BY HANNAH LESTER
Michael Floyd is man of many firsts.
Floyd is a first-generation college student, one of the first to get the Jungle to its full potential and is the city of Auburn’s first student Lamplighter Award winner.
Floyd, before coming to Auburn to study journalism, graduated from T.R. Miller High School — a fact he’s very proud of.
While many students are dying to get away from their hometown, Floyd expressed deep respect for his own.
“I tell people all the time that Brewton, Alabama, is the blueberry capital of the state,” he said. “So I’m very proud to be from there.”
It was Auburn Athletics that drew him closer to The Plains.
“[I grew] up watching Cam Newton win us a national championship in the sport of football,” he said. “Before I arrived here, softball was making appearances in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, and our basketball team was slowly coming to prominence.”
Floyd said it wasn’t just athletics, though, that drew him to Auburn — but the education as well.
“Being a first-generation college student, my dad, he went straight into the Army after graduating high school and my mother went straight into the workforce, and I stand on their shoulders today, I stand on my grandparents’ shoulders because they sacrificed a lot through the years of being able to send a child to college, and it just means a lot to me,” Floyd said.
His mother is an Auburn woman. She never received her degree as a Tiger, but Floyd said she’s an Auburn woman all the same.
“She’s where I get my Auburn love from because I was raised by my mom and my aunt in Brewton and it was just my mom’s passion for Auburn; … I often tell people that even though she didn’t get a degree or came here, she believes in Auburn and loves it and that makes her an Auburn woman,” he said.
His dad, however, is an Alabama fan. This leads to some tense communication at certain times of the year.
Floyd is very involved in Auburn Athletics, despite not playing any himself. He is vice president of the Jungle.
The Jungle is Auburn University’s official student organization — not just for basketball.
“I get to know our coaches of different sports,” he said. “For example, I got to know coach Pearl, Bruce Pearl, and he’s just a mentor to me. He has done a lot for me since I’ve been here at Auburn. Like, he even checks on me on class and makes sure I’m attending classes, makes sure my grades are good. So, I like that — he keeps me accountable because he knows bad grades means no basketball games.”
Even in pursuing journalism, things are still sports-related for Floyd. He covers high school football for the Auburn Plainsman — Auburn’s student newspaper.
“Outside of the Auburn Plainsman, I am a part of this high school media entity called Powerhouse Sports,” he said. “And Powerhouse Sports is a sports media group that covers high school athletics in all of Alabama, parts of Georgia and the panhandle of Florida. And that’s just also something that I’ve been proud of.”
Managing sports teams in high school, Floyd said he enjoyed listening to how people talked about sports, referred to sports, discussed sports.
Even figures such as Rod Bramblett and Andy Burcham influenced Floyd.
After college, Floyd said he thinks he’d like to stay on The Plains.
“I don’t think I want to leave Auburn,” he said. “I’m a strong man of faith and I’m the type of person that believes that wherever the Lord leads me, I will follow. And I just think that He has brought me to Auburn for a purpose and I think that purpose, is bigger than my four- or five-year plan — however I take the route — but it’s bigger than my four or five years here at the university. I think it goes way beyond my time of graduation.
“And I just really want to be able to stay here at Auburn and continue to make a difference. And I think that’s what Mayor Anders recognized when he so graciously made me a recipient of the Mayor’s Lamplighter Award.”
Floyd was one of six honorees presented an award, called the Lamplighter Award, by Auburn Mayor Ron Anders at the State of the City Address in November. The awards are presented annually by Anders to members of the community that he said he believes are lighting the way.
Floyd is the first college student to have received one of the awards.
Like the other award recipients, Floyd had no idea he would be receiving the award. It was actually the work of his local pastor, Wren Aaron, at the Auburn Church of the Highlands West Campus, who managed to get Floyd to the event.
Floyd said he had planned on leaving the event early — of course, with no knowledge he would be receiving an award.
“Pastor Wren was in on the plan to get me to the mayor’s address,” he said. “So he was in on it. He was my ride there because Auburn women’s basketball had a game that night … but Pastor Wren was assigned of getting me there. He got me there, but he never told me I was going to be recognized. And when I got recognized, I kind of gave him that death stare like, ‘I can’t believe you knew about this and you didn’t tell me.’”
Auburn residents can expect to see Floyd around town for a long time. He truly believes in Auburn and loves it.