By: Claire Winesett
As a student athlete, Mack Cameron’s experience at Mississippi State University was unique, but his commitment to tennis did not distract him from working hard in his academics and other areas of involvement, paving the way for a successful career.
Cameron was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from MSU in 1967 and 1969 respectively. His father, Curtice Brunson (Buck) Cameron, graduated from MSU in 1924, and is Cameron’s greatest mentor. “He played football, basketball, track and boxing while at MSU and was very successful at each one, winning numerous letters in each sport,” Cameron said.
Cameron followed his father’s example, pursing an education at MSU while being a student athlete. He won four individual SEC tennis championships as a member of the MSU tennis team that won two SEC team championships and finished as high as No. 3 in the nation. He has also been ranked No. 1 in tennis in Mississippi in every age group in which he has competed, and as high as No. 1 in the South and No. 7 in the nation.
His favorite memory at MSU was winning the tennis match on campus to beat the SEC champion and national power, Tulane, 5-4. “All other matches had finished; my match was the last one, and I won 5-7, 7-5, 7-5,” said Cameron. Today, his favorite tradition at MSU is “meeting other former athletes at the M-Club on game day.”
Cameron says that he still occasionally plays tennis socially, and that his father and him were “the first father and son to have been inducted into the State of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. We have also both been inducted into the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame.”
Cameron’s experience at MSU also advanced him professionally. After graduating from MSU, he worked with Senator John C. Stennis in Washington D.C., and then then went into the U.S. Army to serve as an officer in military intelligence. After receiving an honorable discharge, Cameron attended law school at the University of Mississippi where he also coached the tennis team. When he graduated from law school, Cameron returned to Washington D.C. to serve as the assistant legal counsel for the United States Secret Service at Secret Service headquarters. He served in this office under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter.
Cameron eventually returned to Mississippi to serve as special assistant attorney general in the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office for eight years. Cameron says that during that time, he “led the successful effort of the state of Mississippi to stop the nation's first nuclear waste dump from being located at Richton, Mississippi.”
After leaving the attorney general’s office, he opened a private office where he practiced law and dealt with real estate matters. He had to close this office in 2013 to deal with a serious health problem, but when he recovered, he re-joined the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office where he now serves as a special assistant attorney general. Cameron has also written two books: The Bluffs of Devil’s Swamp and You Just Never Know. He says that he is working, when he can, on the third book of the trilogy.
Cameron acknowledges that his time in the College of Arts and Sciences prepared him for dealing with various aspects of government in his former and current positions. His involvement on campus also helped pave the way to a successful future.
“Mississippi State University was an outstanding place to experience other aspects of life in preparation for the future. I was actively involved in school politics, as I had been in high school. Participation as president of the Inter-Dormitory Council, chairman of the Student Judicial Council and a member of the Student Senate allowed me to gain valuable experience and training for situations in which I later became involved in my professional career,” Cameron said.
He continued, “I would highly recommend that students participate in any activities while at MSU that interest them and which may help prepare them to deal with many of the things they might face in their future.”
Cameron encourages students to never, ever give up. “I was on crutches from the start of the first grade until over halfway through the fourth grade with a disease that is incurable to this day. My right hip bone basically disintegrated and the disease also got into my knees and into the heels of my feet. While on crutches, I used to hit tennis balls against the walls of our garage. Through the grace of the Lord, I suddenly got completely well with no sign of the disease ever having even been in me. I won my first tennis tournament about three months after I got off of crutches,” said Cameron.
“Things may be hard for a person, but, if they will just have faith and keep trying as hard as they can, good things can happen.”
He also advises students to “Do whatever it takes to get a college education and get that college degree. Work as hard as you have to in order to make that happen. Getting a college degree will open doors to possibilities for a student's future that might not be available if that college degree is not obtained.”
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