Class of ’26 | Alicia Perkins

Alicia Perkins | Spring Lake, North Carolina

There’s a selfie on Alicia Perkins’ phone showing her and a much taller Gaylord the Camel, taken during freshman orientation in June. He was just one of several friends the Spring Lake native made during her very first college experience.

A homeschool graduate and daughter of a Campbell alumnus, Perkins says the social part of college is one of the things she’s looking forward to most — not that her “social life” was lacking during the homeschool years.

“One misconception is we’re not socialized,” she says. “School isn’t the only place to meet people.”

The other thing that has her most excited — engineering. Perkins is already signed up for clubs on campus, and she’s ready to follow her career dreams.

“I want to own my own firm one day,” she says with a smile. “The program here not only teaches you technical skills, but also real-world skills like communication and leadership. That will be very beneficial to reaching my goals.”

Digital Edition

These stories are only the beginning. For this edition of Campbell Magazine, they’re an introduction to 12 students —chosen randomly during the third of four summer orientations hosted on the main campus this year — and a documentation of expectations heading into a four-year college journey.

All 12 agreed to give us more than just the 20 minutes it took to talk and take a few photos back in June. They’re allowing us to check in over the next four years to help chronicle their Campbell experience. And they’ve all agreed to sit down with us again in May 2026 to share their updated stories (and take a few more photos). In order to tell a story of growth and maturation, it’s best to start at the very beginning.

These interviews revealed a heightened sense of hope for a group whose high school careers were defined and marred by a global pandemic. Online classes became the norm, and many of their gatherings and social events were masked or socially distanced. Proms, athletic events and milestone ceremonies were either canceled, altered or virtual.

“Man is, by nature, a social animal,” Aristotle once wrote. Second to earning a degree and starting a career, this class is eager to connect socially with their peers and become part of an “experience” and a community that they mostly missed out on in high school.

It’s our hope that all 12 of these students join us again in four years to tell us all about their Campbell experience. We’re confident that those who do will return older, wiser, more confident and ready to take on the world.

We’re excited to tell these stories. See you in 2026.