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After an injury derailed Cullen Bryant’s dream of becoming a naval officer days before reporting to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2019, fate redirected him to Auburn University.

It was Bryant’s dream to serve his country, but a broken arm just days before heading to Annapolis left him medically disqualified. While he healed, the Naval Academy arranged for him to spend a year in Alabama attending the Marion Military Institute. It was during this time that Bryant began to experience Auburn.

He spent most of his free weekends in Auburn, exploring campus, meeting students and visiting his sister, Catherine, who was a member of the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen and was selected Miss Auburn in 2020. The Auburn Family was becoming real for Bryant.

After he was again medically declined to the Naval Academy, there was only one other school he wanted to attend – Auburn. He put in his transfer application right away.

“One thing I was told by a lot of people while going through that process, and after being declined, is that there are other ways to serve your country than being in the military,” said Bryant, a senior in aerospace engineering. “I can’t fly the planes anymore. I might as well build them. That’s why I want to be an aerospace engineer and find a career path in the defense industry.”

Since coming to Auburn, he has immersed himself in his coursework and campus life through activities such as the Student Government Association, Freshman Forum, the Beat Bama Food Drive and Cupola Engineering Ambassadors.

Through his academic achievement, Bryant has earned scholarships that have helped him pay for his education. One of these is the Bo Davidson Endowed Scholarship, which Davidson, a 1959 Auburn graduate, made through a gift in his will. This planned gift from Davidson has provided financial support that has allowed Bryant to pay for his education without the burden of student loans.

“The scholarship has taken a weight off my shoulders,” he said.

Bryant is thankful for the philanthropy of Auburn Family members like Bo Davidson. In their generosity, Bryant sees a piece of wisdom that his grandfather once shared with him – that every generation has a responsibility to strive to do better for the next generation.

“When members of the Auburn Family decide to create a scholarship, it’s a way of immortalizing themselves and also bettering the next generation at the same time,” he said.

For more information about making a planned gift, contact or 334-844-7375.