Wydelah Campbell '15 found her voice at Moore, and during her four years at the College, she became a leader as well.
As the recipient of this year’s Happy Fernandez Women’s Leadership Prize, Campbell will speak at Sunday’s commencement about how her leadership experiences had a positive impact on her time at Moore and how she has progressed as a woman and a designer.
“I want to show people that everyone can be a leader and everyone is important,” she said. “You just have to find it in yourself. You can’t wait for someone else to show you.”
Campbell, a Graphic Design major, came to Moore with abandonment issues and struggled with feeling “good enough.” The summer before coming to Moore, her mother had been arrested and jailed for drugs and her younger sister had been taken into foster care. Her father wasn’t there for her. Campbell, her older brother and another sister tried to keep things together, but it was difficult.
“I’m the understated backbone of the family,” she said. “I was trying to handle everything and help everyone instead of focusing on going to school. I wasn’t able to focus on myself. It was really hard.”
Being involved with Student Government and later becoming Secretary taught Campbell how to speak up and get through tough times.
“Once I learned what my strengths were and applied them to being a good student and a leader, I applied them to my personal life as well,” she said. “I finally felt like I had a purpose. I was encouraged to speak up and to have ideas, something I didn’t have growing up. I honestly believe I wouldn’t have made it through college without the skills and relationships I gained through leadership.”
She would need to use those skills when she became pregnant with her son, Davian, during the summer before her junior year. She stayed at school until she was eight months pregnant, finishing the first semester and then taking a year off. She returned to Moore in her senior year to complete her studies with the support of her friends in student government. In the beginning, Campbell brought her baby to class several days a week when she couldn’t find a babysitter. She also worked a part-time job.
“It was hard to get work done with a baby and I couldn’t get work done at home – it was too distracting,” she said. “I got everything done here. I had to learn to juggle school and being a mother.”
Campbell hadn’t really thought about the benefits of attending an all women’s college until after her son was born.
“I felt way more empowered as a woman being here,” she said. “The strength of a network of women – it was a bonus. There was more support to bring my child in. If it was a coed school, I don’t know if I would have gotten as much support.”
A lot has changed for Campbell over her time at Moore. Her son is now two and thriving in an apartment with Campbell and her sister. Her mother is clean and lives right down the street. She will be at graduation to hear her daughter speak.
“My mother is very proud of me,” she said. “I’m proud of myself too and nervous but excited about the future. I intend to take everything I have learned about myself with me after college. I want to have a career in which I’m able to take on a leadership role and work closely with people so that I can offer others the same opportunities I had.”
Campbell said that strength of character and self-motivation got her to the finish line, ready to graduate.
“I just knew I needed to finish and succeed, so I kept going,” she said. “The best thing about coming to Moore was discovering that I am a leader. I was never one to bite my tongue, but at the same time, I didn’t know how to handle certain situations. Now I know I can handle anything.”
Visit Wydelah's website