Why Lawrence Powers (’09, ’13 MDiv) is an advocate for Campbell University

Photo of Lawrence Powers standing with Gaylord. Gaylord is wearing a graduation cap and gown.

Lawrence Powers (’09 BA, ’13 MDiv) is an example of a Campbell alumnus embracing servant leadership. Powers now works as the Triangle Area Campus Engagement Coordinator for the Cooporative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, and serves on the Campbell University Alumni Board of Directors.

Read why Powers advocates for Campbell University below.

I grew up moving around–– a lot. I’ve spent almost as much time walking the brick sidewalks of Buies Creek as I have almost any other place that I’ve lived. It was during my middle school days in a church youth group where my youth pastor, a Campbell alumnus, first told me about the school near Lillington. He shared with me how formative his time had been there and encouraged me to think about it when I got to that stage of my life. I put it out of my head at that point, I had high school on the horizon and did not yet have college on my mind.

Two years later, I was in my second of three high schools and given the opportunity to attend a summer leadership camp at Campbell. I still remember stepping out of my car that first day onto a campus I had heard about but never been able to visit. I spent that week eating in Marshbanks Dining Hall, living in a residence hall, and attending programs in D. Rich’s Turner Auditorium. Moments that seemed insignificant at the time would later be identified as formative sign-posts on my journey toward The Creek.

A year after this camp, I walked down the hall of my third high school toward the guidance office to meet with an admissions counselor from Campbell who had driven to Smithfield to meet with prospective students. While she likely visited multiple schools that day, I felt like she had come to my school just for me. She answered every question, spoke to why a Campbell education was unlike any other, and let me know that I had support at Campbell–– even before I arrived. She was so important to my decision to attend Campbell, I’ve never forgotten her name (Allison), even though we’ve not crossed paths again.

While I would graduate from high school in 2005, I would not become a resident of Buies Creek until a year later. I had applied to Campbell, received a roommate assignment, and planned to attend, but financial constraints would keep me away for a year. Through the generosity of a scholarship I was able to attend a community college near home but was never able put Campbell out of my mind.

I entered Campbell in the fall of 2006 as a second-year student who had no idea what path lay before me. Higher education had not been a priority in my family before my own pursuits, and there was no one to give me an idea of what life at a place like Campbell would be like. I entered “green,” but excited for the prospects on the horizon.

I quickly declared my major in religion and began the formative journey of critical thinking, identity development, and social awareness. I would never claim to have been the best student at Campbell, but I did find myself faced with a challenging academic journey where I was encouraged by top-notch professors, knowledgeable support staff, and an environment where I was not just “another student,” I was known and invited to discover my full potential.

Three years later I would cross the stage in the newly built Convocation Center, knowing that there was only one place I wanted to pursue my master’s degree: Campbell. I entered the Campbell University Divinity School the following fall to begin a new chapter of my life that would find me still being formed by a place that had become home for me.

Fast-forward 10 years and I find myself, once again, back in a classroom at Campbell pursuing my doctorate degree. When I recently found myself reeling after the institution where I had been enrolled closed its doors, it was in my old home where I found a place to continue. Even after 13 years, Campbell continues to give me a place to learn. It still serves as a place that reminds me that there is always more to know, more to discover, and always more room to grow.

Why I’m advocating for Campbell today

Campbell’s motto is Ad astra per aspera (“to the stars through difficulties”). My own journey to Campbell was one of uncertainty, wandering, and loss. As a child, there was no expectation that higher education would be a part of my future. I did not grow up with pennants on my walls, encouragement to explore degree programs, or with any knowledge of how formative the pursuit of a degree would be. Perhaps this is why Campbell quickly became a familiar place to me–– we both share in that same motto.

Today, there are many reasons that I stand as an advocate for Campbell. The campus I first stepped onto as a high schooler is no longer quite as familiar, as new buildings have risen, exciting programs have been added to its offerings, and the student population has continued to grow. While all of these things are important to me (let’s get coffee and I’ll tell you how they’re important to our state, nation, and world too), they are not the true reason I advocate for Campbell University.

I advocate for Campbell because it has changed my life. This place has taken a kid who had no aspirations for higher education and made him into a man with both undergraduate and graduate degrees–– the first in my family in generations. It has taken a journey that could have gone a thousand different ways and helped give it meaningful direction. I do not know where I would be today without the constant support, rigorous academic challenge, and networked connections that Campbell has given to me.

As students continue to cross graduation stages all across our nation and world, they have many options before them. While I can’t speak to every single one of them, if I could, I would encourage them to put Campbell on their list. I would tell them of its life-changing work in my own journey and the great opportunity it will give them, whether their vocational calling puts them on a path toward the liberal arts, engineering, medicine, business, divinity, law, communications, or any one of the many other paths they would have the opportunity to explore in Buies Creek. I would encourage them to walk the brick paths that crisscross the campus, cheer on the tournament winning Fighting Camels in beautiful arenas, and then sit in classrooms where they will not be a number, but an individual who is known and appreciated.

I advocate for Campbell because it is a place that knows that changing the world means changing lives.

I advocate for Campbell because it has changed mine.