A group of Campbell University students and alumni joined Campbell staff for “Advocacy Day” over at the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) on April 10. During the visit, the group was given the opportunity to witness the workings of the NCGA as well as meet a few members of the NC House and NC Senate.
Learn more about the day through the perspectives of Campbell alumnus, Carroll Leggett (’63), and current student, Rachel Davis (’19), in the features below:
Carroll Leggett (’63)
I was delighted to be asked to join the Campbell University delegation at the recent Legislative Advocacy Day in Raleigh. Our primary concern was assuring that going forward private institutions like Campbell as well as the other 35 private colleges and universities in North Carolina will continue to have strong scholarship support from the North Carolina General Assembly through the North Carolina Need Based Scholarship. We asked for a slight increase in the continuing appropriation for that purpose, and are hopeful that our one-on-one visits had a positive impact.
We could not have felt more welcome. Campbell alumni are all over the place, including Representative David Lewis of Dunn who chairs the powerful House Rules committee. He received us graciously, and his support for Campbell and its mission is unflagging. Other alumni — even present students — kept popping up to say, “Hello,” as we made calls, and it was great to see such a reservoir of goodwill for Campbell University in the North Carolina General Assembly. Our delegation, which included strong representation from The Fighting Camels men’s basketball team, was recognized from the floor of the House at the request of Representative Lewis, and we received a standing ovation from members of the House.
Campbell’s interests in the legislative process are broad. Approximately 2,000 of Campbell’s undergraduate students receive the N.C. Need Based Scholarship, money appropriated from the state budget. In addition, the University is a major player in North Carolina’s healthcare world now, and legislation is constantly introduced that affects this part of the University’s mission.
There are many ways Campbell alumni can continue to contribute to Campbell. Annual giving is an important one, and helping to spread the word about the amazing work being done every day in Buies Creek is another. There are events throughout the year when we can be helpful on the campus itself. Our excellent Alumni Engagement staff lets us know when those opportunities arise. I tell every Campbell grad I meet that they simply have to make a trip to The Creek and see for themselves. First stop in the new alumni house where we are always greeted warmly. Having been reared in Buies Creek, I have decades of history in this little piece of Harnett County. I can testify to the fact that time has not stood still at Campbell. President Brad Creed is providing inspired leadership, and I am awed each time I visit the campus. So I know you will be, also.
Rachel Davis (’19)
I hesitated to call myself an advocate before April 10. To me, advocacy involved making poster board signs, standing outside of government buildings and picketing, and perhaps just general ruckus. As a result, the concept of Campbell Advocacy Day was initially an intimidating one. Along with university administration and a couple of fellow undergraduate students, I had the opportunity to visit the North Carolina General Assembly and speak to legislators that represent me and my close friends in the House and Senate. Specifically, we were there to speak to them about an increase in need-based scholarship funding – raising the budget for North Carolina’s 36 private college and universities institutions from $80 million to $85 million next year to accommodate more students. (Campbell is the largest recipient of these dollars receiving $8 million in scholarships for North Carolina students.) It turns out that advocacy is a lot less picketing with handmade signs and a lot more conversation, taking the time to learn about one another to accomplish a joint task.
We spent the morning speaking to various legislators, sharing our goals for the future, graduate school or career plans, and ways that the need-based scholarships had financially assisted us or other students. It was all conversationally based, the legislators getting to know us and we getting to know them, finding areas of common ground on which to connect in an effort to leave a lasting impact. As a student, having the opportunity to speak to the people personally making the decisions that might affect whether or not another student is able to attend Campbell or another private institution was absolutely groundbreaking. To me, advocacy is speaking on behalf of a cause I care about for someone who maybe cannot speak for themselves. Not every student who received a need-based scholarship was able to participate in Advocacy Day or tell their legislator how they benefited from the scholarship. As as a student representative, I thus felt the importance of speaking for other Campbell University students to ensure that their needs were heard.
There was something revolutionary about actually meeting with these senators and representatives. Many of these people I had seen on the news, or in campaign ads, or had previously briefly crossed paths with, but to actually speak with them was completely different. They actually asked questions about my life and seemed interested in what we had to say and why we were there. I know that I will feel more comfortable in the future speaking to these decision makers, after knowing that they have taken a genuine interest in the affairs of Campbell University. This was a great introduction into the world of advocacy for me, and I now have a new interest in the subject. The idea of being able to speak to higher-ups about the issues that I personally find important and having them actually take me seriously is a highly appealing one.
I have had the privilege to work in Campbell’s Alumni Engagement Office this year, and I have been able to see the direct impact of student scholarships, and the absolute necessity of the availability of these scholarships. I have heard from Campbell University alumni about bartering with chickens or other food products just to pay their tuition, but how grateful they were for that opportunity and how they would have given anything to be able to continue their education. Campbell has always prided itself on being a school of the people, a school that has accepted students based on their potential and not their paycheck size. The spirit of Campbell is a spirit that relies on scholarships to continue to be able to provide its students with the best possible education.
I am graduating from Campbell in May, after which I will attend graduate school. I am excited to join an alumni chapter after I graduate and continue to stay involved alongside other young alumni who also want to to support Campbell as they enter their professional careers. The importance of a quality education has been instilled in me throughout my time here, and it is now my time to advocate so that other students will have that same education. I am thankful to Campbell University for investing in my education, and I have loved the opportunity to take the time to speak on behalf of other students and give them the same education from which I have benefited.
Keep up-to-date with alumni news and events at alumni.campbell.edu.