have become something that our society worries over. I was curious what was important to media when it comes to coverage of these horrific incidents.”
Her findings indicate there was more coverage given to the victims than the perpetrators and raises the question about current practices in news media publication on newsworthiness.
“Nadia is an independent thinker who is successful in and out of the classroom,” Biga said. “She is well organized and writes with depth and a critical mind. The Department of Sociology invited her to be a part of our honors program, in part because of her skills at writing at a high level. Her senior thesis puts these skills to work, analyzing media coverage following school shooting from a sociological lens.”
Hollings hopes to attend medical school at UAB and pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology. She believes her degree in medical sociology will help her relate to her patients.
“Sociology helps me understand where people come from, even if I haven’t been there before,” Hollings said. “It forces me to think like my potential patients and put myself in their shoes. This will help me develop a level of understanding and trust with patients and further build on an open relationship.”
Hollings plans to take a gap year between her undergraduate years and her move into medical school. During this time, she plans to take the MCAT, pursue physician shadowing opportunities and apply to medical school. She also plans to travel through Europe, particularly Greece, to broaden her horizons.