Alumni Fellows

Posted on January 18, 2023 by MCOB

Featured Alumni in front of Meisler Hall data-lightbox='featured'

Cynthia Littlepage Baber-Strunk
After graduating from the University of South Alabama in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree 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 and the Rental Industry Buying Group, also functioning as vice president and president respectively for the groups. Baber-Strunk was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award and President’s Award of Excellence and was named National Rental Dealer of the Year. Baber-Strunnk, a native of Butler, Alabama, has four children and 10 grandchildren.

Brent Barkin
Brent Barkin earned a bachelor’s degree 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-19 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, Barkin has supported a number of learning opportunities. He helped launch the Retail Certification program, and his insight as a board member of the Professional Readiness Engagement Program helped shape the College's unique workplace preparation curriculum. In addition, the Barkin family established a scholarship to honor his late father's legacy. 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 in the Distinguished Women of America’s National Finals. He resides in Fairhope, Alabama, with his wife Lauren and children Joseph, Jackson
and Jenny.

Dr. Gia Wiggins
Dr. Gia Wiggins, a Mobile native, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Grambling State University and an MBA from California State University before returning home to receive a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of South Alabama.

Over the course of 22 years in human resource management, Wiggins has worked with companies including 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’s 40 Over 40 and Forbes Next 1000.

In 2015, Wiggins founded Morale Resource LLC, a consulting firm specializing in building and repairing human resources through compliance, process and strategy. In 2021, she founded Auditocity, human resources compliance auditing software. Wiggins has served as an adjunct instructor in the Mitchell College of Business and at the University of Mobile.

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