Anna Kutbay | Distinguished Undergraduate Scholar; Best Undergraduate Research Assistant – Political Science

Other Awards: Outstanding Senior Award from the National Alumni Association

Major: Political Science and Economics (AS-Statistical Track) 

Minor: Communication Studies 

Hometown: Morristown, Tennessee

Greatest Success on Campus:My greatest success on campus was winning a National Individual Championship with the Alabama Forensic Council. I was the first person in UA history to achieve this. Essentially, this means that at the American Forensics Association National tournament (speech and debate nationals) I scored the most points with my individual events out of around 400 competitors. I was so honored to represent the University in this way and show the country just how talented the Alabama Forensic Council is! Our team also went on to place 4th best overall in the nation.

Favorite Experience: My favorite overall experience was being a member of the Alabama Forensic Council. The AFC is the University’s official speech and debate team, travelling across the country to compete in tournaments and share our messages. I was recruited onto the team as a senior in high school and have competed for all four years of college. Being a part of the team as a member and later as President was incredibly rewarding. My best friends are on the team, my mentors were on the team, and my coach, Dr. Ben Pyle, is someone I trust and highly respect. The team has won more national championships than the football team, but more importantly the team fosters such an inclusive environment that everyone feels like they belong. I’ve had the immense privilege of conducting copious research, presenting my speeches across the country, winning national titles, meeting amazing people, being published, and fighting for causes I believe in. The AFC isn’t a huge name on campus, but it’s been my favorite experience at UA.

Favorite Class: My favorite class was PSC318/319, Constitutional Law. I took both classes as a sophomore. Before I took these courses, I didn’t really have a plan for my future. I was a political science and economics student, and I had a vague idea of life after graduation. But when I took these classes, I absolutely fell in love with the study of law. We learned about the most important and fundamental Con Law cases that essentially lay the framework for many Supreme Court decisions, learned styles of leading writing, participated in the Socratic method, and learned how a law school classroom operates. I was always in class and genuinely excited to be there and learn. It brought me completely out of my shell as I found myself raising my hand and speaking, working with classmates, and meeting one on one with the professor. Because of these classes, I am headed to law school; without these classes, I don’t know if that would be the case.

Favorite Professor: My favorite professor taught my aforementioned favorite class: Dr. Allen Linken. Dr. Linken genuinely has a heart for students. I think all UA professors are great, but Dr. Linken goes above and beyond to make sure students are doing well, performing well, and above all else – learning. Dr. Linken fosters a classroom environment that is exciting, engaging, and conducive to educational discussion and debate. While being a great professor and great leader (of groups like Mock Trial) he remains exceptionally humble. On more than one occasion I have applauded his teaching styles or lessons and he routinely gives credit to students who make the lessons what they are. Dr. Linken signs every email with “V/r” which he told me was a military-style signature meaning “very respectfully,” usually used when you are addressing someone of higher rank. Dr. Linken signs his emails to students this way to convey how much he respects and values them, essentially putting us at an equal level with him. I think that that action alone perfectly embodies the type of professor he is: one that is kind, respectful, and challenges students to grow. He is the reason I’m going to law school and he’s given me the tools to be successful there.

Future Plans: I will be attending Georgetown University Law Center in Fall 2022.