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Fellowship to help Gainesville student study law at Mercer

POSTED: May 20, 2013 12:27 a.m.

Whit Carmon, who has helped his mother who is executive director at the local Georgia Mountain Food Bank, has a University of Georgia degree in his pocket and a full ride to Macon's Mercer University School of Law, thanks to his public service work.

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Whit Carmon was stepping off the bus after delivering his final term paper at the University of Georgia when his phone rang.

Carmon, 22, of Gainesville, said he wasn’t in the mood to answer a call from an unknown number but his friend encouraged him, saying “you never know who it’s going to be.”

“And sure enough I picked up the phone and sat there with my jaw at a 40-degree angle,” Carmon said, laughing. “I actually had to stop myself for a minute and said ‘Can I call you back?’ because I really did just have to maintain or regain some sort of grounding in reality.”

Carmon had been notified he was the recipient of the Walter F. George Foundation Public Service Scholarship to Mercer University in Macon.

The scholarship covers full tuition for three years of law school. Carmon will receive a $6,000 summer community service fellowship for working in public service offices in the summer.

Carmon had applied for a similar scholarship earlier. It wasn’t awarded to him, so he was surprised to learn he’d been chosen for the public service scholarship. Students do not have to apply to receive the scholarship Carmon was given.

“It just came out of left field,” Carmon said. “I called my mom and said ‘Where do we go from here?’ and she said ‘You know that’s up to you.’ So I took a moment and called (the school) back and I really haven’t looked back since. It was a really nice reprieve from the 25-page paper.”

After being rejected for the scholarship he’d applied for, Carmon was making plans to study law at the University of Georgia where he’d recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Carmon said he doesn’t yet know which area of the law he will focus on but expects contract law will suit his specific skill set best.

Carmon has had a strong interest in law since his sophomore year of college and has shadowed several Gainesville attorneys to make sure he is interested in law as a career.

“Frankly, it was something I could see myself doing for an extended period of time,” Carmon said. “It just sort of clicked.”

Carmon said he feels blessed to have the opportunity to attend the university and to be able to focus on his studies rather than the financial burden that would have otherwise been a factor.

However, he said he’s most excited about the opportunity to learn more about public service. He will likely work in a defense attorney’s or public attorney’s office during his summers.

He said his relationships with a few community organizations such as the Georgia Mountain Food Bank and the North Georgia Community Foundation have shaped his desire to help others and the community.

Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, is Carmon’s mother.

“I think my mom has been a real strong role model for me,” Carmon said. “She’s been a real deft example of what it means to commit yourself to someone else and a cause that stays altruistic, stays connected to the community, and those two things are very important to me.”

Carmon said he was also very strongly influenced by two Gainesville men, William Slack and Jim Mathis.

Blackstock worked for Mathis at the North Georgia Community Foundation for a number of years, Carmon was often involved in projects at a young age.

“I think Whit will do wonderful,” Mathis said. “I have high hopes for him and I’m always impressed by what a fine young man he’s turned out to be.”


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