After spending 16 years working for The University of Alabama Department of English, former Graduate Coordinator Carol Appling has said her goodbyes. In 1998, Appling took on the role as Program Assistant for Graduate Studies, where she worked solely with the MA/PhD programs. In 2006, she stepped up as the Graduate Coordinator, which allowed her to work with all of the programs.
After graduating high school, Appling had intended to pursue a cosmetology career. She began classes in Business Education at Shelton State after passing her state board exams in cosmetology.
“I finished my degree at Shelton, and then later went back and took additional course work thinking that I wanted to go into either psychology or sociology,” she said. “Over the years, I continued to take courses but never received a degree.
In 1998, Appling found herself in the UA Department of English. During her time as Graduate Program Assistant and Coordinator, she witnessed the department’s rapid growth.
“The biggest change that I noticed about the program, during my time in the department, was the fact that more women are having children while getting their graduate degrees and having a careers,” Appling said. “When I first arrived, none of our graduate students were married and only one of our female faculty had children. Now a large portion of our graduate students and female faculty are parents. It’s great to see women ‘having it all.’”
Additionally, Appling notes that the number of younger faculty members is significantly higher than it was fifteen years ago, and that current students possess the same intelligence and drive as they did when she started.
“My favorite thing about my job always remained the same—the students,” Appling remarked.
In the course of our conversation, Appling also discussed the importance of preserving the Fine Arts and English programs.
“I constantly see people in the fine arts pursuing their passion, perhaps more than people in other degree programs,” she said. “It would be a shame to lose funding for fine arts simply because they aren’t money-making programs.”
When asked what advice she would give the new Graduate Studies Coordinator, Jennifer Fuqua, Appling laughed and said she worked with Fuqua for three years, so she is already qualified and doesn’t need advice.
“But if I were to give her any advice,” she added, “it would be always to be kind, to have patience, and to have fun.”
Appling has been keeping herself busy during her retirement and has picked up some new hobbies. Aside from moving into a new house, she has been working part-time at Northport Pharmacy and Gift Gallery and has joined Fancett Fitness Center, where she goes several days a week to exercise and participate in Zumba classes.
“What I love most about being retired is not waking up to an alarm clock every morning,” she said. “I may still get up at 6:30 a.m., but it’s because I want to, not because I have to.”
(From left to right: Jennifer Fuqua, Carol Appling, Lacee Nisbett, Melinda Fields)