Kenzie Wilbourne, Dean’s Award of Merit

Majors: English and history

Minor: Blount Scholars Program

Hometown: Mississippi and Alabama

Favorite Experience at UA: My favorite overall experience on campus is between 1.) the Honors in Oxford study abroad program and 2.) taking a ceramics class with Amy Smoot. The former is why I added a double major in History, and the latter is how I came to find a love for studio art and hands-on learning.

Favorite Class: My favorite professor is (and will always be) Dr. Erik L. Peterson in UA’s History Department. He never gave up on me as a student and he always pushes me to do my absolute best even when life circumstances don’t go as planned. And for that, I am grateful. The world of academia and higher education needs more teachers like Erik Peterson. That said, my favorite class was Erik’s History of Race and Science…when Josiah Clark Nott’s name was finally eradicated from the Honors College building in August 2020, it was Erik’s class from the previous semester that helped me understand why a man like Nott’s name should have been removed way sooner.

Future Plans: I was gratefully awarded the National Alumni Fellowship in the History Department at UA, and I have decided to get my MA in History for the next two years at the Capstone. For my dissertation, I am interested in writing on the scientific and medicinal relationship between humans and ceramic clay. I’ve recently been taking ceramics, and I’m also taking science classes again, and understanding the anthropological and historical relationships between the two and how our world’s most natural element came to be is very intriguing to me. After getting my MA, I hope to apply for a fellowship with Horseshoe Farms in Greensboro, Alabama before applying for medical school. As a Mississippi and Alabama native (and someone who spent most of her childhood in rural Houston, Mississippi), I want to work in rural healthcare and work towards a better South, fighting against the stigma that is woven in the horrors of our past while simultaneously sharing the stories of those who have historically been unheard and unnoticed by the majority of our country.

If I end up practicing in Greensboro or somewhere else in the Blackbelt, I want to one day open my own cultural arts center (or at least donate money to fund a cultural arts center) that offers studio art classes, ballet classes, home-economics classes, community theater, and grade school tutoring for students in rural communities…it would also serve as a lending library and homeless shelter for struggling families in need of makeshift living. The Arts and Humanities really impacted my life while in college, and I wish I would have been able to find more resources in my primary school days. That said, getting children involved at early ages in the world of arts and culture and knowledge, not only encouraging them to explore new things but also giving them the resources to do so is something I hope to accomplish in my life. Every child deserves a chance to have an education and try new hobbies while growing up in a world that has so many things to offer, and a community cultural arts center will give them that chance.

Also, this is random, but I am an advanced open water scuba diver, and I would one day love to complete my rescue dive/divemaster license so I can lead scuba diving excursions in New Zealand or Fiji or the Galapagos Islands.

I also want 10 golden retrievers, 2 cats, and a pet horse one day. That’s the only 10-year plan that is 100% written in stone!

Yeah, I have a lot of future plans….