Paying It Forward

Gordon-Palmer Hall surrounded by pink flowers
Gordon-Palmer Hall surrounded by pink flowers.

From the 2020 Collegian | “It was an interesting time to be at the University,” says Ed Braswell, a 1967 graduate.

George Wallace’s famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” took place mere weeks before Braswell would arrive for freshman orientation. He was also a student during the tenures of three of his heroes—President Frank Rose; the legendary Colonel Carleton K. Butler, director of the Million Dollar Band; and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

While at UA, Braswell studied math and played alto saxophone in the Million Dollar Band before earning a master’s degree from Florida State University. He then served six-and-a-half years in the Air Force, and utilized his knowledge of mathematics and his experience with computers to build a career at USAA, eventually earning the title of Assistant Vice President. After his career at USAA, he worked for the University of Texas at San Antonio where he and his wife Doe had earlier earned their MBA degrees.

He and Doe went to high school together and reconnected their senior year of college. The couple eventually got married and have lived in Texas since 1972, where they enjoy being “ambassadors in a foreign land.”

“People in Texas always ask me if we have a hand sign at Alabama,” Braswell said. “I just hold up my index finger (number one) and say, ‘Yes, we have a hand sign.’”

Looking back on their careers, Braswell said they have been blessed and want to pay their good fortune forward. “I remember when I was going to school, I received the Thomas Waverly Palmer Scholarship. It was $50, and that was a big help in the 1960s.”

After reading an article about how UA’s Math Department is working to increase diversity, he said that establishing a scholarship seemed like a logical and good thing to do.  “We want our scholarship to be able to help someone else,” he said.

The Joseph Edward Braswell Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics, established earlier this year, provides scholarship support to UA students majoring in mathematics, with priority consideration given to students who enhance the department’s diversity and students who demonstrate financial need.