Jacob Camden | Brownell Prize for Best Student

Other Awards: William March Memorial Scholarship, Iredell Jenkins Endowed Memorial Award 

Hometown: Lafayette, LA

Favorite Experience: Lately I have been reflecting proudly on the work of Bama Tutors for Service, a student volunteer organization which I lead. This work may represent my greatest success on campus. Paradoxically, out of all my curricular and extracurricular engagements, Bama Tutors for Service strikes me most frequently as capable of improvement; we could always do better to serve the students and parents who come to us for help. Yet what we have already done has, as I reflect on it, been so much: independently, making time out of our own schedules, a small group of undergraduates has banded together and provided hundreds of hours of free tutoring to the Tuscaloosa community, with more hours of service provided every week. As conversations with parents and even gifts from students have shown me, we are meeting a real need in our community, and doing our small part to pay Tuscaloosa back for its hospitality, and pay forward some of the kindness and education which we have all benefited from in our lives. I’ve done many other things on campus that have been amazingly fulfilling for me—study, research, academic and personal achievements. But this service work is something that will remain behind me when I leave; it has touched some lives in some small way. It has allowed me to do some good: that is as great a success as anyone can hope for.

Favorite Professor: Many professors here have been dear to me as teachers, supporters, and mentors. Dr. Deborah Keene, for example, helped initiate me into my freshman year at Alabama and in the Blount Scholars Program. Prof. Kevin Waltman imparted onto me his love for some of America’s great authors. Early on, Dr. H. Scott Hestevold encouraged me more than anyone in my study of philosophy, and Dr. Torin Alter’s erudition and enthusiasm have subsequently guided me through my most interesting work in that subject.

The professor who has mentored, encouraged, and taught me the most has been Dr. Fred Whiting. Whiting, as he is colloquially called, is formidably learned across various disciplines, and is dedicated to clear, responsible thinking: an uncommon combination, and one which I hope someday to embody myself. But even more important to me than an intellectual inspiration, Whiting has been a kind mentor to me. He has advocated for me tirelessly in all my scholarly endeavors, and he has advised and supported me through my undergraduate studies. Meanwhile, he has helped me chart a path for my professional—and personal—future. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve Whiting, or my other amazing professors. I can only be grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to be their student.

Future Plans: After graduating in Spring 2023, I would like to attend graduate school, perhaps in English or philosophy. But before that I want to take a gap year to travel abroad, possibly teaching English as a second language, hopefully, if all goes well for me, on the wings of a Fulbright grant. I would like to travel to Germany through Fulbright—we’ll see if my wishes are fulfilled!