A study of infinite strength
When asked about the tattoo on the inside of her right wrist, McKenzie Campbell said, “I got it before I transferred here because I knew it would be one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. When I look at it, it reminds me that I’ve been through much harder.” The tattoo says “strength” in her mother’s handwriting with an infinity sign curving its way through the letters.
Campbell transferred to U-M after her second year at Northwestern Michigan College, a community college located in Traverse City.
Whereas Northwestern seemed like, “high school round 2,” Campbell found Michigan to be a completely different experience. She struggled initially. As a first-generation student, she had no family to ask for advice about what she should do. As a transfer student, she came into Michigan’s social life a step behind, compared to other juniors, and the social climate at Michigan was much different from the social climate at Northwestern.
As time went on, Campbell began to find her niche at Michigan. She discovered a passion for feminist theory and women’s studies; she joined Alpha Epsilon Phi, a Greek Life sorority; and was hired by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) as a peer advisor for Changing Gears, the community college transfer student program.
“There are resources available. They are here. You might have a hard time of finding them, but you can do it. Don’t stop looking for them. There are people out there, and they want to help.”
When she was 14 years old, Campbell moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Traverse City, Michigan. An only child, she grew up in a single-parent household and lost contact with her father after her parents’ divorce. She always envisioned going to college because of her mother, who taught Campbell the importance of an education and the value of a collegiate experience. “It was something told to me,” she recalls. “’You graduate high school, then go to college, then get a job. You need a college education to get a job.’”
Campbell is now a senior majoring in women’s studies with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. She hopes to complete a dual Ph.D. in women’s studies and English so she can impact future generations as a professor.
When asked what she wants first-generation students entering college to know, Campbell said, “There are resources available here. You might have a hard time finding them, but you can do it. Don’t stop looking for them. There are people here, who want to help.”