Ursula Lindsey with her cap and gown

Air Force Reserve Medic Overcomes Tragedy to Earn Degree

Perseverance, resilience, drive — those are merely words until they’ve been seen in action. One senior at The University of Alabama, who embodies all of these attributes in astounding measure, believes she can turn her struggles into helping other students find these qualities in themselves.

Meet Ursula Lindsey of Eufaula, a first-generation student who will earn her bachelor’s degree in human environmental sciences on Dec. 16. She also believes anyone can do hard things.

Some of those hard things Lindsey has endured since arriving on campus in the fall of 2017 include her mother’s two aneurysms and the sudden deaths of her aunt, long-time boyfriend and two cousins.

She often helps her mother assist and care for her niece and nephews — all while working four jobs (one as a medic in the Air Force Reserve) and volunteering her time on campus and with Therapeutic Riding of Tuscaloosa.

“Just about every semester, someone passed away,” said Lindsey, who is also taking five classes in her final semester. “But there were always people encouraging me to keep going.”

She has made it her mission to ensure her peers know they can succeed in the face of adversity as well. “I used school to get away from all the personal stuff, but life still happens. I always say tomorrow is coming.”

Lindsey credits the support she found at the Capstone for showing her what she was capable of and making sure her goals were achieved.

“I met with [HES academic program coordinator] Karen Carpenter and she helped me a lot,” she said. “She told me, ‘You have a plan and more importantly you have a story, and we want to help you.’”

Ursula Lindsey pictured in the stands of an Alabama football game.
After years of job conflicts and military deployment, Lindsey finally got to attend a UA Homecoming game in her final semester.

Lindsey took a year off classes when she joined the Air Force to train and would only leave occasionally for deployments to work in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic and combat training or to tend to family matters back home.

The UA faculty and staff in her corner include several professors whom she says graciously worked with her when she couldn’t physically be on campus, Jeffrey Lewis with the Division of Student Life and Dr. Sarah Burcher, an assistant professor in the department of human environmental sciences. 

They helped her make campus connections that have been life-changing, and she wants to do the same. 

“I would love to have a support group for students going through similar things or things they might be embarrassed about,” she said. “I want other students to know the support I had is there for them, too, and they can go through hard things and stay in school.”

Lindsey’s work with students as an Involvement Genius and with Vanguard has inspired her to highlight the community she wished she knew existed when she was a freshman.

“I wanted to dedicate my senior year to working with freshmen and sophomores to show them from the start that they have a community at Alabama. They have people who know what they’re going through and people who want them to be successful,” she said.

Lindsey is taking a well-deserved semester off after graduation but plans to return to the Capstone to earn her master’s degree in public health.

“My dream is to work as a military contractor for the World Health Organization and I believe my Air Force experience and master’s degree will make that possible.”

Perseverance, resilience, drive — Lindsey believes these things are inside every student she meets.

“I strive to be that person for others that I needed,” she said. “Be the person you wish you had.”