Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Randall Scholars host Sen. Katie Britt

CW / Rachel Seale

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt, a UA alum, encouraged students to work together and use their education to make a difference at her guest speech at Hewson Hall on Friday.

The Randall Research Scholars Program and UA Honors College chose Britt, a former Algernon Sydney Sullivan Premier Award recipient, to recognize this year’s Catherine J. Randall Premier Award recipient, Kittson Hamill.

Britt shared her journey into politics, including her time as an Alabama Girls State governor, the UA SGA president, Sen. Richard Shelby’s chief of staff and finally the youngest female U.S. senator. 

During her time as the 2003 SGA president, the SGA brought the morning-after pill to campus. Britt also went against the Machine and vetoed a proposal that would have made independent campaigns more difficult. A majority of Britt’s cabinet was made up of independent candidates.

Britt gave students advice on how to be successful in life. She attributed her success to four characteristics — character, integrity, work ethic and the way one treats others — and urged students to implement these into their own lives. 

Britt also described how her predecessor, Shelby, taught her to put political differences aside to find a path forward as Americans, instead of either Democrats or Republicans. 

“I think, in today’s society, we have somehow decided that if we don’t agree with someone, we don’t have to show them any respect,” Britt said.

She said Shelby’s lesson has led her to form a friendship with U.S. Sen. John Fetterman.

“We may not agree on a lot politically, but we took the same oath of office, we’re all united under one flag [and] we all have a deep love for our country,” Britt said. “It supersedes which side of the aisle we fall on.”

Even as a U.S. senator, Britt admitted she has “played the comparison game,” and she encouraged students to not compare others’ accomplishments with their own. 

“I have to remind myself to control what you can control,” Britt said. “And you, despite what you may think, are worthy of being in that room.”

In an email to The Crimson White, Britt wrote that she hopes students make a commitment to overcoming challenges in life..

“Everyone gets knocked down in life,” Britt wrote. “What determines our future is how we respond to that adversity.” 

Britt said she has faced criticism the last few weeks. The senator attracted controversy when she included a misleading anecdote in her response to the State of the Union address.

In her email, Britt wrote that more people need to be unafraid of failure and step into the arena to fight for what they believe in. 

“America’s history has been written with the grit of men and women who got knocked down,” Britt wrote. “But we know their stories because they did not stay down.”

Britt believes the brightest days are still ahead for the nation because of the young generation of rising leaders nationwide. She wrote that the country needs students to lead today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

“So, get into the arena. Pursue your American Dream. Be unafraid to fail. And when life knocks you down, stand back up. I can’t wait to see all that you accomplish,” Britt wrote.

Britt added that she was thrilled to be invited back to campus by her longtime mentor, Cathy Randall, the former director and namesake of the Catherine J. Randall Research Scholars Program.

Randall said she is very thankful for Britt and hopes students take away the energy, passion and commitment to serving the country that Britt exhibits.

UA SGA President-elect Samad Gillani said it was an amazing experience to see the former UA SGA president speak about her experiences and journey. He said Britt emphasized relationships and mentorships in her speech, which are two of his key takeaways.

“Make sure to build important connecting relationships … not only to find people that can guide you as mentors, but to find the opportunities and avenues to where you can be a mentor for others,” Gillani said.

The 2018 Catherine J. Randall Premier Award recipient, Manoj Sunny, said he has strived to maintain the standard of excellence that the award represents.

“If you’re going to win this type of award where you’re recognized as like a top student in Alabama, you want to make sure that the people you interact with, the impact you have on the community, it’s held to that same standard,” Sunny said.

Even though Sunny said he doesn’t agree with all of Britt’s policies, he did say he appreciated her lesson about “peaks and valleys” in life. Britt explained in her speech that someone can’t experience peaks, the great moments in life, if they don’t go through valleys, or low points in life. 

“That’s something that is true,” Sunny said. “And that is a message that everyone should hold true to their heart.”

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