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July 31, 2014
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July 31, 2014
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February 16, 2010
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF DR. A.D. JOHNSON

In my fourth year at UAH, I was finishing my undergraduate studies and needed one more course to continue to have full-time status in order to remain on my Dad’s car insurance. I decided to maintain full-time status. I needed to seek out a professor that would allow me to take a senior course that involved work in his lab.

I went to see Dr. Johnson. I had taken a cell biology course from him, but did not personally know of him any other way. I was not tactful with my request, but I was very honest. I explained the situation: I need these three hours to remain a full-time student, but did not need the hours to graduate that semester. He was not impressed. He inquired as to why I would come to him. He questioned why I wanted to work in his lab after he pointed out that I had no idea what kind of research he was doing. Finally, he told me to seek out the kind of research and come back in a couple of days. I went away and found his research goals. Two days later I returned to his office with knowledge about his research interest.

Dr. Johnson demonstrated grace and mercy and agreed to let me in his lab. I worked in his lab for the entire semester. He had me doing histology studies, and also working with him on infertility studies. I graduated in December and had a semester free before going to Optometry School. He hired me as a graduate assistant to teach his intro anatomy and physiology labs in addition to working with undergrad students.

Later that semester, I was offered and took a job with a TVA contractor. I worked for a wildlife fishery group. During this time, I continued to work for Dr. Johnson in his lab. He kept reminding me to focus on becoming an optometrist and not counting dead fish. I kept the job anyway and, later that year, left for Optometry School.

After finishing Optometry School and returning to Alabama to practice, he called and asked me to serve on the Pre-professional Advisory Committee at UAHunstville. The group meets every semester to interview students applying for professional schools. He sent several pre-optometry students to Athens to spend a day in the office. In 2007, he started a class that all pre-professional students would be required to take. Every year, I presented an Optometry lecture.

The last time I was with Dr. Johnson was three months ago. In my lecture, I added a section about Today. I talked to them about understanding the desire as a student to be at the next phase. Everyone has a goal in mind and they want to be there immediately. What gets lost in that life is Today. I asked them to find that in their studies and future profession. Dr. Johnson responded to that. He asked me to keep that and share it with all the future groups. He said that is what we need.

Today I wanted to honor his memory. I wanted to honor the fact that he gave me a chance. I was an average student. Not even close to the type of student that usually gets the opportunity to be in a PhD professor’s lab. He knew it and I knew it, but he gave me a chance. I want to live in that same Grace and Mercy as people walk by me.

Dr. Chad Davis
Davisicare
Athens, Alabama
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