Though Ashlyn Johnson (’19) and Christie Stafford (’06) graduated from Campbell more than a decade apart, their love for their alma mater has connected them in ways both cite as an immense blessing.
Stafford and Johnson were originally connected through the Office of Alumni Engagement’s Student-Alumni Mentor Program, which pairs students with Campbell graduates to guide them through college, graduation, and the beginning of their career.
Stafford, who is entering her 14th year of teaching, was excited to mentor Johnson, an education major who is beginning her first year of teaching at Buies Creek Elementary School, right across from Campbell’s main campus.
“Starting off as a beginning teacher, there is so much that you don’t know,” Stafford explained. “I wanted to be able to help her think through those things and take some of that stress off.”
The two women started their relationship with a meeting at Creek Coffee, a popular coffee shop among the Campbell and Buies Creek communities. While both Johnson and Stafford were anxious for their first conversation, they quickly found their shared passion for education and love for Campbell made them a great fit for one another.
Johnson shared that Stafford’s guidance and advice about entering the classroom helped ease some of her stress leading up to graduation and the start of her teaching career. Additionally, Johnson found one of the most helpful things about having a mentor was Stafford’s ability to simply listen. “She allowed me to voice my excitements, worries, and everything in between. She honestly helped me with so many things,” Johnson added.
While Johnson was thankful for guidance and a listening ear, she was not the only one to benefit from the partnership. Stafford shared that meeting with Johnson reminded her of the excitement of the first year of teaching and was a helpful reminder of her own passion for the profession.
Stafford and Johnson share a favorite memory from their time in the mentorship program: going shopping for Johnson’s first classroom. While Stafford was able to gift several items to Johnson’s class, the outing was also a doorway to more helpful conversations. “As we went to each store she would ask me questions and I was able to gift some stuff for her classroom… I was able to mentor her in a less formal way.”
Now, though their formal mentorship has drawn to a close, Stafford and Johnson don’t plan on stopping their contact any time soon. The stability of their relationship, according to Stafford, is largely due to the commonality found in their love for Campbell and for education. “That connection, I hope that stays. She knows she can always text or call.” Stafford also plans on signing up again to be an alumni mentor through Campbell’s program, hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement.
Johnson echoes her mentor’s statement. Johnson explained that in Stafford she found a mentor, but also a lifelong friend. Moreover, Johnson’s experience with the Student-Alumni Mentor Program has inspired her to guide others in the same way Stafford advised and encouraged her. When the opportunity arises, Johnson hopes to pay-it-forward and share her own passions and love for Campbell with a current student.
The Student-Alumni Mentor Program connects current Campbell students with members serving on the Alumni Board of Directors. This program is geared towards professional development and career development.