Math, science lead McDowell to engineering
Editor’s Note: Franklin’s Future is a regular feature spotlighting a high school senior in Franklin County and what they have planned for life after graduation.
Russellville senior Duncan McDowell has pretty much done it all during the past four years of high school.
The funny and charismatic 18-year-old said he knew the importance of making the most of his high school experience so that’s exactly what he did by being involved in many activities and organizations like baseball, the Science Club, Chemistry Club, Christian Students United, Key Club, Spanish Club and RCS Engineering. He’s also taken on leadership roles as a representative in Students Against Destructive Decisions, a class officer and representative on Student Council, president of the National Honor Society, team captain of the Scholar’s Bowl team and drum captain in the Marching Hundred.
“I think I can safely say that I don’t really have any bad memories from high school,” McDowell said. “There are so many things that I’ve been involved in and that I’ve enjoyed that I can’t even narrow it down to just one favorite memory. It’s all been pretty great.”
One aspect of attending RHS that McDowell has particularly enjoyed, however, has been the community support of any and all sporting events.
“I like how important the sports are here and how much school spirit everyone has,” he said. “It makes all the sporting events fun to go to. The home basketball games, especially this year, have been a lot of fun – just hanging out in the student section with friends and supporting the team.”
With so many good memories, McDowell said there are definitely things he’ll miss once he walks across the field in May to graduate.
“The teachers at RHS are so supportive and I like how student-oriented most of them are,” he said. “I’ll miss my favorite teachers and I’ll miss having classes with friends.
“I’ll also miss being in Scholar’s Bowl and being in band because I’ve had some really good times with those two activities over the years.”
McDowell said leaving high school will be strange but he’s ready for the challenge of new experiences once he sets out for the University of Alabama in the fall where he will major in chemical engineering.
“With college in general, I’m really looking forward to meeting new people and being out on my own,” he said. “Going to Alabama will be a great experience because of the sports – I can’t wait to go the football and basketball games – and because I think they have a really great engineering program.”
And there’s just one more thing that made UA the perfect choice.
“My sister, Emma, goes to Alabama so it’ll be nice to have someone who can do my laundry,” he said with a laugh. “Really, though, it’ll be nice to have family around. It’ll be like having a little bit of home down in Tuscaloosa.”
As far as his future career, McDowell said chemical engineering was something he thought he would enjoy.
“I’m really good at math and science, so it just seemed like it would be the right career for me.”
Once he graduates with his degree, McDowell said he would like to live near Huntsville where he will more than likely find a job in his field.
“I wouldn’t want to live right in the city, though,” he said. “There’s something about living in a smaller place where you can have a lot of land and not be right next to your neighbors. I don’t think I would ever like living right in the middle of the city.”
And even though he doesn’t anticipate living in Franklin County in the future, McDowell said he will most definitely be back to visit on a regular basis to see his parents, Danny and Paula McDowell, and his grandparents, James and Marjorie Bohannon.
Also in the future, McDowell said he would still like to play a role in whatever community he is a part of, just like he has for the past several years, especially though his church, First Baptist Church in Russellville, and the Franklin County Junior Leadership Program.
“Through Junior Leadership I earned 70 community service hours helping with things like the Watermelon Festival, the Sara Dinsmore Center Christmas party and several of the Cattleman’s events.
“Through my church, I participated in our mission trip to Rochester, N. Y., where we taught Bible lessons and sang songs with the kids there.
“There was one kid named Lawrence who stayed with me most of the week and he ended up getting saved at the end of the week. I let him keep my Bible so he could keep reading about God and that was just a good feeling.
“Community service gives you the opportunity to give something and get nothing in return and put a smile on someone else’s face and that’s something I think I’ll always want to do.”
For now, McDowell said he plans to enjoy the last few months of high school before he heads out into the real world.
“My advice to any of the younger classmen would just be to make the most out of high school and really enjoy it while you’re here because it’ll be over before you know it.”