Born and raised in Montgomery, AL., Anna-Margaret Yarbrough completed her bachelor’s degree at Miami University in organizational communication with minors in both marketing and history. She explained the biggest takeaway from her undergraduate career was studying abroad in Luxembourg, Italy and South Africa where she designed a research project focused on comparing the cultural struggles facing South Africa and the southern United States. During her time overseas, one major struggle continued to stand out. “It all came back to the educational system,” she said. “My experience abroad is what guided me back to my home state.”
Anna-Margaret’s dream is to impact the lives of children and those who are working toward the same ambition of creating equal opportunity learning environments. “Everyone wants to partner with each other in an effort to help students. A lifelong goal of mine is to collaborate with campus professionals and students so that they can help each other develop and maintain an equal and healthy learning community for all.”
Currently pursuing her PhD in Higher Education Administration, Anna-Margaret came to UA in 2011 to continue researching racial inequalities in the South. A driving factor in her return to Alabama was her desire to be in a place where she could help provide solutions for racial disparities in schools.
Rosalind Moore, director of Graduate Student Services and Anna-Margaret’s supervisor, said she is very impressed with Anna Margaret’s ability to build rapport with other graduate students. “Anna-Margaret is the type of student who cares about the engagement of others. She seeks out solutions to problems and is well respected by her peers,” Moore said.
Serving as a graduate assistant in Student Affairs is very meaningful to Anna-Margaret because she is able to serve as a resource for other graduate students and work with a diverse population. When asked about some of the challenges she faces, Anna-Margaret mentioned the unique position that graduate students present due to their diverse nature. “Some are straight out of their undergraduate programs, others are older adults and some are parents,” she said. Because of this, designing programs that are meant for the majority of the graduate student population is complex. According to Anna-Margaret, Graduate Student Services approaches these challenges by focusing on programs for smaller groups within the larger population.
Part of Anna-Margaret’s commitment to the UA community involves her work with an orientation program sponsored by GSS at the beginning of each semester, along with other events such as “Fridays @ Five” for graduate students. As a graduate student herself, she benefits by being able to attend these events while gaining valuable experience through her role as event organizer. In her dual roles as student and campus professional, Anna-Margaret keeps herself busy. She is a member of the Blackburn Institute and was recently accepted as a Scholars for Community, Outreach, Partnership, & Engagement (SCOPE) Fellow. She is also helping with Al’s Pals, a mentoring program for students at Mackenzie Court Community Center and Oakdale Elementary School, by working with volunteers and student mentors who help kids begin participating in community engagement.
In all of her work, Anna-Margaret is most passionate about helping others and improving programs for the common good. She continues to find ways to improve graduate students’ experiences and promote collaboration throughout UA. She wants everyone to feel a great sense of community. “Graduate students have needs just like undergraduates and Graduate Student Services is helping by letting them know that there is a community outside of their departments and that they aren’t alone,” she said.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.