James Campbell: Showing Up, Making it Work

He is not your traditional undergraduate. After starting out at Seattle Central, James Campbell decided to take an eight-year leave from academia. After working in the hospitality industry, his love of communication drew him back to the University of Washington. Since enrolling in the Department, Campbell continues to craft not only his own story, but also helps other students find their own voices.

Why did you choose Communication as your major?
Two reasons: I love to write. Writing, specifically with pencil and paper, is truly one of my favorite forms of expression. Something happens that quiets the mind when you have to take the time to put words down onto paper. Keyboards just cannot imitate it. You have to be thoughtful and informed. Secondly, I grew up watching The Oprah Winfrey Show with my mom, and the storytelling ability that Oprah has, that ability to connect someone’s life experiences to a television viewer, was and still is fascinating to me. My chance meeting with her while working at the Four Seasons Hotel sealed my decision to study communications.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you up at night?
“What keeps me up? To be honest, at this point it is the political climate. Learning about what is happening in Washington D.C. worries me and makes me think, sometimes obsessively, about how what happens there will affect us all here and everywhere else. However, what gets me out of bed in the morning is the knowledge that I have a voice, one that I can use for myself and others, and the opportunity to stay educated and informed. Understanding that right now means that this is a great time to be a student at the UW, because I represent the next generation of Americans who can help right all of these wrongs.

This relates closely to my interest in international communication and the Kevin Ellis Endowed Scholarship. I believe that understanding the economic, political, religious and social environment in other countries can only help us to see and understand our own environment.  Moreover, finding common ground through communication between our home and our neighbors can help to strengthen international relationships. I think that lately we have seen many examples of how vital communication can be both for good and bad. When it comes to international communications, my opinion is that you can greatly enrich your life by immersing yourself in other ways of seeing the world; it will help you see your own a little more clearly.”

What is one thing about your time at UW that you did not expect?
“I was surprised how expansive the UW is when it comes to resources and relationships. Not only can the curriculum, faculty, staff, and other students help you learn, but also they can help you connect the dots toward your next move anywhere in the world. It is amazing. I go and visit the Advising Commons at least twice I quarter. I’ve found great success in being proactive and just showing up to things happening in the Department and around campus.”

How have your experiences as a transfer student influenced your university career?
“I have learned that diversity is truly the best asset in the education process. I may be a decade older than most of my fellow classmates, but there are many non-traditional students of all ages and national backgrounds that have helped me feel a part of this campus. My insecurities, about being a 31-year-old transfer student from Seattle Central on a mostly 19 to 21-year-old student campus, faded when I realized that most of my classmates were here for exactly the same thing: academic and professional growth.

What is one piece of advice you think everyone should know?
“Test scores are important, but so is sleep. I also am thankful that I now have this ‘happy responsibility’ to encourage other students, the way that I have been encouraged. What I have learned in the classroom and in life is that Communication, in the many forms that it takes, is both an art form and a skilled profession. How we connect with others through written word and imagery can bridge colossal gaps. It is important that while we find ways to use our words clearly and effectively; listening is what gets both parties across the bridge safely.”

Know someone worth howling about? To nominate an undergraduate student for a “Hello Huskies” profile, email Megan Jeffrey, Department Communications Specialist