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Woodlawn HS Student, Birmingham Promise Scholar, Makes History at UAB

Destiny Nelson-Miles, completed the rigorous Early College Program at Woodlawn High School and enrolled at UAB with 69 hours of college credit

By Tehreem Khan

UAB News

Driven by her curiosity and commitment to persevere through thick and thin, Destiny Nelson-Miles is the first Birmingham Promise Scholar to graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Nelson-Miles, a finance major in the UAB Collat School of Business, has always been a step ahead in planning for and achieving her educational goals. She completed the rigorous Early College Program at Woodlawn High School and enrolled at UAB with 69 hours of college credit.

She is graduating in April 2023 after only two years on campus.

The Birmingham native is only 19 years old, and while graduating at such an early age is an accomplishment, she says she could not have done it alone.

She credits a portion of her success to the Birmingham Promise Scholars Program, which provides four years of tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools to attend any public two-year or four-year college or university in Alabama. The program, launched by the City of Birmingham, also provides students with coaches to help them succeed in college — the most helpful tool, according to Nelson-Miles.

“Young people like Destiny Nelson-Miles are the reason my office initially launched Birmingham Promise, and why the Birmingham City Council and I continue to support this program,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “With partners like UAB, we are removing barriers and allowing our young people to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential.”

“The finance program at UAB is awesome,” Nelson-Miles said. “It gives a lot of opportunities to explore the many different disciplines in finance. Collat does a really good job of getting finance majors hands-on experience.”

Building Social Capital

Nelson-Miles was a junior when she joined UAB as she had already completed freshman and sophomore hours as a high schooler. As an early college scholar, she understood how to be a college student academically; but navigating through and building a social network was an adjustment for her, she says. Nelson-Miles was able to cultivate a vast network of students and professionals thanks to many involvement experiences on campus and off campus.

On campus, she has been a business peer mentor as well as a Collat Scholar, helping incoming freshmen acclimate to being business students at UAB. She has also served as the UAB Housing Department’s learning community mentor, helping students living on campus with their academics, as well as elevating their professional careers through resume assistance.

“Through events with these organizations, I was able to make a ton of new friends and meet people from all different backgrounds,” Nelson-Miles said. “I also attended events like Free Food for Thought and Queer Peers. Student organization events really bring people together, and that’s how I met most of my friends.”

Feeding The Curiosity

Destiny Nelson-Miles has been named Outstanding Finance Student 2023 by the Collat School of Business.

Nelson-Miles’ business honors concentration, which focused on exploring leadership and researching business topics, was a perfect fit for her curious personality.

“In this concentration, we take classes that help shape our leadership styles and explore different topics in business,” she said. “My favorite class was CEO Strategy as it helped me understand ways that strategy impacts general management decisions and others. A CEO can flip the company upside down or make it into an entity that is truly successful, and exploring this concept through multiple case studies was remarkable. The course makes you analyze and think critically as it concludes with students’ developing better leadership skills and decision-making strategies.”

As part of this program, she conducted a yearlong research project under Regions Institute for Financial Education Endowed Professor Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., on The Effects of Purchasing Power on Cryptocurrency Usage.

For this research, Nelson-Miles won first place in the business category at the fall Undergraduate Research Expo and says that “it was an eye-opening experience to see how research can truly impact how we make decisions.”

Applying Finance Skills

During her academic career, Nelson-Miles interned with Jones Valley Teaching Farm, helping them with their financial operations.

“Collat does a phenomenal job of connecting students to employers,” she said. “We get exposed to many internship and job opportunities, whether they’re through employer pop-ins or career fairs.”

Impressed with her work ethic, Jones Valley Teaching Farm promoted Destiny as the finance and administration specialist. In this role, she assisted with daily financial operations, prepared financial reports, organized reports for annual audits and researched market opportunities for new earned revenue initiatives.

Looking Forward

Nelson-Miles is taking a wealth of financial knowledge from UAB gained through many different outlets, such as Beta Alpha Psi, the Financial Management Association at UAB, the National Association of Black Accountants, and the Green and Gold Fund, which is a student-run investment fund at the Collat School of Business, among others.

“I learned a lot and dove deeper into finance through these experiences, and I had a lot of fun,” Nelson-Miles said. “I was very curious about financial management, and as a financial analyst for the Utilities Sector of the Green and Gold Fund, I learned many useful lessons about investments by exploring different companies.”

Nelson-Miles is certified in Bloomberg Market Concepts, Wall Street Prep Microsoft Excel and Business Research Toolkit, all of which will help her in her professional journey as she will start her first full-time job as an FDP analyst at Regions in June.