Alumnus Maj. Alexander receives 2023 Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award
Major Ahmad Alexander has been named the 2023 Torch of Excellence Award recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Award on behalf of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health (CPH). Alexander was among nearly 40 UK alumni and students honored at the 32nd annual Lyman T. Johnson Awards Luncheon held October 13 in the Gatton Student Center Grand Ballroom on UK’s campus.
Named for the civil rights pioneer and first African American student to attend the University of Kentucky in 1949, the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award recognizes one African American alumnus from each of the university’s academic colleges whose faith, hard work, and determination has positively affected the lives of people on UK’s campus, the city, nation, or beyond.
“I hold in high esteem the privilege to serve as representation of the Lyman T. Johnson Award,” Maj. Alexander said. “We hold many of the same values and truths. While I cannot compare to the achievements that he accomplished, there are many similarities that we share and hold in high regard.”
Maj. Alexander explained that Mr. Johnson served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. During his time of service, Alexander was underrepresented and faced many challenges.
“We should not discriminate against others because they may be different from us,” he said. “I am thankful for Mr. Johnson’s role in the racial desegregation in Kentucky and at the University of Kentucky. If it was not for his stand, I would not have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from the University of Kentucky with my Master’s in Public Health (Health Policy and Management).”
Finding Public Health
When Alexander was hit by a truck as a five-year-old, his family was told by doctors that he would not survive. Due to the severity of his brain injury, he was placed in a medically induced coma.
“My mother, being an exemplar of faith and determination, did not give up on me,” Maj. Alexander shared.
When he was brought out of the coma several days later, he began many different therapies, including speech therapy.
As an undergrad at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Maj. Alexander was introduced to the field of Communicative Disorders (Speech Pathology and Audiology).
“Touring the department, it brought back memories of my childhood and how others, especially speech-language pathologists, contributed to my recovery and success in life,” he said. “I realized the opportunity to go into the same field and be able to give back to others in the same way in which I was helped.”
Major Alexander graduated from Nicholls State University with an undergraduate degree in Communicative Disorders in 2006. He received a doctorate in audiology from Louisiana Tech University in 2010.
Having enlisted in the Army in 1997, he was given the opportunity to apply for further education while he served overseas in Germany in 2015.
“During my application and interview process, I felt a rapport with the staff at UK. I felt as though the feeling of me being there was mutual. I am so happy that I chose UK because my experience was all that I expected and more,” Maj. Alexander said.
Working as a Chief of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
After graduating in 2018, Alexander owed the Army several years of service that utilized his MPH degree. He applied his skills at the Army Public Health Center in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, before moving to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, to serve as the Chief of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC).
Major Alexander attributes his success and his selection for this role to his MPH degree.
“I certainly used my MPH knowledge and experience during my assignment at Ft. Bliss as I oversaw multiple programs, including the Audiology and Army Hearing Program, Army Public Health Nursing, Army Wellness Center, Environmental Health, Health Physics, Industrial Hygiene, and Occupational Health,” he said.
During his time at WBMAC, Maj. Alexander oversaw many initiatives. He said, as the chief of public health, he was responsible for various programs, which allowed him to have a hands-on approach to the many aspects of public health.
This included leading the Environment Health Program on air quality tests in Army housing, water quality testing and inspections, as well as food establishment inspections across the military installation. Alexander also led the audiology program on noise prevention and protection at gun ranges and other high noise areas on the installation and the Public Health Nursing program on STD prevention program.
Major Alexander retired from the Army in August 2023 and is now Audiology Director at Texas Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists in Houston, Texas.
To learn more about the University of Kentucky College of Public Health’s people, programs, and passion for public health, visit cph.uky.edu.