Alumni Fellows 2022

The Alumni Fellow Program formally recognizes Mitchell College of Business alumni and other community leaders whose personal lives, professional achievements, and contributions to society exemplify the highest ideals of the College and the University. The program encourages Fellows to interact with students and faculty. Fellows engage students by sharing their professional knowledge and experience to enhance career development. Fellows also demonstrate the application of business concepts, enriching faculty instruction. Each Alumni Fellow receives a commemorative award designed and hand-cast by Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, a nationally known sculptor and medalist, and a ceramic sculptured jaguar created by alumnus and nationally recognized representational sculptor Sam Nettles.

Cynthia Littlepage Baber-Strunk

After graduating from the University of South Alabama in 1973 with a B.S in Education, Cynthia Baber-Strunk started her career as a teacher in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Young Educator of Jackson County, and Mississippi Teacher of the Year.

Following the sudden death of her first husband, Baber-Strunk got involved with the family business, while attending Community College to further her knowledge in accounting and finance. Over time, she became Co-President and later CEO of Baber’s Inc, expanding it to a
50-store chain, and growing the business to a multi company organization. After selling all Baber
stores in 2019, the family is focusing on growing the remaining companies: RNR Tire Express,
Dairy Queen, Baber Strunk Enterprises and City Center of Pascagoula, LLC.

Throughout her career, Baber-Strunk served on the Boards of Directors of the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APPRO) and the Rental Industry Buying Group(TRIP). She also functioned as Vice President of APRO and as President of TRIB Group. Baber-Strunk was
awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, President’s Award of Excellence, and National Rental Dealer of the Year.

Cynthia Baber-Strunnk is a native of Butler, Alabama, has four children and ten grandchildren.

Brent Barkin

Brent Barkin earned his B.A. in public policy from Princeton University in 1997, before returning home to the family business. Shoe Station, a 21-store chain, was started by his father Terry Barkin, in 1984. Barkin launched the online Shoe Station portal in 2004, took over the business in 2015 and, in 2020, guided the company through the COVID pandemic. At the close of 2021, Barkin negotiated Shoe Carnival’s acquisition of Shoe Station, where he serves as Senior Vice President of New Business Development and Integration.

At the Mitchell College of Business the Barkin Family established a scholarship to honor his late father’s legacy. He has provided learning opportunities to students through career readiness and retail certification programs and helped founding the Retail Certificate Program. Barkin’s insight as a board member of the Professional Readiness Engagement Program shaped the college’s unique workplace preparation curriculum.

Barkin’s service to the community has ranged from raising over $3 million as the Campaign Chair for the United Way of Southwest Alabama, to hosting talented scholarship hopefuls over two weeks for the Distinguished Women of America’s National Finals.

He currently resides in Fairhope Alabama with his wife Lauren and children Joseph (13), Jackson (6) and Jenny (5).

Dr. Gia Wiggins

Dr. Gia Wiggins, a Mobile native, earned her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Grambling State University and an MBA from California State University, before returning home to receive a PhD in Business Administration from the University of South Alabama.

Over the course of 22 years in Human Resource Management, Wiggins has worked with companies such as AT&T, Cintas, Target, and BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards and engaged in community service activities on behalf of several committees and organizations, including the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Shore Chamber, Daphne Kappa League Advisory Board and RAMP. Wiggins also serves
as the Vice President of Advocacy for the National Association of Women Business Owners Alabama Chapter. Wiggins is an alumna of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. Her work has been recognized a number of times during her career, including being named to Focus Women's Conference 40 Women Over 40 and Forbes Next 1000.

In 2015, Wiggins founded Morale Resource LLC, a HR consulting firm specializing in building and repairing human resources through compliance, process and strategy. In 2021, she founded Auditocity, a HR compliance auditing software.

Wiggins serves as an Adjunct Instructor for the College of Business at the University of South Alabama and the University of Mobile.