Scholarships create a lasting impact

“Whatever I do, I want it to be an area of need.” Shelby Ferrara has a heart for meeting the needs of a community. Whether that community is in her home state of North Carolina, or 8,000 miles away in India, Shelby answers the call when she hears it.

Shelby’s journey to Campbell University reflects her desire and ability to respond meaningfully to a calling. When the time came for her to apply to college, her grandfather approved of two universities: North Carolina State and Campbell. (Shelby’s family had a history of alumni from both institutions). Ultimately, however, Shelby’s intended career path (and perhaps a drop of teenage rebellion), led her to East Carolina University, where she hoped to pursue a nursing degree. At the time, Campbell had not yet opened the Catherine W. Wood School of Nursing.

Once she began her education at ECU, Shelby wrestled with what major/career path to pursue, saying, “I figured out what my passion was…and who I wanted to serve. I just didn’t really know how to get there.” After much thought and a heart for military service people returning from battle, Shelby declared a major: mental health & wellness counseling with a concentration in biofeedback. However, nursing was always at the back of her mind.

Shelby completed her degree in 2017 from ECU, and began working full time.

Shelby’s pursuit of her calling did not end there. A good friend from church invited Shelby to join her on a mission trip to India through the International Mission Board. Although hesitant at first, she continued to see doors open leading to India. “God had orchestrated it perfectly for me to go,” Shelby reflected. As a self-proclaimed home body and someone who doesn’t like change, she had to rely on faith, trusting in God’s plan.

While in India, Shelby worked in areas that did not have access to quality healthcare, providing medical care, education, and resources to local villages. The experience opened her eyes to medical disparities overseas, and she remained aware of the need for quality healthcare locally and abroad.

Shelby returned to the states in November 2019 with a reignited passion for the medical field. While visiting her “Uncle Fred” (Fred Taylor, ‘92) at Thanksgiving and sharing about her experience, he threw out an idea: why don’t you pursue a degree through Campbell’s new nursing program?

And the next thing she knew, Shelby was applying to Campbell for the spring. She received her acceptance letter in December, with an extra special bonus notification: “And by the way, you were awarded a scholarship,” Shelby paraphrased. The scholarship was the last little push she needed to decide to start this new journey, going back to school and pursuing a nursing degree. “There was comfort in knowing that someone else believed in me and was willing to support me financially.”

To Shelby, the scholarship was another example of God’s provision, and Him guiding her to a calling. “[The scholarship] was almost like God saying, ‘here’s what I want you to do. I’ve got you.’” It reminded her of Matthew 6: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25a, 26).”

Scholarships not only gave Shelby peace of mind that she could attend Campbell, but instilled confidence, knowing that people (the donors who gave and the staff who awarded the scholarship) believed in her ability to become a successful student and nurse.

Starting classes at Campbell is only the beginning of that scholarship’s impact. She addressed donors in her ‘Thank-A-Giver Day” video message: “Through your donations, I was able to pursue my dreams and pursue God’s plan so that I can one day make a difference.”

Shelby, who started nursing courses in August, is grateful for the immediate impact of scholarships (allowing students like her to attend Campbell), which leads to a far-reaching long-term impact. “You are investing in the quality of the healthcare system.”

Gifts to Campbell support the mission of graduating leaders prepared for purposeful lives and meaningful service. Campbell graduates use the skills, knowledge, and experience obtained at Campbell to serve their communities and the world. Scholarships, made possible by generous donors, allow students to pursue their calling, and serve the world.

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