There was never a question of whether or not Shavette Campbell would attend college – only how would she pay for it.

Born to a single mother from Liberia, Campbell spent her childhood in Philadelphia before moving to Charlotte a decade ago.

“Growing up with a single mother had its challenges,” Campbell said, explaining how her mother constantly worked two jobs. “Through her own personal sacrifices, she made sure we had everything we needed.”

Even so, Campbell made a lot of sacrifices herself. She couldn’t participate in many of the after-school sports programs or extracurricular activities her friends did because she had to help take care of her younger sister while their mom was at work.

Campbell’s mother encouraged her children from an early age to pursue a college education.

“It was really important that I went to college because I wanted to make my mom proud and create new opportunities for my family and me,” Campbell said.

As she began applying to colleges across the state, Campbell’s godmother, who graduated from Florida State University, was a valuable asset. She helped Campbell and her mother walk through both the college application and financial aid processes.

“She really pushed me,” Campbell said. “My mom’s and my godmother’s sacrifice, constant encouragement and support created the foundation for me to go to college.”

Her first acceptance letter came from UNCG, and after attending Destination UNCG, she knew she’d found her new home.

“I really wanted to go to a school with a lot of diversity,” Campbell said.

Once she decided to attend UNCG, Campbell had to figure out how to pay for college – a daunting task, coming from a modest-income family. When she saw her financial aid package, she was shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of assistance she was able to receive.

As is the case for many of her peers, going to college wouldn’t have been possible for Campbell without funding from federal Pell Grants, money given to students by the U.S. Department of Education based on financial need. Unlike loans, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

UNCG’s Pell Grant students have an exceptionally high rate of success, both in the classroom and beyond. The university is one of only 13 public four-year institutions nationwide to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for “excelling in access and success” in the department’s “Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need: Advancing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students” report.

While Pell Grants provide the pathway for low-income students to get to campus, UNCG provides the support these students need to get through college and work toward a bright future.

Services like the Student Success Center, Special Support Services, the Career Services Center and the Office of Leadership and Service Learning help students develop healthy academic skills and provide them with invaluable resources, such as tutoring, job fairs and extra guidance.

“If there was anything I needed, it was here at the university,” Campbell said. “As a first-generation college student, these were services I definitely needed.”

Double majoring in communication studies and public health and minoring in psychology, Campbell is thriving at UNCG. She’s actively involved in the university’s Peer Health Education Program and serves as a member of UNCG’s Police Student Advisory Council. After graduation in May of 2018, Campbell plans to go to graduate school and eventually wants to become a corporate public health educator.

And if the data is any prediction of Campbell’s outcome, she’ll be poised for success.

“Pell Grants helped me finance my way through college,” Campbell said. “Without them, I would not be here right now.”

 

Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications