Twarner Witherspoon ’14 ~ Star Scholar-Athlete

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 4:15pm
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As a student-athlete on the Spring Hill College campus, Twarner Witherspoon ’14 has made a big impression, on and off the court. Witherspoon, a forward for the Lady Badgers basketball team, transferred in 2012 from Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Ala.

Though she had other scholarship offers from colleges around the Gulf Coast region, Witherspoon chose Spring Hill College because of the importance placed on academics. Dr. Jamie Franco-Zamudio, assistant professor of psychology at SHC, says that Witherspoon’s dedication to learning has always been evident.

“Twarner is a serious student, focused on excelling each and every day,” says Dr. Franco-Zamudio. “I am impressed with her work ethic and her ability to apply classroom knowledge to real-world settings. At a recent diversity training that Twarner co-facilitated, she was asked to contact the company upon graduation because they saw so much potential in her. I see Twarner accomplishing big things in the future!”

As he has been continually impressed with Witherspoon’s hard work, assistant philosophy professor Dr. Nate Zuckerman echoes that sentiment. He has been particularly pleased with her ability to take dense and abstract philosophical concepts and explain them in her own words, rather than just parroting back a definition from a textbook or the board.

“In addition, what makes Twarner stand out especially is the quality of her reflection and caring about what she studies,” says Dr. Zuckerman. “Twarner took to heart the philosophical questions we were studying, some of them quite personal and challenging, for instance, existentialist doubts about the various ways in which we try to find meaning in our lives. I could see, in her work, an unflinching self-examination that was driven by a commitment to know what is true and do what is good. It's a unique reward for a teacher when a student dares to bring their studies to life; and in this respect, I find Twarner particularly admirable.”

Witherspoon, a psychology major from Thomasville, Ala., says that her Spring Hill College education has had a profound influence on her life. She completed two classes this summer—Existentialism with Dr. Nate  Zuckerman and Art Today with Mrs. Wanda Sullivan.

“Many of my classes, but philosophy, in particular, has taught me to change the way I think,” says Witherspoon. “I’ve altered my perception on a lot of things, which was essential to my growth as a person. Honestly, if I hadn't taken the classes so late, I would have made philosophy my minor at SHC.”

In addition to her studies, over the summer Witherspoon worked as a volunteer at the Center for Fair Housing, trained for basketball, and prepared for ETS Major Field Test for Psychology, required for all SHC students pursuing a degree in the field. Witherspoon is also researching her career options, which, at the moment, include law school and graduate school in psychology.

“Growing up, I have always wanted to be a lawyer or a psychologist. I had planned to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley, but am now starting to rethink that plan and become a child psychologist because I want to help children in need,” says Witherspoon. “I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, so I know how it feels to struggle. I have been working since I entered college and it was not fun. I want to help children while they are young, so they will have a better chance later in life.”

Witherspoon’s motto, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” has served her well at Spring Hill College. Her advice to those new to the campus is simple.

“Don't limit yourself to anything right off; give yourself room to grow,” says Witherspoon. “Enjoy college but not enough to the point that you don't focus on school. You are going to grow and change over the next four years and you won't see life the same. So, be open to new ideas and try new things, but never lose focus.”