Even as she collected her Rose-Hulmanissued laptop and finished
moving on campus, freshman Erin Campbell was still incredulous that
she was actually attending her first-choice college. It had long
been on her wish list, but being one of seven children of a pastor
who doesn't believe in carrying personal debt, she was forced to
set her sights on other educational options.
"I had applied to 13 colleges, including two military
academies," Campbell says. Her dad kept a chart with of all of the
colleges, paying close attention to their costs, scholarships, and
Campbell had applied to Rose-Hulman at the behest of 1974
alumnus Bill Finley, her dad's best friend and someone Campbell
considered a mentor. "He knew that I was interested in engineering
and he knew that Rose-Hulman was the best engineering school,"
Finley, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, urged
Campbell to apply to Rose-Hulman because of his own experience at
the college. She did, and was accepted. But the financial issue
remained a heavy burden.
Then Campbell received the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship, a
$40,000 award to students demonstrating exemplary leadership,
drive, integrity, and citizenship.
At 18 years old, Campbell has completed more hours of
humanitarian and service work than most people will in a lifetime.
There's the two week-long trips to rehabilitate homes after
Hurricane Katrina, the weekly volunteer shifts at a local hospital,
the summer internship with a humanitarian organization, the stint
tutoring a third grader in reading, the hours of roadside trash
pick-up, and the experiences volunteering in a soup kitchen and
crisis pregnancy center. Family and faith instilled in Campbell a
desire to help others.
Campbell is also a member of the Civil Air Patrol, has recently
earned her pilot's license, sings in an a capella women's ensemble,
is SCUBA certified, and plays Celtic harp.
The Rose-Hulman student was an ideal choice for the scholarship,
according to Stewart McLaurin, executive director of the Ronald
Reagan Presidential Foundation.
"Ronald Reagan believed in educating and inspiring the future
leaders of tomorrow," he stated. "The GE-Reagan Foundation
Scholarship Program enables us to continue this tradition and keep
his spirit alive among the youth of today. The Reagan Foundation is
so pleased that Erin Campbell is among those deserving award
Campbell is pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering with the
intention of continuing to medical school. "My goal is to help
people in third-world countries. I think there's a need out there
for Christian doctors to be able to help people physically and
spiritually," she says.
Sadly, Finley did not live long enough to see Campbell attend
Rose-Hulman. But, she reflects, "He'd have definitely been thrilled
if he had known I was here." ■