Patry Romero, from Spain, Adapts to U.S. Life

Patry Romero, from Spain, poses at school in Birmingham.
Patricia Romero made her first trip to the United States in 2010. She stayed for almost a year, and then returned in August 2013 and has been here since. Her hometown is Avila, Spain, which is about an hour car ride from the capital city of Madrid. She ended up in Birmingham because of a study abroad opportunity through her work. She now takes classes as well as teaches upper level classes at Samford University.

“Avila is a very small town, so you can walk everywhere, and here you cannot,” Romero said of the biggest differences between Birmingham and her native city. She also cited larger portion sizes for foods in the U.S., especially beverages and sides.

She said that people in the Birmingham area have helped her a lot, especially in their patience as she learned English. She has also found a community of other international visitors to Birmingham. She has friends from many different Latin American countries as well as parts of Asia with whom she has bonded.

Learning English has been difficult, but the U.S. accent was the hardest part for Romero. She took English for seven years in school, and she said it was frustrating to be able to understand a television show but unable to understand people talking to her. She said that she still prefers to speak Spanish when she can.

She said that in Spain, people believe “the typical things” about Americans.

“They eat hamburgers and hot dogs all the time and people are fat. Oh and of course you receive a gun when you open a bank account in Alabama,” she said for example. She said the people know about Alabama due to the song and movie “Sweet Home Alabama” and also “Forrest Gump.”

After completing her study abroad program, Romero will be returning to Spain. She will forever be grateful for the experience she gained during her stays in the States.

Most Likely To Succeed: Dillon Hodges

Born and raised in Florence, Ala., Dillon Hodges has been surrounded by Bluegrass music all his life. But when the 22-year-old singer/songwriter began his own career, he had one goal in mind.

“I try to make the music that’s true to who I am and music that I would want to listen to…music that’s appealing to everyone,” Hodges says. “I like to expose new music to people that they wouldn’t normally listen to.”KWDillonHodges3

Hodges graduated from the University of North Alabama in May 2012 with a double major in accounting and entertainment management. He started playing guitar when he was 11 years old, and has since learned mandolin and banjo as well.

“From the time I was 11, I played at the Fiddler’s Cafe in Tuscumbia, Ala., every Friday night until I was probably 16 or 17,” Hodges says. “It definitely got me over the heeby jeebies of playing on stage and talking in front of people. I was a really shy kid before that.”

Hodges has played several shows throughout the South, and his first album, “Rumspringa,” will be coming out May 14.

Hodges currently lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife Elise, and hopes to continue furthering his career as an artist.

“As long as I’m able to make a decent living making music I’ll be happy,” Hodges says. “The artist thing is certainly what I love the most, but whether it’s writing songs or teaching guitar lessons or playing…as long as I’m making music I’ll be happy.”

For more information about Hodges and his upcoming album visit

Photo provided by Dillon Hodges

Corey White’s first season shows prosperous future

Corey White August 17, 2012

In the spring of 2008, Dunwoody, Ga. native Corey White signed on to play football at Samford University in Birmingham. Little did White know that four years later, he would be trying out for NFL coaches and scouts, eventually becoming the highest draft pick in Samford history and playing professional football for the New Orleans Saints.

White, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back was drafted as the 162nd pick overall, impressing the Saints with his ability to cover receivers in big-game situations.

“[On draft day] I was at my house in Atlanta, watching on TV,” White says. “When they called I couldn’t hear anything because my family was so loud. I didn’t really even know who called until they showed my name. I almost broke into tears.”

Getting to the NFL from a school such as Samford is no easy task. In fact, only one other Samford product, Cortland Finnegan, has played at the professional level. However, the school is becoming more successful in producing professional football players; a big part of that was when Samford hired Sam Shade as cornerbacks coach in 2009.

Shade, who helped prepare White for his NFL tryouts, spent nine seasons as a professional football player and brought a fresh perspective to Samford’s coaching staff.

“When Coach Shade came in and took over the defensive backs with his pro experience, he really helped me learn how to be a better player and a better person,” White says. “He knows what it takes to survive as a pro athlete. He’s got four children and a beautiful wife. At Samford I was able to sit down and talk to him about life as well as football.”

White recorded 31 tackles and an interception in his rookie season in a backup role with the Saints. He started four games as a fifth defensive back, including in a nationally televised game against the Denver Broncos.

His first NFL interception helped the Saints to a 31-27 win over White’s hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons. White’s interception came early in the third quarter and led to a Saints touchdown.

“The first time playing my home team, I was very prepared,” White says. “I got several tackles and a key third down stop, and then that interception. It was very special playing that kind of game against the Falcons.”

A knee injury cut White’s 2012 season short, but now that he has a year’s experience under his belt, the second-year defensive back is ready to take more of a leadership role on the 2013 Saints defense.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” he says. “We’ve got a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan, who has coached some pretty intense defenses. I love intense defensive coordinators so I’m looking forward to him.”

White hopes that his success, along with the experience of Samford’s coaching staff, will help bring more attention to his alma mater.

“What I do and what they see Nick [Williams, a fellow Samford football player] do is an example,” White said. “We’ve got the talent, now we need to get the scouts coming out. Maybe in a couple of years, once we put someone in the league from here on down, teams will notice.”

Photo provided by Michael Hebert (New Orleans Saints)

How Skateboarding is Thriving in Birmingham

During these tough economic times, it is always encouraging to hear about the prosperity of local businesses.

In the thick of revitalizing 2nd Avenue North, Faith Skateboard Supply has stayed strong though the recession and extended its reach throughout the Birmingham community since opening in 1995.

Peter Karvoven, the owner of Faith Skateboard Supply, understands the impact a sport like skateboarding can have around the Birmingham community.

Not only does Faith Skateboard Supply support local skateboard professionals, but the store also hosts demos and builds skate venues since the Birmingham area doesn’t have many options.

And that is what makes Faith Skateboard Supply’s drive to build up the skateboard community even more important. In an interview with, Karvoven says that Birmingham talks about expanding the skateboarding culture, but for the most part has failed to follow through.

“The [skateboarding] culture is amazing,” Karoven says to “It’s just that Birmingham is so far behind that they don’t understand how popular skateboarding really is.”

With the rejuvenation of downtown, the likelihood of skateboarding expanding in the city grows stronger. Although skateboarding is behind in Birmingham, Karvoven hopes that Faith Skateboard Supply will continue to grow in the coming years.

“Retail is a hard thing these days, since everything is online or at the mall,” Karvoven adds in the interview. “But there’s a certain nostalgia to independent retail still. Hopefully, people still continue to believe in it and feel it.”

Photo taken by

Video of demos from Faith Skate Supply

Who is Bennie Seltzer? A look at the Samford men’s basketball coach

MBB v. GSU 12.12

Samford men’s basketball head coach Bennie Seltzer is no stranger to the Birmingham area. Seltzer, who just completed his first season at Samford, has deep ties with the city.

Seltzer played basketball at Birmingham’s A. H. Parker High School, graduating in 1989. From there, the guard traveled across the country to play college basketball while earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Washington State University.

“I wasn’t the most talented player on the court, but I was tough and had to play hard on every play,” Seltzer says. “That was all I had. Playing hard was my ability.”

After a professional playing career, which took him throughout Europe and Venezuela, Seltzer was hired by his former college coach Kelvin Sampson to be an assistant coach with the Oklahoma Sooners in 1997.

“I always knew that I wanted to do something that involved basketball,” Seltzer said. “Once the professional phone calls stopped coming as often as I thought they should, I realized that I needed to find out what to do with the rest of my life.”

After nine years at Oklahoma, Seltzer began coaching at Marquette under head coach Tom Crean. When Crean moved to Indiana, Seltzer joined him.

A little more than a year ago, April 5, 2012, Seltzer became the 27th head coach for men’s basketball in Samford’s history. His Birmingham heritage has helped him rebuild a program that was last successful in 2008.

In addition to his familiarity with Birmingham, Seltzer was hired for his player development.

In his first year, Seltzer led Samford to a fifth-place finish in Southern Conference play. The Bulldogs had been picked to finish last in the twelve-team conference. Their success was largely based on Seltzer’s guidance of players such as Tyler Hood, who came back from a hand injury to close out the 2013 season averaging 9.8 points per game.

“He put us through a lot of different drills in the off-season and brought in his expertise to help me develop individually and us as a team,” Hood says.

Photo courtesy of Samford Athletics.

The heart and soul behind the Bajalieh family restaurants

If you’re craving the perfect combination of traditional and modern foods that guarantee quality and delectability, the Bajalieh family has what you’re looking for.

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Sol Bajalieh came to the United States in 1965, and three years later Sol’s Sandwich Shop & Deli was up and running. Today, the restaurant lives on through his wife, Nadia, and his three sons, Jeff, Chris and Jason.

“He ran the restaurant forever,” Nadia says. “It was all he’d ever done, he did that his whole life. After he passed away [in 2004] the boys wanted to carry on his legacy.”

In 1995 the restaurant, then located in the original John Hand building, was condemned, and Sol’s Deli was temporarily out of a home. Thirteen years later, the family name lives on through its delicious meals and authenticity.

“A lot of people would approach us wanting us to reopen it, but it’s a lot of work. We finally reopened it five years ago in July.”

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In addition to Sol’s, the family owns and operates Slice, a gourmet pizza and beer restaurant in Lakeview that opened in June of 2011.

“We needed to expand and the opportunity came about in a great area,” Chris says. “We were already familiar with the pizza business and wanted to step it up into a gourmet style pizza.”

Both restaurants place a huge emphasis on food quality and customer satisfaction. They support the local market, make their vegetables fresh daily and Nadia’s soups are all made from scratch.

“When things are fresh and people know it, you don’t have to advertise,” Chris says. “People are gonna come back.”

Nadia says her goal is to continue training the boys so they can carry it on after her. She loves what she does, and the customers play a huge role in that.

“Cooking is my passion, I enjoy it,” she says. “Customers are always walking through telling me how delicious it is, and that’s the payoff for me. That makes it all worthwhile.”

For store hours and menu items visit both of the Bajalieh family restaurants’ websites: and

Photos courtesy of Beau Gustafson


Samford Alum Living the Dream

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Often times, college students are defined by what they do after graduation. For Josh Sizemore, who graduated from Samford University less than a year ago, he’s living the dream.

During the day, he’s supporting himself through odd jobs like working in a cupcake truck for nine months or assisting a photographer. But at night, he strums his guitar and sings his heart out for those who come to hear his concerts.

He categorizes his music as “folk rock and a little bit gritty,” with a straightforward conversational tone that has developed over time. Sizemore says being a musician is something he thought about even as a kid.

“I started playing the piano at seven years old and picked up a guitar around 14,” Sizemore says. “I started writing songs midway through high school and once I started, it became something I thought about constantly.”

Despite the number of odd jobs he’s had to maintain while pursuing his music career, Sizemore has been able to find time to play in concerts and have a music video produced. He also played alongside the band War Jacket in a cover video of Kathleen Edwards’ “Going to Hell.”

“I’ve been working some random jobs since graduating, but those types of jobs are great, because they give you flexibility, but you definitely sacrifice some financial freedom,” he says.

Balancing his time between work and his music, it’s the music that has been the most thrilling and satisfying aspect of his post-college life.

“I get a real thrill out of writing and creating music,” Sizemore says. “There’s something deeply satisfying to me, even if no one ends up hearing the finished product.”

“My main goal is just to be a better writer and hopefully have some kind of audience to share the experience with.”

Photo and video by Jacob Davis

Music Video: The Beauty That I See

Anna Boyd: A Young Entrepreneur


Social media is booming and so are opportunities for young social media gurus, like Anna Boyd.

Boyd, a senior entrepreneurship major at Samford University, plans to use society’s growing dependence on social media to her advantage.

Boyd has utilized social media to promote the purchase of t-shirts she personally designed, and is in the beginning stages of creating a business plan for a website to enter into a competition in the spring. Boyd also acts as a social media manager for a shopping center called Lakeside Village Center in Orlando, Fla.

“I have always had a special interest for social media and I love the personal touch you can have with customers that you might not be able to have without it,” Boyd says.

Boyd has the upper hand when it comes to resources thanks to Samford’s business incubator program. The incubator will supply her with resources, council and space as she pursues these business ventures.

Boyd was chosen to participate because of her success in an entrepreneurship class competition in Spring 2013. During the competition, she displayed business savvy and impressed faculty members.

“In my class competition, each student was given $100 to start a company, so I chose to sell homemade cookies and spring break t-shirts to Samford students,” Boyd says. “It turned out to be extremely successful. I generated $6,000 in revenue and placed first in my class.”

Samford professor and incubator director, Franz Lohrke, encouraged Boyd to pursue this passion with the help of the incubator.

“One of the big problems new businesses face is they have to rent a store probably a month or two before opening the doors and they have to rent space to have meetings with clients. If it’s the first time someone is starting a business, they may or may not know all the possible roadblocks and places you can get in trouble,” Lohrke says.

Lohrke hopes the business incubator will supply new student companies with everything they need to jump the hurdles involved in launching a new business and avoid common pitfalls.

“The role of an incubator is to give a business a home, and obviously an incubator protects and nurtures and allows something to grow, such as a new business,” Lohrke says.

The Samford incubator will provide students with a free space to work and hold conferences with potential clients and free use of common facilities such as a copy machine. Most importantly, incubator participants will be working in close proximity to the professors of the Brock School of Business who can provide advice and help these young entrepreneurs network within the Birmingham area and beyond.

“I definitely hope that the different things I try this year in the incubator will carry over after school,” Boyd says. “I would love to have my have my own successful business someday.”


Photos by Courtney Price

Lisa Gibbs dances her way through life

lisa gibbs smile before jump

Lisa Gibbs, Coordinator of Dance at Samford University, has danced since the age of 10, mostly ballet and modern, and holds the art close to her heart.

“I wanted to be Nadia Comaneci,” Gibbs says.

That is the reason she took a ballet class for gymnasts as a young child. She continued to dance, dancing with professional companies, as she grew older.

“I worked with the Alabama Ballet; I was in the Corps de Ballet when Wes Chapman first came in ‘96,” Gibbs says. “I performed in their Nutcracker and their Cinderella, and took classes with them,” she says, “but at that point in time I was also dancing with Southern Dance Works, which is a modern company.”

Gibbs has always tried to take some sort of ballet class and only recently stopped within the past two years.

“I’ve always taken ballet classes, though. I used to get to take company class; Roger (Van Fleteren, Associate Artistic Director at the Alabama Ballet) still lets me take company class, but I’m not in that shape anymore,” she says.

Gibbs is in school at The University of Alabama, getting her doctorate in higher education and is also taking online courses through the National Dance Education Organization. Her ultimate goal is to get a dance educator certificate, so she can create a dance major at Samford. She wants to be able to provide students with a unique dance education program that will teach them crucial information that will benefit them when they graduate, all while indulging their passion for dance.

“I’m leaning towards having it be a dance education degree, as opposed to a performance and choreography degree, which is what most dance majors are in nearly all schools,” Gibbs says. “I think dance education is a good thing. Education is a good back up, and it’s important.”

Photo Courtesy of Bryan Johnson

Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 4/4): The Dichotomy of Lifestyle & What it All Means


Need a refresher on what we’ve discussed so far with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? Visit Part 1 (MBTI Basics and the Dichotomy of Energy), Part 2 (The Dichotomy of Learning), and Part 3 (The Dichotomy of Decision Making).

The dichotomy of lifestyle

The final dichotomy of the MBTI, Judging & Perceiving, refers to how we tend to live and structure our lives. Traits of these letters are often very obvious to those we interact with.

J for Judging
The first thing to understand is that “judging” does not mean “judgemental.” As a Judger, you prefer your world to be structured and organized. You want to have things settled and in order, and you’re much more comfortable after a decision has been reached. You love your lists, and if it’s on the list it is going to get done. You are very task-oriented, though sometimes you hyper-focus on one thing and end up missing new information. Thankfully for the rest of the world, deadlines are your forte, and you tend to do your work ahead of time to avoid the last-minute rush.

P for Perceiving
P in this sense could easily stand for “procrastination.” While Judgers make lists and check things off, you’ll make a list, only to never look at it again. You are prone to bursts of energy and spontaneity, and you would much rather understand the world than attempt to organize it. For you, work has to have an element of fun or it will never keep your attention. You adapt very well to change and work well under pressure. And though you may be able to function normally at the last minute, be aware of how you are using other people’s time.

(Please note: being organized or unorganized in the physical world is not necessarily an indicator of the Judging or Perceiving functions, respectively.)

The biggest confusion with the dichotomy of lifestyle is that we often feel like we are “supposed” to be Judgers because traditional school and work environments tend to be geared towards that type. This leads a lot of people to mistype as a Judger when they are actually a Perceiver. While Perceivers may have come to appreciate deadlines and structure, this does not mean they would prefer them in the majority of situations. In the same way, Judgers may recognize the value of spontaneity, but they most likely will not want it that way all the time.

As has been mentioned in the previous articles, no one is ever a “pure type.” You might be a strong Judger, but this does not mean that you have no Perceiving function in you. You simply act on it with much less frequency than someone who scores as a Perceiver.

The bottom line

The absolute most crucial thing to remember about the MBTI is that you are the way you are, and that is why your results came out how they did. Your MBTI type does not define you—you define it.

April Robinson, a certified administrator of the MBTI through the Center for the Application of Psychological Type, says, “The indicator has a lot of useful, practical purposes. It can be very helpful in many situations. But don’t let it define you.”

The MBTI is not a “personality test.” It simply indicates preference— which way you most often fall on four different dichotomies.

“These [the types and letters] are not static definitions but dynamic descriptions,” Robinson says. “It’s just opening another avenue of communication.”

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long