Billy Campbell

Billy Campbell is pictured in the new Lazer Welcome Center in the Gordon Student Center.

  • Major: Communication Studies
  • High School: Liverpool, class of 2016

Billy Campbell got scared straight during the summer of 2018. Every morning he would put on his jeans and steel-toed boots and go to his job in a sweltering hot warehouse. For 50 to 55 hours a week he would lift and carry heavy items from one end of the large facility to the other. Several of the people he worked shoulder to shoulder with had been part of a parolee release program and served lengthy sentences. “Guys would ask me my gig and I would tell them I didn’t care about school. They’d say ‘You’re an idiot if you don’t go to class. Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life because this is the path you’re taking?’ It turned me around. I told myself ‘this semester I’m getting a 4.0.’”

Campbell returned to the OCC campus for the fall 2018 semester determined to do his best. He took 17 credits and earned five A’s and a B+ for a grade point average of 3.88. He did it while serving the campus community as a senator-at-large with the Student Association.

His success was proof that people can change. Throughout high school Campbell had done the bare minimum. He started college at a four-year school but quit half way through his first semester. His lifelong dream was to be a professional lacrosse player but by his own admission, “I wasn’t any good.”

Campbell would struggle through three semesters at OCC before his summer warehouse experience. He had friends who would make him get out of bed for class. They encouraged him to see a therapist and work through his issues. Their efforts made a difference. “I’m really grateful to the people who believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

This is Campbell’s final semester at OCC. He’s on track to earn his Communication Studies degree in May. He’s only taking 12 credits this semester, but his schedule has never been more full. He’s an officer in the Student Association, serving as the Vice President of Media. Campbell is also interning two days a week in the Corporate Communications office at SRC, Inc. His goal is to transfer to Syracuse University and major in Communications and Rhetorical Studies.

When he reflects on where his life was headed Campbell feels fortunate to have chosen a different path. “In my darkest hours of doing awful in school and not having a plan and no discipline I would think to myself, ‘what am I going to do?’ Where I’m at now I have such a foundation. I can sleep at night thinking, ‘I’m doing what I have to do.’”

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