An award-winning language professor shared his passions and the journey that brought him to Troy University.
For an office that boasts a bleached boar head, a dried piranha and a shark jaw, the large room is sparsely decorated.
Some disheveled books line a tall bookshelf. The windowsill is garnished with personal pictures. A piece of homemade art is tacked on a wall that is otherwise relatively bare. The room is much like its owner: simple and yet full of energy.
As he answers questions, he sits back in his chair with his feet kicked up, relaxed and yet full of enthusiasm. This is a simple yet telling glimpse into the multifaceted life of Kenneth LaBrant, a Spanish professor at Troy University.
Originally hailing from Redington Beach, Fla., LaBrant never expected to be a teacher even though this was the common profession of his father and brother. Now it is one of his greatest passions.
“I love students and interacting with them,” LaBrant said, “I genuinely love teaching.
I also love meeting with students and their parents in my office to tell them about Troy, about the Honors Program, about the Spanish program or just to talk about life in general.”
When he came to Troy State University in 1994, he hit the ground running in the Spanish program.
“Dr. LaBrant came with great energy and increased our enrollment in Spanish by 75 percent by the end of his first year.
“In May of 1995, LaBrant became the only professor in the history of Troy University to win the Ingalls Award for outstanding classroom teaching during his ‘rookie year’ on campus,” said James Sherry, the French professor who oversaw LaBrant’s hiring in 1994.
LaBrant’s energy and dedication to the work set before him is a common thread throughout his life story.
In high school, LaBrant ran his own lawn cutting business. To gain more customers, he attached his lawn mower to his 3-wheeled bike to travel further throughout his neighborhood.
While working at Sears, he quickly rose from the ranks and even took over the accounting work for the entire business as a college student.
In 1987, he met his wife-to-be Sheri at a Christian conference. He married her three years later in 1990 at the age of 22.
In the classroom, LaBrant is a student favorite and has even garnered a 4.5 out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com.
“Dr. LaBrant makes the environment friendly and fun by making jokes, celebrating our successes, helping us through our mistakes and always keeping a positive attitude,” said Shelby Wood, a sophomore social science secondary education major from Wewahitchka, Fla.
In his spare time, LaBrant loves anything involving family time with his wife and six children, especially traveling.
In past years, LaBrant has even taken parts of his family on his cultural, student trips to Mexico and Costa Rica. He also teaches a course on the culture of Spain and Spain’s influence on the world.
LaBrant’s office is located in Wright Hall in Room 212F.
He welcomes students to drop by if they need help with Spanish or have something on their mind.
“His teaching style,” said Jose Galarza, a freshman ophthalmic medical assistance major from Guayaquil, Ecuador, “is organized.
“He has good explanations and methods of teaching towards students.”