This Huntsville native is thriving at UNA’s Cole Honors Collegeā€”3 reasons why


Haley Woodard UNA Cole Honors College
Buckhorn High School graduate Haley Woodard has hit her stride at UNA. (Sam Thigpen / UNA)

It doesn’t take much convincing for me to believe that the University of North Alabama is a special place. But, after talking to UNA junior Haley Woodard, any questions I may have had previously are completely gone.

A few things have been instrumental in Woodard’s college experience thus far: The friends she’s met through things like the Baptist Campus Ministries and the College of Education and Human Sciences Ambassador Program, and the opportunities she’s been afforded through UNA’s Delores and Weldon Cole Honors College.

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Meet Haley Woodard

Woodard is a kinesiology major and exercise science minor with a concentration in pre-professional studies. Though she isn’t quite sure what she wants to do after graduation yet, she hopes to use her undergraduate degree to launch into a career in physical therapy or occupational therapy.

The Huntsville native and Buckhorn High School graduate said she loves UNA’s proximity to home and the small-town feel that Florence has.

Here are three ways that the Cole Honors College at UNA has impacted Woodard’s college experience thus far:

1. Unique educational opportunities

So, what could convince a Huntsville native to leave town for college? For Woodard, it had to do with the campus culture that UNA offered.

“[UNA] is a smaller college, so I knew coming in that I would have a better chance at growing those really close relationships with my professors and getting to know more people around campus.”

Haley Woodard, UNA Cole Honors College student

Her involvement with the Honors College only increased these opportunities to grow close to professors. Honors students at UNA complete 18 hours of honors coursework during their undergrad years in order to graduate from the program. Some students, like Woodard, take regular classes on an honors contract. This allows students to receive honors credit for a standard class by adding an extra project or an assignment of interest to the student.

Woodard has exercised this option regularly to get honors credit for her kinesiology courses. In addition to an enriched learning experience, the honors contract allows Woodard to spend more time building a relationship with her professors than she otherwise would have.

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2. Career goal crystallization

Haley Woodard Cole Honors College
The Cole Honors College has given Woodard the chance to explore her career options with hands-on experience. (Sam Thigpen / UNA)

Like most college juniors, Woodard isn’t quite sure yet what she wants to do after her four years are complete. But, that’s not stopping her from trying to get hands-on experience in everything the field of exercise science and kinesiology has to offer.

That’s thanks, in part, to a conversation she had with Vince Brewton, the Dean of the Honors College. Woodard originally went to Brewton to seek guidance as she makes a plan for graduate school. His advice? For Woodard to “put herself out there” and get as much hands-on experience in her field as possible.

That advice led her to take a job as a tech at Shoals Hospital earlier this year, which has in turn allowed her to gain real-world experience in the medical field while growing her network of therapists and other medical professionals.

3. Connectivity on and off campus

Haley Woodard Cole Honors College
In addition to Honors College activities, Woodard is involved with the Baptist Campus Ministries. (Haley Woodard)

Woodard’s favorite Honors College event to date serves as another example of the close-knit community that UNA fosters. Dr. Ken Kitts, UNA’s President, hosted a dinner on the lawn of the President’s Home that Woodard was invited to attend. Kitts hosted the dinner alongside his family, interacting with students and highlighting what a close-knit community UNA is.

Saying “yes” to Honors College events has also given Woodard the opportunity to get more involved with the off-campus community.

“It’s not always just campus opportunities, but off-campus opportunities to get more acquainted with the area around campus and Florence in general. I feel more comfortable just being a part of the Honors College.”

Haley Woodard, UNA Honors College student

Learn more about the unique educational opportunities offered through the Delores and Weldon Cole Honors College at UNA.

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Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips
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