This past December, Christie Stafford (’06) received a bench for Christmas.
This bench, however, was not just another piece of furniture. Purchased in Sanford, North Carolina, the bench is made of re-purposed wood from Campbell founder J.A. Campbell’s bed frame.
The bed frame turned bench was the creation of local artist and furniture maker, Keith Borsar, who Stafford says is a family friend of the Campbell’s.
The top of the bench includes a painting of two ravens, their beaks pointed towards one another, with a dogwood flower between them. Just above the painting of the ravens, there is a quote inscribed from Van Morrison’s, “In the Garden.”
The quote reads, “No guru, no method, no teacher, just you and I in nature.”
While Borsar’s work is beautiful in its own right, for Stafford, the bench is especially important because it symbolizes her love for Campbell University. Additionally, it points to the personal strength and determination of Dr. Campbell that led to the legacy of Campbell as an institution.
“JA had great faith and grit” Stafford says, adding that those same attributes are ones that she holds in high regard for her roles “as a mother, a teacher, an alumna, a mentor, and just as ‘Christie’.”
While Stafford values these character traits, she also notes that Campbell University, as an institution, reflects the same priorities and principles. It was Campbell’s strong belief in service, community, and tradition that drew her to Campbell in the first place.
Once she arrived on campus, Stafford’s time at Campbell as an Educational Studies major helped her to understand that tradition and progress can coexist, and that she did not have to approach life from an “all or nothing” standpoint. This was a revelation that she says influences her even today.
Stafford continues to be involved in the campus community as an alumna. She engages with the university in a variety of roles, including the Alumni Board of Directors, the Student-Alumni Mentor Program, and several other volunteer roles in events such as Welcome Week, Homecoming, and Campbell Giving Day.
When asked why she continues to support her alma mater, Stafford explains that “being able to be actively and consistently involved helps me feel whole and truly connected to the part of that life in the Creek after all these years.”
Returning to campus and holding on to her identity as a Campbell alumna has allowed Stafford to revisit old memories, while also creating new ones. She explains that during her time as a student, she loved Homecoming. She attended every year, and was a part of the Homecoming court as a senior. As an alumna, she still serves at Homecoming as a volunteer at Alumni Village, hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement. The places and events are similar, but her role has changed over time.
“Even though the campus has changed so much, the memories are lasting.” She says, adding “I think that speaks volumes for the legacy of Campbell.”
Stafford encourages other students and alumni to remember Campbell’s founding principles and humble beginnings, not just in terms of Campbell University, but in viewing life as a whole.
“It’s about being able to bridge the past with the present, as well as the future. Which is what I believe Campbell stands for.”