BUIES CREEK -- Campbell University’s new undergraduate students continued a 10-year tradition and started a new one Sunday.
After moving in to their residence halls on Saturday, Campbell’s freshman and transfer students spent Sunday afternoon participating in the university’s inaugural Love Thy Neighbor service project and the 10th New Student Convocation -- both of which spoke to the importance of tradition at Campbell and the university’s core values, said the Rev. Faithe Beam ’03 MDiv, Campbell’s campus minister.
“New Student Convocation is an important tradition that says to our students: ‘You’re beginning your higher education here. We support you, you’re part of our community, and we’re committed to educating and preparing you for your vocation,'” Beam said. “Love Thy Neighbor is the beginning of a tradition where we’re saying to our students, ‘We want you to serve your community, we want you to know that you are part of not only Campbell but Harnett County, and here’s some ways you can help.'"
Though the new students completed service projects during Orientation and on Accepted Students Day, Sunday was the first time that all the new students worked together on a joint service project, Love Thy Neighbor, at the same time. The students, along with a few of their parents and other relatives, packed at least 4,700 bags with more than 72,000 items, such as food, school supplies and hygiene products, that the campus community and area businesses such as Charter donated. The packed bags will be given to the Buddy Backpacks for Harnett County, local underprivileged children and homeless individuals in the area.
“I’ve never heard of another college doing something like this,” said Aspyn Kennedy, a pre-law freshman from Sanford. “I think it’s pretty awesome that we’re helping out the local community, and the college has given us the chance to do so.”
“Part of the fabric”
Campbell’s Campus Ministry and First-Year Experience offices introduced Love Thy Neighbor this year to help students engage with each other before classes begin and to reinforce service as “part of the fabric of our being,” Beam said.
Since Campbell’s founding in 1887, its students have served its community and beyond. On Jan. 5, 1887, 21 students gathered to attend the first classes of what was then Buies Creek Academy. The majority of the students headed to a small church, where the first classes were held, but five went to a nearby site to help construct the building that would become their schoolhouse.
“Since then, our people have been serving the community,” Beam said. “So we carry that on, and now we’re trying to be intentional about serving and reminding our students that Campbell is part of a greater community.”
Mason Simpson, a freshman from Monroe, N.C., said that was what he was reminded of as he helped fill bags with school supplies Sunday. “You can definitely tell that Campbell’s mission is to grow and build a community of Christ, even if it’s not directly church-related,” he said. “They are here to help people.”
To help students engage with one another, Love Thy Neighbor organizers divided the students into groups of about 25 and spread them across several dozen rooms in four buildings on campus. In each room, before the groups began to bag the donated items, a faculty or staff member and peer mentor explained the purpose of the project and led the students in an icebreaker. Students then had to decide for themselves the most efficient way to pack the 125 bags or so their group was responsible for.
After completing the task, they discussed what they took away from the service project. Among the responses in one group was how they can take little things, such as school supplies, for granted, and how what even seems like the smallest gesture can make a big difference. “School supplies are something that every kid needs, and for us to have even a small part in helping kids, it’s a really good thing,” Simpson said.
Dennis Bazemore, Campbell’s vice president for student life, said that the activity and the accompanying discussion was “the beginning engagement students had with one another as college students.”
“They’re talking to each, working together side-by-side, and before walking into this room, most of them were strangers,” he said.
Parents and other family members of the new students also participated, giving them the chance to feel part of the campus and local community, Beam said.
One of the parent participants was Lisa Seabolt of Lincolnton, the mother of freshman Gabrielle Kulewicz. “It’s wonderful that we get to be part of the experience too,” Seabolt said. “It’s also wonderful that the entire school is reinforcing [service]. In a really, really positive way, they’re saying what you’re mother said was right: ‘Trust in God, do what you’re supposed to do and help each other.’”
“Make others feel special”
After the students completed the service project, they attended the New Student Convocation at the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center. There, they each received a bronze medallion that featured the university word mark, the Celtic cross and the month and year “August 2013” to mark the beginning of their journey at Campbell.
The medallion, which Campbell has been giving to new students for the past 10 years, is intended to be a keepsake that symbolizes the university’s commitment to their success, Campbell President Jerry Wallace said. “Everything here is about you and ensuring that you are successful and that you will go forth from here and be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”
Delivering the convocation’s keynote address was Mike Minter, the first-year head coach of Campbell’s football team. He encouraged the students to be active in pursing their dreams -- or to use a football reference, to “tackle” their dreams.
“It’s one thing to have a dream, but it’s a whole other thing to have a dream with action. And that’s what you've got to do,” Minter said. Tackling dreams requires tenacity, the right attitude, commitment and courage, the hunger to seek knowledge, not shying away from leadership opportunities, and grabbing and cherishing experiences that present themselves.
Julie Hodgin, a freshman biology major from Asheboro, said the medallion ceremony made her feel welcomed. “I thought it was really special that Campbell took the time and the money to make us feel wanted,” she said.
At the same time, Hodgin added, Campbell takes the time to “make others feel special, not just their students.”
An example, she said: the Love Thy Neighbor service project. “Campbell is very service-oriented -- and to reach out to their own community and to help others is really cool. I really like that about the school and getting to be a part of it.”
What They Said
The 10th New Student Convocation featured several “greetings” and one keynote address from members of the Campbell community that aimed to encourage the new undergraduates. Below are excerpts from the speeches.
“I encourage you to take a good look at this faculty. Some of them will be your advisors. Many of them will be faculty members you get to know. You get to know many of them over an informal and a personal way. They will become your friend, your mentor, your professor, your encourager, your guide in these next few years.” -- Dennis Bazemore, Campbell’s vice president for student life
“I wish you many things during your time at Campbell. First, I wish you a smooth transition from home to campus. . . . Second, I wish you the best education possible. . . . Third, I wish you personal happiness on campus. . . .. Next, do not forget about your family back home. . . . Finally, my wish for you is personal and professional success. Please take advantage of a Level 6 university and allow this place to lay the foundation of a successful life.” -- Jason Hall, Campbell’s assistant vice president of admissions
“Commit to three things: Commit to your studies, commit to your future self and commit to the Lord. . . . Focus on who you want to be, not what you want to be. What you want to be is your major, and that’s good to figure out what you want to do. But . . . graduate knowing who you want to be: a person of character and of integrity, someone who will be trusted and who will be relied on, and that will get you very far in life. But not of that matters without the last one: Commit to the Lord. This is the single most important thing you can do while you’re at Campbell and throughout your entire life.” -- Peter Newby' 14, president of Campbell’s Student Government Association
“We are here to help. We are here to make sure you succeed. That is everything that Campbell is all about. Everything here is about you and ensuring that you are successful and that you will go forth from here and be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” -- Jerry Wallace, Campbell’s president
“Wherever you are from, you are in the right place at the right time. You will learn. You will laugh. You will love. You will be mad. You will be surprised. You will be disappointed. You will be tired. You will reach your wit’s end, but you will overcome. You will build upon the person you are today and emerge with a foundation you need to build the rest of your lives.” -- David Lewis ’94, a six-term member of the N.C. House of Representatives (District 53, Harnett County)
“It’s one thing to have a dream, but it’s a whole other thing to have a dream with action. And that’s what you've got to do. You have to go after your dream, because dreams without action is just hope. You have to have action.” -- Mike Minter, Campbell’s football coach
What You Said
Social media outlets were buzzing this weekend as students moved in to their residence halls and participated in Campbell Welcome Week events such as Love Thy Neighbor and the New Student Convocation. A look at some of the tweets and photos from students and a few parents:
Article by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator