Tusaloosa, AL (April 14, 2014) -When Stillman College sophomore Elizabeth Caver stepped on stage during the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Evening of Stars program on BET-TV last night, her friends in Roulhac Hall cheered spontaneously as they gathered around a television to watch her. Elizabeth, the recipient of a $25,000 UNCF/Target Rising Stars Scholarship, rendered Stillmanites beyond proud when she gracefully and humbly addressed the star-studded audience. She was highlighted during a segment that included extensive footage of her sharing her life story, and explaining how seeing her valiant mother battle rheumatoid arthritis inspired her dreams of becoming a medical doctor and conducting research.
Because the program was taped in Atlanta on April 6th, Elizabeth was able to join her friends in the residence hall as they viewed the Evening of Stars. At the urging of the crowd, she modestly agreed to stand beside the television to be photographed as her segment aired.
During the taped program, Elizabeth appeared as comfortable and confident on the television screen as a seasoned entertainer. She credits UNCF for preparing her well.
“We practiced everything during rehearsal, and hair and makeup was so much fun,” she exclaimed, cheerfully sharing the details of her trip to Atlanta to tape the program.
“On Friday, at the welcoming ceremony, I met Anthony Anderson. It was my first encounter with a celebrity. He teased me because my mouth fell wide open when I saw him,” she laughs. During rehearsals, Elizabeth recalls seeing a slew of famous celebrities. “I felt humbled because celebrities and other people were looking at us and trying to take photos of us.”
Although she admits that it was fascinating to hobnob with the stars, Elizabeth never lost sight of the true purpose of being at the taping.
“This has had a very big impact. Not only has it been great for me, but it’s also an inspiration for other people. I’m from Birmingham and many of the students I went to high school with became teen parents. Many didn’t go to college,” she says.
Not only has this dynamic young biology major gone to college. She has excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. She was named a Promising Researcher at Stillman’s 2nd Annual Research Symposium. In addition, she was recently named Miss Black Alabama US Ambassador and will represent the state of Alabama as she competes in the pageant for a national title this summer. She will also be featured in the summer issue of Tuscaloosa Magazine.
Elizabeth credits her parents, who were in the audience during the Evening of Stars taping, for helping her to beat the odds and avoid the mistakes that keep many youth from reaching their potential. “My biggest motivation was my parents. I was always afraid of how they would feel if I made bad choices. I’ve avoided so many mistakes in life because I’ve seen how other people have had to struggle because of the mistakes they made. I’ve learned so much about what not to do just by watching what others have done. I really don’t want to fail. I want to be successful and accomplish things.”
“In high school, I knew I wanted to do something to help other people,” she says thoughtfully. “Being a doctor will allow me to help others.”
Elizabeth says that she has been fortunate to be surrounded by people who have encouraged and assisted her. “Dr. Andy (Anathbandhu Chaudhuri) has been a big influence. I’m doing research in his lab on fruit flies and alcohol addiction. Dr. Andy works with students to help us better understand difficult material. Also, he encourages me to keep my grades up and he inspired me to participate in the Research Symposium and to also participate in a biomedical research symposium in Nashville. He wrote a recommendation letter for me for the Rising Stars scholarship.”
She says that she is also grateful to Stillman Scholarship Director Christi Hitt. “I almost didn’t apply for the Rising Stars scholarship. I thought I wouldn’t get it. I was really busy and there was so much competition. When I told Ms. Hitt that I might not have time to apply, she said, ‘What are you talking about, Elizabeth. You can’t afford not to.’”
Elizabeth becomes tearful when she thinks about all that her mother has endured and how being a Rising Star has allowed her to share her mother’s story on national television.
While all of Elizabeth’s recent accomplishments are impressive, she hints that she has only just begun. “There are a lot more steps that I have to take,” she insists. “I have to put my A game on and go for it.”