Michael Campbell’s life story could be a movie one day. His parents divorced when he was eight years old. Two years later Campbell, his sister and his mother were homeless. “My negative attitude and actions led to a lot of bad things,” says Campbell. He dropped out of high school, was in and out of trouble with the law and was incarcerated three separate times for a total of three years.
During Campbell’s final time in jail he went through treatment called Aggressive Release Training which helped him conquer his anger issues. “We acted out situations and learned the right way and the wrong way to deal with things. I came to realize that being angry just wasn’t worth it any more. It made a huge difference.”
Campbell was released from jail in May 2013 and enrolled at OCC three months later. He began taking remedial classes which don’t count as credit toward a degree but prepare the student for college-level work.
Three years later Campbell is one of the top students on campus. He’s a Business Administration major, member of the Business Club and a recent inductee into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa for which he is its vice president for scholarship. He’s also the vice president for Phi Theta Kappa’s entire North Region. Campbell is an internationally certified firefighter and a hazardous materials operator with the Onondaga Hill Fire Department. In May he will become the first person on his mother’s side to earn a college degree.
Campbell’s journey from troubled youth to accomplished 25-year-old is remarkable. “I get emotional when I talk about my past. I came to a fork in the road and could have gone either way. I’ll never forget the obstacles I’ve overcome because they have made me the person I am today. I do my best to show those who have been through the same struggles as I have that anything is possible.”