In the spring of 2000, I embarked on a journey to Birmingham, a move that promised new academic challenges and cultural experiences. A deep sense of isolation marked my initial days.
This sense of solitude shifted when I reached out to the Rotary Club of Birmingham, an act that serendipitously led me to Ms. Betty Morrison. Betty, with her dignified aura and profound warmth, became a guiding star in my life. Our first meeting at the Great Wall of China restaurant evolved into regular Sunday brunches, where we found common ground in our love for art, literature, and culture.
Betty introduced me to a world rich in each of these by welcoming me into her home and sharing her diverse friendships with me. Her home was like a melting pot, hosting gatherings that resembled a miniature United Nations. The ambiance of her home, filled with the harmony of different languages and the aroma of various cuisines, was a testament to her inclusive spirit.
One of the most significant experiences was when Betty invited me to her church, Independent Presbyterian Church. This visit was a profound gesture of inclusion, showcasing her respect for my beliefs and her desire to share hers with me. Aware of my background and practices, the church community welcomed me with open arms. Their accommodating my prayer needs during Ramadan was a touching display of interfaith harmony and respect.
Betty's advocacy also extended to my academic life, addressing challenges with a resolve that reshaped my experience at UAB. She was instrumental in securing scholarships and a crucial internship, significantly easing my financial struggles.
In moments of despair, Betty’s wisdom shone through. She introduced me to "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl, "Psycho-Cybernetics" by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, and "Seeds of Greatness" by Denis Waitley. These books and the enriching experiences at her gatherings and church visits became cornerstones of my personal growth and resilience.
Reflecting on these years, I recognize that my pursuit of professional success led to a neglect of personal fulfillment. Betty’s enduring influence has now inspired me to embrace my full potential, to live meaningfully, and to give back, honoring the profound impact she had on my life.
Enam Haque is Senior Vice President of Strategy at Episode Solutions. He lived in Birmingham from 2000-2011 and earned his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from UAB. Enam was born in Bangladesh and grew up in Qatar. He now lives in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife and two children.