Camille Shelnutt, a third-year biology and psychology major at the University of Georgia and an Athens native, died on Oct. 7. She was 20.
Shelnutt was highly involved on and off campus. She was the backs captain of the UGA Women’s Rugby Club, sergeant in arms of the Demosthenian Literary Society and worked at Jittery Joe’s in Five Points.
“Watching Camille debate was just such a joy,” Claire Shelnutt, Camille’s older sister, said. “She could debate both sides of an argument, she saw things in a robust, full, way and saw the benefits and detriments of both sides of most arguments.”
Shelnutt is described by her sister as an intense person who loved fiercely and had the best sense of humor and an incredible taste in music. She loved adventure and always sought justice, Claire Shelnutt said.
“All of our phone conversations were about some philosophical or sociological or even scientific question that she had been thinking about,” Claire Shelnutt said. “She had all this intensity and intellectual, academic sharpness, but she was also a tender person.”
“No stone was left unturned in her imagination.”
— written by Benjamin Price in the guest book at Shelnutt’s memorial
Andrea Trombetta, an instructor in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, taught Shelnutt in her cultural diversity class this semester.
Trombetta said Shelnutt was a beautiful light in the community of learners.
“Camille sat front and center, truly,” Trombetta said. “She just was so eager to learn and just proceeded to go above and beyond in terms of the curriculum.”
Trombetta said Shelnutt was never afraid to participate or ask questions and would always stay after class to discuss material further.
“She demanded to be in my life in a way that was beyond academia,” Trombetta said. “She was genuinely a person I cared about.”
Trombetta said she hopes to make a collaborative piece of art to celebrate and honor Shelnutt.
Claire Shelnutt said Benjamin Price, president of the Demosthenian Literary Society, wrote a line in the guest book at Camille Shelnutt’s memorial that perfectly captured her: “No stone was left unturned in her imagination.”
“Camille will be remembered for her intense sense of justice, quick wit and insatiable curiosity,” her siblings said in an Instagram post. “She was fiercely loyal and deeply brave.”
Shelnutt stepped up during a season altered by COVID-19 to voluntarily lead the women’s rugby team when they didn’t have a formal coach, making all of the team’s practice plans and attending every meeting and outdoor practice, Mary Alice Smith, forwards captain and match secretary for the Rugby Club, said.
“She was a strong leader, she was a compassionate friend, I think she worked really hard to maintain team chemistry and it was really important to her that everyone not only learned the game, but enjoyed their time there,” Smith said.
In her free time, Shelnut enjoyed working on her 1978 Mustang Cobra and spending time with her two cats, Oscar and Utah, Smith said.
“I think if you were to take the time to write down all of the things she was involved in, you would understand the impact she made on her environment,” Smith said. “She made a concerted effort to be a contributing member to her community.”
In lieu of flowers, Shelnutt’s family is asking that all who wish to memorialize her donate to Downtown Academy, an after-school program for underprivileged children in Athens, where she volunteered, Claire Shelnutt said.
“A lot of the words about her everyone says after a loved one passed, that they were bright and that they were brave, but it really was true about Camille,” Claire Shelnutt said.